The garage at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Living off balance will leave you with bloody knees

I like to think of myself as a coordinated person, even though that’s not actually the case. But, I mean, I’m not clumsy. Not usually, but something interesting happened last night as I was getting home. It had been a long day. I’d gotten done running the lyrics program for my church’s band rehearsal around 8pm, so that meant I was pulling into my driveway about 9pm. I hadn’t slept well the night before, and it had been a long day–a good day but long.

I got out of my car and grabbed my empty lunch bag, my coffee cup, and my backpack. I travel with a large backpack that has my life in it. All my tech. Everything. It’s pretty heavy, but I would rather haul one big bag around than to have to juggle three or four smaller ones. I went to shut the garage door and I looked up to see a wasp hovering directly over my head.

I don’t really worry about stinging insects, but they do tend to love getting stuck in my hair. So I twisted to push the garage door button as I stepped out onto the concrete pad in front of the garage (the only concrete on my whole five acres, really), and somehow my foot got crooked in my right shoe. They’re wedge looking clog things that you slide into. If it had been a flip-flop, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but twisting around when your dominant foot is wobbly will probably cause problems. And then factor in that I’ve got a coffee mug and a lunch bag in one hand, my keys in the other, and a fifteen-pound backpack. See where I’m going?

Yeah, I hit the ground. Hard. Landed square on both knees. Scraped up both of the tops of my feet, because the horrid shoes came off as I fell. But that was as far as it went. I got my coordination back fast enough to be able to sit up before I bashed my nose into the concrete. I had my more durable work trousers on, so they didn’t tear or anything, but I did bloody my knees up through the fabric. And one of the scrapes on my foot actually bled quite a bit. I was proud of myself. I don’t fall very often, but when I do, I want to do right!

But I got to thinking about the whole situation this morning. If I hadn’t been off balance, would I have fallen at all? I mean, I might have stumbled. But falling is a different level of being off balance. It meant there was something on me that got out of whack (the backpack) and when the wasp startled me I couldn’t compensate correctly because the off-balance weight threw me off. And I fell.

The garage at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The garage at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are James 1:5-8.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

This is one of the verses that came to mind when I thought about trying to live a balanced life. I’m sure that there are probably some better ones in Ecclesiastes, but (quite honestly) I didn’t have time this morning to go digging for them. And actually this wasn’t what I was planning to blog about. But if you read verse 8 in the Amplified Version, it comes off a little differently:

[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

Can you identify with being “of two minds”? Like you just can’t decide? That’s easy in our world today, at least in America. We have so many choices. We have so many options. There are so many roads you can take, how can you choose exactly which one is the right one? And that thinking can easily translate into our walk with God. Because if there are so many options in our “real” lives, surely God would offer us as many choices in our spiritual lives, right?

Well, that’s not always the case. But that’s a topic for another blog. The point here is that you can’t straddle the fence. A lot of people try, but eventually your life will come down to a point where you fall off. You can’t live for Christ and live for the world at the same time. You just can’t. Again, you can try, but you’ll reach a point in life where you’ll stumble and you’ll be so off balance you won’t be able to catch yourself, and then you’ll have worse injuries to show for it than two bloody, scraped up knees.

Make up your mind. That’s what I always think when I read this verse. Be decisive. Choose a side. Because if you don’t choose a side, you’re going to be unstable. If you don’t choose a side, you’re going to be a liability to both–or you’ll be trapped in the middle where you’ll never be effective because no one will able to trust you. Follow God or don’t. But whatever you do, do something real.

Our world suffers from a lack of decisiveness in general, so it’s easy to stand out if you have a made-up mind. God isn’t is a God of indecision. He’s a God of clarity, of certainty, of stability, and if you’ve really made up your mind to follow Him, those traits will eventually show in your own life. Because even when you aren’t clear or certain or stable, God is.

Tree stuck between mountains at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Choose your attitude

I was hired to be a webmaster and a writer, but my first few weeks on the job, I spent the majority of my time as a pack horse. We had a lot of heavy boxes and equipment to move from our office to the hotel where we were holding our national sales meeting. And the team I worked with at the time was entirely composed of women. And not just women–girly women. (We’re in marketing, for heaven’s sake!) Granted, they’re tough, and they work like crazy. But none of them expected me to be able to lift a 50-pound box in dress slacks and heels. That’s when I got to explain that I live on a farm. So I added “He-woman” to my job description that day.

But my manager at the time kept apologizing because hauling boxes and heavy equipment wasn’t why I was hired. It was something extra I had to do, and I think she was concerned that I would be upset about it. But it didn’t bother me. I like being helpful no matter what I’m doing, although at the time I had wished they would have told me what I would be doing so I wouldn’t have worn heels! By the time that day was over, I was tired, but I wasn’t unhappy. I could have been, I suppose. To have been “subjected” to a day of hard labor at a position where I was supposed to be writing might have upset some folks.

But I had already chosen how I was going to feel about the experience. I had chosen to be cheerful about it. I mean, hey, I had a job. And it wasn’t like they were saying, “Lift this box or you’re fired!” No, I hauled those boxes around because they needed to be moved, and I could do it.

Tree stuck between mountains at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Tree stuck between mountains at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Philippians 2:5-8.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Attitude is everything. If your attitude is sour, your perspective and your focus will be sour. It colors everything. But the beautiful thing about attitude (which is also the ugly thing about it) is that you can choose it. You decide when you roll out of bed what your attitude is going to be today.

No, you can’t control the events of the day. No, you can’t control your circumstances (at least, to a point). No, you can’t control other people. But you can control how you react. You can control how you respond. You can control what you think. And while you may not be able to control how you feel, you can choose how you act on your feelings.

For just a moment, try putting yourself in Jesus’ situation. He was God. He is God. He’s always been God. He always will be God. Creator of the universe. Creator of time itself. The beginning of everything. Endless, eternal, worthy of all our praise. God. But when He had the choice to do nothing or to make a way for us to be saved, He chose to save us, even though it meant that He had to give up everything.

This is how the Amplified Version puts it:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!

Jesus had every right to hold on to His status and position, but He didn’t look at it that way. Granted, when He came to Earth, He was still God. He was still God’s Son, but He was human too. It’s like asking me to give up my life to become an amoeba. That’s not a sufficient comparison, but it’s as close as I can get with one cup of coffee.

It’s unthinkable. And Jesus didn’t stop there. Not only did He give up everything, He took it a step further and died a humiliating and excruciating death.

You realize He knew He was coming to His death, right? Jesus knew why He was born. He knew why He was here. All the years He grew up, all the years He lived, all the years He taught, He knew He was here for one purpose–to die for us. But did He complain? Did He mope? Did He grumble? No!

And if that’s the way Jesus lived His whole 33 years in the shadow of impending crucifixion, why can’t we choose to be cheerful when we have to do something at work we don’t think is our responsibility? Why can’t we face frustration and irritation with a smile? Why can’t we stand up for what we believe with joy? Why can’t decide to be content with what we have?

Maybe today is going to suck for you. Maybe the week will be awful. Maybe the month or the year is going to be stressful and overwhelming, and maybe you have no control over anything that’s happening in your life. And the only thing you’re sure of is chaos.

You can’t choose your circumstances. But you can choose how you face them.

Jesus chose His attitude.

Choose yours.