Enough Instant Replay

“The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” Proverbs‬ ‭20:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I was reading Proverbs 20 this morning and paused at this verse. As someone who has desperately sought to understand why events in my life have played out in certain ways, I had to wonder how much of that had been wasted mental and emotional energy.

I don’t think God expects us to stumble through life without reflecting on its twists and turns. But I do think He wants us to avoid breaking down every second in agonizing detail, like TV commentators analyzing the instant replay of a fumble at the goal line from 10 different angles. Every moment spent trying to understand the why of the past is a moment lost advancing the how of the present.

How do you maintain a healthy balance of attention paid to reflection (past) and action (present)?

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My goal for December

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Jenga

Forgiving myself is hard. As I was reflecting this morning on the tough day I had at work yesterday, I imagined all of my mistakes from past projects and assignments piled up like the wooden bricks in a giant Jenga game. Every time I repeat a mistake or suffer from the same lapse in judgment, I feel like I’m carefully removing a brick from within the tower and stacking it on top. Eventually the tower will fall and crush me, all because I can’t let go of the past and allow myself to start fresh each day.

I’m resolving to make today the day I walk away from the tower. Anyone willing to hold me accountable? “Put down that brick and run – don’t walk! – the other way.”

Prayers on shuffle

Have you ever felt like your prayer life was the equivalent of the music collection on your phone, with the same songs played over and over in a different order every time you hit the Shuffle button? I love listening to those songs – they wouldn’t be on my phone if I didn’t – but as my prayers become like those songs, I wonder if God would like to hear some new material from me.

How have you broken out of the staleness of prayer in shuffle mode?

I just need to write

Motivation comes and goes. I go through stretches where writing comes easily, and then I go through much longer periods where I don’t have the slightest idea what to say. I just need to write, so that’s what I’m going to do.

My contribution for today – I am grateful to God that, even though I am feeling quite uncertain about the future, I’m not suffering under the weight of anxiety. It’s a blessing to sleep peacefully. Small blessings sustain me, and I need to give thanks for them more often.

An antidote for anxiety

Lately it’s all too common for me to start the workday with an elevated degree of anxiety about the uncertainty of what lies ahead. When I feel this way I try extra-hard to pray it away. But you know what always makes that anxiety go away? Working…putting my head down and working. There’s no time to worry about anything when the mind is occupied with the business of getting stuff done.

That doesn’t mean that the prayer isn’t helpful. God knows that what I need is not to be rescued from hard work, but to be equipped to do hard work.

Fear of the Known

Irrational fears about my (in)ability to perform my job at a high level have hung around my neck for many years. I’ve tried to determine why, but with little success. Even when people tell me that I’m doing a good job on a particular project I can’t seem to find any peace in that because there’s a part of me that doesn’t believe it. Something will happen – a detail overlooked, a deadline in jeopardy – and the old familiar panic starts to creep in yet again.

I’ve been reading a book in which the author talks about Jonathan, the son of King Saul. In 1 Samuel 14, he entreats his armor bearer to join him on a crazy plan to attack a large group of Philistine soldiers, just the two of them. The author of this book commends Jonathan for trusting in God and taking a huge leap into the unknown, encouraging others to find similar ways to boldly step out in faith in their lives.

I haven’t been especially bold in my life, and I wonder if it’s because my fear of the known is actually greater than any fear of the unknown. Fear of those details and deadlines, fear of errors in formulas and forgotten tasks, fear of stumbling through an explanation without conveying confidence or expertise. I worship a God whose perfect love is supposed to cast out all fear, who longs for me to do everything He has equipped me to do through His strength; and yet there are too many mornings where I start the day feeling alone and helpless. I tell myself it’s because I’m not doing something I’m passionate about, but should that really matter? Joseph couldn’t have been too excited about being a slave and a prisoner, but that didn’t prevent him from being given authority over others because he performed his duties so well.

I’m think I’m ready for some unknown, because the known keeps robbing me of joy.