There are turning points in everyone's life. Things that stop us in our tracks. Sometimes it can come in the form of something big and tragic or sometimes it can slowly build and build like a snowball. Either way, we all have these points. The "whats" are not important in all of this. They don't bring any deeper understanding so I won't harp on them. It is the "what nows" that really matter.
The Bible talks a lot about us being refined like gold. Like gold, we are all riddled with impurities and imperfections. Like gold, we all go through times of pressure and of heat and through these times, the impurities and imperfections are separated and we become a purer state that God intended us to be. Basically, we go through times where God whittles away the junk that lines our life.
This is what caused my funk. The past couple of years I have really been struck by the brevity of life. How our days are truly numbered and how God gives us each moment expecting us to squeeze every last drop out of it. But, in our imperfect, impure human state, we don't and instead, we just float. We just drift, allowing life to happen to us. We become like a feather just falling from the heavens, twisting and turning in the direction of the wind, rather than like the bird from which the feather fell, driving our direction with the flapping of our wings. I was becoming angry and frustrated at myself for being a floater. I was becoming angry and frustrated at those around me for being floaters. I wanted to shake everyone by the shoulders and say, do you not know that your days are numbered? Why are you wasting your breath on words that are lifeless? Why are you wasting your energy on movements that are without purpose? But, most of all, I wanted to shake myself and get answers to those very questions.
So, I made a pact with myself. The pact was to live consciously. To allow every move I made, every word I spoke to have meaning and purpose and life. But, instead, I found myself falling back into a state of floating. Just allowing life to happen around me. Allowing my words to be diseased with anger, bitterness, resentment, criticism. Allowing my actions to be lifeless, meaningless, worthless. I could not bring myself to do the very thing I wanted and knew that God wanted me to do.
I felt like Paul:
15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. -Romans 7:15-20
Then, it hit me. I was a floater because I was trying to make myself a conscious liver (a person who lives, not the organ...). I was trying to use my own strength, my own abilities, my own drive to force myself into doing something that is completely unnatural to myself and everyone else. My frustration was in my failure.
I cannot be a person who lives consciously...on my own strength. I have to constantly be reminded. I have to have someone tell me what I am doing has no value and to make a different choice. I have to have someone to tell me that the words I am speaking are breaking someone down instead of building them up. I have to have someone tell me to turn off the distractions of "life" and to focus on truly living. And much to my dismay, they can't just tell me once and I get it. They are going to have to tell me each and every moment of each and every day. Luckily for me, that is why God gave us the Holy Spirit. The ultimate reminder to live.
All the time I was worrying and getting frustrated by trying to figure out how to live consciously, I found the answer. I found it right where I should have looked in the first place, not within my head or my hands, but in the word of God. Apparently, I am not the first person to go through this refinement process I've gone through these last couple of weeks...David did too. In fact, Psalm 143 is almost a "how to" of conscious living:
Step 1: Admit that you cannot live consciously on your own strength.
1 O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.
Step 2: Turn the focus from your iniquity to God's greatness and strength. Focus on what He can do, not what you cannot. Oh, and don't forget to stop and reflect...(The word Selah means to pause and think about what is being said)
5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
Step 3: Ask (or in some cases, cry unto) and trust God to show you ways in which you can live a conscious life, a life filled with meaning and greatness rather than a life filled with monotony and mundaness.
7 Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Step 4: Rest in Him.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you.
Step 5: Be seeking, willing and ready to learn God's will. (Insert Pinocchio singing here....) And always let your conscious (aka the Holy Spirit) be your guide.
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Step 6: Recognize that there is a real enemy who desires you to not live a conscious life, an enemy who wants you to be a floater through life. This enemy will pursue your mind and fill it with thoughts of doubt, frustration, depression, anxiety, and all sorts of other lies in order to keep you from living consciously. Ask God daily to keep this enemy's voice silent and know that He can.
11 For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
My prayer for you, for me, and for all those I know and love is that we will be constantly reminded to live consciously, that we will no longer accept a mediocre life, but only accept the great life that God has in store for us. My prayer is that you will have a constant reminder to be the bird, not the feather.
I finished this minutes ago, only to find parts of my work lost due to a low Internet connection. Someone wants you to not hear this, which means it is the very thing you need to hear.
Here is to conscious living and no longer drifting....
Until next time...