Category Archives: Mindful Monday

Mindful Monday: An Attitude of Independence

“Whatever does not derive from your attitude of total dependence upon God, whatever does not release God’s activity through your life, is sin. It is sin because it stems from an attitude of independence.” – Major Ian Thomas

Sin is not something we like to talk about too much.  But here goes…

This quote came to my attention a few years back when I was reading through a devotional called The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me.  It was written by Major Ian Thomas who started Torchbearers, an international community of Bible schools (one of which I attended during my college years).  I had already read his most well-known book, The Saving Life of Christ, but ended up enjoying his devotional even better.

I think what I liked about this quote was the fresh way it looked at the definition of sin in our lives. I had previously heard sin described as “missing the mark” and this usually just made me feel that it wouldn’t or shouldn’t happen if I just tried a bit harder.

But you see, I know I don’t depend totally on God for everything and I for sure know that God isn’t as active in my life as I would like Him to be.  And “an attitude of independence” sounds a lot to me like what I call the “illusion of control” in my life. We, especially those of us in American culture, like to think we control our own destinies when in reality this is simply not the case. God is ultimately the one in control.

And so, to realize that trying to live independent of God was in fact sin sure made sense to me. In some ways it made the concept of sin easier to handle but in other ways it made it a whole lot harder.  Things became easier because with this new definition I felt I was able to stop thinking I could somehow become “sinless” on my own if I just tried hard enough.  But things also became harder because I finally saw that sin in my life wasn’t a matter of merely subtracting the bad but also failing to add in what was good and holy.

I am reminded of Jeremiah 10:23-34 (NLT), I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.” At some point we all learn our lives are not our own.  And, as much as the planner in me would like it, I can’t plan out the entire course of my life.  Therefore, the way this quote hit me was perhaps one way God was “correcting” me.  

This new way of looking at my independence from God was not a downer for me by any means. In a way, it also inspired me to try to depend on Him more and allow God into my life more and more so that He could continue to work in and through me.  It opened my eyes to see God in new and fresh ways.

It is my belief that this is a good thing, a necessary thing.  That as we grow and mature in our faith we should be interacting with and viewing God differently than we did before. This quote was one thing that did just that in my own life!    

 

 

 

Mindful Monday: Seasons in Our Lives

“Don’t be anxious about the future but live fully in whatever season you are in.” – Donna Dahlstrom

The senior pastor’s wife at my church, Donna Dahlstrom, doesn’t give talks from up in front too much.  She admittedly prefers to work more behind the scenes.  So I felt honored to hear her speak at a women’s tea back in 2015.   And she did a great job because some things she said really stuck with me, even years later!

The theme of the tea was “Strong Through The Seasons of Life.” The verse they chose for this theme was from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  Donna shared how our lives tend to cycle through seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. In regards to these life seasons, she also said this:

In Spring, a time of new beginnings, we should be curious.

In Summer, a time of fruitfulness and getting settled in, we should be faithful.

In Fall, a time of conclusions and endings, we should be accepting.

In Winter, a time to be rooted and gather nutrients, we should be patient.

These principles are so timeless and easy to remember that I tend to come back to them from time to time as I try to figure out what season I’m in with my life and how I should best approach it. However what I use the most from her talk was one sentence that stood out to me then and still has great significance in my life today.

You see, as a worrier by default, my ears perked up when Donna said this, “Don’t be anxious about the future but live fully in whatever season you are in.”  Wow–this was so what I needed (and still need) to hear in so many ways!  It is easy to look back on earlier, easier seasons of life and want those times back.  Or else to be dreading the next season in life as you either don’t feel you have the energy to start something new or as you grieve the ending of a fruitful time in some area.

However, as Donna pointed out, it is very important for us to “live fully in whatever season you are in.”  So what does this “living fully” look like in our lives?  I think it all ties back into what she shared about the ways of “being” in regards to all these different seasons.

At times we need to be curious about what doors are opening up around us.  We need to not pull back from these new opportunities and not shy away from making new discoveries about ourselves.  It is important at such times to remain open to the way our life is unfolding around us and live into this without pining for the past or worrying about the future.

Other times we need to remain faithful to where God has placed us for that season.  To recognize it for the time of fruitfulness it is and simply be grateful for this.  This is a time to just  settle in with open eyes to see what God is doing in and through us to bless those in our sphere of influence and to glorify Him.   To recognize this season for the gift that it is both to ourselves and to others as we reap a harvest that comes from our past openness to God’s guiding in our lives.

Sometimes though there are areas in our lives we can see coming to an end.  Instead of clinging to these with clenched hands, we can be accepting of life’s natural cycles and allow things to conclude well in these areas.  This season is often one of the hardest ones for me to “live fully” into because I tend to grieve these endings too much or second guess what I might have done to prevent them. Therefore, I can see the benefits of simply acknowledging where God has you in the moment instead of wishing it away.

Then there are the “winter seasons” in life which we can either see as a hopeless, barren time or else a time when God is allowing us to put down our roots deeper and gather nutrients for the next step in our journey with Him.  This mindshift can possibly be the one which is most necessary for me to make in my life.  To simply live into this season by allowing times of silence and solitude to process through the past seasons and prepare for future ones.   But to do so without wallowing in the past or worrying over the future.  To remain patient and rest in the knowledge that this season too will pass in God’s time. Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV).

Donna’s talk also included Joshua 1:9 which is a very applicable way to end my post about this idea of living fully into each season:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”…and in whatever season you are currently in!

**I’m linking up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart today.  Click on the image below to find other great posts in the linkup too**