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May 7th, 2011

Re-focus

Last summer at an evening service at church, I was given the opportunity to share one prayer request. Of all the things on my mind, I felt that I most needed to ask for prayer regarding the way I spent my time. I felt like I had a boat-load of cares, thoughts, hobbies, and activities overwhelming me at any given time. My mind felt cluttered, my heart felt burdened, and my soul felt stressed out by non-essential things. I asked the Body to pray that God would help me to sort out these thoughts so I could focus my life around what was important.

Fast-forward almost a year. I did a lot of questioning over the past few months and the Lord has kindly been showing me where the focus of my heart was set on things other than Him. I also did a lot of little practical things, such as organizing my weekly activities and prayer topics. I still have a long ways to go, but I feel more at peace than I did last July. I don't feel driven by guilt as much as I used to. I also don't feel that my mind is as cluttered with little nagging things. I'm learning how to say "no" when I'm too busy and catching myself from negative spiraling thought trains.

At coffee on Thursday this past week, a dear sister in Christ asked me how I was able to memorize so many Bible passages. Reflecting for a moment, I told her that I think a lot of it has to do with clearing my heart and mind to give them the space and energy they need to tackle memorization. In the past, my mind was always exhausted and too busy orbiting petty anxieties to be able to shift it's energy to Bible memorization. Since I'm not worshiping 'to do' lists and other things as much, I can devote more of my mind toward the word of God. Also, I wouldn't be able to memorize if the Lord hadn't graciously given me a hunger for His word.

I'm trying to watch that I keep a healthy balance, though. I don't want to leap into an obsession over Bible memorization and neglect other weighty matters, such as helping my roommates around the house, encouraging my brethren, prayer, etc. I also don't want a focus on Bible memorization to swing me over into sinful pride. No, if anything, I want this freed mind and heart to be poured wholly to the Lord - whether that be expressed through personal devotions like prayer and Bible study or through love toward others in group activities and fellowship.

So...regarding Bible memorization, Jonah and Habakkuk have been memorized. Praise God :) I'm working through 1 Peter and Nehemiah next (currently midway through chapter 2 and chapter 1, respectively). I'm excited about 1 Peter because it's my first NT book and it has so many precious passages that I love. Even though the phrases are a little awkward in terms of grammar, they flow very naturally as speech and become rather easy to pick up. I'm excited about Nehemiah for a few reasons. First, it's one of the first books that touched me when I got back into the Bible a few years ago. Second, it's a book that challenged me to accept the full meaning of the cross even when my heart felt too guilty to accept it. Third, I've always felt a sort of connection to Nehemiah's writing. Whenever I read it, it feels as though I'm reading something written by a friend or at least a contemporary who is speaking my own dialect. I'm not sure why that is when he wrote over 2000 years ago, but it always is a huge encouragement to me as I read things like, "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands!" Fourth, Nehemiah is a much longer book than those I've learned thus far. I'm excited about the challenge of taking on a longer book. After this, I think I'll jump back to the minor prophets and take up Nahum. I know this is a book that I need to meditate more on and it seems like it will be a very easy one to remember because it is so incredibly vivid and intense. On the NT side, I'm not sure what will follow 1 Peter. Perhaps 2 Peter. After that, I'm considering either Acts or Hebrews or Mark.

May the Lord keep me in His word and cause me to walk in all His ways, loving Him with all my heart and mind and soul and strength and loving others as myself. Amen.

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