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Emotions

If Today is the Last Day of Your Life, What are You Going to Do?

I just had a conversation with the youngest and oldest of my five children. For context, they are 18 and 26 years old. We sat down at the same time for breakfast and began to discuss what we would do today, if we knew it was our last day to live. I thought the discussion was hilarious, stereotypical, and insightful. It went like this:

If Today is the Last Day of Your Life, What are You Going to Do?

My answer was simple. “What would I do if I knew today was my last day to live? I’d go to the beach. I’d pray, call, text, and write. I’d communicate my gratitude, encouragements and goodbyes from the sand, serenaded by crashing surf.” I try to keep short accounts with God and people, and I don’t feel like I’d have much baggage to sort out. It was an easy one for me.

Me at the Beach: If Today is the Last Day of Your Life, What are You Going to Do?
The beach is my happy place!

My youngest had a completely different take. He asked, “I’m going to die tomorrow for sure?”

“Yes.”

“Then I can’t die today, right?”

My oldest and I looked at each other. We hadn’t thought of that. I was completely amused by his line of thinking. He continued.

“I’d go skydiving without a parachute.” He started.

“But just because you aren’t going to die today, doesn’t mean you won’t feel pain today,” I interjected. “Wouldn’t it be worse to sky-dive without a parachute and not die?”

Rules crossed out: If Today is the Last Day of Your Life, What are You Going to Do?
Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash (x’s added)
The rules don’t apply on your last day!

He agreed, “Ok, then if today is the last day of my life, and I know I’m going to die tomorrow, I’d do something reckless and die before it catches up to me. I’d rob a bank and spread the money to the poor, like Robin Hood. Or I’d visit people in the hospital with Covid, who have nobody to sit with them, because it wouldn’t matter if I was exposed. I’d switch places with someone sentenced to life in prison.” I’d go out with abandon.

My oldest began to laugh. We looked at her. She pointed out the difference in their personalities and said if today was the last day of her life, she was going to have to tackle a to-do list that was very long.

“I’d be writing my will.”, she stated. “I’d need to clean my room and my car. I’d make sure my bills were paid and I’d email instructions for the person who would take over my job.”

Filed paperwork: If Today is the Last Day of Your Life, What are You Going to Do?
Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

She chuckled. “I’d be taking care of all the little details, to make it easier on everyone once I was gone.”

I was thoroughly amused by the conversation, even though the subject matter could have been very sobering. Isn’t that so typical of how a first born and a baby of the family would tend to think? I chuckled to myself, as I got an insightful peek into these personalities that I love so much. I really need to ask more open-ended questions.

So, if today is the last day of YOUR life, what are YOU going to do with the time?


“I live my life based on 2 principles. One, I live as if today was my last day on earth. Two, I live today as if I am going to live forever.” 

Author: Osho

“How different would today be if you knew it would be your last one on earth before meeting God face-to-face? We should strive to live every day as if it was our last, for one day it will be!” 

Author: Billy Graham

“May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day.”

Author: Anonymous

“Let your light shine, never look back and live as if today is your last day … because it just might be.”

Author: Gena Showalter

“Live as if today is the last day of your life. Love and be kind as if this is the last chance to express it.”

Author: Debasish Mridha

“A person’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

Job 14:5 (parenthesis mine)

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12
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Emotions

Does your Emotional State feel More Unstable Now as the Crisis Ends?

Does your Emotional State feel more unstable now, as the crisis ends? I am thinking about the global Pandemic and the move by many countries toward what has been called a new normal. But my question is prompted by a personal experience to which you might relate.

The aisle was extremely crowded at the Super Center as my four-year-old daughter and I turned down it. I let go of her hand and stretched to reach an item I wanted from the top shelf. Oops, not that one, I needed the one just on the other side of the shopper on my right. I waited for him to move and stood on my tiptoes to grab it. I turned back toward my child, but she was no longer there. I called out for her and waited for her response, but none came.

I hurried to the next aisle and the next, and the next, looking past and through the throng of people, hoping to see her little blonde head. I wanted to scream. I was tempted to yell at the shopper who’d been in my way. I felt like a bubbling cauldron inside. My face was hot, and I was embarrassed for not paying enough attention and mad at my daughter for wandering off.

Lava simmering: Does your Emotional State feel More Unstable Now as the Crisis Ends?
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I hoped she’d wandered off and not been taken… No! I couldn’t think about that. I pleaded with God to keep His eyes on her and bring her back to me.

Finally, I found an employee who used her store radio to enlist help. There was an almost unbearable tightness in my chest, but I gulped it down and stayed focused. There was a crisis and I needed to be alert.

After what seemed much longer than it probably was, there came a voice over the walkie-talkie that a child had been found who matched the description I’d given. Simultaneously, a woman came around the corner, speaking those words into her hand-held device. In her other hand, she held the hand of my little girl.

I was so relieved! I ran, fully aware that I was running in the store and not able to control my sudden energy. I collapsed onto my knees to be the same size as my daughter and gathered her in my arms. I was sobbing. My emotional state felt more unstable now that the crisis was over.

Erupting Volcano: Does your Emotional State feel More Unstable Now as the Crisis Ends?
Photo by Clive Kim on Pexels.com

In an eruption of emotions, I experienced everything I had been forcing back. Fear, anger, embarrassment, worry, panic – it all gushed forward, bubbled over, and then receded into gratitude. I wondered if I’d ever be able to pry myself off of my stunned little girl.

This experience has come to mind quite a bit lately. The Pandemic was gut-wrenching, yet throughout the crisis, I witnessed resolve. I saw bravery and self-control. There was grief, loss and intense fear and yet people were resolute. There was a crisis to overcome.

Many of the mandates related to the Pandemic were lifted today, where I live. Fewer people are sick, and many are fully vaccinated. But I wonder, as the crisis ends, and the threat declines does our collective emotional state feel more unstable? Has anyone experienced it this way?

I look around and see so much that seems out of control. There is unsurpassed division, aggression, sadness, frustration, confusion and exasperation. Perhaps more concerning is the growing apathy toward things which were once meaningful or sacred.

Lava spewing: Does your Emotional State feel More Unstable Now as the Crisis Ends?
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve heard the explanation that people have forgotten how to behave in public. Do you think that is the case? Would people, who remember how to ride a bike after several years without practice, really forget how to treat each other in eighteen months?

I am praying that these emotions are just erupting now because they can. I know the Pandemic was much more brutal and long-lasting than my experience of briefly losing my daughter, so it stands to reason that it may take longer to fully vent our feelings. But I am hopeful that soon, our unstable emotional state is going find its footing and melt into matchless gratitude.

I know that might sound like ‘pie in the sky’ thinking or an overly optimistic idea. In all fairness, that is how my mind works. But it makes sense, right? I am not ready to give up on us – the people who occupy planet earth today, who have been through so much, who individually want to emerge from this crisis victoriously.

Line of people in cohesion: Does your Emotional State feel More Unstable Now as the Crisis Ends?
Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Collectively, we are the sum of our parts. What if you and I decided to be more mindful of our unstable emotional state? As the crisis ends, there will be an initial adjustment to the relief we feel. But let’s not linger there, acting on the ugly emotions that emerge. As the saying goes:

“It’s ok to not be ok, but it’s not ok to stay that way.”

Author unknown

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:37-39

Let’s choose together to express the pervasive gratitude that we also feel. There have been hard things. We’ve lost and sacrificed and grieved. But we have been given another day and it has dawned in glory. If you and I can look to Jesus and grab hold of His promises, we can start springs of His goodness flowing into the instability. I believe it will be well received because our world is parched and yearning for refreshment.

Sunrise and waterfall: Does your Emotional State feel More Unstable Now as the Crisis Ends?
Photo by Sachin C Nair on Pexels.com

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11

Does your emotional state feel more unstable now as the crisis ends? It’s okay! Lean in! Feel it out. But don’t act upon that which surfaces first. Let’s wade through to the good stuff and spread that! We get to shape our new normal. Let’s make it better than before. We’ve paid a hefty price. We should have something great to show for it! What are your thoughts?

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Devotions Emotions

How to be More Certain I Won’t Egotistically ‘Lose my Jesus’

I wish I could remember his name. He came to church a time or two and made an impression because he used unusual expressions, which were amusingly great! I specifically recall when he spoke about something tough he’d experienced at the hands of unkind people and said he’d chosen to walk away because he didn’t want to ‘lose his Jesus’. It was an engaging way of saying that he didn’t want to lose his cool – his integrity – for which he gave all credit to Jesus.

I’ve ‘lost my Jesus’ in the way this young man described. Have you? Maybe after being cut off in traffic, passed over for a promotion, or being told the lockdowns were going back into effect? Lately I have been trying to figure out how to be more certain I won’t egotistically ‘lose my Jesus’ in moments of selfishness.

I am genuinely impressed by the expressive truth in the phrase, ‘lose my Jesus’, which I have adopted into my vocabulary. Because here is the thing:

If we are going to lose our temper, we have to push Jesus aside to do it.

He put His Holy Spirit in us, and He bears love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23) In order for us to act differently, we have to ‘lose our Jesus’ and access our sinful, fleshly habits instead.

It is common to hear worship songs and sincere prayers which express the sentiment of wanting more of Jesus. I’ve sung that, I’ve prayed for that. Have you? I wonder if we really know what it means. Do we really expect more of Jesus? Wouldn’t that imply that we weren’t already given all that He has to give? Before He left the earth, He said:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

John 14: 16-17, 25-26

He didn’t say that He would send part of the Holy Spirit and we would be given more of Him, little by little, if we asked. He said that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things and remind us of everything Jesus said. We were given access to the whole of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, when we accepted Him as our Savior.

Related post: Gospel in a Nutshell

But I wasn’t a big space of nothingness walking around before He came in. I was completely full of me. I had my fleshly desires and selfish ambitions, and it was all-consuming. When I surrendered my life to Jesus, the lump sum of everything He promised became accessible to me. So why do I still get egotistical and ‘lose my Jesus’ sometimes when the going gets tough? I believe the answer is that:

I can only be filled with the Spirit to the extent that I empty myself of me. Sometimes I am predisposed to ‘lose my Jesus’ because I’m full of myself and pushing Him out.

Some days, my rights and my pride and everything to which I selfishly feel entitled, stay safely laid to rest and the Holy Spirit can surge in with power. He washes over me, fills me, and flows from me. But other days, I stubbornly resurrect my earthly treasure and I’m just so full of ‘it’ that there is very little room for the Holy Spirit. And that is when I ‘lose my Jesus’ at my kids, or at the TV, or wherever – maybe even at myself. When I’m shaken, that which fills will be what spills.

Photo by Viajero on Pexels.com

It is wonderful to sing and pray for more of Jesus, so long as we realize what we’re implying. We are not saying it is His duty to give more of Himself. We are stating that we want to surrender to Him more of what we’ve been holding out. We are purposing to drain the vanity and ego and make space in our lives for all that He has given us.

We are certain not to egotistically ‘lose our Jesus’ when we are filled with Him. His presence will be what shines through to others. He will be noticed, especially, by the people who expect our temper but get our Jesus instead.

I wish I could remember that guy’s name. Maybe one day he’ll read this blog and let me know. Somehow I don’t think he’d mind that what lasted after our chance meeting was a greater understanding of how to be filled with the Holy Spirit as I have determined to be more certain I don’t egotistically ‘lose my Jesus’. He’d probably be thrilled to know that it was the name of Jesus, and not his name, which gets the remembrance and the glory.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

John 3:30
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Devotions Emotions

Struggling with Disappointment

This post is going to write itself because I write it with tears running down my cheeks. It is said that emotion breeds creativity, and I have found that to be true. I’m just going to close my eyes, write from my heart, and tell you that I’m struggling with disappointment today.

I woke up with happy expectation. This is the day I had been looking forward to for quite a while because it had been entirely set aside for the enjoyment of a long-awaited opportunity. It had been circled on the calendar of my heart and anticipated with a child-like giddiness. But, this morning, it quickly became apparent that today wasn’t going to happen according to plan. Disappointment surged in, uninvited and unruly.

I did not want to attend my pity party!

My first reaction was a pity party, which I did not want to attend, so I turned to the only One who could change my heart. God could also change the circumstances, but I didn’t want to be further disappointed if He chose not to. I wanted Him to change my attitude. Quite frankly, this is simply the most recent in a string of struggles with disappointment. I wanted God to show me the lesson I have been needing to learn so that these kinds of situations would not hinder me anymore.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 13:12

Praying it through, I kept hearing this verse, reverberating in my mind. I didn’t acknowledge it right away because it seemed to justify my feelings, not redirect them. But it persisted, so I finally stopped and looked it up. It was the latter part, the “tree of life” phrase, that made me realize what I was contributing to my problem. It reminded me of Psalm 1:3.

“That person (whose delight is in the law of the Lord) is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”

Psalm 1:3 – Parenthesis mine, words taken from verse 2

My hope keeps getting deferred because I am misplacing it. I’m hoping in people and services. I’m delighting in the plans I’m making. I am allowing what I want from my days on earth to be too big of an issue. I’m putting too much importance on my ideas and time. If I would prioritize, instead, what God wants from me, what He thinks of me, and what He has for me, then I could roll with the punches much more easily and disappointment would be kept at bay.

“However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

People are imperfect and are naturally going to disappoint us. They have hiccups in their days, moments of selfishness, and their own agendas to prioritize. I do, you do, and so do the people we rely on. We need to fix our expectations on Jesus. When we put our hope in Him, our longings will be fulfilled – if not in this life, then certainly in the next.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Phil 4:4-7

The tears which were flowing when I started to write have subsided. I have moved my hope to a more secure shelf, so to speak. This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel disappointed today, it just means that I have been reminded that there is a higher authority and I need to place my expectations on the One in charge. I’m in His hands, and His plans are better than mine.

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

If God could make the above promise to the entire nation of Israel when they were in exile, He can definitely pull it off for me and for you. What disappointments are you facing today? They may seem small, or they may be looming large, but I promise the God of the Universe can handle them all. Will you join me in placing your hopes, dreams, plans, and expectations on the One who has the power to manage them for our good and His glory? We will not be disappointed!

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says… ‘those who hope in me will not be disappointed.’”

Isaiah 49:22a, 23b

You might enjoy this related post: I Deserve…

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Devotions Emotions

How to Reset Your Mindset Today

Yesterday was hard. It was that perfect storm of disillusionment at work, disappointment at home, and dissatisfaction in myself. I wanted to run, or box, or frantically clean the house, but I only had the wherewithal to sit and cry. Have you been there? Everyone quips “It’s ok not to be ok”, and I agree. But that was yesterday, and I don’t want to set up camp at my wits end. I need to figure out how to reset my mindset today.

When my computer freezes, I do a hard reset. I can’t close the apps or save my work; I have to turn it off and let it come back fresh. To reset my mindset, I must temporarily shut down my emotions, thoughts, ambitions, and perceptions. When I bring them all back on-line, I should only be able to access what I have previously, intentionally saved and that which Jesus has autosaved for me.

Phone charging: how to reset your mindset today
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Have you seen the HALT theory? It suggests that if I’m Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, I should fix those things before making any decisions or taking any action. It is great advice, and I’ve already decided that I will set my mental and physical self in a much-needed time out. To reset my mindset today, I must apply HALT in my spirit.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”

John 6:35 (emphasis mine)

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

Proverbs 19:11 (emphasis mine)

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.”

Psalm 25: 15-17 (emphasis mine)

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:30, 31 (emphasis mine)

This post is real time. I am writing as I am doing in hopes that you might find it helpful and maybe share your tips with me too because, as much as I wish it weren’t so, I’m sure we will have further opportunities to perfect our stress response techniques in the future. My friend, if you’ve been facing storms of your own, I am so sorry. Truly, I feel your pain. I invite you to HALT with me in the truths of Scripture and let Jesus reset your mindset today!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus ( in Matthew 11:28, 29)

Have you had a hard day recently? How did you get back on track?

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Romans 8:6

You might enjoy this related post: Ready, Set, Pray!

Categories
Devotions Emotions

Desperate for a Mood Change

Do you think God has moods? I believe I could make a Biblical argument to say that He does, but I would also have to concede that they must be different from mine, because He is unchanging. My moods can change me from hour to hour. And my moods change the way I hear things. When I’m feeling confident, I might hear someone make a negative observation about me and process it as humor or sarcasm. But if I’m in an introspective mood, I am more likely to hear it as criticism and beat myself up over it.

When two people get together to converse, they each bring a mood. It’s no wonder discussions can veer so desperately off track. And when a group of people get together, it is nothing short of a miracle that communication happens at all!

But there is an upside to mood changes. I can read the Bible every day for as long as I live and receive it differently each time. So much of what I understand and take away is based on the mood I bring to the table.

Giraffe and sky: mood change
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Is weariness a mood? What do you call your attitude when you look ahead at your life and can’t quite see a break in the clouds? Unfortunately, but honestly, that is the mood I was in when I took my lunch break today. I was feeling the pressure of an already-tight budget, which has had some new and unexpected columns added to it lately.

I often scroll blogs and social media while I eat, but today, I recognized the desperate need for a mood change and decided to read my Bible instead. I came across this verse, which I’d read many times and never really noticed. Today, it stood out like it was in a pop-up book.

“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

Proverbs 21:21

The first thing I realized about this verse was what it does not say. It does not say to pursue prosperity. Instead, it says to pursue righteousness and love, and in so doing, I will also come across life and prosperity and honor. I could feel my mood changing already! I know that God’s definition of prosperity does not necessarily mean money. I also know that when God prospers someone, they have everything they need. When God fills a person to the brim with contentment and joy, for example, a tight budget is of no real concern.

Society says to pursue riches and applause and you will have a life you love. God says to pursue righteousness and love and you will find honor and a prosperous life.

I realized I’d inadvertently listened to the philosophy the world offers, and it had affected my mood. The message of society is to pursue riches and positions of honor in order to be loved and have a good life. But God met me in my weariness and encouraged me that the very choice to read my Bible was the best thing I could have done. It may have been inadvertent but, by going to Scripture to soothe my mood, I was pursuing righteousness and God’s love. And that, my friend, turns out to be the very thing that will ultimately lead to fulfillment and joy and prosperity.

Have you noticed that you see, hear, or recognize things differently based on your mood? Have you been desperate for a mood change? Have you unwittingly bought into the world’s backwards prescription for prosperity? Let’s turn ourselves around and pursue that which God promises will be the ultimate mood and game changer!

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”

Proverbs 16:20

“Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”

Psalm 1a, 2-3