Direct My Paths
Categories: My Ponderings
[F]inally, the post I have been wanting to write to you for weeks and weeks now; since long before this website came about. It just didn’t seem right for Caringbridge somehow, and then we needed to take care of other business on this site since it went live, then there was the whole bad scan interruption, etc, etc.
I have been anxious to write to you about my experiment. Oh, I suppose as we get into the details here, there may be some of you who say you’ve been living this way for years. That there is nothing to be excited about, no need for an “experiment.” But for me, it’s a whole new world, a whole new way of living. And it has rocked my world. It has rocked it and rolled it and turned it upside down and inside out. It is the most exciting and unnerving thing I have ever done.
I call it: “The Holy Spirit Agenda.”
Every morning, when I get out of bed, the very first thing I do is hit my knees right beside my bed and I pray this prayer:
“Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for another day. Thank you for another day that Camden and Scott have their mother, and that Brian has his wife. I will rejoice in this day, for you have made it. Father, help me to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading today, and not follow my own agenda. Help me to follow your agenda for this day. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight today.”
Now, that may sound familiar. I think I might have written about it on CB before. But I’m not sure it looked quite like this. I’ve been slowly fine-tuning it.
Then the excitement starts.
For then I get to watch how God orchestrates my day. I get to see the beauty of a God-chosen path. He does choose the most scenic routes!
How does this work? Well, first of all understand that I do not view any human encounter as coincidental anymore. With every interaction that occurs during my day, I try looking at it through “Spirit eyes”. And I try to discover which of these three categories the interaction fits into:
1) An interaction that God has orchestrated so that I may share God’s love with that person
2) An interaction that God has orchestrated so that I may receive God’s love through that person
3) An interaction that will bring about worship to God
Or, in shorter terms:
is it for:
I was blown away as I read Friday’s extraordinary story, because I knew I hoped to write this post this week. The story gave a perfect example of someone listening to the Spirit’s leading. She had my friend’s name on her mind and instead of shooing it away and focusing on her critical job, she decided there was some reason she was supposed to interact with my friend that day. And just look, just READ, what God did through her attention to his leading.
Maybe many of you have always lived like this. Maybe you’ve purposely made no specific, minute-by-minute schedule for your day because you wanted to be open to the Spirit’s prodding. Maybe you often abandon your day’s schedule to do the unexpected service for God and it never bothers you. Maybe you look at each person you interact with and think “I need to do something to show the love of Jesus to you.” Kudos to you, if so.
That wasn’t how I lived, in my BC years. (Before cancer). I was a slave to the to-do-list. I had to schedule my day down to the minute if I had any hope of getting everything done that I believed needed to get done. Otherwise, the world would literally crumple to the ground.
Being out for weeks at a time with cancer treatment pretty much clears up the priorities for a person. The most amazing thing I’ve witnessed: my world hasn’t fallen apart without anyone rigidly adhering to my scheduling and viciously attacking my to-do-list. My mom, my husband, my friends were able to step in to do the key things: provide food, clothing, clean shelter for my family. For everything else, it was ok not to keep such tight reins on everything.
Now we’re back to the extras: the soccer, the holidays, the gymnastics, the playdates, the date nights, etc, etc. And I can still keep things rolling while following God’s leading for each individual day. God knows what is important and what needs to get done better than I do. If I just have to find time to get the dishwasher unloaded and make that Target return – He gives me that time.
So, what does this look like:
As I said, I start with that prayer. Then I begin to work on whatever it is that I think I should do that day: if it is run an errand or two, I head that direction. If it is work on the ever-present housework, I begin that. If it is a scheduled appointment, I go to that. But I do not ever plan my day down to the minute and hour and specific order of how I will do things. That way, if someone calls and says, “Hey, I think I am going to take the kids to the park after school today, want to come?” I can say, “Yes” and I will know that God wanted me to savor a park afternoon with my kiddos. If someone comes to my mind that I haven’t talked to in a long time and there is no reason for them to come to mind, I take the time to call or text or e-mail them, and usually say a prayer for them as well. If I unexpectedly run into a friend while I’m out, I listen to them in a whole new way, trying to discover if they just need a listening ear, if they just need a hug, if they need me to speak some truth into their life, if they need something to laugh about. I really listen now.
I do schedule things in advance of course. I am being asked to speak in more and more settings and I schedule those in advance. I know this is against the popular women-speak these days, but I try really hard to say “Yes.” Because I trust that God is directing my paths, I try very hard not to say “no.”
Sure, there is a place for discernment in how we spend our time. And we absolutely should say “no” to many things. Things like too much time on Facebook, television, movies, smutty magazines, gossipy phone calls, etc. We are smart people. We know what we need to be saying no to. I am convinced it is NOT the “random” human interactions that we should be avoiding.
But I am telling you that my experiment over the last several months now is to try saying “Yes” to God’s plan and He hasn’t steered me off course yet. He hasn’t over-booked me yet. He has planned my time far better than I ever did, BC.
I have time to savor lunches with friends who need to feel God’s love but also time to organize the boys’ summer clothes. I have time to savor baseball in the backyard with my boys but also time to get the grocery shopping in. Do I have time to do my Bible study and keep my house spotless? No, but God knows that the house doesn’t need to be perfect. Do I have time to call my grandmother and encourage her and also spend an hour on Pinterest? No, but I have time for a 10 minute scroll through Pinterest because God made bedtime go so smoothly with the boys that I find I have an unexpected free 10 minutes just before bed.
I know, I have written too much already. And believe me I could write volumes more. But I am going to stop for today with hopes that I can continue to delve into the experiment with you a little bit more over the coming posts and weeks, Lord willing. For one, I can’t wait to tell you about my new to-do-list. See, if you are really a to-do-list person, as I am, you know that that is a deep, deep down trait that just can’t be abandoned completely. So what did I do? I got me a new to-do-list! And I can’t wait to share it with you. And I want to talk more about the Scriptures that I think teach this way of living and the promises that those passages include. And I want to talk about divine appointments vs. interruptions. Can you tell I’m fired up?
But for today, I want to get your initial reaction.
Please, it seems like many of you have been hesitant to comment on this new site like you did on CB. And I can’t quite figure that out. You are still visiting in droves, as my web stats show me, but you aren’t leaving comments. I want to keep learning from you! Really. I don’t just want comments to make me feel like I’m cool or something. Ha! Ha! I want to try and figure out this Spirit-led living together. The comment feature on this site was one of the things I was most excited about, because I can actually directly respond to your comment and so can someone else. So your comments can start whole new discussions and conversations!
So, please comment – tell me what sounds interesting about this experiment, what sounds way too difficult, what sounds realistic, what sounds unrealistic. I truly believe it can be done whether you work outside of your home or inside your home. My friend’s story from Friday is an excellent example of that.
Is it a prayer you’d be willing to pray: “Help me follow your agenda today?” Do you already pray it in a different way? Please, let me hear from you and gain from the Holy Spirit that lives inside you. I believe each of us is made to see and understand God in a different way because He’s too big for any one of us to grasp all of his dimensions; and so we have to share our understanding with each other so that we can get a bigger picture of God. But that too is another post for another day.
“Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
What do you think? How do you lead a Spirit-led life? Could you be doing it better? Do you let Him direct your paths or do you lean on your own understanding?