I'm not a huge fan of leftovers. I know I'm not alone in this- they just don't taste the same... except pie. Pie is never not good, and I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of pie in my home post-Thanksgiving. But I digress. When it comes to leftovers there are some things that are merely "okay" the next day. For the most part, however, leftovers are dominantly for the kids- and the jolly green giant I married.
So, as I was re-heating some left overs for lunch, Jacob reminded me that he is also not a fan of leftovers when he whined: "Maaaahhhhhmmmm... it doesn't taste the same!"
I'm not sure why this struck me, but it did. I started thinking about how much of me I'm giving to the Lord, and how much I'm using on other less-important things.
I know- not where you thought I was going with that...
So, of course, because this is a recurring theme in my life, as of late, I experience this lesson everywhere. I read this today in my daily devotion (Jesus Calling) and experienced a similar lesson in a meeting I attended this morning:
And I was convicted.
Especially when she writes: "This practice enables them to give Me money, time, and work without yielding up to Me what I desire most- their hearts... the habit forming rules provide a false sense of security, lulling the soul into a comatose condition." And then she goes on to say "What I search for in My children is an awakened soul that thrills to the joy of my presence!" (The tears started there) and then I read "I created mankind to glorify Me and enjoy Me forever."
A thousand thoughts, I had. But just one stood out significantly above the rest.
It was this- how much of my time, money, efforts in ministry, efforts in life do I offer up to God to appease Him without every fully allowing myself to be open to truly loving and receiving love from Him? I mean, seriously- when is the last time my soul felt awakened and thrilled at the joy of His presence? These habits that I have trained myself to do, are they really for God, or are they to make me feel better?
The part of me that I yield trying to "spend time with God"- if I'm being truly honest, that's really just the leftovers.
4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Looking back at my week filled with "to-do"s and busyness, I think, I certainly haven't been loving Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I've been loving my church, my kids, my husband, and my home, but not God. At least, not in this way.
We are being urged in Deuteronomy to commit ourselves whole-heartedly to this, not just to give God our leftovers.
Psalm 16:11 says:
and the pleasures of living with you forever."
I have often wondered why I spent so much time trying to "do" more in ministry, trying to gain acceptance, approval, and validation from people when God spells it out multiple times in scripture: We aren't here for our glory, for our ministry, or even for the church as a whole. We aren't here for our families. We are here for God- To know Him and to love Him... and to be loved by Him. All of that other stuff is just "stuff" unless it becomes the byproduct of loving Him and allowing Him to love others through you.
Maybe you aren't in this same place. Maybe you "got it" a long time ago and have been enjoying the "joy of His presence" ever since. For me, I know I've been in a season of change, wrestling with my plans versus God's plans. Some days I'm uber-focused and really in an attitude of loving Him- not just what He can do. Those days, I know for certain I experience the joys of His presence and my love for Him grows exponentially. But old habits die hard.
I think that because of my past and my personality, I am wired to "do" and to "go" and often lose sight of just being with Him. I listen to the lie that I have to" do" or to be involved to earn His love, as we often experience with man and I forget that "He so loved the world..." It was a free gift. He already loved me- before I ever did anything good or bad. And yet, I can still see that I'm either trying to please Him or find some sort of fulfillment in status or in other things- even honorable things like ministry, a happy husband, well-educated and well-behaved children, a healthy diet, a clean home, etc... I spend far too much time allowing my self to become far too distracted by life in this world and the need for man's approval to concern myself with things like the joy of His presence. I'm loving "things" and people with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. So it's no wonder that when all is said and done, I'm completely and totally exhausted and all I have to offer Him is... you guessed it- my leftovers.
But I don't want to live like that. So for today, I'm thankful for this little reminder in the form of a whiny toddler- that helped me to regain my focus. I am reminded that God doesn't want our leftovers any more than we want His. He wants our soul-awakened to the thrills and joys of His presence! So I say we throw out the leftovers and start fresh.
Here's to pie! (I'm kidding... sort of). Here's also to another opportunity to learn more about this incredible opportunity that we all have to be wildly loved by the creator of the universe!
Still learning. Still growing.
The Real Life Mom