Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Worthless Things

A few weeks ago my husband and I were reading aloud from the bible from Psalms, when a particular verse made me stop and pause for a moment. It was Psalms 119:37: “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in your way.” That verse has stuck in my head and I have continued to ponder on what the Lord wants me to learn from this. Worthless things. What worthless things does the Lord want me to turn away from? The first thing that came to mind was Facebook. Like many, I found myself on the addiction side, always checking it to see what the latest and greatest was. What I have found is that it can be a huge time waster. When I first signed up, it was a good way to connect and stay in touch with people, see photos, and be uplifted with an encouraging word now and then. But now, to my dismay, I have noticed it has become an avenue for people to promote hate, spread lies, negativity, and bad news. Instead of photos of the latest family outing, my news feeds are filled with videos of one person beating up or cursing out another, hate filled diatribes against our current president, current political figure, or the police. I started to think: is this some of the worthless things God wants me to stay away from? It certainly feels like it, especially since Facebook now seems to feel much like spam does in my email inbox.

One day it really hit me how much social media and modern technology has really taken over our lives. I was watching the recent miniseries about the O.J. trial (because during that moment in history, I was captivated like much of the world, wanting to know all the details). Watching it brought back a lot of memories; I was thinking back to that time (1994) and what I was doing with my life. I was raising 3 small kids. I was sewing, along with other crafts, making clothes for me and my girls. I was enjoying quality time with people, in person and on the phone. I took my kids to lots of fun places: zoos, museums, plays, and parks. I was totally engaged with life and people, and immersed in the moment. And that’s when the light bulb went off. There was no social media back then. People weren’t glued to their phones, forwarding the latest on the O.J. case, or holding their cell phones out recording every minute. I thought to myself, “wow, how far have we come (or degenerated) that we can’t leave the house without our cell phone?” We have become glued to it, and are always looking down, more engrossed by what is on that device than looking up and enjoying what is outside all around us. I started thinking about all the worthwhile things I could accomplish with my time, if I just stayed off of computers and social media. I could spend more time reading God’s Word and reading more uplifting and spiritual things. I could spend more time in prayer. I could start sewing and crocheting again. I could clean and organize the house better. I could improve my lackluster cooking skills. I could dust off the guitar and take up lessons again. And maybe I could finally take the harmonica out of the drawer and start learning how to play it. I would actually be able to enjoy just being in the moment, observing all the Lord’s goodness and handiwork, partaking in activities that would bring Him honor and appreciation, instead of missing it because I am glued to my device. Instead of looking down, I could be looking up. Hence, I have started to take a step back from social media, and limiting my time on it, and trying to make a more concentrated effort to be more engaged and in the moment, and hence, keeping my eyes worthwhile things.

Bitterness and unforgiveness is also a worthless thing that the Lord has shown me I have been wasting my time on. For years I have had some resentment towards my father for things he did or didn’t do while I was growing up. Harboring resentment did me absolutely no good; I had headaches, I would become upset when thinking about it, my stomach would be in knots, and I could tell my blood pressure would go up. Was this worthwhile, spending my energy holding a grudge? It took some time, but I am finally at peace. The road started a few years ago when I had to interview my father for one of my school papers. When I realized what his childhood was like, and that he didn’t have a positive male role model in his life, I realized my father did the best he could, with what he knew. He still provided for his kids. He still loved us in the way he knew how to. And now, I am very thankful that the Lord has granted him a long life so that I can finally appreciate and love my father in my adult years; it doesn’t matter how late, because it’s better than never. There are times that I still struggle with bitterness, because of certain people who cause problems in my life from time to time. I can feel the difference in my joy and walk with the Lord when I start brooding about the latest episode, and I have to force myself to cry out to the Lord “Oh create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10. Bitterness and resentment can be very difficult things to overcome, and it is only by His strength that I can be successful. Jesus knew how difficult this would be, and I find comfort during times of persecution from my enemies in His words: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you would have peace. In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world! - John 16:33. I know that the Lord sees all things, and will work out any adversity against me; I just need to trust in Him, and not let any bitterness rise up in me.

The Lord has shown me another worthless thing that I have been spending my time on: regret. I have struggled for a long time with regret over past mistakes and choices. I spent a lot of time in my younger years pursing things that I see now were worthless, and I have a lot remorse for that. And because my relationship with my children has been strained lately, regret has been consuming me quite a bit. Wishing I could have done things differently with them while they were growing up, and even now in their adult years. I know these thoughts are from the enemy, and discouragement, shame, and regret are some of the most powerful tools that he uses to keep us down and from moving ahead in the plan God has for us. God is constantly reminding me that I have to “forget what is behind me, and strain towards what is ahead.” - Philippians 13:3. It is futile to look back; what is done is done, there is no changing that. But I serve a mighty God, and I know that He can restore the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). He can turn my past failures into triumphs, and He can turn my mourning into joy. God is forever doing a work in me, all for His glory, and that is a very worthwhile thing to be a part of.

So as I begin my journey of turning my eyes away from worthless things, I expect God to show me some spectacular things. I expect my walk with Him to grow even more, as I will have more time to spend in His Word. I will have more time to spend on extracurricular activities that will let me tap into the creative and unique being that He has made me, and maybe I will find some undiscovered and hidden talent. I will have time to really stop and focus on the beauty of all that is around me, which He has created for our enjoyment and His glory, and I will truly be revived in His way.

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