Who we are becoming on the inside eventually will be discovered by people on the outside. The more conflicts, crises, and challenges we encounter, the more our character becomes forged, formed, and displayed. As we begin to reflect together on what has happened over this past year, you may discover that you have changed. If you’ve followed my blog, you may have also discovered that I’ve changed, and I’ve included some pictures today of some of my unexpected experiences from 2020.
But when do you slow down and examine and discuss the changes that are going on in and between one another? Do you just keep to yourself, hoping that no one really notices that you’ve started to shut down and that you’ve stayed away more from people that you used to interact with more openly? Do you just keep busy so that you won’t have time to actually slow down and feel and deal with uncomfortable emotions? Do you spend less time interacting with the people in your family and invest more time with the screens of your life? Have pseudo-relationships replaced real relationships? Has face-timing replaced face-to-face communication where you get to read people’s nonverbals and listen and really get to know one another? Has church become an online experience like shopping and gaming?
Have you discovered positive changes occurring within and around you in response to all of the changes occurring in our culture? Have you noticed the good in those around you and have taken the time to affirm them? When was the last time that you interrupted someone around you long enough to tell them how much they mean to you and how much you care for and love them? Go and do that and then finish reading this blog. What happened when you intentionally set out to love on those around you? Why not do it again when you finish reading this blog. Do it three times, and you’re starting a habit.
If you slow down, what will you discover that has been shaping your current thought-life and your perspectives? What truths and what lies have you been feeding on this past week? What have you been tempted to buy that someone else says that you must have to be happy? Where have you been tempted to compromise in order to get something that you want that you don’t really need? Where do you discover that the enemy is gnawing away at you in order for you to sin so that you feel justified in doing so?
What if you don’t make much time for self-reflection? What if you just get annoyed by all of these reflection questions? It’s easier to just stay busy and distracted rather than inspecting our lives and the fruit that we are producing. But if the people around you seem stressed out or overly anxious, they might be telling you something. If people around you are becoming easily angered and blowing up, they might be saying a lot. On the other hand, if you notice that your comrades seem to have peace during the storm, they’re probably speaking volumes about you.
I wonder what you’ll hear God say if you ask Him, “How’s our relationship going?” Does He have to interrupt something to get your attention? Do you wait on the Lord each day and listen for Him to tell you what to say and what you are to do? What’s been happening in your heart and in your soul?
Last week I didn’t blog. I believe that God has been strongly advising me to only speak what He tells me to say. God was speaking to me, but it wasn’t something that I was supposed to blog. In the process, I kept interacting with people who couldn’t seem to hear from God, and it really bothered them. Does it bother you when you’re not hearing from God? Or is your life so busy and distracted and consumed by something else that you don’t even notice when He’s not speaking to you?
I believe that God is continuously revealing Himself to us because that’s His nature. He communicates His love and truth and grace because that’s who He is and because we’re His children. He’s a relational God who wants to connect with us throughout each day. Discovering how and why and what God is saying to us is extremely important. Discerning God’s voice and God’s will doesn’t just happen. Doing what He tells us to do doesn’t just happen unless we’ve conditioned ourselves to become obedient. When His words and His will become ours—something amazing happens! We’ll think, feel, and sound different. We’ll make different decisions from most people around us. We’ll be known for our love, not what we own or what we’ve done or what we hate. We’ll be lingering more with God and with people to discover the next things that we’re supposed to learn relationally.
If you’ve made it all of the way to the end of this blog, you are discovering what’s most important to me. God and you! I love finding new ways to pass on what I’m learning from God and from the people that He’s using to shape me. Don’t be afraid to discover what you don’t know. It’s how you learn. It’s how you grow. And it’s more fun to do it together. Make room this Christmas season to discover what you haven’t yet learned about God, yourself, and the people around you. We always make time to do what’s most important to us.