Engage(ing)

So, I’ve had lots of opportunities to be engaged with different thoughts, dreams, relationships and situations lately.  I’m not gonna lie- my flesh has wanted to react instead of respond and I have wanted to spend A LOT of time thinking, reflecting and adjusting arguments in my head….  From seriously crazy conversations on Facebook to family, friends, and strangers- several “dramatic” situations have come up in the past few months. With two young babies at home, I have a limited time to process, counsel, and respond….. and God continues to refine my responses to people and to drama.  I’m learning when to engage or not engage (walking away and sometimes running away from situations).  What I’m learning:  Everyday I choose what I will engage with my mind, body, and soul.  Engage simply means, “to occupy our attention or efforts.”

How do I engage my mind…. What will I spend time learning today?  What books will I read?  What will I watch? What will my mind meditate on? OMMMMMMM…. What conversations will be engaged? Who has my attention and time?  What topics have my attention and time? If I responded to everything that came my way, I would seriously go crazy, shut down, and cuss a lot more. 🙂 So, how do I choose?

One of my favorite quotes is, “This is how God loves us: he pays attention to us.”  (John Ortberg) Since time belongs to God, He has the luxury of being engaged with us at all times.  He pays attention to us every hour of every moment.  I’m so thankful that I can ask my wise Father, “What would you have me do today?”  and “For Your sake (God’s sake) help me be focused on You today.”

Let me say this: Typical is my enemy.  I fight against it.  I also hate drama.  Avoiding awkward situations or hard conversations is typical….so I find myself in them…a lot.  Not because I love fighting, but I think that dialogue and mixing with people that aren’t just like me is ABSOLUTELY essential.  In fact, apart from God’s Word and prayer time, I always learn more about the character of God and His vigorous love for us when I engage with people I have “nothing” in common with.  And….I am completely humbled….I observe so many missed opportunities that believers (including myself) could lovingly present Jesus’ message or just listen to another’s point of view about things….but we choose not to take the chance/ not to engage/ not to be inconvenienced….  We miss out on God’s truth revealed everyday.  I am afraid to miss out on these opportunities, but I’m learning that God alone ordains them.  He sets opportunities aside for us so that His glory may be revealed and so that our faith may be complete.  This is great….now what….

I’m gonna have to Bible-reflect here and say that Jesus was such a great example to me, especially in this area.  I’ve been reading the gospels which are full of stories of His interactions with people of all types, religions, backgrounds, wealth and power status’.  He spent time with all types of people, He was engaging.  For the short time He was walking the earth He chose wisely who and when to engage conversations.  He knew when to invest in someone and He knew when to walk away. Although He never gave up on anyone, he let everyone choose.  Even the Roman soldiers that nailed Him to the cross- He gave them the same choice:  Himself or life apart from Him.  He had loving challenges for all sinners- “stop it (sin) and follow me!” “Turn away from temporary pleasures and follow me!”  He had some harsh words with the know-it-all religious folks that abused their resources and authority.  He used the simplest things to shame the self-proclaimed, “wise”.  Jesus was constantly provoking us to think and challenging us…..  his words still do.  Our invitation to engage:

God values engaging with us…He doesn’t play games:

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Matthew 7:8

He asks us to engage with others:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:15-17

Wise old Solomon says,

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear (respect) the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8)

I know that engage (ing) in life and culture is going to look different for everyone.  AND with every season of life- it changes!  Heck, it pretty much changes everyday.  I was just thinking the other day that I don’t have time to work on coolness anymore…and it’s a shame.  So seriously, where I’m at right now is this:  About 90% of the time, my #1 priority is taking care of my small children and nurturing my little family.  My kids are in a needy stage of life right now and this time is precious and non-refundable.  I understand that and most days (by the grace of God) embrace it!  With the remaining time spent on family and work, I have just a few precious hours to spend on other things and relationships.  More than ever, I realize that crazy drama is meant to steal my Joy, my time with the needy, hurting, and poor, and time for my responsibilities.  (desperately), I continue to ask God to fill my plate for the day with His Sovereign portion of engagements whether they be with family, others, or Him….otherwise, I may go completely crazy! I’m finding that everyday I need to re-ask Him to help me identify the “sidetracks” and to help me stay on course.  Also- daily dying to my selfish ambition and need for control is pretty hard.  But, the more I see Christ glorified and honored through my choices, I get addicted to it.  Jesus Christ in me wants Christ to have more glory… and I’m hoping to stay engaged with this posture-

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