In my time with Jesus this morning, I was deeply challenged. First, today began for me a new start to prayer journaling. I've done it with some consistency at many points in my life. The past year or so has not been one of those times. I stopped journaling on purpose, because after some time, it had grown stale. But lately, I have sensed the Lord leading me to jump back into prayer journaling. Specifically, I am reading through the Psalms and Proverbs and using them to direct my prayers.
So this morning, in Psalm 1, I have been reminded of what happens to the righteous and what happens to the wicked. God, do I want to be the righteous man! He is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water. He is prosperous in all that he does, because he is a man of action doing what God would have him do. He does not waffle. He does not waiver. He does not sit on the sideline paralyzed by fear, afraid to move. He attempts great things and he accomplishes them, because a tree firmly planted by streams of water bears much fruit. Lately, God has been reviving a passion in me. I want to see people fall in love with Jesus. Now, I've been passionate about this for most of my life, but lately God has been stirring in my heart in ways that he never has before. I want to help people fall in love with Jesus. I want to be the righteous man who prospers in everything that he does so that I can accomplish the things that God has placed in my heart.
Second, I came across a statement this morning from an old hero of the faith that has caused me to do some self-evaluation. When talking about what other people say about us or to us (whether slander, reprimand, critique), Thomas a'Kempis asked the question:
"Why do such small matters go your heart if not because you are still carnal and pay more attention to people than you should?"
He then goes on to answer is own question with the following statement:
"Because you are afraid of being despised, you will not accept reproof for your faults and you try to hide in excuses."
Ouch! I have to admit, that many times this describes me all too well. What about you? Sometimes hurtful words from others bother us way too much. Why are we so focused on what other people think about us? If we are living for God, why do we even care what other people think? On the other hand, when others offer genuine critique or reproof, we begin hiding in excuses refusing to accept their assessment of us.
Well, I for one, am done. I'm done hiding behind excuses. I want people to have open opportunities to correct me, to critique my actions, my ministry, and my productivity. Here's why: as I already said, God is stirring something in my heart. I want to do great things for God, not for myself, but for his glory and honor. I want to see people fall in love with Jesus, and I am passionate enough about that to allow other people the right to help me better myself and my productivity. And I'm done caring about what anybody else thinks about that.
a'Kemis also said that "it is a small matter to suffer a few words sometimes, since you do not yet have the courage to endure hard blows." So I'm ready to suffer a few words now, so that I can endure the hard blows later.