Easter services are over, decorations are starting to be put away, and thoughts of a few days of rest sound so good to church staffs. All of the hard work and extra hours of preparation have been worth it as we look back over the past 40 days of Lent. But what have we spiritually learned about ourselves? How have we changed? Are there areas of growth that are needed? Many questions have been raised, and so I am encouraging a time of reflection on what all of this means for us as disciples of Jesus Christ.
For me, the first area that has really changed is that I am addicted to journaling. Now don’t get me wrong, I journaled before this, but I see it now as an integral part of how I process my thoughts and how I organize my day. I bought myself a Moleskine notebook and two Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens and I write every day. In the process of these past 40 days my handwriting has also improved. So when we look at how we can reflect, try journaling. There are no exact rules on how to do it, so just do it.
Secondly, reflect on your devotional life. I found that my time with God improved this year and I became more focused. What did I do differently? My attitude changed. I no longer looked at what was in it for me, but how can what I am learning benefit others that I come across throughout the day. I made my devotional time more applicational as opposed to reflective. As I did that, I did learn more and I grew more, but I also felt freedom to share more of what I was learning. That is important if we want to meet the needs of those around us.
Third, who are you trying to please? Part of a study I was involved with over the past year helped me to identify that I was a people pleaser. Now that is not a bad thing in and of itself, but when that is taking your focus away from what God wants for your life, that is when problems come in. So put God first in everything. Aim to please him before even thinking about pleasing the world. That is when we experience the peace that many of us are seeking. I like these words from the Apostle Paul to the church at Philippi when trying to understand where are thoughts need to be focused:
Philippians 4: 4-9 (NRSV)
“4.) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5.) Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6.) Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7.) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8.) Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9.) Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
So take some time to reflect on where you are in your walk with Christ. And as you reflect, don’t forget your attitude of gratitude that I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. A heart full of gratitude can produce a change in ourselves and in the world around us.