Doing the Hard Thing

8:53 AMHeather

Just do it.  That's what the world says.  "It" being anything that makes us feel good or anything that involves following our heart.  (Of course, we know from Jeremiah 17:9 that "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?")  Um, that being said--the heart is not such a good compass or motivator if you ask me.

Oh, sure, Nike tells us to just do it, meaning the hard work of exercising and getting fit.  Certainly, good things--to be sure.  But, again--this implies just doing it with a self-serving motive--to look good and improve ourselves.  It skims the surface.

If there's anything that this little season of "7" is challenging me to do, it's to do the HARD thing, not just the right thing.  Certainly more than "just doing it."  No, I'm being challenged to peel back the layers of just "it" or the "right thing."  I'm being challenged to do the hard thing for the right purpose.  For His glory--because He asked me to.  Not just accomplishing "it" because it's a goal.  And not just establishing "right things" that I complete, legalistically as if checking off a list.  But, going even deeper.  Going beyond.  To the hard thing.  Simply because God asks me to and calls me to obey.  Simply because God is calling me to attack my thought life, to examine my heart, to throw away lame excuses.  And to get a grip to obey.  With self-denial.  With discipline.  To bring Him pleasure.  To do the hard work of surrendering more, and thereby find an abundance and a deeper abiding with Him than perhaps I've ever known.  Because He gave it all for me.  And, it's time to try to follow His lead.

It's hard to wrap it all up in an articulate fashion here, bloggy friends.  Because it's still so jumbled in my mind as I continually unravel new lessons daily--some days, hourly.  But, I think one way to summarize it is to embrace the difference between ownership and stewardship.

Ownership says it's my body.  It's my health and appearance.
Stewardship says it's His temple and His gift to me.  Honor Him with it.

Ownership says they are my clothes.  
Stewardship says I have a bigger responsibility to not overindulge.  And to be modest and frugal.  And to be thankful for all I have.

Ownership says they are my possessions.  My house.  My stuff.
Stewardship says it's all a gift.  How does He want me to best use my resources for kingdom work?

Ownership says it's my television, computer, iPhone.  It's my free time.
Stewardship says help me to number my days correctly and to use my time wisely.

Ownership says I deserve it.  I'm entitled to it.  
Stewardship says I deserve nothing and recognizes the powerful gift of grace Jesus gave us on the cross.

Ownership denies any obligation to anyone else.  It's my choice.
Stewardship embraces our higher call to impact the world around us and to surrender to His choices for our life's purpose.

Ownership says more, more, more.  Bigger and better.
Stewardships says enough.  True treasure comes from being generous.

Ownership paints us into a corner of our own little world.
Stewardship opens our eyes to the bigger world and bigger needs and throws open the doors to reach out to it.

Ownership says I can do enough to get by--good enough. Status quo.
Stewardship asks what more do you want of me, Lord?

Ownership says it's too hard, life's too short, have fun, why bother with hard things.
Stewardship says to run our race in such a way to get a prize, to compete and go into strict training, to quit running aimlessly through life, but to beat my body and make it a slave in my quest to earn the everlasting crown.

Ownership says here and now.
Stewardship says eternity.

Listen.  On some level, this feels rudimentary.  Like I should already know it.  But, in this season, at this time--this is life changing stuff.  Because I'm realizing just how much I've allowed myself to live in an ownership mentality.  But, God wants more.  He calls for more.  And He blesses that obedience to do the "more" beyond what I can imagine.

Here's how it's translating, in a practical sense.  After the food fast, I realized how sluggish and lousy I feel when I eat badly.  I want to be a better steward.  That means more fruits and vegetables, much less sugar, very few carbs, and very little processed foods.  So that, in doing this hard thing, I can best use my health for His glory.  And guess what?  I have more energy.  More joy.  More peace.

Hand in hand with my eating habits, I'm finding a pretty miraculous transformation when it comes to my fitness.  I actually feel so much better when I get up at 5 or 6 a.m. and work out.  On the days that I do boot camp or my new 5K training, I am blessed all day long.  My day starts better--if I can only push myself out of my comfy bed.  Then, it's all worth it.  I have time to spend with the Lord before the kids are up.  I'm ready to greet them with a smile and some energy instead of my "just woke up" funk.  And all day long, I feel better.  Wow.  Who knew?  That this sleep loving, exercise hating, non-athlete might come to a place where I realize the value of regular exercise?  And I revel in the way God is blessing me because I am pushing myself to do the hard thing.

From my clothes fast week, I'm realizing just how much I actually have.  And how little I actually "need."  Because up to now, I've disguised my wants as needs and called that good enough.  But, I don't need an overflowing closet.  I can live more simply when it comes to clothes.  I don't have to dress to impress.  God looks at the heart--not the outward appearance as man does.  I must focus myself on pleasing God, not man.  And accomplish that ends by beautifying my soul for His glory.  I can also be a better steward of my purchasing power, too, by educating myself on poor labor practices and avoiding those brands and products.

From my possessions fast week, I'm learning that I can do the hard thing to untangle myself from the consumer web.  I can embrace that I am more than a discontented buyer who needs the best, bigger, newest, latest and greatest.  My value and worth are not tied to what I can buy or what I can own.  Because too much of that actually owns me.

And, this week, as I enter the media fast, I can realize just how very precious my time is.  Just how much I've allowed technology to distract me and steal my attention and focus.  Attention that I owe to my family, my children, my husband, my friends...and my Lord.  And, I'm only on day 2 of trying to cut the leash between me and technology.   

I hate to admit it--but I am loathing this week just going into it.  Because I like to sit brainless and watch a little television.  And, I've somehow gotten into the habit of checking my iPhone approximately every ten seconds just to see if some late breaking news or email or text will change my life and my day.  All the while I seek the connection I receive through social media or emails, I'm actually cutting out any REAL connections.  How about ACTUAL face time instead of that great technology of face timing?  So, this week, I'm not only cutting the cord with my technology and bringing big reductions, but I'm working to intentionally connect with the people in my life.  The old fashioned way.  Hands free.  And I don't mean speaker phone.

Oh, how I hope that I can really learn and grow and glean from all that God is trying to teach me.  I want these lessons to stick.  I want to look back and see that this season of my life was a fresh start as fresh revelations brought me to deeper faith.  I want to have the will power and strength and willingness to toss out any heart motives and thoughts that are getting in the way of resting completely in the Lord.  

How I want to not "just do it."  Or to even do the right thing.  But, to be willing to go all the way--the extra mile--to do the HARD THING.  To refuse to settle for the mediocrity of "ownership"--and reach with all I am for the stewardship I owe to the One who gave His all for me.  

That I can press on when it hurts or is hard.  And say, "all for you, God!  All for you!  I will run harder, faster, more focused... even when it hurts.  Because I want to run well.  I want to do more--not just enough.  I want to find the bigger blessings and abundance that comes with more obedience.  Keep working on me, Lord.  Open my eyes.  Open my ears.  Give me strength!  It's all Yours.  Make me ever mindful.  To use all my talents, time, and resources to the best of Your ability.  All for You.  Even when it's hard.  Actually especially when it's hard!  Because when it's hard, then I reach more dependence on You.  And that's what you want.  You want me to cling to you with all I am."    

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