Refuse to Settle: Time to Thrive

12:26 PMHeather

Discontented.  Unfulfilled.  Unsatisfied.  Disenchanted.  Disappointed.  I'm afraid far too many of us would say that these words describe, at least to some degree, our current feelings about our lives, or at least some portion of them.  Whether or not you're a follower of Jesus.  It just doesn't seem to matter, really.  Because I believe there's an epidemic of grand proportions even within the Church (not to mention the world at large) when it comes to our level of satisfaction with our lives.  

I myself would readily admit that I fall in this category.  I've wrestled with these feelings, wondering what I'm missing.  Yes, I know, Jesus is supposed to satisfy.  Of course.  But, yet, I have not been able to shake the feeling that I'm missing something.  I've enjoyed fleeting seasons of fulfillment.  Or moments of feeling so contented in one area of my life, while another area feels just so-so.  What, indeed, must happen for me to reach that pinnacle of satisfaction?  

In a blinding trifecta of messages, God has revealed some pretty profound answers to this question for me.  All within the last week.  It's dizzying.  And exciting.  And, as is often the case, incredibly simple.  Once again, I overcomplicate my life--including my faith.  Actually, particularly my faith.

First, I'm finishing up Jennie Allen's study called Stuck. It's some good stuff, I tell you.  She has a way of zinging me between the eyes in a loving and gentle way.  Last week, I was diving into the chapter on sadness--an area where many of us get stuck in our faith and in our lives.  Here is her epiphany.  

We must lower our expectations.  For real.  Not of God.  No, we must lower our expectations of this world and this life because it's not what we were made for.  God placed eternity into the hearts of all men.  As long as we walk this broken planet, our hearts will never be fully satisfied.  Because we will not be home, where we belong.  

"Denmark has been labeled as one of the happiest places to live on the planet.   When researchers went in to try to discover why the people were so happy, they learned it was because they held relatively low expectations of their lives...This live was not meant to deliver.  Our hope and expectations are for the next life, which will deliver beyond what we can dream."   --Jennie Allen, Stuck 

Mind blown.  But of course, I place way too high an expectation on the things of this world, the relationships in this world.  As I wrote in my study book, I place expectations on the world that are truly only worthy of God Almighty.

Duh. I felt a stirring here.  A sense of unlocking some truths that could free me as I turn to assign my expectations to the only thing that is really worthy of them.  And release the expectations I place on those things and people around me.  

Two days later, I found myself and my family at a Casting Crowns secret show.  Yep, Ms. Planner-of-all-things stepped outside my box and jumped in my car to head to a concert all spur of the moment.  WHO am I, anyway?  Even in my yoga pants, baseball cap, pony tail, and no make-up state.  I did it!  And it was so very worth it.  Besides that I believe that I, along with the other mom who joined us, earned some major Cool Mom points on that one.  

So we sat, just a few feet from the band, in that intimate gathering of 100 fans, and these lyrics from their new song Thrive just knocked me upside the head.  Part two of the trifecta.

We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It's time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive

Into Your word we're digging deep
To know our Father's heart

Into the world we're reaching out
To show them who You are

Wowsie wow wow.  Made for so much more.  Than ordinary lives.  Time to thrive--not just survive.  And there you have it--a repeat of the theme to sit at Jesus' feet so that I might become the feet of Jesus (JR Vassar).  Dig into the Word in order to reach out.  

Indeed, indeed.  Lower expectations of this world.  Tying my life and contentment to this world only brings me to a place of merely surviving.  Dealing with disappointment.  ENOUGH! Time to thrive!  Time to place myself firmly at the feet of Jesus, day after day, minute by minute.  There--and only there--will I begin to thrive as a result.

And BAM!  Sunday's sermon by JR Vassar tied it all up with a bow.  It was the knock-out punch.  And, I've been so very eager to share it with you--all of these lessons in this last week. 

Expectations we place on this world and the people around us.  That cause us to settle for ordinary things.  Because this world creates for us a thing called hyper reality.  Never heard the term before.  But, I can't stop thinking about it.  Because it echoes and articulates this blog post that I already had plotted out before I ever sat down in church on Sunday.  Am I the only one who remains in awe when these "coincidences" happen?  

Okay, back to hyper reality.  Here's the definition:

"an embellished version of life created by media oversaturation of what's real or normal.  An exaggerated portrayal of what's normative that creates a deep discontentment because it sets expectations of what is real or normal so unrealistically high. Not even just in celebrities but also in social media--new benchmarks in life are being created as digitally edited versions of life create an 'I will be happy when' mentality."      -JR Vassar

Hyper reality, folks.  There you have it.  We live in this fallen world and we are made for the eternal.  We set our expectations and hopes on the things of this world.  While we live in a culture that creates consumerism and unrealistic expectations based on the overload of a portrayal of hyper reality.

Can you just sit and soak all this in for a week or month or year or two?  Because it is so much to digest.  And it is so very true.  And yes, seriously, the truth does set us free.

We have allowed ourselves to settle.  For the things the world tries to convince us are "real" and satisfying and worthy of our hopes and dreams and expectations.  And while we pray it fills us up, it actually drains us dry.  It creates falsehoods within our hearts and souls, substituting the place for expectations designed for things of Heaven alone.  It makes us merely survive.  From one fleeting high to the next.  One perfectly-social media-post-worthy moment to the next.  One wonderful good moment in a relationship to the next.  Chasing after a mirage of satisfaction that actually will never really satisfy.  Assigning our hopes and dreams on things that were never intended to be worthy of them.  Creating for ourselves nothing but a vacuum of discontentment that cannot be filled.  

Because Christ alone is the Bread of life and the Living Water.  He alone quenches the thirst and hunger that we attempt to fill with the world's fleeting moments. That we spend our time and money on--these fleeting moments.

How we all miss the mark.  It's so easy to do, no need to beat ourselves up.  But how about we all refuse to settle any longer?  

How about we position ourselves firmly at the feet of Jesus?  Be like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season, not withering but prospering as we delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it (Psalm 1)?  How about we call a spade a spade and say, this world is not enough--I must lower my expectations of it.  I want to THRIVE.  I was made for more than ordinary things.  I was made for the eternal.  And there, I shall set my hopes.  I will rip out the hyper reality influences and refuse to get sucked in any further to their lies and deceit?  

Because He alone.  Our relationship with Him alone really is the stuff that feeds our souls.  If God is real and Christ is who He says He is, then He really is enough.  He alone really satisfies.  I'll release everyone and everything else from the pressure to fill me.  

And I will jump at this time and opportunity to thrive.  Digging into His Word.  Lingering at His feet.  Learning to make it my every moment mission.      

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