I have considered taking a periodic, written inventory of the thoughts and spiritual revelations that rise to the top during any given week or month, summarizing them in three to five points. These are all from the last three weeks, I have ranked them by emotional weight not chronological order, but this time number one is also the most recent.
3.) Which things in my life are gnats, and which things are camels? I have borrowed this language from Jesus’ rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:24,
“You blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
Much of what Jesus was saying here had to do with them striving toward the letter of the law while violating the spirit of the law. The theme of my personal application is similar: I need to evaluate whether certain worries and concerns that I carry are distracting me from giving attention to issues that would be more worthy of my concern, or said another way, would be more fruitful to be concerned about. Maybe even more precisely: what am I blind to in my mindset and personality that I should be focusing on and fixing?
What example could I give in order to break down this idea? What load of concern do I carry that prevents me from carrying, or even seeing, a more productive load to carry? I would say that I worry about myself too much. This worry creates anxiety that prevents me from engaging with people more. Thus, while I strain at the gnats of my own imperfections, real or exaggerated or imagined, I swallow the camel of not actually and practically loving other people. What’s another example of this pattern? Focusing on idealistic matters to the neglect of practical ones, I think, has been a challenge at points in my life. My mind seems to be wired for ideas and deep thought, which is fine as long as I can nurture that nature without being addicted to it, or limited by it.
Finally, this question of gnats versus camels in my life has to do with what things I prioritize when making decisions. I pray about life decisions. How I pray about them is where the struggle is. The struggle is in rightly discerning which things are big in my eyes, in my focus, versus which things are big, or important, to God. My focus needs to be on things that are more important to Him, so that I don’t miss the fruit that God wants me to glean from a particular situation. Part of discerning what is important to Him is discerning what I am wrongly hung up on, and breaking free of it.
2.) You don’t know why that happened yet. This thought came to me while talking with a friend who had gone through several life changes in the last year. There are some things that we might have done or tried that seemed like they failed, or they were pointless, like I started some project, and it ended up being a total flop, or I tried to have a really important conversation with this particular person in my life, and now they won’t talk to me anymore. And it it’s like “Yes, at this moment in time, that thing I tried looks like it failed, but if I am being honest with myself, and honoring to God’s capability, I don’t have all the information to accurately judge whether my effort was a failure or just a step closer to success. I don’t yet have all the information needed to authoritatively and completely say why something happened.”
I know that the judgements that I could jump to about my situation could limit what I see in my current situation, and consequently, what I could glean from my current situation.
1.) Seeing today as redeemed. This has to do with seeing today, (that is, the work, the people, the opportunities of the day) through God’s eyes, rather than seeing the day through the lenses of my own limited thinking. What might my thinking be limited by? Perhaps past hurts, maybe the things I say about myself or my situation that are not rooted in God. I have heard it said that people who are still struggling with past hurts don’t experience the present, instead, they experience the past over and over again, like, no matter what the current situation is, they always feel and say the same things. No way. I want to apply the redemption that Jesus has purchased to the vision I have of my day. Maybe this is an odd scripture to apply here but, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” (from Acts 10:15) Do not speak limitation where God wants to speak life because He has redeemed that life with His own blood. Today is a redeemed day, a clean day, a new day, so I ask God that I might see all the details of my day in alignment with that truth.