I’ve been reading “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional by Oswald Chambers over and over for many years now, almost daily. I love it – and even though I am always reading new books, studies, and devotionals, this one is ALWAYS on my night stand. I don’t read it by the actual correct date, but simply read it through – some days I read several, sometimes I skip a day, etc…
You’d think I’d have committed everything to heart, or at least memory, by now and be living out what I have learned pretty effectively, right? So why is it that I can read the same devotion for the 20th time, even this one I’ve been stuck on and forcing myself to read every day for a MONTH and I still can’t get it right in my life?
Part of this one that I’ve been stuck on for a while (from the May 1 devotion) is about not looking for accolades and the flush of inspiration for the work you are doing, but rather doing our duties when things are tough, and when there are no “golden haloes and the flush of inspiration” to be found.
Chambers says, “God will give us touches of inspiration when He sees we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never make our moments of inspiration our standard; our standard is our duty.”
I am so guilty of getting caught up in seeking and relying upon those “mountain-top, gilt-edged moments of glory” – those times that are the peaks of our lives, from which we glean inspiration and motivation and feel that we are finally finding and meeting our purpose in life head on.
I guess, perhaps, in many ways, this “social media life” that so many of us have taken up – especially when you try to write and blog and make a living, or at least a hobby, out of it – can really exacerbate that desire, or even cause a bit of an addiction for the need to achieve that next big thing -that big adventure or event or job or trip that we can post about on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, our blogs, etc…
And when those things aren’t happening, or we’re in a creative funk (me, right now), we tend to lose hope and get into a rut that just keeps feeding on itself, until its seems to become a cycle of ineffectiveness we just can’t seem to break.
I get there every so often. Especially this time of year (though I’ve been in this one for a loooooong time – over a year, maybe?). I suffer a bit from “SAD” (self-diagnosed Seasonal Affected Disorder). As I write this, after taking my Vitamin D supplement, I sit here next to my Verilux “Happy Light” that is supposed to cheer me up or something, and I pray for inspiration to strike…something that will give me purpose, a reason to get up and GO each morning, excited and “on fire” about what I’m doing.
I’ve been spending the past few months, and especially the last two months, “JUST” being mom, wife, dutiful Tron – chauffeuring, shopping, cooking, decorating, un-decorating, cleaning, hostessing, laundering, and essentially feeling a bit like I’m living at “not-quite Downton Abbey” as the only servant around.
Some days I’m in the frame of mind to be very thankful that I get to be home with my boys and do these things, and I truly feel like God has blessed me with “freedom” to be able to do this.
And then other times, I’m in the frame of mind that I feel like a slave to it all – that I can’t escape it because if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. And full confession here – sometimes I want to send the dishes crashing onto the floor and walk out into a beach-y sunset… (I have to add in here that I have the most wonderful husband in the world who does way more than his fair share, and I thank God for him every day, many times!)
Sometimes this job just doesn’t seem like it’s me living out my full purpose in life…you know?
The point here is simply that I guess I want MORE – not more FOR myself, but more OUT OF myself.
Does that make sense?
The well of inspiration and the mountain-top experiences I’ve relied upon in the past to keep me going forward and motivated/inspired seem to have just dried up. I can’t find my groove, so to speak, and there is just no passion there, and no “that a girl”‘s to keep me going.
And through this passage in Chambers’ devotional, I am being reminded, over and over, that God STILL wants me to learn that I am not supposed to rely upon, or live for these rare gilt-laden moments or highs. These moments are instead supposed to be SURPRISES from him, that he will give me WHEN He sees that I’m not in danger of being “led away by them” – led away into thinking that I deserve them, or MUST HAVE them all the time.
I am to learn NOT to rely on them, but to “do my duties” EVEN WHEN the inspiration that I’ve come to expect and desire and rely upon isn’t there.
This means that my duties as a wife, a mom, a caregiver, a “domestic engineer”, a “chauffeur”, a “cook”, etc…I must learn to do with a spirit that comes from that well of joy that comes from the Holy Spirit residing deep within my soul, rather than from any earned or gifted extrinsic accolades and golden haloes.
It also means that if I am going to take on a “job” that I enjoy doing, such as writing or creating or selling or whatever, then I must learn to get down in the trenches and pull out the strength to do my duty on a daily basis even when those duties are really boring or challenging or dull, and when the mountaintop experiences aren’t filling up my calendar, and when the checks aren’t exactly rolling in, and the accolades are nonexistent.
In short, I can’t rely upon my emotions and emotional needs to keep me thriving and going and feeling purposeful and satisfied in this life.
We must realize that the trials and hardships and uninspired times we experience are all part of the plan for growing us stronger spiritually, and in our faith, and to be more like Christ in all ways.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
We must simply determine within our hearts and minds and souls to be persistent, to keep going, to DO OUR DUTIES…even through the low times, the times when the way is not paved with the lights of illumination and it even seems dark, scary, and foreboding at times.
Perseverance is vital to growing in faith, and God wants us to persevere no matter what happens, so we have to learn how to overcome obstacles, difficulties, trials, and tribulation so that we CAN experience victory in Christ.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
We draw from the well of inspiration that God has placed within us during those times, and we walk out the path of our lives IN FAITH.
“I have to lead my life in faith, without seeing Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7
So, I guess the lesson I need to truly learn from all this right now (so I can finally move on!!!) is this:
I have to put my head down, forge ahead, and do my duties, no matter how I FEEL. God is on my side, and even when He is quiet, and even when the path ahead is not illuminated with praise and glory, I press on IN FAITH, even though I feel that what I am doing is not perfect, but knowing that He is using each step to perfect me according to His will, and that victory is ahead. Praise be to God!