I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "dwell on these things." It doesn't say "remember to glance at them once in a while" or "take a walk around them then go back to what you were doing" -- it says "dwell." As in "make your habitation in" or "hang out in" or "live there." Dwell.
That's really hard. When your child with Asperger's is huddled in a corner with his hands over his ears screaming "everybody hates me." When you sit down to pay the bills and there just isn't enough to go around and you've been trying to get a 2nd job but nobody's hiring. When you find out that one of your kids has been cheating on school assignments and you now have to figure out how to redeem the time without totally crushing the child - even though you kinda feel like crushing him just a little bit. When a storm rips the awning off your house and that awning provided the shady playspace for the kids that allowed you to get a few moments of uninterrupted work time in the house.
But that's not where I'm supposed to dwell because those things are anything but lovely or of good repute, although they are true. Maybe there's a deeper truth in them that I'm supposed to dwell in. Maybe the lovely, good thing is that my child can verbalize that he thinks everybody hates him; many other kids with his same condition can't express that at all. I have an inroad into his mind and am able to interact and counteract that kind of thinking. I am blessed. Maybe the thing that is worthy of praise is that God has provided for us so that we are still fed and clothed and together under one roof. Maybe the pure and honorable thing is that when confronted, my child told the truth about his cheating, was broken when he realized that it wasn't just about the work but about the broken trust, has repented and is submitting to discipline and correction. And the lovely thing is that God held my tongue enough to let me correct and train without belittling and demeaning. Maybe the truth is that awnings are replacable (according to finances, of course...) and while the storm destroyed an outdoor luxury it didn't affect the roof over our heads that keeps us protected from the elements.
Dwell on these things. Live there. Choose to see the circumstances around you for what they REALLY are, not for what they feel like on the surface. And what are they really? They are opportunities to press closer into Christ, to ask Him to respond in His way through you because you just don't see the lovely in it, to have Him open your eyes to what was hidden, to learn what it means to give thanks in everything. An opportunity to pull a Paul and Silas and sing your heart out in the middle of a dark, dirty, poor, infested prison cell. And to really mean it. Because you've dwelt in the lovely to the point of understanding that GOD HIMSELF INHABITS - dwells in, shows up in, makes His presence clearly seen and felt, is powerful to move in - THE PRAISES OF HIS PEOPLE. When we choose to dwell where we're supposed to, we find ourselves dwelling in the same place as God.
It is about time for an update!
5 years ago