And it is a great morning. We're not sure what (specifically) is helping, whether the acupuncture or just time or meds... but my neck is finally improving, at least a little! And for that - and your prayers - I am truly thankful. I miss you guys and hope to be back to blogging as usual very soon.
But in the meantime, will you humor me for a few minutes, as I share a few thoughts on something? We watched a great little movie this weekend that I just loved, and I have a few comments to offer on it. So I'm going to step outside my usual food commentary and ask - have you seen the movie Facing the Giants? You can see the trailer here.
The movie came out a couple years ago, and we're just now getting to see it. But I'm so glad we did! I get so tired of watching big-budget movies that have no heart or soul, and often glorify values or causes I just don't agree with, and which don't leave me cheering for anything. So much of what is evidently considered entertainment these days seems to draw its so-called "appeal" from shock value, vulgarity or violence as much as anything. I just don't see that there is any real art or talent in that.
But this is a small-budget movie with a HUGE heart. It's family-friendly, suitable for all ages and quite well-done, and the production quality doesn't say "small budget" at all. I don't think I would have ever guessed the story behind its production, but I find it amazing.
Meanwhile, there were a few threads woven through the story that were very real to me and had special meaning at this particular point in my life. We've been through a bit of a rough few weeks around here, and I needed to be reminded of some things. Granted it's not like we've had anything truly horrible happen, and I thank God for that. But we lost our 12 year old dog over the course of three weeks of serious illness, and of course most of you readers know that I've had some pinched nerve and pain issues that have been debilitating.
Anyway, back to the movie - it's a football movie, which is my favorite sport this time of year. And it's about high school football, which takes me waaaay back! I won't give away any plot points in case you haven't yet seen it, but there were a lot of great one-liners, a very sweet story and a few underlying themes that really hit home to me after the last few weeks.
Also, the soundtrack includes several songs by some of my favorite Christian artists. One is Third Day, which includes the lyric
The song is catchy anyway, and I love the group and almost all of their songs. But I especially love this lyric, because it reminds continual, constant worriers like me that there is no point in stressing and worrying over everything. It's a total waste of time and energy, as most of the things I worry over are not in my control anyway. Can I be real for a second, as PW would say? :-) I am so bad about becoming consumed with the nightmare scenarios in my own head. I can take a situation that's maybe not great, but not catastrophic, and in my head, in about 5 seconds flat, it becomes a doomsday scenario. I really am praying about my attitude in this area, but I love the message of this song, which reminds me that my real focus should be on God, and His control of my life - NOT my view of my circumstances, which is limited and dim at best, and not my lack of control over a lot of them.
This movie gently reminded me that it's not my job to run my universe (something my control freak nature needs to hear about every other second). It's God's job to be God and run the universe, and it's my job to obey Him and follow Him. He's not expecting me to be perfect at anything, any more than any human parent would expect perfection from a toddler. Compared to God, we're all children (no matter what our natural age or experience) and I need to remember that it's His job to be in charge - not mine. So whatever my circumstances may be, they aren't for me to worry over (want proof? I'm trying not to stress about this recent election ;-0). Matthew 6:27 says,
I know that verse by heart, and yet I never seem able to truly internalize and apply it - I get that my worrying is futile (in the sense that it just wears me down and won't change anything, anyway), but I'm still working on stopping the behavior. And I finally think I get it - it's not up to me to change me. It's up to God to do that.
Some of you know that I'll be trying to go back into the office to work for a full five days this week. After the pain and stress of the last four, and barely being able to sit up some days, I'm not looking forward to the idea of sitting (either in the car in traffic, or at my desk) for basically 10 hours each day. But there again - I need to focus on trusting and obeying, not stressing over what I can't control. And I seriously need to work on my attitude, which is a real weak point for me. I'm asking God to work on that area, too :-) I truly am thankful to have a job, thankful for understanding and patient coworkers, family, and friends - and thankful for each of you that reads this blog! In the meantime, I would ask for your continued prayers. (And thank you in advance!!)
Another line I loved from the movie is a quote from Rev. 3. In the movie, they discuss the concept that
"We serve a God who opens doors that no man can shut. And He closes doors that no man can open."
This verse reminds me that again, God is in control of all circumstances. And not in some nebulous, ooey-gooey, vague sense. He really IS in control, even over the mundane details of our lives. He's not some mystical spirit. He's real. And what He promises, He will deliver. What He raises up, will stand. And if it's His will that something comes into or goes from my life, it will, regardless of what I might try to do to change those circumstances. My job, in the meantime, is to love, trust and obey Him right where I am, waiting on His timing to move the puzzle pieces of my life, plans, hopes and dreams according to His master plan.
That thought ties into the overall theme of the movie - that of purpose. What's our purpose here? All of us. Not just our purpose as men or women, mothers or fathers, wives or husbands, siblings, friends, coworkers...but our overall purpose as humans placed on this planet? I of course realize others may have different views - but I agree with the movie's premise -
So my challenge to myself this week - and to you - is this: Whether it's rainy or sunny this week, whether circumstances are wonderful or horrible, whether we sleep well or not (this one's huge for me :-) and whether things go the way we want or not - remember the purpose of this life. Remember why we're here. And seek to do everything we can this week to focus not on our circumstances, our worries or our fears - focus on God. Keep looking up, and trust Him for guidance. Be joyful!! He is faithful. He knows the way, even though we can't see around the next bend in the path. And if we just ask Him, He will keep us on His path.
I love the analogy one writer makes to the Christian walk - any of you who are parents will understand this. When we put our hand in God's, our security in walking with Him comes not from our strength or ability to hold onto Him and maintain our grasp. Parents, you know this one - when you're holding your child's hand, who's got the stronger grip? Which person is not going to let go, not going to let the other one fall, no matter what? Whether or not the child stumbles, whether or not he pulls away or even tries to run away... which person knows the way, and is strong enough and able to support and guide the other one on it? The parent, of course. And with God as our Father, our security comes from Christ's grip on us. Not our grip on Him. It is a huge relief to know that He's got hold of me, and He will never fail, never falter and never let go. That's good news, because my grip is rarely secure (and some days, I admit, I want to do my own thing and don't even want to hold His hand... but like any parent, He maintains His grip, regardless). And like that metaphorical child, I am safe not because I hold Him - but because He holds me.
One final thought - and my very favorite line from this movie - delivered by a character played by Mark Richt (y'all know I have so much respect for him as a Christian, an adoptive parent and Georgia's best coach ever!) -
If you noticed - that's one reminder for every day of the year :-)
Let me know if you've seen the movie, and what your thoughts were.
Happy Sunday - and I love y'all!