Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Manifesto, Part I: The reasons

"A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus and/or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual's life stance. Manifestos relating to religious beliefs are generally referred to as creeds." -from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifesto)

One of my favorite of places to be is the beach, which is where I just returned from on a family vacation.  I especially love it when I am able to go, and the beach is not crowded.  And that is precisely how it was as we traveled this past weekend to St. George Island.  Of course, I love any chance our family has to take a vacation, but not all vacations are restful.  For example,take a vacation to DisneyWorld.  That is a FUN vacation, but with six kids and extended family, it's not usually a vacation we come back from well rested.

However, at this vacation, we s l o w e d down.  We stayed in a house, and ate all of our meals there.  The beach was a short walk away.  By necessity, right now, this was the only kind of vacation Joseph could have handled.  It meant that when he felt poorly, he could rest on the couch, and then in the afternoon, if he felt better, he could venture out.  We had our own private pool off the house, so it felt like we were in our own private bubble.  I'm not sure I have ever had a vacation this laid back, or slow paced.  Honestly, it was perfect. 

There was hardly another soul on the beach, and truly it was a place of peace and relaxation.  I love to just pack a chair, sit with sand squishing between my toes and the breeze in my face, and watch God show out.  And He always does. This time around, Joe and the kids had rays swimming around them in the water.  Then, there were dolpins.  A fish jumped out of the water doing acrobatics.  God was totally showing out.

 For me, it's places like that that really remind me of how big and awesome my God truly is.  If I truly serve a God who created the great white shark (though, thankfully, I didn't see any of those on vacation, lol), who tends to the seabirds and sets the times of the tide; if this same God truly loves me and cares for me enough that He withheld not even his beloved son from the pain of crucifixion; then whom or what should I fear?

The answer seems simple, sitting on the beach.

Maybe it's also just all the events of the past year, but I felt more aware of the moments passing this time around.  I can't say that being aware means I never waste moments, or that I now have some magical self discipline that causes me to always make the wisest decisions of how I spend my moments, but maybe I am growing in this, atleast.  Because I see how easy it is to let all the moments just slip away.  Life truly is a vapor, just like the grass.  It blooms and withers in the span of a few heartbeats.  And it's so easy to get caught up in reacting to life, instead of acting UPON it decisively.

All of the moments of life that we have seem so innocuous, so insignificant.  What does it matter if I go on facebook an hour or even thirty minutes a day, or watch tv a couple hours at night?  What's the big deal if I sleep in most days, instead of pushing myself to get a little exercise regularly, or read my Bible?  What's the big deal if I grab a bag of chips for a snack instead of something more healthy?  What is the big deal if I choose to keep my kids busy all the time with activities, and we never have time for family worship or just to eat dinner together?  What does it matter if I'm too busy to give my husband the best of myself, and instead all he gets is the leftovers of my time or attention?

Don't get me wrong.  I am not saying we should all make a bunch of crazy rules about this stuff.  Legalism stinks.  And there are times a little indulgence in something like junk food or sleeping in is perfectly fine, and maybe even necessary for sanity. I also recognize that life is about seasons, and there are times that it is easier to slow down, and other times we may be very busy, and we are doing EXACTLY what we have been called to do in that season of life.   But the whole of life is composed of moments, and I can't get them back once they are spent.   I was thinking this weekend about how moments add up to make habits sometimes, and habits add up to form character, and then before you know it, you have a destiny.  It all flows together; it's just easy sometimes not to intentional about it, and wonder how we end up where we are.

So today in the car driving home, I had hours to think about this.  It all rolled around inside my head, and the word that came to me was MANIFESTO.  Honestly, I had to look up the word, to see what it meant, because I have some negative connotations with the word, thanks to Karl Marx.  But actually, it was exactly the word I wanted  for what I need:  a Manifesto of my life.

I have all sorts of bad habits, and not because I do them a little.  I do them A LOT; otherwise, they wouldn't be habits, now would they? lol I like to stay up late, sleep late, I don't discipline myself to be in my Bible in any set way (I am IN my Bible, but it's just not a planned, consistent routine for me.  I'm more like a BINGE eater of God's word.  A few days off, then a couple hours of noshing.  lol )  Working out is hit or miss, and something I LOATHE.  And alot of the motivation for changing these habits is nonexistent because I don't have a great WHY for why I should change.  It's just not there.  It's like I'm 38 years old, and I'm still trying to figure out what God has created for me to do and be that fits the unique gifts and talents that I have.  I would have thought I would know a little more by this point in life, but oh well. 

If I ever want to be used by God in any significant way, I will have to be disciplined enough to develop some good habits.  And all of the discipline, I think, begins with the idea of the why....the manifesto, so to speak.  I don't think it means that success would be guaranteed, but it would give me sustainability in the face of difficulties.  It means having a WRITTEN vision or goal; a destination in mind that guides me through the uncharted waters of change, and all the moments I am living.  It would give me a way to filter out, to sift and make decisions.  The Bible speaks of this, I think, in some measure in Habakkuk 2: 2-3:

Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it. 
 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry."

Now, I know this passage is referring to the vision God gave a prophet, not just someone's goals or personal visions.  But the point I see here is, there is a benefit to writing things down, that getting our thoughts out on paper, or tablets even, lol clarifies things.  It makes them "plain." It simplifies things.  And in this day and age of all the noise and background busyness, who couldn't use a little simplicity and clarification to what is important and how all those moments are best to be spent?  

Ultimately, it all comes down to stewardship, doesn't it?   

 My plan is over the next few weeks to develop a manifesto for my life.  To think through the WHYs, so maybe the HOWS will become a little more doable.   To pull out my heart, prayerfully examine it, ask God to show me what I need to see to please Him more.  

Because I'm sick of busyness without purpose.  I'm sick of doing "everything" only to find I am doing nothing well.   I'm scared to death now, not of making a mistake or failing at something I try, but of never trying anything worthwhile at all.  Of filling my mind and time with useless things, only to find out when it's too late how useless and worthless those things really were.  That, my friends, is something to fear.  Of taking this one chance I have to live  a life with purpose and blowing it because I'm consumed by my own selfish vanity.  Yuck.  No thanks.  

There has been way too much dross in my life, and not nearly enough gold.  I recognize I can't change myself, but I can be mallable in his hands.  I can allow HIM to change me.  So that's my plan.  If I can do nothing else, the least I can do is get myself yielded into a position where there is atleast a HOPE that HE will do some transformation.  And I need it.  I need it bad, folks.  I covet prayers, right now.  Change is always painful, but so is not changing.   

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