I don’t know if you have ever found yourself dealing with a set of circumstances beyond your control, but for the last few months that’s exactly where I have been, and to some extent I still am.
Following major surgery in June last year my health has been in a constant state of flux, going from average to awful for seemingly no good reason at all, never getting back to ‘good’ at any time since the summer.
Dealing with chronic pain and sickness, amidst lengthy hospital stays, juggling the demands of family life and work, as well as leading teams in church with the ever present need for routine tasks like housework, budgeting and ‘normality’, can take its toll.
I know some people who have dealt with much more than me and appear to be handling it so much better. Equally I have come across others who have been derailed by something that I may consider minor.
Either way, sometimes life seems to be more about handling a series of challenges and if you’re anything like me there are some days when you just don’t want to.
During the most recent bout of sickness I had one such day. With the school runs taken care of I had figured out that I didn’t even need to get dressed, far less accomplish anything, and was only too happy to keep my PJs on, curl up on the sofa and let my mum (who was visiting) run after me.
My uniform of choice for the day was a set of clothes designed for comfort, for sleep and for basically a time of inactivity. Any fleeting thought of getting up and being productive was over written by the pull of the pyjamas back to the sofa.
On my first day back at work a similar train of thought began hurtling down a one-way track. Before I knew it I was considering spending the day, laptop on knee, with one foot in my bed, and one in my home office. Before I got aboard this train, however, I ran to my wardrobe, shoved on a pair of jeans and a shirt, donned my Uggs and even put on some perfume and make up. The difference it made was incredible. Just the process of getting dressed was enough to change my mindset. It was enough to change my expectations of what could and would occur throughout the day.
In Colossians 3:14, taken from the Message translation of the Bible, it says:
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:
compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.
Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offence. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Incredible words, hey? Doesn’t it just create a beautiful picture of the life we could lead, and the types of people we could be, should we just pause long enough to choose the right ‘garments’ for our day.
I remember hearing someone talk at church once about our default settings; the way we are and the choices we make without thinking about it. It’s like my heating system at home. It’s default setting is off. To create a warm environment, I need to override the system and instead press the on switch. If I don’t do that, no matter how much I want it, my home won’t get any warmer.
I have to put something ‘on’ before my world will change.
The same is true for our approach to life, and our desire to lead others to Jesus. In order to create a ‘warm’ environment around us we need to ‘put on’ love. We need wear the clothes most suitable for the mission field.
Ours is not a mission of militant force, but a revolution of compassion, kindness and humility.
Ours is not a quest to overpower, but a journey alongside our friends, family, neighbours and peers.
Our mandate is to go into all the world and lead others to a saviour they may not even know they need. It can’t be done from the sofa, unless you’re sharing the sofa with someone in need. It can’t be done without intention. It can’t be done wearing the clothes of ‘if it happens it happens’. Instead, we have a daily choice. An option. A decision to make to choose the clothes most suitable for the task at hand. Just like me when I was ill, the very act of ‘putting on’ my clothes for the day changed my expectations and set me on a new course.
What will you dress in today?
- The words spoken over you of ‘can’t’, ‘couldn’t’, ‘beaten’ or ‘useless’ – or the Heaven-breathed melody from God, of ‘purpose’, ‘chosen’, ‘commissioned’ and ‘equipped?’
- The heavy coat of bitterness and disappointment that comes from the drudge of life, or the easy yoke of Jesus who wears our burdens so we don’t have to?
Friends, why don’t we choose this day to wear love. Our ‘basic, all purpose garment’ – and watch as the world stands back and takes notice of a new life-changing trend.