This past weekend (12/30/2018), I was asked to be a guest speaker at my home church while our pastor was on vacation. We were wrapping up a 5-week worship series that celebrated the 200th anniversary of “Silent Night.” Each week the messages focused on Hope, Love, Joy and Peace throughout the Advent Season. My message was to focus on what happens next after the season of Advent is over. Below I have included a link to the recording if you want to watch.
This week is kind of a letdown, don’t you think? We feel like the Christmas season is over and our decorations are quick to come down. That warm and glowing feeling we have had for the last few weeks is cooling off as one by one the lights turn off. But the real story is only just beginning. We need to remember that the birth of Jesus is not the end but instead the start of something wonderful! It’s in this time that we can feel God nudging us. Nudging us toward a new life and all of the new opportunities that the New Year will bring.
New Quality of Life…Now
The scripture text spoke about a new heaven and a new earth. (You can read them in Isaiah 65: 17-19 and Revelation 21:1-6) In this scripture, a new heaven and a new earth do not refer to a new time or space, but instead to a new quality of life. The scriptures are referring to a time when God will come to live among the people. I saw a different message.
To create a new quality of life for ourselves we do not need to wait for some future time for it to happen. We can create that time in our lives right here and right now, starting at this moment. For those who believe in God, it can be as simple as allowing God into your life today. Or allowing him to work within you to so you can bring your talents and gifts into this world. If you are not a believer, then open your mind to all of the possibilities that exist in this world. Listen to what the Laws of Attraction bring into your life. But the key is that you can change your life today!
If we want to change the quality of our lives we need to first be sure that we are open to the possibilities. Really think about each of these areas and how much they currently control your thinking and decision making. I challenge you to take on any of these areas and make a change in your life.
We are a judging people, aren’t we? On any given night on TV, we can judge someone’s ability to sing, dance, cook, create tattoos, decorate a house or create the latest fashion. We ignore the fact that we ourselves cannot do any of these things. But we are more than happy to judge others. But in truth, we don’t know these people at all. We don’t know anything about them or their lives (except what TV decides is the story they want us to see). By judging them we have denied ourselves the chance to get to know them and hear their stories.
My daughter is a picky eater and will make a judgment on food long before it ever hits her plate. She judges it how it looks, how it smells, how it feels … all before she ever takes a taste. Think about the world she has closed herself off too all because she judged before trying.
We judge ourselves too don’t we? Have you ever been asked to do something and you turn it down because you have already decided it wasn’t your talent, gift or interest? I think about the first time I was introduced to paint-and-sip. I didn’t go for the longest time because I told myself that I was not creative or artistic. But once I gave in and tried it, I was so surprised by the results (and have been 3 times since then!).nd
When we judge, we automatically close out the world. And when we do that we miss the chance to make a new friend, or have a new experience or even have a new favorite food.
Find New Opportunities by Letting Go of Control
This has to be the biggest challenge for me. In my professional life, I needed to have control over project outcomes and how my clients are handled. As a mom, I want the world to think I am raising good kids. So I try to control every situation that I can so the outcomes are what I want them to be. My obsession with control can even peek at times when I want to entertain. When I want to put on a nice event I plan everything down to the last detail. I can not explain my disappointment when things do not turn out the way that I want them to.
But here is the hard truth, control is nothing more than an illusion and a way to shut out the world. When we try so hard to keep on one path with one destination in mind we can miss all the wonderful things that are happening along the way. We may even miss an opportunity to take another road that could lead to someplace so much more rewarding.
I think of it this way, occasionally my family will be invited to a friends house for dinner and play time in the middle of the week. Because this will break with my kids carefully designed evening routine I will often say no because I want to maintain that nighttime control. But the truth is by doing so my kids are not learning to be flexible. And I am missing out on quality time with a friend (not to mention that 90% of the time my nighttime routine never goes as smoothly as I want it to).
So try not to be so in control that you miss everything else going on around you!
Say “Yes” to Find New Opportunities
Do you ever think about how many times in a day you say no? Think about it…..I will give you a minute.
Are you surprised? Do you realize that every time you say “no” you are automatically closing out an opportunity?
There is this great movie with Jim Carey called “Yes Man.” In it, he plays a man whose life isn’t going anywhere. He has an ok job, he has his home and some friends, but I’m not sure too many people would call what he is doing, living. Then he runs into an old friend who appears to be living this amazing life. And he convinces Jim Carey’s character that he must try this program and become a “Yes Man”. The movie then goes on to show the antics of what happens when a grown man really does say Yes to everything (and his friends find out what he’s up to). But honestly, while some of the stuff is over the top, you can see the change in his character. He becomes so much more vibrant and carefree!
At one point in my 20s I was living in Connecticut. I had a great job and apartment with some new friends. But I was single and had convinced myself that since I was the only single person I knew I had to step back from things I was asked to do. I finally came around to letting go of those hang-ups and said yes to the opportunities coming my way. After that I went snowboarding in Colorado, white water rafting and sky diving, just to name a few of my adventures.
The point is by saying “yes” you open yourself up to finding a new opportunity. And it may even be something you may not have considered before.
Spend Some Time with God (or the Universe)
There is something that is putting these new opportunities in front of you. There is a reason that they have come to you. And sometimes we need to spend time in quiet contemplation of the world. Or spend some time talking with God. It doesn’t need to be a ton of time, but you need to open yourself up to hear what the world is offering you.
God is putting new opportunities in front of you that can help guide you on a new path. So open yourself up to experiences before you judge them. Once you realize you can not control every situation you will open yourself up to see the world around you and perhaps find a new path to a new unexpected destination. Say “yes” when you might typically say “no”. You might find that a new opportunity you had never considered is somewhere past that yes. Finally, acknowledge the power that is presenting you with these opportunities and open yourself up to the message only you are meant to receive.
Tell me, what amazing experiences have you had when you stayed open to new opportunities?