Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Faith Without Works

Some tymes the idea of doing laundry is daunting to me.  It seems ridiculous to be overwhelmed by such a simple task, especially in this day and age when all you really have to do is push a bunch of buttons and the machines do most of the work.  And really, it’s not the work that besets me, but rather the commitment that the work requires. It seems that any tyme there are steps A through Z with any kind of pause or layover between them I tend not to be efficient at the task.  Why you wonder? Well, it’s because I am easily…

Hey, what’s that over there?
Oh good, I’ve always wanted to see that movie! 
Sure, I can come help you move that cabinet.
Dinner sounds great!  See you at 7:00. –
What? Oh yeah, I am easily distracted!

From the gathering, loading, washing, drying, folding to the putting away, laundry is a process and a commitment.  Now, when I put my mind to it, I’m usually pretty good at the first few stages, but my tenacity for the task tends to diminish when it comes to the later phases.  For example, the other week I got to the drying portion of the task, perhaps not as quickly as I could have, what with the whole getting distracted thing, but I digress.  Most of the items in the load were small so I put them in the dryer, but there was one large towel that I decided to hang outside on the clothes line.  Insert distractions here! 

Eventually, I removed the laundry from the dryer and eventually I got it folded and put away, but I forgot about the towel out on the clothes line.  Oh, there were tymes I saw it hanging out there and thought, “I really need to go get that towel”, but I was busy at that moment and decided I would remember to do it later.  Days went by, it was later, but still the towel hung out on the line.  By this tyme it had seen its share of the elements and I knew that I would have to rewash it, so, why not leave it out there until I was ready to do a load of towels and such.

Finally, one day, more than a week later, I looked out and saw that towel still hanging out on the line and I decided that it was tyme to act. I went out to retrieve it, but when I walked up to it, I was shocked by what I saw. Raging rain, scorching sunshine and whipping wind had all been a part of the towel’s online experience and the results were not good.  The towel was greatly faded from its original, vibrant color and it was beginning to tatter at the edges.  It looked nothing like the towel I hung up more than a week before.

As I walked in the house, faded and tatter towel in hand, I thought about how that towel represents faith.  Faith is a wonderful thing to have, but much like laundry, it’s a process that requires commitment.  You can’t just have faith, you have to work at your faith.  If you say you have faith but you don’t do anything with it, it will fade and start to fall apart just like the towel on the clothes line.  You have to take care of your faith, work with it and put it into action.

James said in chapter 2 of his book that “faith without works is dead”.  Simply having faith does nothing. You can say you have faith, but how would anyone know it’s true?  Let’s face it, the world is filled with Doubting Thomas’s who only believe something when it is shown to them.  Therefore the only way to illustrate your faith is to put it into action.  While God knows if you have faith, He expects us to show it to others through an array of opportunities.  Everything from how we react to a difficult tyme in life to how we treat other people are ways to put our faith to work. 

So let’s not let our faith be the towel on the clothesline. Let’s take it down and use it so it doesn’t and so we don’t fade and fall apart under the rough elements of life in this world.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What do You Carry?

I’ve never been one to carry a purse.  Doing so is girly and while I am a girl, I am not the girly type girl.  Aside from the girly-ness of it, carrying a purse requires a more concentrated memory than I seem to possess most moments of any given day – if you take your purse in with you, you have to remember to take it out with you. Yeah, I’m not so good at that second part. So, the bottom line is I don’t like to carry a purse. 

While the personal choice not to carry a purse is not an earth shattering one, it does tend to create some issues as far as what to do with the stuff I need on any given day. Now, I’m not one that needs all the bells and whistles so to type.  In fact, I’m not really sure what most women carry in their purse to make it a necessity. I’m usually good with my wallet and my camera, but there are tymes that I find I need other things like the case for my glasses or a granola bar or a pack of gum. Then there are tymes that I decide I should carry my Leatherman or a pocketknife, because you never know when either, or both, will come in handy – and really, tools just are cool.

Of course what I have to carry also depends on where I’m going, how long I’ll be gone and the activities I’ll be doing while I’m there. All of these variables seem to advocate for the carrying of a purse, but still, I don’t care to carry one.

Over the years this battle of “need to/don’t want to” has been a trying one, but recently I’ve discovered something that really helps my struggle rather well: cargo shorts!  It’s amazing what you can carry, store and fit in the pockets in cargo shorts.  They can store any and everything I need to take with me on pretty much any outing. They can hold my wallet when I have to go, yes, have to go shopping – I’m not a fan of the process.  Cargo shorts can hold my camera wherever I go, because you never know when you going to cross paths with “the perfect” shot. They can even hold a rather large bottle of water when on a hike. Bottom line, cargo pants eliminate my need for a purse.

The other day my aunt came to town and wanted to go to a few local stores and shop around. Ha, the things I do for family.  As we walked around the farmers market I started to feel weighed down.  Then I realized my “purse” was rather full. My wallet, car keys, camera, glasses case, foundation compact, Leatherman, and cell phone all filled my pockets and added considerable weight for me to carry around and frankly made me feel the need to constantly pull my shorts back into a comfortable position.

When I got home that evening I went to get ready for bed and when I changed into my cotton shorts and tank I couldn’t believe the weight that was lifted from me.  At that moment it occurred to me that it isn’t just the physical weight that we tend to carry around with us every day.  What about the pockets of our emotional cargo shorts?  What do we put in to those?  Pain from relationships, harsh words, failed endeavors, depression, feelings of worthlessness and an array of other negative thoughts and emotions can all fill our poignant pockets to capacity and add to the weight of our emotional baggage.

What would it be like if we if we changed out of those emotional cargo shorts and stopped carrying around all the heavy pain and negativity?  I have a feeling that our hearts and minds would be a lot lighter and it’s likely there’d be a renewed spring in our step.  Of course having the idea to change and actually accomplishing it are two different things.  While it’s easy to fill my tangible cargo pockets with the things I need, it’s difficult to keep my emotional cargo pockets empty of the things I think I need, but really don’t. 

I don’t need to hold on to the mean words said to me, but yet I tuck them away so I can pull them out later and feel bad again. I don’t need to keep the feelings of a relationship gone wrong, but still I hang on to them so I can relive the pain later.  I don’t need to remember the bad things that happened that make me feel sad or ashamed or disheartened, but still I pocket them away for future pain.

If you think about it, the only thing we really need to carry around with us takes up no room at all, yet fills us completely; weighs nothing yet bears the weight of all our burdens, sorrows and sins; Jesus Christ.  When we fill our hearts with Jesus, there’s no room for the things we don’t need to carry around.

So if you’re like me and feeling weighed down by the things that don’t matter, let’s try to clean out our emotional cargo pockets and give the contents to the Savior.  It might be a process we have to repeat often for a while, but I think eventually we’ll find that we stop hoarding the bad stuff and start keeping only the things we need like mercy, grace joy.