So Much More Than Words 

  • ckstubbswrites

Distractions. If you’re anything like me, when you hear that word, you flinch. Whenever someone speaks about distractions in church or even just in everyday life, I’m always reminded of the distractions in my own life. The things that often keep me away from spending the quality time with God that I know I should, or the things that keep me from working on projects that I know need to be completed. Do you struggle with distractions? If so, you’re not alone. I think if we’re all honest, we’d admit that we’ve all gotten distracted at some point in our lives. It’s a very real thing, especially in this day and age. We live in the world of Instagram, TikTok and so many other social media platforms, where there is always something going on—something vying for our attention.

Recently, I’ve been confronted with the reality of my own distractions. I realized that I have been allowing other things to occupy my time and energy, so much that when it was time to spend with God, I would give Him the bare minimum. I would still be reading my word and praying; however, I would often be thinking about what I have to do next during this time, or I would end up falling asleep because I had worn myself out doing other things. When the Holy Spirit made me aware of this, I mourned because I knew that God deserves so much more of me—my time, my energy, my attention, and my worship. The truth is, a lot of the things that often kept me from giving God the time that He deserves weren’t bad. In most cases, I was being productive, even sharing the gospel with others, but God helped me to realize that even those things can become a distraction, when it takes away from spending quality time with Him. He reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. In this, Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s home and during His visit, Martha was busy attempting to make Jesus’ visit more comfortable, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him. In the midst of her preparations, Martha became angry with Mary because Mary wasn’t helping her prepare; but, Jesus responded to Martha in Luke 10: 41-42 (NIV): “‘Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’.” Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen better. What Mary chose was to put all of those other things aside—the distractions—and sit at Jesus’ feet.

As believers, it’s easy for us to become caught up in the doing. We want to do things for God, and there’s nothing wrong with that; however, the problem arises when we’re more focused on the doing than actually being with Jesus. It’s dangerous when we’re more eager to go out and do things in Jesus’ name, without taking the time to know who Jesus really is by sitting at His feet, listening to Him, and just being still in His presence. I feel like God is calling us back to His feet in this new year. Like Mary, He wants us to sit at His feet and listen. He desires more for us to be with Him and learn about His ways and His heart, than to do things in His name without actually knowing Him personally. He wants us to put away the distractions, even if they aren’t necessarily bad, repent, and return to His feet. Since the Holy Spirit gave me the revelation of the distractions in my own life, I have been meditating on this passage of scripture, asking God to help me to have a heart like Mary in a Martha-like world. I have been praying to have a heart that desires more to know Jesus and be known by Him than to do things in His name.

Let’s all lay aside our distractions and return to the feet of Jesus. He will always welcome us with open arms.

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  • ckstubbswrites

Earlier today, I came across a YouTube video where people were chosen to rate others based on their looks on a scale from 1-10. Naturally, I was fascinated by the entire scenario, so I clicked on the video as soon as I saw it. There were so many questions passing through my mind, like, “Why would anyone willingly choose to put themselves in a position to be judged so superficially?” I even thought, “Why would someone else even agree to rate a total stranger in that way?” As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those people that were given ratings like 3 or 4. I watched how their faces fell when the lesser numbers were called out and I kept thinking to myself, “Why did you ever sign up for this?” In the same way, when the more “attractive” people were given numbers like 8, or 9, and even a 10, I watched as their faces glowed and they revelled in the glory of being called beautiful. The longer I sat watching the video, the more I began to think about the world’s beauty standards. It was so fascinating to me, because many of the people who were given lower ratings, in my eyes, were some of the most beautiful people there. They had beautiful smiles, unique sense of style and just seemed so kind. It was mind-boggling to see when they were given ratings that didn’t reflect what I saw when I looked at them. When I finally turned off the video, I felt a mixture of emotions. Sadness, for those that were given lower ratings. Annoyance, at the people who were ruthless when they pointed out the flaws of the other person, and contemplative, as I thought about my own appearance.

Whether you’re a female or male, I think we all wrestle with our appearances at some point, if we’re honest. After watching the video, I found myself thinking, “What would I be rated if I was brave enough to join that experiment?” “Would I be called a 3 or a 5?”, “Would I leave there feeling dejected?”, “Would I even be seen as attractive in their eyes?” Questions like this bombarded my mind, until I found myself looking in the mirror at my face. I stared and stared, trying to figure out how someone else would rate me, until I was nudged by the Holy Spirit. In the moment, I felt like I was brought back to my senses and I quickly realized that it didn’t matter at all how attractive someone else thought that I was. What matters is that I knew within myself that I am valuable and beautiful. What matters is how God saw me when He looked at me. A few hours after watching that video, I ended up reading the story of David, and how, although all of his brothers looked the part, it was David that God chose to be King. In 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV), God assured Samuel that while Eliab (David’s brother) looked like a King, he was not. The verse says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

As soon as I read this verse I thought back on the video I watched earlier. As human beings, it is our natural inclination to focus on what’s on the outside. We love all that is beautiful and shiny and cool looking. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to something or someone that we deem beautiful. I think we go wrong when we believe that this is all that there is and we refuse to look deeper. After reading that verse, I began to talk to God about my heart. I didn’t ask myself anymore, “Do people think that I’m attractive?”. Instead, I began to ask myself and reflect, “What would God say about my heart?” “Is my heart attractive to Him?”, “Is it appealing in His eyes?”

If we’re honest, we’d admit that we all want to be seen as attractive. We all want to be considered beautiful in our own way, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I challenge you to look deeper and to think deeper. God looks at so much more than our appearance and I think we, as His children, should do the same. Seek to not only have an attractive face, but an attractive heart. Seek to discover the hearts of people, instead of just basing your opinions about them on their physical appearance.

I truly believe that this is the heart of God for all of us.

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  • ckstubbswrites

Gratitude has been a word that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. A few days ago, I had a conversation with my sister about the importance of being grateful, and just a few hours ago, a friend of mine told me that she committed to being more grateful this year. The more that I thought about the notion of gratitude though, the more that I realized that I can do much better in this area. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God everyday. I am very grateful for the things that He has blessed me with. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to God for everything that He has done in my life; however, I am aware that there is still much room for growth in the area of gratitude in my life.

To tell you the truth, I feel like my lack of gratitude contributes to most of the discouragement and discontentment that I grapple with. Instead of being thankful to God for what I have and the progress that I make, I’m often prone to focusing on the bad, and overlooking all that God has done. Do you ever struggle with this? If so, I know the feeling. In this first week of 2021, I feel God leading me back to gratitude. Having a heart that is filled with gratefulness. Praising and thanking God for what He has done instead of complaining to Him about what isn’t going right. I believe that once we adopt this mindset, not only would we experience more peace, but we would walk through life much differently than we do now. We would be much happier and begin to see life through God’s perspective.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Now, let me be the first to tell you that this is not always easy. In fact, it can be really, really difficult. Your knee-jerk reaction to bad news isn’t always thanksgiving. The first thought that you have when something goes wrong isn’t always to be grateful. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’d admit that oftentimes, it’s difficult for us to muster up even a tiny bit of gratitude when things go wrong in our lives. However, God’s word instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances. It's not saying that we should be thankful for the bad things that do happen, but that we can be thankful that God is walking with us through it, or that we can have peace in the midst of it. With God in our lives, even in the bad moments, we can muster up gratitude because He is with us! Now, God knows that this isn’t always going to be easy for us, so, like the loving Father that He is, He helps us. I’ve had many moments when things didn’t work out the way that I thought they would. In these moments, my initial reaction was to wallow in discouragement, but God would quickly send me a reminder that good is always present even when everything seems to be going wrong. God can help us to develop hearts of gratitude, we just have to ask Him.

I won’t pretend like I’m perfect in this area of gratitude. There are moments when I wake up and praise and thanksgiving comes organically, and there are other days when I have to push and remind myself that I must be thankful in all circumstances. The beautiful thing about life is that each day, I am learning and growing. Some days are better than others, but the days when I find myself struggling, God reassures me that overtime, gratitude will come naturally. If you find yourself struggling in any area of your life right now, I encourage you to choose gratitude. Choose to look for the good in the difficult situation. Choose to be thankful for what you do have when you’re tempted to focus on what you don’t have. Choose to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.

Choose gratitude today.

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