The 99 & A Mouth Filter

Confession of a striver – I take life way too seriously!

Watched the movie School of Life the other day with the kids.  There was a scene where the coach of the basketball team – played by Ryan Renalds – decides that if they are going to be a team that loses all the time, they are going to cheer for every single play.  When the opposing team scored, they cheered, when the opposing team stole the ball they cheered, and when their team scored or stole the ball – they cheered.

How absurd right?! Or is it?  Jesus told a parable in Matthew 18: 12-14 about how if a shepherd lost only one of his sheep that he would go out in search of it, leaving the other 99 behind.  Then when he finds the 1, he calls all of his friends and throws a huge party to celebrate the coming home of ONE…  During my run, with Revalationtion Wellness podcast – Alisa Keeton talked about how much Jesus celebrates us coming home. He doesn’t just celebrate us once, but continuously – when we repent and turn toward him, he rejoices!  So I asked myself, why in the world do I not celebrate, for every single play, like they did in School of Life?

I’m continually striving to embody the fruits of the spirit and the love of 1 Corinthians.  I continuously fall short! It gets frustrating, and it causes me to feel burdened and disappointed.  I take myself and my hard work very seriously like any proclaimed striving person would.

But, in this, lies the problem…

The weight is being lifted

Yesterday’s run was so hard, it was an interval workout, and if you’re familiar with them, they are a butt kicker! During this 3 minute, nearly all out, legs burning, body exhausted interval, I found myself smiling and laughing.

If anyone saw me, they’d think I was insane.

I felt the realization of my bible study and podcast’s link to my burden of falling short.  I could feel the weight begin to lift off…I was feeling FREE!

Let me start with my bible study quick.  I was asked to pick a part of the love verse I’d focus on for 48 hours.  Typically I’d choose kindness, but I decided to pick “Love does not seek its own way.”

As a stubborn striver, that’s exactly what I always do.

So I prayed that everything that crossed my path would be quickly put through the lover verse filter so that I wouldn’t say or do things I shouldn’t.  1 Corinthians

Now, back to the workout with Alisa Keeton for a moment, she tells me that the fruits of the Spirit are NOT: strength, courage, determination, muscling through…

hmm – that’s exactly how I approach everything!

Is that why I’m not feeling successful – I’m trying to hard?

And, we’re back to School of Life and celebration. (sorry for jumping around so much, but that’s exactly how this happened so, I hope you’re tracking with me 🙂 )

I can’t take life and my mistakes so seriously, I’m already forgiven.  I also can’t continue to strive to be more like Jesus.  I’m a sinner, I’ll never ever be able to do that on our own.  Taking the weight of that all alone is a recipe for disappointment.

So, the reason I was smiling and laughing while I was running full out is because I begin to think about how this celebration would play out.

Picture it, I’d make a mistake, humbly repenting for it and then start a victory dance.

I’d dance because I’m thankful for forgiveness and the wisdom I was given to know to repent in the first place.

The joy of God’s grace overcomes me, and I finish my run and day strong by daydreaming about some potential victory dance moves I could use.

But it gets better – My Mouth Filter

During the rest of the day, I felt overwhelmed with joy that I found myself wanting to cry.  I saw and felt my prayer of the 1 Corinthians filter all day long.  More times than I can count, I would encounter something that irritated me, these things would typically have me speak my mind or keep me cranky for a while.  But Instead,  I’d feel the typical words and actions build up inside and right before I’d speak my mind, it was like God put his hand over my mouth and wiped away the feelings and thoughts. Completely gone, and I went back to being joyful.

Mind-blowingly cool!

On the way home from our event that day my husband said: “Honey, you were noticeably different today.  I saw you get upset a few times and when I looked at you again you were smiling, not upset at all, how did that happen?”  So I told him what I chose to abide (don’t seek your own way), my prayer for a thought and mouth filter, and the attitude of no striving.

All I could say all day and at that moment was “Thank you, God! Thank you for the filter over my mouth, thank you for the celebration in my heart of being the lost sheep that’s found and celebrating with you.”

To all my striving friends out there; we can’t do it on our own.  I am still far from arrived, we never will fully arrive, but I know that God is doing great work within us.  We need to celebrate that.  He is faithful to give us the strength we need to live His way. We need to realize we can NOT do it on our own. Striving will not make us more like Jesus, not ever. Only trust, obedience, prayer and being still will do that.

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