I try to go through life living it in a way that is deserving of God's love. I try to treat people with respect and love. I try to give more than I sometimes have, both in energy, time and possessions. I try to love and be kind regardless of the circumstances. I try . . . . I typically feel that I do my very best and that is what God asks of me, until I read this verse this past week.
I've read this verse before, so why did it home for me this time? Maybe it was the circumstances during the week, the people I met and the situations I was in. Maybe it was my frame of mind. Maybe it was the condition of my heart. Quite frankly, it didn't matter WHY as much as it matters NOW. Whatever the reason for this to touch my heart, God wanted me to see this in a different light. And It Worked!!
I don't know about you, but I have taken how I handle my life, my conduct and my thoughts, as though God was okay with my daily activities. Yet, this verse, at this time, made me realize the important thought, "Am I REALLY trying?" Am I really having the thoughts that God wants me to have? Am I really conducting myself in the manner that He chooses? The most important thought, "Can I do better?" Before last week, I might have said, "I do pretty well". After evaluating myself, as God asks us to do, I can truthfully say, "I Can Do Better"! What does better look like? For me, it was in a variety of areas:
- Words - the words that came out of my mouth were not always words of encouragement or love. Sometimes, the bitterness of sarcasm came out. Sometimes, it was the chastising words of criticism. Sometimes, the words that were spoken were said without a lot of thought, and could cause heartache. My words can be better.
- Thoughts - the thoughts that run through my mind aren't always nice. I used to tell myself, "At least those thoughts didn't come out of my mouth", but we all know that God doesn't see it that way. My thoughts could lead to a negative change in my behavior and in my actions. My thoughts could be better.
- Deeds - the actions I take aren't always selfless. Many times, my actions can be selfish - because it is what "I" want the way "I" want it. I can try to justify those actions as "I know best", but do I? Could my actions be driving people away versus inviting them in? My deeds could be better.
Yes, the bottom line is that I could be better. With self reflection, I realized that my words, thoughts, and deeds were not necessarily always pleasing to God. I might have felt as if I deserved more, but in turn, God was truly giving me what I deserved. A sight of self reflection, although truthful and difficult at times, is the sight that God wants us to have. In the sight of self reflection comes the richest gift and what we so deeply deserve, God's forgiveness.
I may try, and I can do better, but the bottom line is that I will never reach God's expectations. I will never be that person He may want me to be. Yet, he loves me so much, that He is willing to look past all my flaws, all my hopeless attempts or even my lack of attempts, to say to me, "Susan, I love you. Your hard work and belief in me will continue to yield a home in heaven." I don't know about you, but I need to hear those words. I need to know He will always be there for me.
My deeds may not always be rewarded the way I think they should be rewarded. Yet, I do believe that with some self-reflection and attempts to do better, God will give me the greatest reward - a place with Him in heaven. Therefore, I will continue to strive to be better and live with His promise of forgiveness and love. Care to join me?
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the words of the Bible that help us to reflect on the person you want me to be. Help me to continue to work on being better, in my thoughts, words and deeds. When I falter, I ask for your forgiveness. Remind me that your grace, mercy and love will always be with me. In your gracious name I pray. Amen."