Friday Feature #32

Welcome back to “Friday Feature!” Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and enjoy today’s devotion! If you missed the last devotion, you can read it here!

Courtney Stroup brings us today’s devotion titled, ” There is Nothing Better: Being Present in our Todays.” Courtney, a casual blogger, lives in central Indiana with her husband, Travis, a youth pastor and a middle school teacher. Courtney also teaches 8th Grade Language Arts to 107 lovely kiddos! Give her blog and Instagram page a follow – Courtney displays such a sweet, Christian spirit through her posts! @cdstroup

There is Nothing Better: Being Present in our Todays

God knew where you’d be in 2021.

God knew what season you’d be living in.

He knew you’d be a wife. A teacher. A student. A small business owner. A pastor’s wife. A missionary. A mother. A friend.

He knew what season you’d be traversing at this very moment.

Check out these verses from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, and I bet you’ll find yourself in there at least once, if not twice, or perhaps in every verse.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

He knows your season.

Acts 1:7 tells us that it’s God’s job to know the times and seasons, not ours.

“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

You see, right now the world is full of people trying to solve problems they don’t have the solutions to. . . trying to fix things they don’t have the tools for.

Friends, we don’t have to worry about all of that. Why? Because God sets everything into place.

God placed you in your circle – in your sphere of influence – for such a time as this.

There are no accidents.

You and I were made for this moment.

And, because of that, I’m convinced that now more than ever the devil wants us distracted, disheartened, and discontented.

John 10:10a tells us that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

We have seen it in so many different ways recently.

The fear-mongering. The endless to-do lists. The influx of opinions on social media. The working in a pandemic. The trying to find time to be a normal person. The political hate. The mental strain. The political correctness. The heavy weight on our shoulders.

But, I refuse to stay there. I refuse to walk around like a hurt puppy waiting for the next disappointment. I refuse to keep checking the news to see what I need to be worried about next. I refuse to let the devil win.

Thankfully, as a child of God, I don’t have to do this alone.

Isaiah 41:10 reminds us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Now, if you are anything like me, just making big and sweeping statements (although it feels good) is quite overwhelming. I need to know HOW to accomplish the task set before me!

I’m not a “25 Steps to Success” type gal. I need something simple to keep my focus.

I believe Ecclesiastes 3 holds the answer – pointing out the perfect plan – in verse 22: “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?”

That’s it. . . Be present.

Focus on what (who) is right in front of you.

There’s nothing better than to rejoice in the life you live. Your portion. What God has gifted you.

Did you hear that? There is NOTHING BETTER than rejoicing in your little piece of life.

I have to be honest. . At times this past year I feel like I have been everywhere and yet nowhere. At times I feel like I have focused on so many things yet focused on nothing at all. At times I feel like I have done so much but haven’t actually accomplished anything.

The devil has our minds, spirits, emotions, and bodies pulled in a million different directions. . on purpose! The devil wants us to miss what’s right in front of our faces.

When we focus on what’s right in front of us. . . When we rejoice in the row God has called us to plant and plow. . . the big picture becomes clear. Eternity comes into focus.

Be present.

Your spouse needs you to be present. Your kids need you to be present. Your boss needs you to be present. Your church needs you to be present. Your friends need you to be present. Your ministry needs you to be present.

You see. . . Your circle of influence is unique. No one in the universe touches the same exact souls that you do.

What a responsibility we have.

Some convicting questions that are currently pricking my heart:

  • Do I actually stop and listen when my spouse is talking, or do I just keep working or cleaning or accomplishing tasks while I try to hear what he’s saying?
  • Do I pray about it before I freak out about it?
  • Do I care more about what’s happening out there in the world or what’s going on inside my home?
  • Do I scroll social media before I stop to read Scripture and pray?
  • Do I spread constant distress or steady comfort to those I’m around?
  • Do I think about my selfish reasons for not helping before offering assistance?

My broken, human heart cries out to God.

This “being present” thing means that I have to. . . 

  • Love the people I don’t like very much.
  • Wash the dishes with joy in my heart.
  • Have that hard conversation with my friend who is going astray.
  • Apply myself at work and do the hard stuff, even when everyone else is cutting corners.
  • Be content with my small wardrobe and tiny house instead of always wanting bigger and better things.
  • Stop doing, doing, doing and just “be.”

You see, we like to plan, to do, to work, to fix. But, that’s not what God wants from us. He wants us to trim down. To narrow our focus. To impact our circle – our community – our family – our spouse – our home.  Our small but significant piece of life. Because, there is nothing better.

I don’t know if you caught the last part of that verse from Ecclesiastes 3. . . but it says this, “for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?”

In other words, my life will one day come to an end. . . and focusing on my portion. . . that is what will impact the next generation. That is what will matter. Not how many things I owned. Not how my life compared to the other person’s highlight reel on social media. What will matter is how I loved my circle. What will matter is that I was present for the ones with which God allowed my path to cross.

2020 taught me that life can be snuffed out in an instant. 

Fun fact: Today is my 26th birthday. Sobering fact: I almost didn’t make it to this birthday. My husband and I were in a serious car accident 7 months ago. God spared our lives in what we call our miracle story.

All that to say this. . . I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I wasted so much time on the superficial, the “chaff,” and the excess that I forgot to be present in the todays God gave me, plowing my portion with an eye on eternity.

Because, my friends, there is nothing better.

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