Affections... that term has been brought up a lot the past few weeks... at small group, at church, in Dan and my conversations... It's an element of my Christian walk that has great highs and lows. I'm really desiring to grow in this area and to be conformed into one who has much more consistency in my passionate pursuit and love for God.
One question that's been super helpful in examining what is helping and hindering that maturing is what stirs your affections for God and what steals your affections for God....
So, I'm going to list 5 things that steal... and 5 things that stir.
Things that steal.......
1. Expectations. I remember early on in life being challenged in this area. From birthdays to day to day life with roommates, from friendship to marriage, from dreaming about what lay ahead in life to the stark reality of the here and now, Expectations have crept into my heart and some have seemed to settle in for the long haul. Expectations are definitely an affection stealer... Big Time. I'm really grateful though that I've been surrounded by parents and wise counselors that have tried to engrain into my head and heart that I can't have expectations. I don't deserve them. That may have gotten under your skin a little just now, but it's true. Christ paid for the only thing I really deserve in life and everything else is icing on the cake (or should I say at least an element of the icing ....it may look/feel more like the beating of butter or whipping of cream... but it's for a sweet end.)
2. Malls....Fancy Ones Now, I'm not one for mall shopping or window gazing and thus I normally wouldn't put this as one. But here lately it's not the things in the stores that have grabbed my affections but the people walking besides me in that mall. They have their arms full of bags, often are dressed stylishly, gabbing with a bunch of friends having a blast, treating their kids to fancy clothes from name brand stores, getting makeovers at makeup counters.... you get the picture. It's affection directed at a life that appears better than mine.... appears wealthy, not wanting for anything, living high on the moment. I know life isn't as it often appears so I leave knowing that I have everything I need for true happiness. But this is a list of things that TRY to steal that knowledge and the affections that are to be directed at God.
3. Reading Blogs. It's terrible that this is on my list, but it SO is. To be honest it's one that I'm trying to understand and fight to have it's rightful place in my life. I love reading blogs. I love all sorts of them. And often one blog will lead to another and then another.... there are so many out there with so many great stories to tell, lives to document, photos to post, and inspiration to share. I love my bloglines and I tell myself that it keeps them from ruling my life and time, and to some extent it does, however, bloglines can't keep them from ruling my heart. I find myself wanting to write like someone else, to live like someone else, to shoot like... to shop like... to decorate like... to craft like... to cook like.... to coupon like... to connect like someone else. That my friends steals my affections and puts them in a spin like nothing else..... because they are spun in so many directions. I know blogging is a blessing... I mean, look at me, God's used this blog in my life in so many ways, BUT the blog world is also an affection stealer. Now make sure you hear what I'm saying, it's not the blogs that are bad... it's my heart. I've been praying for wisdom in how to guard my heart and how to READ blogs in a way that will best protect me from spinning affections.
4. Mismanaged money. Really this doesn't need much explanation. It's just plain and simple, when I'm not wise and thinking momentarily with money then it's not long before the affections are all being wasted on not only the things that I thought would bring me some happiness... wether it's a nice meal out and the joy of not cleaning up afterwards or the steal of a deal at Goodwill or a few extra not planned for things at T.J.Maxx or even a nice gift for someone else... my mismanaged money comes in little things that sneak up on you and you don't notice you're using money you shouldn't until it's too late. All because I don't like to deprive myself of the joy of the little things or be bound to a budget that didn't take into consideration that Target would have this item on clearance. This affection stealer promises to love you back but instead lets you down faster than any of them....only to be there around the next corner wearing a different outfit at a different restaurant.
5. Daydreaming. I WISH oh I so wish some of you could see what my brain is like. Sometimes I think to myself that I could really make some company LOTS of money if they would just pay me for my ideas and thoughts and plans and dreams.... I joke that I can plan other people's lives out perfectly and at times in my mind I do. I have a vivid imagination and my mind is often going a hundred miles a minute. And I've found that especially during times where I'm desiring to slow life down and simplify my daily happenings and focus my thoughts and actions on a few more important things.... it's then when my mind wants to take over the world.....NOT think on the deeper things of God or on ways to serve others in my family or think on the great things God has done in my life thus far. It's like my mind is afraid to be still and to focus on things that really matter.... so you can see how this can and does negatively affect my times with God. I know even my own mind wars against God..... I can't wait until it's redeemed fully. But for now, I still have to fight to renew it moment by moment and day by day.
WHew! I'm glad I can switch gears to a more glorious list. These are the things that stir my affections for my amazing Savior....
1. Big Things... HUGE things. Things that are MUCH bigger than I am. Oceans, Whales/Big Sharks (Hopefully I'd be watching these on TV or at an aquarium and not at the previously mentioned ocean) Mountains, Looking out Airplane windows, Glaciers, (okay, pretty much anything in Alaska... because everything there is BIG!)
2. Wedding Ceremonies. I don't want to admit how many weddings I've photographed and became caught up in the moment and started crying. Not at the sweetness of the couple, mind you, Poiema couples are VERY sweet, but it's usually the vivid reminder of the covenant that the marriage represents between my God and His church (me!) The worship at weddings tends to take on so much of a deeper meaning when sang in that setting. I know many times I've been in the back of a church and sang very loudly whatever hymn or song is being sung and I probably looked a little strange to some being that one hand had a big ol' camera in it and the other was held high in praise!
3. Ministry Families. I don't know if it's because I grew up in one or because I find such wisdom and perspective when I'm around families who have been in church ministry for a long time. I feel like I can let my hair down when I'm around these families and talk about my real frustrations about cultural christianity or my battle with legalism. The humor found in these houses is so refreshing and I get it. I always leave from their company knowing I was heard and encouraged and my heart is kindled for the Lord's bride, the Church.
4. Trials. things that are so beyond my control that even if I were tempted to control it, it would be a joke. That helpless feeling... losing Asher, healing after a surgery or injury, the heartache of others, family conflict, a sick child, being sick myself, I could go on and on and I'm sure you could add lots to this list yourself. All things I don't desire to have in my life but all things that I have little control over if they are to come or not, and once they do... then I have no control in making it go away. I'm left feeling helpless and very dependent. That stirs my affections for the One who is in control of every little detail and who desires us to be needy and dependent people.
5. Music. I've always loved music. I can't sing worth a lick but LOVE to hear others sing and love singing myself. I also love classical works and high quality musical talent. It's often moments that I'm listening to a symphony live or a huge crowd sing or the rawness of some worship or the depth of a old hymn, those are moments that my heart is stirred on a level that only music can touch.
Now, those are my 10!!! What are yours??? Please share by leaving me a comment.