I heard someone say recently you can only be doing one of three things in any given moment: cultivating, creating, or consuming.
Applying it to my own season of life, I’m convicted by habits lacking in cultivation and indulgent with consumption. I’m speaking mostly spiritual, but aren’t we one whole person, heart, soul, mind, and body? In light of this truth, it’s not difficult to realize how spiritual flourishing (or languishing) impacts every part of life.
Abide in Jesus. A thread of beauty and conviction weaving through my life and being by Holy Spirit for the past couple of years. A way of living I deeply desire to walk in. A banner of hope and peace and purpose that only Jesus provides. A fountain of enlightenment, comfort, and joy.
Maybe abiding is also cultivating.
Jumping off from where I began, every choice we make is either to cultivate, create or consume. All three contain life and purpose when rightly oriented around God and the good of others. Examples: We consume sustaining food. We create inspiring content. We cultivate gentleness in our speech.
What about when these choices become distorted with self-serving, self-elevating, self-indulgent desires?
It’s here I am thankful for the bright, chiseling work of Holy Spirit and Truth.
I’m not into the Enneagram, I’ve been an otter all my life, and the only letter I remember is ‘F for feeler.’ What I do know is that it’s sometimes challenging to believe I’m loved by God because I’m found in Christ not when I’m ‘doing’ and keeping my act together for Him.
It’s difficult for me to slow my need to have the answers so that I feel like I’m doing okay, and rest in His Godness. My survival mode is to balance all the places, to fix things when they appear broken or lacking, out of anxiety that there surely is more I could be or do. Which sounds pretty exhausting, right? Because it is. And an impossibly unpleasant way to live. Enter the temptation to escape (we’ll get to that soon).
God has set me wonderfully free in many areas, new circumstances come, we make the next turn around life’s bend, and it’s insanely tempting to step back into the old way of operating. Right?
The practice of abiding is a practice of rest. Abiding is not passive, it is active, a continuous interaction with the Lord. Abiding is bearing fruit naturally, not forcibly or fearfully. Abiding is letting God be God.
There are a thousand questions that at times come up; the attempt to answer them becomes a weariness and a burden. It is because you have forgotten you are in Christ, whom God has made to be your wisdom. Let it be your first care to abide in Him in undivided fervent devotion of heart. When the heart and the life are right, rooted in Christ, knowledge will come in such measure as Christ’s own wisdom sees fit… Oh, let us be content to possess Christ, to dwell in Him, to make Him our life, and only in deeper searching into Him, to search and find the knowledge we desire. Such knowledge is life indeed. Andrew Murray
Lately, consumption has been a way of escape. It’s been a way to procrastinate, a way to escape at the end of a long work day, even a way of momentarily escaping myself. Sometimes I don’t like what I see when I take a good long look at my insides. It’s messy in there!
For every decision to consume in this way, I’ve lost an opportunity to cultivate something better.
I frenziedly consume books and articles in an effort to think about ‘right’ things or find answers to felt needs (self-sufficiency, anyone?) as opposed to inviting God into my wrestling, letting Him be my Counselor, my Light, my Answer. (With pen and paper in hand.)
I consume television to fight off boredom, as opposed to relishing quiet (or blasted worship music) moments to encounter the God of the Universe. Marvel Studios and Gilmore Girls can’t compete with Him!
I consume social media because I crave inspiration, as opposed to asking honest questions of myself – what do I want to be about? how do I want to spend my free time? what am I passionate about? – and finding fresh joy in how God wired me specifically.
I consume food relatively emotionally and guided by what others deem appropriate and ‘good,’ (Whole30, vegan, paleo, dairy-free, so many!) as opposed to seeking Wisdom, making choices beneficial for our family, and giving that mental capacity to much holier and enjoyable things.
God is not interested in our manufactured virtue; he does not want any external obedience or morality if it does not flow from true love for him. He wants us to share his pleasure in his Son. What is the greatest commandment, after all? “Love the Lord your God” (Mt 22:36-37). That is the root of true God-likeness. Nothing is more holy than a heartfelt delight in Christ. Nothing is so powerful to transform lives. Michael Reeves
When I consume out of fear, prideful gain, or self-indulgence, to escape, days are passing and I’m missing the depth of them.
By choosing to cultivate a listening ear with God, an unwavering belief of who He is and who I am in Him, a vision of Him found in the Bible, and confidence in His Presence, I can face myself and the day head on.
And let’s not underestimate how we were created wired for relationships, so there’s the challenging yet marvelous element of cultivating deep, honest, there-for-you friendships. These life trenches are insane sometimes! I thank God for the people in my life who love, listen, cry with, and laugh with me. It takes intention, but strong friendships are worth it. Fight for honesty, gentleness, and presence. Fight shame, selfishness, and laziness.
Engaging with the God who holds all things together, who is our life, and who we will enjoy forever.
From where I’m standing, the choice to cultivate rootedness in Christ, while not always easy, while not flashy, while sometimes slow and ordinary, is the greater choice and will bear refreshing and sustaining fruit for the long haul of life.
What do you think?
“I, when I am lifted up from the earth,” he said, “will draw all people to myself” (Jn 12:32). Lifted up on the cross, lifted up from the grave, lifted up to the throne: all to share with the world his eternal and victorious life. How it lifts our eyes! In the mundaneness of life, in failure, in sadness and in pain, we look up and find the deepest consolation. There on the throne is death-crushing compassion and royal liberation: our friend, our priest, our king. The more we look, the more our hearts belong there, the more we want him known—and the more we long for his return. Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ
Lord, please show me habits and transitions in my days that can be repurposed for cultivating a deeper relationship with You. Help me understand where and how to make changes in my world that will glorify You and further Your Kingdom. Give me greater desire to invite You in, to slow down and seek You, to listen for what You say, to believe who You are.