Changed the vac bag lately?

The benefits of a timely review

It’s ‘this time of year’. The first task is always demanding – tidying away Christmas! I’ve enjoyed the colourful lights, decorations and trees. But there comes a time when things must come down and be packed away into the loft for another eleven months.

After completing the task I looked down on the floor at the mess of tinsel, tree and trash and automatically reached for the vac. But, as it’s ‘this time of year’ rather than just switching the vac on I reckoned it was about time to check and change the bag. Good thing I did, it was rather full. It’s all too easy to forget about the things we can’t see which clutter up the efficiency of the vac. With a new bag, full suction power was restored and light work was made of clearing the mess away.

It’s handy to have ‘this time of year’ events because they stop us in our tracks and get us to review our situation and circumstances, and cause us to ask questions: Are we doing things the best way? Are we doing things that benefit us? Are there things we need to junk?

There’s a phrase which Jesus used with his disciples which, for me, has a ‘stop me in my tracks’ effect – “In a word, what I’m saying is ‘Grow up’. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” That’s how The Message paraphrases it, but The New Living Translation is succinct, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The words can be found at the end of Matthew chapter 5.

These words stop me in my tracks and cause me to ask myself a number of questions including ‘Am I really living like a kingdom person?’ The answer comes back quickly ‘well, no, not always’. But then, because of something at work deep within me I go on to ask myself ‘well, how can I get back on track?’ ‘what do I need to do today?’

Our lives can become a bit like the vac bag – they can get clogged up with all sorts of rubbish. Now, for the vac bag that’s what it is designed to do. But our lives aren’t meant to be filled with rubbish. As Jesus explains, we are meant to be growing into Kingdom people, men and women, boys and girls whose lives are being daily transformed into the image of Jesus. Let this be your aim for the year ahead.

Here’s the good news – this transformation is God’s work. What we need to do this year is get ourselves, our whole selves, into places where he can do his work, his gracious work. This might mean:

Setting time aside to encounter God and develop a relationship with Him – through reading and studying his word, praying with him, fasting and meditating to go deeper with Him

Caring for your body, maintaining your fitness, health, suppleness and appetite for balanced meals

Caring for your mental and emotional well-being, stimulating the mind and developing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management strategies

Whatever you’re doing right now, why not take a moment to reflect on the words of Jesus above. Are there things in your life which he is prompting you to deal with? What do you need to do today?

To share your thoughts on this topic follow this link: Changed the vac bag lately?

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