The Danger of Boredom . . . .

 

This week I enjoyed the positive slant of blogger Bunmi Laditan in her post, “Dear Kids: It’s OK to Be Bored,”  

“Boredom is not a problem to be solved. It is an itch to scratch. Boredom is the dawn of ideas. Boredom is curiosity knocking gently at your mind, asking to play.  Being bored is like sitting in front of a blank canvas. Boredom is infinite possibility. You are the captain of your own ship and before you lies an expanse of dark blue ocean and clear skies.”

I have never been able to figure out what people are trying to express when they say, “I’m bored.”  When our children were still at home and they made such a complaint, I took it to mean that they were inviting me to entertain them.  My response curtailed such complaints–“Bored people are boring people. We have plenty of radiators to wipe down . . . let me know and I will be happy to set you up!”  Funny thing, our radiators never did get wiped down (my children found better things to do) and they grew into amazing adults!

But as much as I might want to wallow in the positive perspective of Laditan, I remain convicted that there is a darker side of boredom . . . a dangerous aspect that warns us not to think of boredom as merely a phase people go through.  Webster’s 1913 dictionary affirms my conviction with this definition:

BORED: adj. 1. tired of the world; bored with life.
2. uninterested because of frequent exposure or indulgence. Opposite of interested.

Is it sinful to be bored?  Going by Webster’s definition . . . YES . . . ABSOLUTELY!

Certainly, God did not put us on this earth to be bored.  In fact, God’s plan was simple and rooted in blessing.  From the beginning of Creation, God deemed all that He had made to be “good”; we can infer from Genesis 3:8, 9 that God fellowshipped with Adam and Eve in the Garden until sin entered and spoiled everything.  I wonder if, at the root of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, was boredom to blame?  Had they forgotten the blessing of fellowshipping with God as they entertained doubts about God’s goodness?

What about when boredom morphs into depression as described in Jeremiah 17:5 & 6?

“This is what the Lord says:
 ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.'”  

(Verses 5, 6)

I must clarify here that not all depression is sin; much that happens in this world is depressing!  However, when we embrace boredom as “cool”; when we become disinterested or we disengage ourselves from relating to others . . . that is a definite indication of sin.  As I watch the news, I wonder if a souless-boredom is at the root of much of the senseless brutality being reported?  I ache for the victims of such evil as well as for their families. Yet I also mourn for the perpetrators living in the hell of dark hatred. Many times, when I see pictures of those who have committed such horrific crimes, the words of Jesus on the Cross flood my mind, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Hope-filled steps into the New Year . . . .
Hope-filled steps into the New Year . . . .

We live in a world where “bored” is “cool”, where the concept of God as a loving Redeemer is increasingly unknown, and where love and simple kindness are thought to be archaic.  So what are Christians to do?  As we press into the New Year, I offer the wisdom of the Apostle Paul who, while living in horrific, uncertain times, encouraged his friends to follow his example,

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and
straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13, 14

Powerful stuff, right?  So get going!

All to His Glory!

Finishing Well: It’s a God-Thing

You may wonder why, at the advent of a new year, I would write my first post about finishing well.  My answer is simple: It’s a God-thing.  God cares about the choices we make and wants us to finish our lives well before Him.  I love the beauty of Psalm 147:10, 11 as it describes the way God looks at His people:

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor His delight in the legs of a man;
 the Lord delights in those who fear Him,
    who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

Put simply, God delights in those who trust more in His Sovereign Goodness than in themselves or others.  That, my friend, is finishing well.

In the last several months of 2012 I became increasingly convicted that I needed to be more intentional in making God-pleasing decisions as I resisted “going with the flow” of our culture.  As I have prayed about entering 2013, I am a little scared (yet also excited) about a radical change that the Apostle Paul has inspired me to make.  Here is what Paul wrote from a Roman prison cell to encourage friends who faced challenges similar to what you and I face today:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed . . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.  Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not labor for nothing.”  (Philippians 2:12-16)

Paul urged his friends to continue to live their lives well, in obedient faith, trusting and honoring the God who had saved them out of crooked depravity.  How was this to be accomplished?  Right smack dab in the middle of the text is our key to finishing well before a holy, loving God:  “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God.”  It struck me (like a royal kick-in-the-head!) that God hates grumblers and He hates when we make excuses for our sins . . . yet I do both!     It’s a bad habit that began that day in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed God for his sin (see Genesis 3.)   The wonderous thing is that through Jesus, as children of God Most High, we can (and must!) resist grumbling and blame-shifting.  In the process, Paul declares that the world will see us as distinctively different, shining “like stars in the universe” as we hold out the Word of Life to the world around us.

 How about you?  Have you thought about making changes in your life bent toward finishing well before God as we enter 2013?  Is the idea of “shining like starts in the universe” at all appealing to you?  Are you crazy enough to join me?  (I pray that you will!)  Happy New Year one and all!

All to His Glory!

The Clean Slate of a New Year Beckons . . . .

I am always grateful for that special window of time, when the old year is nearly finished and the clean slate of a new year beckons.  Just the anticipation of entering into that season fills me with a quiet HOPE of fresh beginnings.  To keep this time productive, I resist the temptation of focusing on regrets or successes.  Instead,  I prayerfully ask God for a teachable heart as Psalm 139:23, 24 guides me in this process:  

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.”

2012 was a challenging year in many ways, which perhaps is why focusing on Deuteronomy in my Journey Notes  in recent months has been so meaningful.  Yesterday, I was struck by Moses’ insights regarding the necessity of discipline throughout life.  As he prepared the Israelites to leave the desert after forty years of wandering, Moses reminded them of how God’s loving discipline had readied them to finally cross the Jordan:

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you  in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna . . . to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  (Verses 2,3)

Learning humility through God’s loving discipline (not humiliation) is essential at various junctures in our lives to teach us to rely on Him for our every need.  Deuteronomy 6:18 establishes our reward in keeping Him central in our minds and hearts,  

“Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you . . . .”

Humanly, I would like to think that after thirty-plus years of serving Christ, that I would be independent and not have to bother Him with my needs.  But with every challenge and disappointment as well as in savoring those special joys that make our lives uniquely ours,  I am increasingly aware that I need Him more than ever . . . which is exactly His plan!

In light of having our seven grandchildren visiting almost daily over the holidays, this is (in part) what I wrote yesterday in in my Journey Notes as a response to the wisdom of Deuteronomy:

“How precious it has been to have all of our grandchildren together for Christmas!  Spanning from age thirteen to three, it has been a delight to watch them interact as loving cousins.  Not once have I heard a crude or rude remark between them during the almost two weeks we have been together!  (This does not mean there were no flare-ups between siblings, there certainly were!)  But as I have been reading Deuteronomy I have been grateful for the insights given as to the value of discipline and on-going training that went into preparing the Israelites to cross the Jordan.  I am grateful to know that the outward love our grandchildren demonstrate for one another is founded on the forge of godly discipline and on-going training.  I pray Lord that you will continue to keep our family humbly reliant on Your Spirit and Your Word to keep us on the straight path.”

That same loving discipline (that of necessity includes learning humility) is essential to your continued spiritual growth as well as my own.  That is why I invite you to join me as the clean slate of a new year beckons . . . seek God’s wisdom and perspective on the past years regrets and successes.  Prayerfully thank Him for His plan for your life as you commit to enter into the new year increasingly reliant on Him.

All to His Glory!