I have been privileged to be used by the Lord and then there are times that I felt I had been put on a shelf. And I would think, I have more I want to give, I have more I want to do but here I sit in a spot that is hard (shelf, get it?) uncomfortable and not only does it feel like I am not doing anything, I can’t do anything. I am bored or tired of it. I can’t get up and go over there. I can’t get down and go do that and come back to this spot when I am ready. I just sit on this shelf, or so it feels. My life at this moment is taking care of my family. I care for my elderly parents, full time. Caring for my parents is a full time 24/7 job, and I also try to not forget to care for my husband, my 5 year girlie and my adult boys. There are weeks that I am not able to go to church or my discipleship group and that is rough on me. Caring for my parents is my shelf life. When my children were young I would throw them on my hip and keep going but I can’t do that with two 80 year olds (seriously that mental picture is kind of funny). So here I sit on my shelf. One minute I say “Lord, thank you for this time of being able to care for my godly parents who cared for me, who cared for so many people”. and then other days I sit here on my shelf and say (in my best interpretation of my 5 year old and her whine) “God, why can’t I go do that with my friends, why can’t I be more involved in church, why can’t I go somewhere?” I will be honest with you, shelf life isn’t fun.
Lately I feel the Lord saying don’t waste this time. What does that mean? What am I supposed to do with this time. It is easy for me to fill my time. I am going to school. I read a lot. I like to write. I started a business. I cook, I clean. I decide to do a garden (I have no green thumb). I rearrange the house, I come up with all sorts of stuff “to do”. I can fill and overfill my time, but that is not the point. The point is don’t “waste” the shelf life. I told my son about this title and he said “what we live in a grocery store now?” I told my husband about this title and he said “you know they say wine gets more expensive with a longer shelf life”. Hmm. Could we as Christians become better with a longer shelf life? Whew, I don’t even know if I like that. But our shelf life (song by Kelly Clarkson) “only makes you stronger”. It is not glamorous, it’s not fun, it’s not always sermon material, it’s just part of life. When Devin and I were first married and we would go to my parents house for a couple days we would meet with my siblings. We would play board games. Mom loved to play games. When we played the game of LIFE and one of the bad things would happen in the game, like someone would lose every thing, mom would says “now kids, that’s is just like life”. She was serious, and guess what, that is life. Sometimes you lose everything and sometimes you just feel stuck in a spot.
I have to ask “Lord, what do you want during this shelf life? What do you want to teach me?” Matt 9:17 talks about wineskins, you don’t pour new wine into old wineskins. Could it possibly be that God lets us sit on a shelf to shed our old skin, like a snake sheds his? Is it possible that during a shelf life we are shedding old and becoming new by marinating. Definition for marinating is to “steep, soak, immerse, bathe”. The Urban dictionary says “leave time for reflection, I’m not ready to decide yet…” A lot of time I don’t like this shelf life. So I am learning to, get before the Lord and I tell Him “I don’t like this but do what you want during this time, what do you want to do in me, during this shelf life?” His grace is sufficient during easy times, growing times, grief times, hard times and shelf times. I don’t have to do it in me, I just need to be pliable and in His presence so that He can do IN ME what He wants, during my shelf life.
I have to be still in my soul. In my busy day, because as I said I will keep myself very busy in doing, when I feel a gentle tug at my heart then I must stop and go where my spirit is calling me. It may be to the living room chair to listen to a worship song, or it may be to my room to get on my face before my Savior, or hands up worshiping, or on my knees praising Jesus, at my parents bed while getting them quiet and to sleep. It goes back to Christainlity 101 pray, read, trust the Lord and rest. How do I keep from wasting my shelf life? There is no secret. There isn’t a step 1, 2, 3 and then boom. I must say “Lord, don’t let my shelf life be wasted. Do what you want in me”.
I was listening to a sermon from Fresh Start AZ on TV from Pastor Paul Owens. He told the story how God told the Israelites to “consecrate” theirselves because tomorrow He would do a great thing, Joshua 3:5. Pastor Paul said this one phrase, “It’s not always sin we need to be consecrated from, sometimes it’s legitimate things”. We have to be open and honest before the Holy Spirit and ask is there something in my life that I need to consecrate to you, a sin or maybe a thing that is filling my time? Shelf life has a purpose. Maybe it is to shed the old and get before God so that He can do a new thing.