How can you improve the quality of your life? You can do it. Here’s how:
1. Make wise choices.
It begins with choices. We make them all the time, yet we often don’t connect the choices we make with the quality of the life we lead. Sometimes we make really bad, foolish choices. Sometimes our choices are good and wise. How can we make consistently wise choices that will improve our lives?
We met a man once who personified wise choices. Joe Waterman lived in Grangeville, Idaho. We met him when we went there to minister at the Centennial Evangelical Free Church in the late 90’s.
Joe never wrote a book or even a magazine article, didn’t amass a great fortune, never traveled much, lived in a small town in Idaho, and made little fuss about himself and his work. His faith was real and vital, but you would never hear him sermonizing, patronizing, or judging others.
Joe loved the Lord, his work, and people.
He reached out to physically challenged individuals to help them regain dignity and independence through judo exercises. Once he carried a disabled man up a steep mountain trail on his back simply because the man had always dreamed of climbing that trail!
Making wise choices begins with a passion for God and His Word. Program His Word into your life daily. Read a Proverb and two of the Psalms every morning and you will begin to catch a glimpse of God’s wisdom. Translate that into the choices you make daily and you will see an improvement in your attitudes, your relationships, and your walk with God.
2. Simplify your life.
Focus on this one thing. In quietness and confidence, we can find our source of life, Jesus Christ. (Isa. 26:3)
There is so much noise, chatter, busy coming and going, news, TVs, loud music even in restaurants, and an over-load of information in our world today that our minds become dull with it all. We cannot think much less make wise choices.
“He that has light within his own clear breast may sit in the center, and enjoy bright day: But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts benighted walks under the mid-day sun; Himself his own dungeon.” John Milton
Joe focused on his nursery, on his life with his family and with God, and with his judo students. He was, what some might say, a simple man. Yet he exuded the wisdom of God.
When life throws things at me, and I think I have to perform to someone else standards to be accepted, I remind myself of Joe’s simple life, and I shed those expectations like I would shed a heavy coat in summer. Do one thing and do it well. Focus on God and His will for your life.
Say “no” firmly and kindly to requests that you do not feel are in the will of God for your life. This is a part of making wise choices and simplifying your life.
3. Be gentle and kind.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness (mercy), and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
I can pick up a tired friend, take her for coffee, and laugh her woes away. Or better still, watch her kids while she grabs a nap. I can make gentleness a habit.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable (willing to yield), full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy (sincere).” Jam. 3:17 Did you catch it? Gentleness is wisdom.
4. Walk humbly with God. Don’t assume greatness. Let God’s gentleness make you great.
“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness has made me great.” Psa. 18:35
Joe made a habit of gentleness and humility. When a lady came with small children who had never been in church and were unruly, it was Joe who stepped forward and sat with two, separating them with his solid bulk and keeping them quiet by his gentle spirit.
5. Roll with the difficulties life throws at you.
When Joe climbed that trail with the disabled man on his back, it was not an easy thing to do, yet he did it. They reached the top and enjoyed the view. On the return trip, Joe stumbled and fell headlong! As he went down, he said, “Roll with it!”
They did, tumbling loosely over and over on the steep trail until they came to a halt, unharmed, laughing as hard as they could. Joe made the right choices, and he learned to make them because he trusted God and His Word.
When life gets tough, don’t panic. Get in a quiet place and pray. Call out to God for help, and He will be there for you to see you through it. “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'” II Cor. 12:8
Make the choice to trust God. Wait for Him. Don’t panic.
6. Trust God in the worst circumstances.
Before we arrived, Joe had been hospitalized and was accidentally given an over-dose of medication, double or triple the amount he was supposed to have received. It was sufficient to have killed most people, but because he was in top physical shape, and through God’s intervening help, he survived. But he was left with brain damage for the rest of his life.
This did not stop him.
He continued with all the things he loved so much – his judo classes, nursery and church. One day not long after we arrived, he was hospitalized for an ailment. That evening, they told him they had to give him some drugs to stop his pain. He said, “No, I don’t want any drugs.” But they gave it to him anyway. He went crazy, thinking someone was going to kill him. Running down the hall in the hospital, he fled to the street. His wife followed him, but when he saw car lights approaching, he pushed her in the bushes and said, “Get down! They’re coming!”
She persuaded him finally to get into an ambulance, but when they arrived back at the hospital, he would not budge from it. We got the call around supper time. Dan went down there and climbed in the ambulance. He spoke with Joe, calming him with gentle words, and Joe said he would go into the hospital. Dan said, “Let’s pray.” At that moment, one of the deputy sheriffs burst in and said, “How’s it going?”
Joe lost it. Six men pinned him down and got him into the hospital. When he was there, they gave him more drugs, and he finally went to sleep. He remembered snatches of that evening, but thankfully not his great escape from the hospital.
7. Allow God’s Spirit and His Word to teach you gentleness, patience, and wisdom.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Jam. 1:5
Ask for wisdom to make the right choices. Read God’s Word regularly and apply it to your life. God is able to speak to you when you get quiet and listen to Him.
How can you improve your life?
Make wise choices. Simplify your life. Be gentle. Walk humbly with God. Roll with life’s difficulties. Trust God in the worst circumstances. Allow God’s Spirit to teach you gentleness, patience, and wisdom.
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Virginia Ann Work