Alright. It's real talk time! How many of you, like me, are guilty of being a little "Extra" at times? You know what I mean...that moment when you don't get to run through the Starbucks drive-through on your way to work and it throws your whole day off and so when your co-worker says "Hey! How are you doing?", instead of saying "A little tired today but good" your response is literally...."I'm dying!". Can we say #firstworldproblems ??
A while back I was sitting and thinking over this whole concept of being "extra" and asking the Lord to investigate my heart and show me the areas that I needed to re-evaluate, refocus, or even completely remove from my life! If you don't know me then let me just fill you in a little - I'm a BIG personality and I tend to live life BIG and LOUD at all times! Small dinner parties aren't really in my wheelhouse. What starts as a single-family coming over for dinner quickly turns into a multi-family event complete with a theme and activities for the kids! A mom's lunch absolutely cannot simply be eaten at an undecorated table! That's CRAZY talk! You need place-settings and special little gifts for them to take home with them. (And can I just pause and say a big THANK YOU JESUS for an amazing husband who goes along with my many BIG ideas - supporting me as I pour time and finances into all of it! I love you Casey Ray!) These things truly bring me INCREDIBLE JOY but can also become a burden, because sometimes I simply expect too much of myself. If I have a mom's gathering without a special set up, a family cookout without a theme, or send a special thank you without a heartfelt gift attached I can easily feel like the moment was a "failure" because I wasn't able to make it EXTRA!
So as I'm sitting there that morning, on my sofa, thinking about ALL the things with the Lord, He brought me to Genesis chapter 6, verses 11-22. It says:
"11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress[c] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.[d] 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit[e] high all around.[f] Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him."
I've read this passage of scripture many times but that day that last verse caused me to pause. "Noah did everything JUST AS GOD COMMANDED HIM." Just think on that statement for a few moments "...just as God commanded...". When is the last time that the Lord asked you to do something and you did it JUST AS GOD COMMANDED?? Ooof! It's almost painful how difficult that simple question is to answer.
This life is full of so many blessings, but many times I fear that when we are given something wonderful from the Lord - a gift, an idea, a calling - we feel the need to add to that blessing. We need to put our own "flair" on the Holy Spirit inspired idea that the Lord has given us. We can't just say "Thank you for a beautiful gift!", we have to "outdo it" with something MORE! We look at the calling the Lord has set before us and say "That's pretty good God but let's add MORE!!" And all the while the Lord is face-palming from Heaven thinking "Girl! STOP BEING SO EXTRA!!!"
Let's look back at our scripture in Genesis 6. Can you imagine if Noah had said: "Those instructions are great but what if we added some beautiful, intricate designs along the railings?" Would adding the "extra" in and of itself have kept the ark from serving its purpose of floating in the floodwaters that were sure to come? No! However, the distraction most likely would have kept the ark from being completed on time and so as the rains began to come, Noah and his family would have been scrambling to finish all the Lord had commanded while crying out to the Lord "But God - We obeyed your command! We are building the ark! Why are you punishing us?!?!?" The reality is, God wasn't punishing them at all! Everything was happening just as He said they would. It was the "extra" - the "that's a good idea God but wouldn't this be BETTER?!?!" moments - that got in the way and muddied the proverbial water. You see, the "extra" added to "build the ark" calling wouldn't have made anything better. It would only distort and distract from what the Lord said. Ever been there??? I know I have!
Now, I'm not saying to stop serving with excellence or to stop being creative! ABSOLUTELY do your best in everything you do and go above and beyond to serve others! Galatians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord...". ABSOLUTELY be creative and use that incredible mind the Lord has blessed you with to be innovative and blaze new trails! What I AM saying is STOP. BEING. SO. EXTRA!!! When the Lord leads you to make a meal for a specific family DO IT and make a batch of cinnamon rolls for them to enjoy the next morning for breakfast as well but DON'T take it upon yourself to now feed a family every single week...UNLESS the Lord tells you to! If the Lord leads you to serve in the nursery ministry at church, DON'T then take over all of the training, scheduling, and follow up UNLESS the Lord leads you to! And if the Lord leads you to be a stay at home mama to your kids DON'T try to do all the Pinterest crafts like your friend Sally or do all the outings like your friend Petunia. Just be the mom that you are because you are EXACTLY the Mom your kids need!!
No matter where the Lord has called you - STOP BEING SO EXTRA. Be present. Be real. Be you!! And when you do you'll be sitting in your "Ark of Obedience", at peace with your family, floating safely through the rough waters of life and singing praises to the Lord for His faithful provision and perfect plan. A plan that has never needed our "extra".