Our ChristCare group just finished Mel Lawrenz’s insightful and thought-provoking book, Patterns. It is a small book and easy to read; but it is full of wisdom, challenges and reminders of ways to develop the patterns, habits and attitudes that will bring you closer to God and help you to demonstrate his love and grace to those around you.

Our crazy, busy, stress-filled days are fraught with experiences that put all our well-meaning intentions to love and serve God, to one test after another. That backstabbing coworker, the insufferable attitude and long lines at the post office, the selfish, rude drivers on our freeways, and the often demanding and insensitive behavior of our own families; all have the potential to draw us further from God. Many days prove almost impossible to live by the edict, “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

But isn’t that the point of it all? We don’t live in a protected little bubble where we can blissfully glide through our days, happily praying and praising our Lord, without interruption or diversion. (I think they call that “heaven”)! We live in this world with all its distractions and various requirements of our time, energy and talents.

We have all heard the phrase, “Be in the world, but not of the world”, which was derived from Romans 12:2. And I found it interesting that the New International Version (NIV) reads:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

There’s that word again, PATTERN. And unfortunately, our daily patterns are more often “of the world” than of God. Our reactions to everyday frustrations tell others much about us. And if we would take time to analyze our own behavior, we could learn a lot about ourselves.

What is the first thing you do when your eyes open each morning? What are your first thoughts? How is your attitude? Are you dragging yourself out of bed, disappointed that it is a workday instead of the weekend?

Try this experiment: Before you get out of bed every day, take a moment to thank God for your restful night sleep, for your comfortable bed, for the safe, dry roof over your head, and for the fact that you woke up to live another day.

Consider this; various sources estimate that 150,000 or more people die every day. So if you slept for just 8 hours, then approximately 50,000 people died while you were sleeping. Since you weren’t one of them, I think you can safely say a hearty “thank you” to God for even opening your eyes each day!

And when you open those eyes, chances are that the first thing you will see is either the roof or the walls of your home. Yet, the United Nations estimates that 100 million people are homeless worldwide, and around one billion have inadequate housing.

What do think these millions upon millions of your fellow human beings see when they first open their eyes each morning? If they were able to sleep at all, that is. Between adverse weather conditions, fear for their safety, and their attempts to find a place comfortable enough to allow them to even fall asleep, many spent their night achy, sore and stiff, just trying to survive the horrors of living without safe, restful shelter. So again, I think we can all take a moment to gratefully appreciate the fact that we woke up in beds with actual mattresses, with pillows and soft sheets, under a roof that protected us from the weather, and surrounded by walls that kept us safe from intruders and wild animals.

And are you frustrated that you have to go to work today? I don’t have to tell you that the world is experiencing record levels of unemployment. In the U.S. alone, the unemployment rate has risen to 9.5%, which according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in June 2009; this translated to 14.7 million people, just in the United States, that have NO INCOME to provide food, clothing or shelter for their families—basic needs for mere existence. I think that warrants a cheerful, “Amen, thank you God; I have a job”!