If you ever worked in retail, the task of taking inventory probably brings up red flags and bad memories. Don't worry, the type of inventory I am talking about doesn’t involve counting and sorting but self-reflection and prayer.
I am a strong believer if I hear the same message twice whether it is in a sermon, my readings, on the radio, or from a friend, that it is something God wants me to hear. With that being said over the past month I have had the term “take inventory of your life” spoken into my life in two ways. First, in a book study of Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons, I am reading with a group of friends. Then secondly, in my personal lent study of I Heard God Laugh by Matthew Kelly. In both of these instances, the authors make the point that in order to know where we are going we have to know where we are.
What does it mean to take inventory of your life?
God created us to be free, but there are so many things in our lives that hold us back and keep us from living the life God intended for us. The process of taking inventory is all about going back to the basics and finding what is holding us back from God.
God is the source of all life, we need to be directly connected to Him on a daily basis in order to be living our best life. A daily connection to God looks different for everyone. For a busy mom with kids running around it could be a quiet moment of prayer while the kids are down for a nap or a few moments of Christian radio, podcast, or prayer as you are heading to pick the kids up. For the college student, it could be a few minutes between classes at your favorite campus spot or listening to a podcast as you walk to class. For the overworked professional, it could be setting your alarm a few minutes early just to be able to sip a cup of coffee and read the Bible before getting ready for your day. Making time to connect to God doesn’t have to be overcomplicated, He is simply asking for a little bit of the time you do have, it could be 10 minutes or 2 hours. Share in the comment your secrets in finding extra time in your day to spend with God.
The process of taking inventory helps you pinpoint the areas of opportunity you have to connect to God. By connecting to God and allowing for a time of self-reflection, we can see more clearly where we need a little extra attention.
How do we start with taking inventory?
As the musical poet Vanilla Ice once said, “stop, collaborate, and listen”. Those are the steps of getting started with your inventory (sorry for the GIF, I couldn't help myself).
First, you must stop. Stop what you are doing, get in a quiet place where you can focus.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14
The second step is to collaborate. We collaborate by creating an open dialogue with God by asking Him to reveal our hearts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:24
After opening up to God you can ask yourself some questions. The author of the two books I previously mentioned suggests you ask yourself the questions below. The answers to these questions should help lead you to take advantage of your opportunities and make changes that will bring you closer to God.
Is your life working? (Kelly 3)
Are you thriving or just surviving? (Kelly 3)
What’s right [in your life]? (Lyons 29)
What’s wrong [in your life]? (Lyons 30)
What’s Confusing [in your life]? (Lyons 30)
What’s Missing [in your life]? (Lyons 30)
This is where the last step, listen comes into play. We must listen to what we are hearing from ourselves and God through this inventory. Be warned, what we discover can lead to a life-altering experience and possibly a major life change. This change might not be comfortable but it can lead to a deeper relationship with our Father!
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
How long will it take?
The amount of time you choose to spend taking inventory is a personal choice, but you should always allow yourself the time to open up and hear from God. I would suggest taking the time to deeply connect and not trying to squeeze an inventory in because you have a few minutes here or there.
Taking an inventory of our lives is like a spiritual check-up that allows us to make the changes needed to continue to grow in our walk with God. My suggestion when getting started would be to take an in-depth inventory of every aspect of your life and then follow up weekly or monthly, depending on your schedule. This process of in-depth inventory and follow-up inventory can be redone as much needed. I would suggest doing at least two in-depth inventories every year or after any major life changes. It might help to write down your answers to the questions or what God is saying to you during each inventory so you can revisit and check on your progress.
Is it actually worth it?
Just like doing a physical workout, spiritual workouts can be difficult but they only make us stronger. If you are taking the time to read this post, my assumption is that you are a person who puts time into your relationship with God and you know the importance of building a strong foundation. Although taking inventory will require more of your already busy life, I believe it is extremely worth the time it takes. Having a strong foundation starts by knowing where you stand.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27
Taking Inventory is a Cycle
The process of taking inventory is a constant cycle designed to bring us closer to who God intended us to be. I encourage you not to get disheartened when doing your inventory! We all have areas that need adjustment because we are human. It is important to remind yourself of who God says you are. Our identity can be diluted by what the world says but at our core, we are who God says we are. Below is a list of phrases from Rhythms of Renewal that tells us how God defines us. (Lyons 113-114) Take the time to read and accept who God says we are.
I am a child of God. (John 1:12)
I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I am a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)
I am created by God to do good. (Ephesians 2:10)
I am free in Christ. (Galatians 5:1)
I am chosen and loved. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
I am not ruled by fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I am forgiven. (Colossians 2:13)
I am God’s Possession. (Titus 2:14)
I am free from the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:24)
I am a light in the world. (Matthew 5:14-15)
I am secure in Him. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
I am loved by God. (1 John 4:10)
We hope that you found this post encouraging! We would love to hear from you! If you are comfortable, please share the story of your journey as you began the process of taking inventory of your life.
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Kelly, Matthew. I Heard God Laugh. Blue Sparrow, 2020.
Lyons, Rebekah. Rhythms of Renewal. Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2019.