How many of you check under the memories tab on your Facebook? You know the one I am talking about; it will have the status or picture you posted 7 years ago on this day and even will sometimes tell you who you friended on that day.
“Hi ma’am, how many will be dining tonight?” “Oh, umm, just one…just me”. Have you ever found yourself in that situation? Or perhaps you just did not even try going out to eat because you were embarrassed to be that party of one. I was that party of one…sadly, not so long ago.
Do you ever feel a bit overwhelmed with your weekly schedule? I know I do and I often find myself feeling anxious with each task I have to do whether it is running the kids to their practices, after-school events, grocery shopping, birthday parties, and then also squeezing in there being a wife. I am going to share with you my Pastor’s advice,
take a deep breath-More of you God…Exhale-less of me.
I think we are all guilty of having too much of “us” and not enough “Him”. I get it, it is hard, we live in an instant gratification society and we are heavily influenced by the world around us. We have conformed our lifestyles to the way of the world…or at least the way the world wants us to be. Again, too much us and not enough Him.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I have read this scripture hundreds of times, but it just never sticks. What will it take to release those chains of conformity and pick up our cross? Look around, all the ads and articles pertaining to the newest fad diet, best clothing line, or even the most popular rock band—but it is hard to find an advertisement that explains the way God wants us to live, right?
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep.”
After reading that scripture, why do we as Christians continue to follow the “hired hand” rather than the good shepherd that gave His life for you and me? I know it is easy to go with the flow and to conform to the society we live in, but do not let it define you, the shepherd, the one who created and owns you is the only one that defines you.
Let’s think for a minute, Jesus left 99 sheep in order to find the 1 lost sheep. We have all felt like that 1 lone sheep, lost and lonely. If it were not for the Father making a way to find the lost sheep, we would all still be that lost and lonely sheep. God promises to never leave our side or call us to a battle that He hasn’t already conquered. During this Easter season, let us remember the battle He fought for us. He loved you so much that He gave up His life so that YOU could have yours. Stop conforming to what the universe expects of you and start transforming into being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Read also: THE TREASURE WITHIN
Have you ever found yourself at rock bottom? Perhaps your marriage was failing, job interviews were not in your favor, or maybe friends had removed themselves from your life. Basically, your life didn’t look anything like you had imagined it would.
Friends let me tell you, rock bottom is nowhere you want to be. But unfortunately, that is where I found myself a few years ago. Although it is not the ideal place to find yourself-but praise God I was there. Seems absurd, I know, but it literally took me hitting rock bottom to find my way back to the top. I was faithless but God remained faithful.
Out of control
I thought I had it all. I was blessed with a hard-working husband, two healthy children at that time, a top of the ladder job, no mortgage on the new house we lived in, and even a nice car to drive…but you know what? None of those things helped me out of that dark pit I was drowning in. My husband had become distant, I lost that top of the ladder job, I had just had a miscarriage and none of those materialistic things mattered in the long run, because they could not pull me up out of the darkness. If anything, I was feeling like the water was continuing to rise. I called out for help but was too consumed by my own darkness that I did not even realize when God was answering. I was trying to remain in control and in all reality, I was out of control.
I was struggling big time. I finally broke down and stepped out of my comfort zone and found myself across from a pastor who I barely knew. All these recent disappointments had resurfaced hurt from my past. The Pastor suggested that perhaps I never healed fully from the past, I only healed enough to move forward. That opened my eyes to a new world. I guess you could say I was notorious for allowing myself to just forget all the hurt and pain. You know what I am talking about, just shoving it in the back of your mind and hope that you will just forget it.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”Mark 11:24
I found myself praying a lot! I was not exactly sure what to pray for, I had distanced myself so far from God and any type of religion because I thought I could control my life and I would be able to fix it. But, as a matter of fact, I couldn’t fix it. The main tool in my toolbox was missing-God. I felt ashamed praying to God asking Him to pull me out of darkness when I had pulled away from him.
“if we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself”.2Timothy 2:13
Thanks be to God that He didn’t give up on me. He met me right where I was and provided me with the tools I needed to come up out of the darkness. He led me to a church that became my home, He provided me with faithful friends, He led me to a mountain top where I released my hurt, pain, and control. I felt renewed, He was the change in me. My brokenness brought me to God, without the scars from my past I would have never known how deep God’s love is for me. I am not who I was before, I don’t have to fear anymore, and now I see with my eyes wide open.
If you are feeling faithless in your darkness, don’t lose hope! You are never too far gone, God will run to you even when it seems as if everyone else has left you at your worst. I am thankful that God grabbed my hand and pulled me out of my darkness. He knew I couldn’t make the change, so He became the change in me. Thanks
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
Read also: Hope, even when…
When we are small children, we learn what I call “kid prayers”. You know the traditional, “As I lay me down to sleep..” “God is good, God is great…” But no one really tells you how to pray. During my youth years, I found myself praying for only the things I needed or wanted. I leaped straight from thanking to asking. I would find myself praying “promise prayers”. “Lord if you will just help me make an A on this paper, I promise I will pray every day!” It wasn’t until I was almost 30 years old, I found myself on my knees – not even knowing what or how to pray. I felt like there was a specific way to pray and I didn’t feel like I had mastered that part of my faith, yet.
Be still and know?
On October 17, 2018, my husband was in a serious accident at work. Most of it is a blur now, but I do remember as I was driving to Raleigh, NC – which was about 2 hours from my home, I kept praying, “God, let him be ok”…. ”Please God, I cannot do this life without him.” I was simply praying what I desired. Never once did I thank Him for anything at that point. I sure didn’t have the time to stop and listen. Are you serious, my husband is laying on an operating table with his chest cut open – I don’t have time to “Be still and know.” Just Lord, hear my prayer! And, hopefully, if I just keep reciting the same prayer, “Lord please let him be ok,” He will eventually grant me the desires of my heart.
God has already worked it out for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28
What I didn’t take into consideration was God already was taking care of my husband. When my husband woke that morning, God had already prepared the surgeon that would be performing emergency surgery on him. He had things lined up for me that I couldn’t see at the time. He knew my husband would be involved in an accident that day, and He had a plan. However, I didn’t trust that God had a plan. Please don’t get me wrong, I do not believe God makes bad things happen to people, but He does allow them. This whole time, God had prepared for that day. It was already taken care of, before it happened on earth. But how easy is to forget to trust that God has already worked it out for the good of those who love Him? (Romans 8:28)
No prayer is too big or too small
Recently I learned how to stop-pause-pray. Before, I would pray and be interrupted or fall asleep during my nighttime prayers. Personally, I have a hard time praying on a whim, my OCD kicks in high gear and I get a bit frazzled because I need to prepare and plan exactly what to say… or at least that’s what I thought I had to do. And, how crazy that God hears our every prayer? God knows exactly what you are praying for even when you cannot find the mere words to utter. No prayer is too big or too small. He may not answer right away, but isn’t that the beauty of His unending grace and mercy?
Through this “growth” spurt, I felt God was challenging me to Praise Him rather than Ask Him. I was asking for things that He was already taking care of and handling. He was already protecting those people I prayed for Him to protect. Rather than asking God to continue to be there through my husband’s recovery, I thanked Him for being with him during his recovery. Less asking more praising!
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”.
I realized God would always provide, I needed to ensure I was praising Him rather than asking. Have your prayers become mechanical? Do you find yourself asking for things that God is already providing? Practice the stop-pause-pray method. Do not stop asking God, but stop and evaluate the things you are asking for – praise Him during the pause-and never cease to pray.
Thanks be to God, Amen.
Read also: What trust can do