the power of small changes
Big resolutions intimidate me. You know . . . grandiose, mind blowing, epic promises of transformation. As in, by the end of 2022 I will be a different woman! You won't even recognize me after I . . .
Yep, it's going to be a great year. But first, I need to go take a nap . . .
You may have guessed it by now - I typically do not make resolutions. At least not these type of too-specific, too-vague, too-unrealistic kinds of promises. To be clear, I think there are times and seasons when these kinds of resolutions may be exactly what we need. Sometimes we reach a point where something's gotta give. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We need to make big changes if we want to change our lives in big ways.
But most years, what I really need is the power of small changes. I need bite-sized action steps. I need what John Trent, in his article, Course Correction (first published in Thriving Family Magazine, 2009), calls the "power of 2-degree changes."
Using the illustration of a steering wheel in a car, he demonstrates the power of small shifts on the course of our lives. When you turn a steering wheel just 2 degrees to the right or left, over time, it changes the direction of where you are headed. 2-degree changes - both positive and negative - have the potential to run us off the road or move us in a better direction. Over time, these small adjustments add up to a cumulative impact on our lives.
Small, steady changes have the power to transform our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well as the health of our relationships.
So instead of big resolutions hanging over my head, I'm thinking of smaller, doable shifts:
If you haven't yet taken some time to look over that last year and reflect on where you've been, and then look ahead and think about where you are headed, I'd encourage you to do that. I have been spending some time reflecting on this and here are some helpful questions I've explored:
What healthy habits am I already doing, and how can I continue/increase these as I head into 2022?
What habits have I developed that are unhealthy, and how can I move away from these and make better choices? (This may include unhealthy relational patterns or patterns of addiction - wherever we may be moving towards things as a way to escape/cope with stress, pain, or loneliness.)
What relationships are life-giving? How can I intentionally increase connection with people who inspire, encourage, challenge me (in good ways) and fill my bucket?
What relationships may be pulling me in a direction I don't want to go? Do I need to distance myself from or change the way I am engaging with certain people as I create healthier boundaries?
Are there people whom I need to forgive or ask forgiveness for something I have done?
Where has God been moving-stirring-prompting me in service or ministry to others? How can I grow and develop the gifts he has given me for the good of others and to bring Him honor?
Where might God want me to increase giving my time, energy and resources?
Where might God be wanting me to pull back and refocus my attention?
Is there an area of my life where I need healing, and is God leading me to get help from a trusted friend, leader, or counselor?
How have I grown closer to God over this past year? Was it through a Bible study, small group, time spent alone with God in prayer? How will I increase this, and what pathways enable me to best connect with God?
Looking at what is and is not working is incredibly important as we move forward and think about the small shifts we want to make in 2022.
One final thought: While most of us experience a few monumental, pivotal moments in life, most of our growth and transformation happens through the small, steady changes we make from one day to the next. I love how Paul David Tripp puts it in his book, New Morning Mercies, A Daily Gospel Devotional:
Whether our resolutions are big or small, I pray that 2022 will be a year of increasing growth and transformation for us all. May we daily draw closer to Jesus as He continues the good work He began in us. (Philippians 1:6)
when joy feels miles away
"It's the most wonderful time of the year . . ."
"From now on our troubles will be miles away . . . "
But what if it's not the most wonderful time of the year? What if your joy feels miles away, your troubles feel closer than ever, and your burdens only feel heavier as we approach Christmas and New Year's?
The thing about the holidays is they have a way of magnifying both the good and the hard. If, for example, you are enjoying harmonious relationships, good health, or have celebrated a milestone over this last year: a marriage or birth in the family, a new job or move, then your joy will be that much sweeter. And, on the flip side, if you have lost a loved one, are experiencing relational or financial strain, or maybe you or someone you love has received a difficult diagnosis, the emotions that go along with those things may also be heightened. Some of us just feel weary with the daily grind of life, and some of us have found ourselves pulled into the hustle and bustle, to the tasks and to-do lists, to the overspending, overcommitting, and sometimes overwhelming stress and chaos of the season.
Joy is a spiritual quality - a fruit of the Spirit - so unlike happiness (which is an emotional response to good things that happen in our lives), it is not tethered to our circumstances or other people's behavior or choices. I believe we can experience and cultivate a deep, abiding joy that stays with us even in hard seasons. But first, we have to identify those things that rob us of joy:
1. Stress: Whether it's extra financial strain brought on by the holidays, finding gifts for everyone, stressful family events, tasks such as putting up decorations, shopping, and food preparations, busyness, the pressure to produce the “perfect” holiday, or taking on more than we can handle each year - holiday stress has a way of snowballing and draining us of joy and energy.
2. Comparison: Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Especially this time of year, it can be so easy for us to compare. As Christmas cards come in, we enjoy seeing people's highlights from the past year, But sometimes these Christmas cards can feel like the ultimate Instagram post - and they don't often reflect the reality of everyday life. If we aren't mindful of our tendency to compare, we can find ourselves making up stories about how great other people have it. We can easily become discontent with what we have or don't have, what we've done or not done, who we are and who we are not. It would serve us well to remember that the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus were not glamorous or easy. He was born into a hostile, broken world. If Mary had sent out a card that first Christmas, I wonder if it may have looked something like this:
3. Expectations: On others. On ourselves. Expectations others place on us. Trying to make everything perfect and everyone happy. Expectations about the way we think things should be . . .When we set our expectations unrealistically high, we set ourselves up for disappointment. This, too, robs us of joy.
4. Isolation/Doing it alone/Pretending: Most of us have experienced some degree of isolation over the past year and a half. During quarantine we weren't able to see family and friends. Some of us still are not back to our regular schedules and social lives. Many of us are still working from home. Still doing online church. We have been cut off in different ways from connection with others. And there is another kind of isolation that is particularly painful. It's the loneliness we feel even when surrounded by others. Whether we don't feel safe to open up, or whether people just don't seem interested in knowing what is really going on in our lives, we can feel incredibly alone and isolated from others.
I did some of my own "research," asking women to share what is robbing them of joy right now Here are some of their answers:
I'm always wondering:
Family get-togethers: Now more than ever, differences of opinions, experiences, amped up reactivity/emotions are causing division in our families. Whether it's politics, the pandemic, religion, controversial issues, one woman said, “I am thinking what robs joy is having people you love walk away from you because you don't believe the same way they do.”
Navigating loss during the holidays: Another woman shared, “Celebrating without my Dad - he died suddenly in mid-Sept. My family is devastated and grieving. Every day is still hard and I fear the holidays will be even harder.”
This resonated deeply with me, because nine years ago my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few days before Thanksgiving. By Christmas, we knew it was stage three, inoperable, and incurable.
Everyone - my mom, my sisters, and their families - decided to come to our house for Christmas. All we knew for sure is that we wanted to be together. We needed to be together. We prepared our favorite foods, decorated the house, and piled presents around the tree. We systematically moved through the holiday, doing our best to keep everything as normal as possible for the children, but those of us who knew about Mom’s diagnosis were wondering the same thing. Will this be our last year together? God, what kind of grief will this new year bring with it?
This is now our eighth year without Mom. Her birthday in October and the holidays have hit me hard this year. I told my husband, "It's not just that I miss Mom - I miss her everyday. But I miss the way our family used to be. I'm grieving the way her loss has changed things." You see, my mom was like the glue in our family. Even with sometimes difficult, tricky sibling dynamics (and now with each of our kids growing up and those dynamics multiplying), we each knew the special place we had with Mom. The special place we had in her heart. We each knew we were loved and accepted. In a way, she was an equalizer. Sometimes it’s still really hard to do this without her here.
One of the things I've been focusing on this season is how I can SIMPLIFY. Because If we desire to celebrate and focus on Christ, create meaningful connection with others, and cultivate joy during this season, I think we have to start with simplifying. Scaling down. Scaling back. I'm thinking “Christmas Un-plugged.” This can include shortening our to-do lists, holding on to the traditions that matter most and letting go of the ones that don’t, and maybe even starting some new ones. Our youngest works as a hostess in a restaurant and has to work on Christmas afternoon. Since it will only be three of us at home that evening (our oldest and her husband are not coming home this year), we've decided to go eat at the restaurant. It's super different, but this year is already really different for us, so I'm open to trying something new. I've also been checking my motives, resisting the pull to try to impress others, control outcomes, or do anything that distracts or detracts me from the true meaning of Christmas.
As we look throughout the Christmas story we find JOY everywhere.
This first "snapshot" begins with an appearance from the angel Gabriel, but before he visits Mary he appears first to a priest named Zechariah…
Luke 1:13-14 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth…"
Luke 1:28-31 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus."
We see joy two-fold with Zechariah: first, with answered prayer for him and Elizabeth, then expanded to "many" through John’s unique calling to go before the Messiah and prepare the way.
And twice in these texts we see the message: "Do not be afraid." Partly because Gabriel is an angelic being and it appears that every time he shows up people are terrified! But also because fear and anxiety are part of our human condition. Our tendency, especially when facing the unknown, is to fear.
For many of us, the anxieties that plague us throughout the year are heightened during the holidays - the heavy burdens we carry only feel heavier during this season. This message “Do not fear” is absolutely for us.
Fearful thoughts often begin with these two words: What if . . .
What if the treatments don’t work? What if my child loses his/her way? What if we can’t resolve these relational problems? What if I lose my job, fail, am rejected or alone?
Notice that Gabriel first said, “The Lord is with you. . . .” and then, “Do not be afraid.” Maybe you’ve heard it said that God does not call us to do something without equipping us to do it. This is that. The truth and reality of God's presence enables us to not be afraid.
It's why David writes “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23)
The reality of God’s presence – Immanuel (God with us) – changes our What if . . .? to Even if . . . We are not given the assurance or promise that our What ifs will not happen. But we are promised His presence to help us in every moment of our Even ifs.
“You fill me with JOY in your presence.” Psalm 16:11
1. WE FIND JOY IN GOD’S PRESENCE That last Christmas with my mom, we went to the Christmas Eve service at our church and these lyrics became my prayer for us:
O come, Thou Day-Spring
Come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, o Israel
We needed the hope of Christmas more than ever before. Our world and our hearts were breaking into pieces, and we needed the presence of Emmanuel, God with us. And we’d need it every day of the New Year.
Whatever you may be facing today, I want to invite you to bring your anxieties to God. “. . .because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Ps 94:19.
Two words in Hebrew are used for the phrase "cares of my heart" in this text: the first means "anxious and disquieting thoughts"; the second means "deep within your body."
And the word for "consolations" is this picture of God taking the raw and tender places of our souls and smoothing his healing balm over them.
Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor
And then, as we bring our cares to God, as we are comforted, our hearts are cheered and filled with joy. And we find that He is completely trustworthy.
2. WE FIND JOY IN TRUSTING HIM I remember a conversation I had with my mom, not long after her diagnosis: She told me she believed she would be healed, but that no matter what happened, she was in a win-win situation. If she was healed, she won more time with her family. And if she died, she won eternity with her Savior. Either way, her future—and ours—was secure.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:7)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Let’s look at another snapshot from Mary’s life…
Luke 1:39-45 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, . . ."
3. WE FIND JOY IN AUTHENTIC CONNECTION
What a gift for Mary and Elizabeth!! Very few would have believed what was happening to Mary - not even Joseph believed her at first, and he was a righteous man. So she goes to visit Elizabeth, perhaps not unlike the way a young, pregnant, unwed girl might go visit her aunt today. Elizabeth greets her and
We find joy as we make relationships a priority - Connecting in practical ways (baking, shopping, playing games . . . ) and more deeply with safe people - sharing honestly with others. Meaningful connection with those who have vision to see God at work, who will believe with you that the Lord fulfills His promises.
Another snapshot from Mary’s story: After the angel tells her she will conceive by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God, and that even her relative Elizabeth is pregnant in her old age, he proclaims: “For no word from God will ever fail." And Mary replies, "I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”
Mary’s response was deeply rooted in surrender. And it reminds me another moment of surrender 33 years later - Jesus in the garden, on the night he was betrayed, arrested, and then crucified, he prays. “Not my will, but yours, be done.” It’s why the writer of Hebrews tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus . . . who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
4. WE FIND JOY IN SURRENDER. As we surrender outcomes, control, the way we think things should be, we find joy. We can say, even if this is not what we wanted, "It is well with my soul . . ."
Even in the midst of our brokenness and sorrow, the faithful presence of Emmanuel is undeniable. We do not walk alone. The true hope of Christmas is not that our troubles will magically be far away, but that Emmanuel comes into our world, into our pain and grief, and brings true healing to every heart.
One final snapshot…
Luke 2:8-11 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
The JOY of Christmas – and everyday – is found in a person.
5. WE FIND JOY IN JESUS:
For ALL who choose to prepare Him room, to worship Him as King, to trust Him as Savior, to surrender to Him as Lord . . .
We can be sure of the place we have in His family - the special place we have with Him. Jesus is the glue. He is the Great Equalizer. We are so loved. And somehow this helps us to love others - even amidst tricky dynamics and complicated relationships. Whatever challenges we may be facing in our lives, He is Immanuel, God with us. We belong to Him.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:8-9)
As we experience the presence of Emmanuel, as we trust Him with all our hearts, as we authentically connect with God and others, as we surrender everything and every part of our lives to Him, as we draw near to Jesus, may we be filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, at Christmas and into the New Year.
REPLACING THE MYTH OF "HAPPILY EVER AFTER" WITH THE REALITY OF LIVING OUT OUR VOWS IN EVERYDAY MARRIAGE
Our eldest daughter Kate recently married Steve at a very special, beautiful outdoor venue in northern Michigan - my sister's and brother-in-law's house! The day turned out pretty close to perfect, from the weather to all the carefully chosen details that made the ceremony and reception a truly meaningful and joyous event.
If you had been there, you might have noticed that amidst the beautiful music, decorations, cocktails, yummy food, and heart-warming toasts, there was a healthy dose of "real marriage talk" sprinkled in. It wasn't ". . . And They Lived Happily Ever After . . ." because that is the language of fairy tales. In real life, "happily ever after" is never the way marriage plays out.
My brother-in-law, Dave, officiated the ceremony (and then changed into his DJ clothes to get the party started!), and his message was not what you might expect at a wedding ceremony. Rather than warm and fuzzy, lovey-dovey fluff, he crafted a message inspired by real-life love and hope-infused truth. He talked about marriage as the perfect place for God to teach us how to love, how to forgive, how to lean into Him when it gets hard, and how to discover the power of God's grace for our own shortcomings as well as those of our spouse. Kate and Steve reflected an understanding of this in the vows they wrote and shared with one another before God and those who were present. And then later, when my nephew prayed a blessing over the food at the reception, he shared a few words of encouragement for the new couple. He too talked about how God would help them through the highs and lows and be with them in the good times and the hard times.
You see, it is not a question of "if" we will face challenges and hard seasons in marriage. It is a given. The better question is, "What will we do when the hard times come? To whom will we turn?" Bernie and I have been married for 27 years, and we are still growing. We are still learning how to love. We still hit some bumps in the road, and when we do, we know where to go for help. First we go to God. We go to our trusted circle of family and friends. We still get help from a counselor when needed. The ups and downs will always be a part of this journey. We have tried to normalize our struggles - to model what it looks like to "struggle well" - so that our daughters will not be surprised when they hit some bumps along the way.
Our prayer is that Kate and Steve will always turn to God for help and keep Him at the center of their lives, and that they will turn to us, to their families, to their community of people who have pledged to walk alongside them in good times and in hard times.
When we marry, we choose to become family with our spouse for the rest of our lives. I shared these words with Kate and Steve a few months before they took their vows:
“I hope that on your wedding day you are crazy in love with each other. I hope you feel like no other couple on the planet has anything close to the amazing love you’ve found. And, I also pray that when those feelings fade—and they will—and when hard times come—and they will—that you will not be surprised. There will be times when loving one another will be as easy as breathing. You won’t even have to try. And there will be times when loving your spouse will be the hardest, most sacrificial thing you’ve ever done. In fact, you won’t be able to do it on your own. You will hurt each other more than you can imagine, and you will need God’s help to forgive. When you say, ‘I do,’ you are signing up for a life-long journey of transformation. You are pledging to love each other through the good and the bad, the best and worst of times, whatever comes your way, for the rest of your lives.”
In his book Sacred Marriage, author Gary Thomas writes, “The beauty of Christianity is in learning to love, and few life situations test that so radically as does a marriage. . . . If we view the marriage relationship as an opportunity to excel in love, it doesn’t matter how difficult the person is whom we are called to love; it doesn’t even matter whether that love is ever returned. We can still excel at love. We can still say, ‘Like it or not, I’m going to love you like nobody ever has.’”
Here are the Scriptures Steve and Kate chose as readings during the ceremony:
This wedding was a blast. It was a celebration of real-life love and the God who shows us how to walk out our vows every day. Kate and Steve are beginning the adventure of their lives, and we truly could not be happier for them. I think these photos tell the story of God's faithfulness to so many of us as we have walked together, rejoiced together, and persevered together through life's ups and downs.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
THE DAY I LOST MY FEAR OF FLYING
Why am I not afraid as we board this plane? It wasn’t that I wanted to feel my usual level of panic—it was just unexpected and, frankly, unexplainable. My fear of flying had started shortly after I became a mom, and over the last fifteen or so years, it seemed to get worse every time I traveled. I finally spoke to my doctor and he prescribed an anti-anxiety medicine for me to take right before I got on the plane; while it didn’t completely take away my fear, it definitely took the edge off.
Now, after more than a year of being grounded because of the pandemic, I was flying to Little Rock from Chicago for work. My 15-year-old daughter, Brenna, was accompanying me, and not only was I not afraid to board the plane, I hadn’t felt anxious as we ate our Starbucks' breakfast sandwiches at the gate. I hadn’t felt nervous the night before as I drifted off to sleep, which was so unusual because normally I started worrying months in advance before a trip, panic settling in as I imagined the plane taking off and gaining altitude. Over the years I had learned some mental tricks to help manage my anxiety, such as not allowing myself to think about flying until a week before, running the numbers in my head of how many flights safely take off and land every day all over the world, and reminding myself that planes rarely crash—several things have to simultaneously go wrong for something catastrophic to happen.
I was absolutely amazed at the calm I felt as we found our seats, stowed our carry-ons, and the plane took off. I actually enjoyed looking out the window as we ascended, seeing the landscape shrink beneath us. After a quick flight, we began our descent, I felt the wheels unfold and extend beneath the plane (which usually freaks me out), and then we landed. No big deal. These skies really are friendly!
During the flight I thought numerous times about the mystery/miracle of not being afraid and wondered why I was not gripping the armrests and clenching my jaw--why my heart was not pounding within my chest. What was different? What had changed? It was as if a wall of peace had been erected in my mind that I couldn’t go around. Not that I wanted to—it was wonderful to be able to relax and actually enjoy my time with my daughter, traveling together to a new place.
Brenna and I talked about the strange (and wonderful) phenomenon I was experiencing and she had a theory. After a year of having control over very little, including the pandemic with all its ramifications, major surgery with a potentially scary diagnosis, contracting Covid-19 with complications of asthma and pneumonia, and a significant change at my job, maybe I had built up a level of “immunity” to things that used to scare me. Brenna hypothesized that after navigating and surviving all of those difficult and scary experiences, flying was just one more thing to add to a handful of things that now seemed normal. Perhaps I was getting used to things being out of my control.
A couple of days later, as we checked out of the hotel and headed to the airport, I again noticed the absence of fear as we were about to board another plane and fly home, and then this thought went through my mind. Flying the plane is not my job.
Did you catch that? Because although that seems like a no-brainer observation, I don’t know that I had ever thought about it or acknowledged it.
Flying the plane is not my job.
It wasn’t my job to make sure we arrived safely to Chicago. That was the pilot’s job. That was the mechanical team’s job. It was the responsibility of the manufacturer and the airline and the air-traffic controllers, and whoever else plays a role in making planes and airports work the way they are supposed to. I am not even a tiny bit a part of that equation.
I don’t know where all the chips fall, but I do know that I truly have nothing to do with it. None of it is my job. Ultimately, even when people fail to do their job well or evil is inflicted on innocent people, God is in control over everything. Even in moments when we are not safe with what is physically happening around us, we are safe in His care. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He is our refuge and ever-present help in times of trouble. I can fret and worry and feel panicked in seat 18B, even though I have zero power to influence anything happening in that moment. Or, I can relax into the truth that even if something goes wrong, I am secure in God’s sovereign wisdom, love, power, and will.
When it comes to anxiety, so much of mine—and maybe yours—has to do with trying to control things (and people) that are not in our control. In other words, things that are not our job.
Fixing someone else’s issues. That’s not our job.
Making sure our kids are happy all the time. That’s not our job.
Making our spouses do what we want. Not our job.
Rescuing other people from pain. Not our job.
Impressing others. Not our job.
Making other people like us. Not our job.
Solving all Covid-related problems. Not our job.
Managing our kids’ spiritual lives. Not. Our. Job.
Controlling what other people think about us. I think you get it . . .
You see, so much of what we worry about are things outside of our control. If I’m worried I may react in a way that is hurtful to someone else, then my job is to practice self-control. If I’m worried, however, that someone else may react in a way that is hurtful to me or someone I love, well . . . that is not something I can control. That is not my responsibility. Not my job.
I don’t know how I will feel the next time I fly. And I don’t know if what I’m sharing here has the potential to help another soul who is afraid. But for me, and I think for all of us, the pathway to peace and a sense of calm even in the midst of chaos is surrender. We prayerfully—and with the help of the Holy Spirit—control what is within our power to control. Which is really only ourselves. For everything else, we practice letting go. We practice surrender. We practice it so much that we get really good at it. We learn to excel at recognizing the difference between what we can control and what we cannot. And the fruit we enjoy is peace.
The writer of Psalm 46 begins with recognizing God as our refuge, strength, and ever-present help in trouble, then declares that because of this truth we will not fear, even though . . .(and then comes a list of truly catastrophic natural disasters…). We will not fear because the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. He rules over all. And then the Lord says,
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
In other words, we are not. Being God is not our job. He tells us to be still and not to fear, because He is with us. He alone is our fortress.
How about you? What fears and anxieties are gripping your heart and mind today? It may be helpful to start your own list entitled “Not My Job.” Identify those burdens you are carrying that are weighing you down. Write it down. Then say it out loud in the form of a prayer. Share it with a friend.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7, The Message)
March 03rd, 2021
GUEST POST: HE RESTORES MY SOUL
It is my joy to share this post from author and guest blogger Jennifer Perez,