Over the last couple of weeks, Sheila Wray Gregoire has posted some thought-provoking posts on her blog, To Love, Honour and Vacuum. In part 1 of Does God Make a Difference, I commented about the difference that God has made in my life, in my marriage, in how I view life:
And so in answer to Sheila’s question – does God make a difference. Yes, He does. He most definitely does. And He is involved in the detail of our lives. We may not see it, or acknowledge it, but He is. And He loves us.
And whatever path we are on in our lives, I think that God will take us on the path that when we look back over our lives, we can see His workings in our world – yes, just like the footprints in the sand. (Reference here.)
Then, Sheila posted a part 2 – and in part 2, Sheila was discussing the aspect of divorce and how the divorce rate among authentically born-again Christians is considerably lower than with our secular or non-born again counterparts. And the reason being is that born-again Christians are trying to live their lives by God’s standards and so divorce isn’t an option that we entertain.
Last week I made some observations that often Christians act like God doesn’t really make a difference in our lives, and everything is ultimately up to us. We just don’t really have faith that God will actually move. (Reference here.)
However, all this has started me thinking – and really thinking…
Putting talk of marriage aside, and just looking at our lives in its entirety, why is that so many Christians do not live the victorious lives the Bible says we can?
Is God really making a difference in your life?
And yes, I know that many of us do have the faith, we do believe in God, we know He can do so much more than we can ask or imagine – so, why isn’t He? And now I can only speak for myself, but even though I know He can – there is a little part of me that is very fearful that He won’t, that I need that backup plan – just in case. So, as a result, I never fully surrender myself to Him. I keep holding little parts of myself back – just in case. Just in case He won’t come through, just in case I don’t like what He wants to do, just in case I feel anxious or have another panic attack, just in case I can’t handle it, just in case, just in case…
And I think that it is those little parts that we hold back, keeping us from totally and completely surrendering to Him, that prevents God from truly working and performing in our lives and that prevents us from living victorious lives. And it isn’t what happens to us in our lives that is considered victorious – it’s how we react to what happens to us that is. We can have cancer, live in debt, have lost all our possession and STILL be victorious. Just like Job in the Old Testament. Or, we can have all the riches in the world, be of good health and have whatever we want and not be victorious For me, victory is in knowing that no matter how anxious I feel, or how nervous, or how distrusting I am of a situation all will be okay – because God is in control.
One of the comments to Sheila’s post, was J from Hot, Holy and Humorous and she had this to say:
I’ll speak from the experience of having been in a marriage where both of us were fully dedicated Christians, but our marriage was in the tank. I learned during that time that there is a vast difference between having a broken heart and having a broken spirit. I cried a lot, prayed a lot, talked to my husband a lot — but all from a broken heart. It wasn’t until I let my spirit be broken — when I truly humbled myself and took a hard look at how God saw ME in our marriage — that I felt the shift. Years later, I can honestly say our marriage is wonderful and ONE-derful! Reference here.
And I think that is key – we need a shift. A soul shift – a deep shift in our souls where we learn the truth about who God is. This God who loves us so much that He gave us His Son, as the ultimate sacrifice so that we may spend all eternity with Him, in heavenly bliss. And that is why God allows us to go through trial and tribulations, because in those trials He can peel back the layers of who we truly are, and teach us to trust Him. And so over time, and in some cases instantaneously, you will experience a shift. A shift from not trusting Him to trusting Him more and more each day and the more we do trust Him, the more we are able to give ourselves to Him so that He can work in us to have that victorious life He promised to us.
So, my question to you is this: what is it that you are holding onto – so tightly – that is preventing you from living a victorious Christian life.
Isn’t it time to let it go – whatever it may be?
And letting go is not that easy – I remember an old pastor telling us that sometimes the longest and most difficult journey is from your head to your heart. But, you need to do the head-work before your heart will follow and sometimes you need to make the decision to trust, even when your heart doesn’t feel like it can. And God will perform wonders in your life – no matter what you are facing.
Seriously, Don’t Worry!
by Joyce Meyer – posted April 09, 2014
And which of you by being overly anxious and troubled with cares can add a cubit to his stature or a moment [unit] of time to his age? —Luke 12:25
Don’t worry. Be happy. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying many times. Have you noticed that it’s easier said than done? I believe that to actually stop worrying requires having experience with God. I don’t think there is any way a person can fully overcome habits of worry, anxiety and fear—and develop habits of peace, rest and hope—without years of experience trusting and receiving God’s love. This is one reason why having faith and continuing to have faith in the midst of trials and challenges is so important. We must steadfastly resist the temptation to give up or to start being anxious or worried when life becomes difficult—and keeps getting more difficult. During these hard, trying seasons, God is building in us the patience, endurance and godly character we need in order to eventually develop joyful hope, strong love and confident expectation in Him. When you find yourself in the midst of a battle against our enemy, the devil, remember that every round you fight produces valuable experience and strength. Every time you endure an attack, you become stronger. You become better able to hold your peace and resist fear, anxiety and worry. To endure means to outlast the devil and you have got what it takes to do so. Loving God means trusting Him in every situation and refusing to allow the enemy to control you, torment you and rob your peace through worry. It will take practice and experience with God to break this habit, but you can do it by His grace. Commit to the process of becoming a worry-free, trust-filled person who lives in the peace and joy God wants you to experience.
Love God Today: Today, refuse to worry, be anxious or allow fear to operate in your life. Declare your trust in God in every situation.
Last week, I read a post from We Are That Family on 9 Things We Should Add to Our Kids Lives to Help Them, and the first point is teaching your kids that it will be okay.
The words “It’s Okay” because it is. And if it’s not, we will figure out a way to get through whatever tough spot we find ourselves. Knowing that there is grace to learn and fail is half the journey. Because our kids are going to mess up. And so are we. And at the end of the day, we just need to know that it’s going to be okay because love wins. Reference here.
Yesterday morning, Baby Girl had a bit of an upset tummy. It only lasted the morning, and by lunch time she felt better. But, while she wasn’t feeling well, she must have asked me at least a dozen times (if not more…) will the tummy bug be over today, will she get better, can she have tea and toast, will she be sick forever…
It is exhausting answering these questions over and over… and it is even more exhausting trying to calm a little girl’s mind who was clearly worried about not being well. And I eventually made her say the words, “Mommy, I know that I am okay and that I will be okay, but…” before every question she asked me. You see,
…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Reference here.
Then it stands to reason that many other things will come from hearing as well. Isn’t it what we listen to, what we hear out loud that takes center stage in our minds and thoughts? That is why God is so adamant that we hear His word – it is in the hearing that we have faith (and I do believe that hearing includes reading, too.) But, I wanted Baby Girl to hear the words, “I am okay.” The more she hears it from herself, from me and from her Dad, the more she will believe it. The more she believes it, the more she will react to life knowing that she will be okay…
But, what is even more important in teaching Baby Girl faith, is that I must have that faith too. I need to believe that life will be okay – that God has our best interests at heart, and that no matter how we are battling financially, or battling anxiety, or whatever may come across our paths today, WE. WILL. BE. OKAY!!!
And we will.
And I can feel deep inside me that it is becoming easier and easier (by the grace of God) to believe that.
IT. WILL. BE. OKAY!
Say that out loud. Listen to the words. Really hear what you are saying. Now believe them! Because after all is said and done, and no matter how hard or trying or difficult your situation may be, it will be okay. Why?
Because God is on your side.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Reference here.
And so I want Baby Girl to hear those words, and I want her to see in me and in her Dad that it will be okay. That doesn’t mean we won’t face tough times or tough circumstances, but knowing that God is on our side, and having a faith and a believe that no matter what, it will be okay…
Because it will be.
And what this also means is that we can be brave in facing the future, and be brave in trying new things, and be brave when facing unknown circumstances and be brave in moving out of our comfort zones…
It. Will. Be. Okay.
For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Reference here.
Refine Us says it so much better than what I can:
Our words carry power. They have the power to usher in life or the power to bring about death. There are days that I live in this and get this right. I breathe life into my kids. I build up my wife. I am life-giving to my friends.
Our words matter. Our words have weight. Our words create or our words tear down.
We often we forget their power…we take for granted their influence…we overlook their potential. We encounter so many words and we say so many words we don’t realize how critical they can be in the lives and hearts of those we love most.
The words I Am Okay and It Will Be Okay are words I want to teach myself, my hubby and Baby Girl.
A friend once told me, way back when I was in college, that God often deals with issues like the layers of an onion. And keeps dealing with them until there is nothing left to peel away.
Lately, my mind has been in the wild, ecstatic throes of passionate negative thinking. And negative thinking can be addictive. The emotions arising from negative thinking and fantasizing, the “what if” scenarios, the planning and back-up plans “just in case”…
It feels like all that hard work that I have done over the last few years in getting my mind and thoughts right, have been chucked out of the window over the last couple of days. And I have battled to focus – and get my thinking right. And I know why – I am completely, out of my mind, exhausted. And stressing about anxiety is only set to make one even more tired. Constantly living on your guard – in case I go back to those awful months after Baby Girl’s arrival. I keep watching myself, keeping making sure that all is okay – when what I really need to do is just surrender. Just let go – and let God take over. It is what he tells us to do…
Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Reference here.
Anyway, I’ve had this amazing thought today. The Lord spoke to me, as He so often does if I would just quieten my anxious mind enough to listen. One of my very favourite bible passages is Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Now, if God can think such amazingly positive thoughts towards us – all of us (even those who don’t yet believe in Him), how much more must we not think positive thoughts towards ourselves? And others? And God?
I know that this negative thinking is so ingrained in me that sometimes I wonder if I will ever get to a point where I can let my guard down and just be. I don’t think so. I think Satan is just waiting for that opportunity so that he can…
1 Peter 5:8-11
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (Reference here).
Notice a few things from the 1 Peter passage:
- Be alert.
- Be of sober (sound) mind.
- Resist him – implies an active resistance.
- Other believers are going through the same thing – look at all the blogs on marriage, faith, belief, relationships and you will see and how people are crying out for help in their battles, in their daily lives. Satan knows your weakness, and he will use it to harm you and to hurt you.
- HE will restore you.
- HE will make you strong, firm and steadfast – perhaps a time will come when I will no longer battle this negative thinking, if I am strong, firm and steadfast.
- HE is the power.
So, if God thinks good things of you – and only wants what is best for you, then shouldn’t we align ourselves to the way God thinks? And want what is best for us too?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Reference here.