Fifteen minutes with Jesus this morning. That was the only time I got to myself today until now. It all started by sitting with the 5th grader and learning more than I ever cared to know about Cleopatra, then I transitioned to sitting with the 9th grader learning…wait for it…the physics behind the archer’s paradox. Yeah, I’m still not sure but I think I steered him in the right direction. The 7th grader happily went about his business with almost no help from me, which is good but sad all at the same time. I frantically scarfed down some food hoping that I would have enough time to squeeze in a shower before it was time to leave for art class, but alas the shower eluded me and would have to wait.
“When will I have the time to do what I WANT to do?!”
Those words were just swirling around in my head. The anxiety about all that I was NOT getting done was building in my gut. The frustrations of the day turned me into ‘snippy mom.’ Every time someone called my name I practically hissed, “What?!” Lately I feel torn between this season that I am in and the passions that God has placed in my heart.
“What about the things that I WANT to do?!”
The funny part about this? The really ironic part? Remember this morning when I sat with Jesus? I spent time in two verses: 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and Colossians 1:11. Guess what word is in both of them?
1 Thessalonians 5:14
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak, be patient with everyone.
strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might,
for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;
joyously giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Patience. You think I would have clued in to how the Lord was preparing me for the day, but some of us are a little slower than others. My little patience lesson didn’t seem to hold up under the weight of being pulled in 42 directions.
“When do I get to do the things I WANT to do?!”
There are those words again. Still lingering there, waiting to be answered, and as I drove home from art class wondering what in the world we were going to eat for dinner in the one hour I had before I had to run in the opposite direction to get the 9th grader to his group on time, the words began say something else. They slowly rearranged themselves, and a light began to break through the fog.
“I AM doing the things I want to do.”
I wanted this. Five years of agonizing fertility treatments happened because the only thing I wanted in this world was a child. Not only did that become a reality, but God blessed us with three of them.
This IS what I wanted.
This IS my calling.
This busy time, it is only a season. Soon enough there will be so much time for me that I will wonder how it all happened so fast. At least that’s what they all keep telling me. Right now it feels like somedays I just want to close my eyes and wish it all away. But do I? Is that what I really want? Nope. I love this little family of mine. Do I have days that I wish they would all leave me alone? YES! Are there passions in my heart that, for now, are being ignored? YES! Does God want me to be anywhere else but here? No, because right here is where HE is. And right here is where He has ME. When I take my thoughts captive and focus on that truth my heart is centered again and my mind is calm. He is my peace, HE is what I want at the beginning, and at the end of the day.
I wish we could take breaks from our anxiety. When it gets to be too much I wish we could just stash it neatly in the corner and walk away. But a lot of the time anxiety chooses for us. We don’t get to decide how anxious we will be…we just are…no mater what truths are there to believe, we simply don’t.
I’m on vacation this week. Spending some much-cherished time with family in Colorado, that doesn’t happen often enough. I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to this break! No more driving everyone around 2, and sometimes 3, times a day. No more cooking, cleaning or working. There is just relaxation and memory making in our future for the next week.
But as we packed up to leave, travelled here and finally arrived, it seemed the anxiety that I tried to keep at bay just pushed back with even more determination. I can’t put a finger on it and that bothers me. I don’t understand this feeling of dread when there is nothing to fear. We are going on a fun vacation for crying out loud! But a funny thing happens when I don’t know where the anxiety is coming from. I attach it to something. I almost make up a reason for the anxiety and then at least I know where I can focus my counterattack.
This time it was my unsuspecting husband who was on the receiving end. What should have been a simple conversation about some things that we needed to work on turned into my overreacting and hurt feelings. Believing lies is one of the most effective tactics our enemy uses to fuel our anxiety, and I had fallen right into his trap.
I am fully convinced that this latest flood of anxiety is a spiritual battle that is being waged all around me. The more I write and obey the calling on my life, the more soldiers satan brings to the battle. I am a vessel of the Lord and satan wants me to crack.
So, as I lay awake at 5:45am on the second morning of my vacation, with knots in my stomach and thoughts running through my mind like a freight train, I knew my only course of action was to call on God.
And when you call on God, He is there every. single. time.
And this was no exception.
I pulled out a binder from our life group and started praying through verses. This particular list included verses on some of the names of God…
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
As I read this verse, it caused me to reflect on the verse I read the day before…
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
There is was. Prince of Peace. I had settled on this name of God, let it weave its way though my heart, but as much as I tried to meditate on this, it simply wasn’t bringing the relief I was looking for. I still seemed to be plagued by these feelings whirling around inside me. So, as I sat there mulling over the name Prince of Peace, I pulled out my Jesus Calling devotional and turned to the reading for that day…February 13…
“PEACE BE WITH YOU!
…as you sit quietly, let My Peace settle over you and enfold you in My loving Presence…”
My heart began to melt at the personal attention Jesus was giving me. There, at the bottom of the page, was the verse that went with the writer’s words…John 14:27…
…the very next verse after the one on my list just a few minutes earlier…
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Tears immediately came to my eyes as I began to feel, at that moment, that I was the most important person in the world to Jesus. He was taking the time to give me personal, intimate attention. Attention that was not wasted. A peace washed over me that calmed my mind immediately. I could breathe again.
Only after this transformation took place was I in the right frame of mind to sit with my husband, apologize for my behavior, and have a conversation that only brought beauty and wholeness to our relationship.
God met me in a divine way that I don’t think I will ever forget.
When anxiety threatens to choke the joy out of your life, turn to Jesus and let him draw you to a place where the only thing you can see and feel is Him. It is in this place that you will find incredible, freeing peace, and the thoughts that were holding you captive immediately release their grip. It is in that place that you are free.
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I don’t yet know how many “parts” this series will be, and I may even post other things in between, but I want to share with you how falling in love with Jesus is about remembering the “firsts” of your relationship with him. This post includes “first” number one, and I hope to share with you other “firsts” I have experienced with God in the weeks to come.
It is that time of year again, time to celebrate love. And while my “love tank” seems especially full in this season of my life, I can’t help but think about friends who have experienced the pain that can happen when you open yourself up to love. As much as we try, we humans just cannot love perfectly. We love too much and suffocate, or we don’t love enough and wither. There are countless ways that love can hurt, but there are also countless ways that it can heal. In this fallen world we often find ourselves loving until it hurts, but God offers something entirely different.
“For God so loved the world…”
He loved us so fiercely that He sent his own son to DIE so that we would be free from our sin, free to love Him back. He first loved us, gave us this gift, and now He simply waits for us as we freely choose to return that love.
Pause for a minute, and even though you might have heard that a thousand times before, think about it again. God sacrificed His most valued possession so that we could each have our own love relationship with Him. He loves us individually, intimately and infinitely. The thought of this makes me want to run to Him, throw myself in His arms, and love Him back as passionately as He loves me.
But I didn’t always feel like this. There have been times that my soul felt dry and empty, angry and bitter, or just plain apathetic. And there are times, even still, that my love for God seems to wane. So, how is it that I am here now? How have I fallen so deeply in love with God? Will this feeling last? Although I can’t completely answer these questions, I do believe that it partially has to do with remembering the “firsts” of our love relationship. Just like in any relationship, there is something special about going back and remembering the “firsts”…the first date, the first time you said, “I love you,” your first kiss. The “firsts” spark something in our hearts and reignite a passion we once had.
I would like to suggest that this is true in our relationship with God, as well. For me it goes all the way back to when I was 10 years old…
The First Time I Saw God Answer My Prayer
Church has been a part of my life since as early as my first memory. My mom would load us three kids into the car most Sundays and take us to church. My dad stayed home. I don’t remember this being a bad thing at all. It’s just how it was. Looking back now, I believe that is a testament to my mom’s faith in Jesus and her unconditional love for my dad. She was a Christian, he was not. But she never talked bad about him or let us believe anything bad about him. We simply prayed. She would tuck us in bed each night and the prayers were so repetitive that I can still remember them… “Dear Jesus, I pray for our unsaved relatives, that they would get saved and I pray for dad that he would get saved, and I pray that he would let us go to Christian school. Amen.” I think this prayer was prayed over and over between 6 and 7 years old for me, because in 3rd grade I started Christian school, so that must have been an answer to prayer, and technically the first one, but it is not the one that God seared on my heart.
I was 10 years old and we were at a Sunday evening service, my mom, my sister and my brother. We were each in our separate classes doing our normal Sunday evening activities. The evening was nearly finished when an older friend of mine slipped into our class, pulled me aside and told me that my dad just got saved. Now, let me back up for just a minute and frame this for you. We went to the kind of church that has alter calls every service and people are always getting saved. You just learned from an early age that ‘this is what you must do so you don’t go to hell.’ Yep! One of those charismatic type places. Every single time I had the opportunity to sit by my dad when he would come for an occasional visit, my heart would pound a little faster as the Pastor would lead into the closing of his sermon, because I knew the alter call was coming. We would bow our heads and I would peek over at my dad’s hands, willing one of them to move and shoot up into the air with the decision to follow Jesus….but it never happened that way.
As my friend stood there, waiting for my response, all I could think was, “My dad had to work late. He didn’t even come to church with us,” so, for someone to come into my class and tell me something like this just seemed like a cruel joke at first. But then I noticed the completely joyful, serious look on her face and I knew that somehow, she was telling the truth. (I found out later that my dad stopped in late, after he was done with work. The way God brought him there and worked in his heart that night is a whole other story in itself.) I ran back to my teacher and yelled to her that my dad just got saved and asked if I could I go. The only thing I remember next was running into my dad’s arms, bursting into tears, and being carried around by him for the rest of the night. I was so in shock that it had actually happened that I couldn’t let go of him. God had answered my prayer…He really, really answered my prayer. It was then that the seed of faith was planted in my 10 year old little heart and I knew that nothing was beyond the power of God. Including, the first time I saw God answer my prayer.
Does this spark any “firsts” in your mind? I would love to hear from you! You can comment below or if you received this in your email, click the title to go to my blog to leave your comment there. I look forward to hearing your stories, as well. Keep watch for Part 2 of “How I Fell in Love With Jesus.”
We read a portion of scripture in church yesterday. Part of it struck me in a new way. Just like seasons in the weather, we have seasons in our lives. We’ve all heard that before, right? Yet somehow I still seem to think I am supposed to do everything all at once and do it well. It is no accident that God gave us nature to observe, and seasons in the weather to experience, as a visual reminder of how his creation is supposed to function.
Look at what He says to us in Psalm 1:1-3…
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Does a tree yield fruit 365 days a year? No! It only yields fruit in its season. As I read those words, it all clicked. I don’t have to do everything ALL the time. In fact, God doesn’t even expect that of me. He calls me to certain things in certain seasons of my life. He even calls me to rest. I have such a hard time letting the rest happen in my life. I am in a season where there seems there are never enough hours in the day. Homeschooling the first year of high school, a middle schooler, and an often-neglected 10 year old is more than a full-time job at times. But that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the other responsibilities in my life. Believe me when I say, “I understand busy!” But downtime is not a luxury. It is not something that happens with the “leftover” time. It is something that is necessary. We need it. God designed it that way. It is there that we take the time to let God nourish, feed and revive our soul. If we neglect this time, and try to fill every segment of our lives with something to do, we are actually accomplishing less. Here’s why…
There are plenty of factors that affect fruit bearing on a tree, but one that is necessary is a cold winter.
“Most hardy fruit trees need a certain amount of cold winter weather to end their dormancy and to promote spring growth.
When winters are too mild, spring growth is delayed, irregular and slow.” –Edmond L. Marrotte
I love that last part, “When winters are too mild, spring growth is delayed, irregular and slow.” If we don’t see the “winters” in our lives as important and necessary, our “spring” will be stunted. Do you feel like you’ve been stuck in an exceptionally long winter with no end in sight?
God sees you. He hears you. He loves you. He knows what you need more than you do.
Trust Him that this “winter” season is what you need right now. Your “spring” is coming. You can’t force it. It comes in its own time, its own season.
Does this resonate with you like it does me? What is the hardest thing about your “winter”? I would love to hear from you. If you received this in an email, click through to my blog page and comment. Tell us about how God is working in your winter or how your spring is starting to bloom.
Oh! And while you are there click to my home page and check out the new look for my blog site. I love it! And last, but not least I have started a Facebook Page where we can talk about our daily struggles and victories. Please come, like the page, and join us!