Life can be a roller coaster. One minute you’re floating on top of the clouds, the next you’re free falling into chaos. I should know. It’s my present reality.
I was lying in bed last night thinking about the hard adventure this last year and a half of my life has been. Some days have been beautiful. I have these moments of clarity where I see myself for the Christ-centered person I am becoming. Other days have been absolute disasters where I see myself for the puffy-bawl-fest that I truly am.
I have thought on more than one occasion: “Dear God, why’s it gotta be so long, so hard, so raw, so messy? Couldn’t you help a girl out?”
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Did you catch the word let? Ya, that word hit me like a ton of bricks too.
When life brings discouragement, LET perseverance finish – this is when our true strength is tested; where the truest depth of our faith is discovered. In other words, get in, buckle up, hold on, and learn to see this roller coaster for what it is – a process, a journey, an adventure.
But I’m a firm believer that you will never make it through without strong disciplines as your foundation.
What I share with you now are 3 things I am currently practicing on a daily basis. They have greatly impacted the way I see God, the way I’m living life, and the only way I’m getting through. I share these insights because the greatest thing we could ever do with our faith when life tosses lemons… is press in deep to God and together, make lemonade.
Everyday. All day.
Sometimes I’m singing. Sometimes I’m whispering. Sometimes I’m yelling talking with dramatic flare. And sometimes I’m flat out weeping before the Lord. But I never stop. I can’t. Life is too raw and I am too desperate to hear His still small voice.
Prayer is conversation with God. It is our way of keeping the lines of communication open between us and the one who loves us with a love we will never fully know this side of heaven. To speak with Him on a daily basis is to open our hearts and surrender the stress, the turmoil, the confusion as He turns it into peace.
These 3 books have been personal floating devices for me. They are all unique in their take on prayer, but equally fantastic.
- “The Circle Maker,” by Mark Batterson
- “A Diary of Private Prayer,” by John Baillie
- “Prayer – Does it Make Any Difference?” by Philip Yancey.
2. Bible Reading
When we choose to read God’s living and active words, they hug our souls. It’s not easily explainable, it just happens. One minute you’re overwhelmed with the stress of your day, week, month and year, and voila, the next thing you know, you’re instantly filled with peace. Your heart warms up, your mind is less frenzied, your life feels hopeful.
This particular passage of scripture in Psalms is currently hugging my soul:
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
There is nothing greater we can do than get words of life into our heart. What fills our hearts will be what fuels our thoughts, our words, our motives and our actions.
Here are 3 different approaches to reading the Bible I have applied at different times these past 6 months:
- Study one specific book: Proverbs, 1 Timothy or Philippians etc.
- Study the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John paying special attention to Jesus’ words in red-letter text.
- Study one word at a time: faith, hope, love, grace, etc. Find all the correlating passages of scripture to this theme from the concordance in the back of your Bible.
Dig deep, take notes, be teachable… for out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth will speak.
The words we sing will never mean anything if our hearts aren’t singing too. And that’s exactly what I do – I sing worship music over and over and over and over till my heart is so full it has no choice but to lighten up and pursue peace.
“Wide As The Sky” is on repeat. No joke. My kids are like, “Mooooom, this song again?” But I listen to it because of these lyrics:
Let all the other names fade away, until there’s only You. Let all the other names fade away, Jesus take Your place.
When words like doubt, failure, rejection and impossibility eat away at every ounce of encouragement I have, I sing, I sing, I sing, I sing. Worship is our expression of thanks to God for all He does. Something happens in our hearts when we discipline ourselves to make worship a daily habit. It opens us up to practice gratitude even when there’s nothing seemingly to be grateful for.
Here are 3 worship albums I am currently listening to. All 3 albums make me smile, they make me weep, they move me. But since worship is my way of saying thanks for all the things I am learning, how could that not move me?
- Bryan & Katie Torwalt, “Kingdom Come.”
- Bethel Music, “You Make Me Brave.”
- Matt Redman, “Your Grace Finds Me.”
So why do this?
Why fight for all this stuff?
Why dedicate myself to make these 3 things so prevalent in my day-to-day?
And why pass them along to you, my readership, as a form of encouragement?
Because these seasons don’t last.
They may feel like eternity when you are smack dab in the middle of them, but remember, one day this ride will be over.
So here’s my question for you:
When it’s time to look back on your mid-ride photo moment, do you want to see that your eyes were fully open, that you were going with the flow, that you were fully embracing the unknown and enjoying the adventure despite the nausea? I know I want to. I do not want to see that my eyes were tightly shut, that I was holding on for dear life and praying for this ride to be over.
If I live that way, I will miss what He’s trying to teach me while I’m in this season.
When life brings discouragement, I will LET God speak to me.
Got any suggestions or resources you would love to share? What foundations do you put in place when the going gets rough?