Have you ever made a promise to yourself to start something new to better yourself or make a positive change in your life? You know what needs to be done and you are tired of making excuses why you can’t do it. But instead of jumping head first into this new adventure you search for the perfect way or time to start.
Here is an example: we swear to begin the New Year devoted to healthy eating and a steady routine of exercise. So we rush out to buy great new tennis shoes and do all the research on the perfect diet and recipes. It’s like we are convincing ourselves we are commented this time. For some reason looking the part always comes first and is easier to do than walk the walk.
Well this is exactly the way I was treating my five long years of spiritual drought. I knew deep down why I didn’t feel close to Jesus anymore, but because I was comfortable and had everything under control I was just trying to find short cuts to Him. One night I couldn’t sleep and a commercial came on advertising a Christian CD set of worship music. And I thought, oh that would be a good start. So I quickly call the number and order my first worship Cd’s. I figured I would give it a try. I probably went to bed that night feeling like I did something spiritual. HAHA
My cds came in! I was excited to see if I would like it. I put the first one in and pressed play. YIKES! The Lord used the first words I heard to strike me straight to the heart. It was a song called “Word ” by Sara Groves. This verse summed up what I was doing wrong the entire time:
While I intend to help myself, my bible sits upon a shelf.
Years later that verse still pops in my head every time I try to handle something on my own. It’s a perfect reminder where I should take every need I have. A perfect place to search for any question I could ever have. Although I knew it was the time I spent in God’s word that gave me peace and freedom I desired to have again, I tried to help myself without it.
There are a few things that I think held me back during this time. The first one was that I was so afraid to change. I was scared the closer I got to God the more I would be a different person and I really kinda liked “me”. What would my family think? What would my friends think? Would I lose the friends I had if I changed my ways? Would I still be fun and able to have fun? I know these fears might seem silly, but as a young twenty five year old who did not know the fullness of the Lord these fears were very strong and real. I thought I had to be all or nothing for Lord. I continued to do the bare minimum until I was ready to be all in.
The other set back is that I was so private about it all. Again I felt like once I had it all figured out I would then talk about it. I believe alone time in the bible is a powerful thing, but the Lord didn’t intend for us to walk this earth alone. Nor does He want you to walk your spiritual journey alone.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
I have no doubt that if I had a person of faith to share with I would have bounced back on the right path way faster. If you don’t already have a friend in Christ to share your feelings and doubts with, please find one asap!!! Pray the Lord will guide you to the right one. And if you have one thank the Lord for that person. They are a gift! Every year I love to ask the Lord to give Brian a godly man on his team so that they can help each other through the long season and He has never failed in answering that prayer! I have no doubt He will answer yours.
When a husband and wife come together in faith and prayer it is an amazing and powerful blessing. But it is not always that easy. I still have no idea why I didn’t share more with Brian. He has always been open about his faith and would have never questioned me, but I held it to myself. I just didn’t have the wisdom of how the Lord designed marriage to be yet. I don’t think I realized how important our faith was in our marriage. This saddens me to even think about it. And I thankfully praise the Lord all the time for protecting our marriage before we knew how to protect it ourselves.
I had the attitude that my relationship with the Lord is my own business. And I’m going to apologize now if I’m about to offend anyone. But I learned the hard way that the reason I felt my relationship with Him was private was because I didn’t really have one. Once my relationship began to grow I couldn’t wait to share it. I didn’t care that I didn’t know it all! I didn’t care if I was perfect! I didn’t care if I was all in or not! I knew I felt something real and right and it would be crazy not to share it. Now it’s not my personality to shout from the roof tops or force my faith on anyone, but I will strive to never deny Him again! My relationship with Him is anyone’s business who is willing to listen!
And last but the biggest thing that held me back was comfort! We all take so many precautions trying to make sure that we will always be comfortable. We buy insurance. We save as much as we can. We try to make smart purchases. And the list could go on. All these things are great and do help us to prepare, but are we involving the Lord in all of it? Is He considered even when it doesn’t seem like there is a direct need for Him? If everything we have is a gift from Him why do we feel like it’s all I ours to care over? Then whatever is left or not needed we can allow Him to use? And I have come to realize that now when we are comfortable I get a little nervous. When I am comfortable I’m not fully relying on the Lord to direct my path. That’s why I lived in a trench for so long. I was comfortable and in control. To be honest I find it hard to look forward to when Brian’s career comes to an end, because it keeps us uncomfortable most of the time. We have had no choice but to put all our faith in the Lord. And as nice as a “normal life” sounds I’m not sure I fully trust myself to still let Him guide me. I think God cares more that we are growing than if we are comfortable. I believe He wants to give us all ours hopes and dreams, but it’s way more important that it always leads us to Him. Because even your greatest dream here on earth does not compare to an eternity in heaven with Him. That is all that matters!
I try each day to learn to rely on Him for everything. Sometimes I’m successful and others I fail miserably . But I hope I will never stop trying. I have seen too many blessings when I do it His way. So if you are in a place of great trials, smile!!! And I mean that we all my heart. You are growing!!! He is molding you if you allow Him too and there is something awesome right around the corner! If you are comfortable??? It probably would be a great time to drop to your knees and be thankful to Him and pray for strength for anything that is to come. Ask Him to reveal to you if there is something holding you back from Him in your time of comfort? I have found just in my short spiritual journey that the times I feel the most broken down by trials are the times I didn’t even know I needed to be broken. Or even better than that it always seems to be in areas that I really didn’t think I had an issue in. LOL I guess that’s probably the Lord’s point!!
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, James 1:2
So have I changed? I sure do feel like I have and I hope the Lord agrees. I hope and pray I never stop changing more and more into the person He designed me to be. Was it hard? Only when I try to do it without Him. Did I lose friends? I hope not! Some might think I’m crazy. But I have gained more friends than I could have ever dreamed of. My family? The Lord continues to shock me at how faithful He is through my family. He has answered prayers that only He could do!
I have had many of you ask about good reading materials or devotionals that have helped me along the way. I’m by no means the most qualified on this, but I can definitely share what has helped me so far. I truly believe the Lord empowers and uses some amazing speakers and writers to help His people. And I would love to share a few good books that are easy reads that helped and continue to help me. BUT please hear my heart when I say the best book you could ever read is the bible!!!!! Find a bible that you understand. The Message bible is great for new believers. There is study bibles that will break down stories for you. Whatever appeals to you, it doesn’t matter as long as you are getting time in the word above all else. Now with that said many great christian books will lead you to scriptures and stories in the bible. So they are very helpful in giving direction on certain topics.
Here is how I started spending time in the bible:
there are 31 of them so one a day is a great little slice of His word daily. I love the saying a Proverb a day keeps the devil away! Proverbs 31 is an awesome prayer to pray for yourself, your husband, and your children. It’s speaks of a Godly man who deserves the most incredible woman. I love praying these scriptures for me and Brian and also praying that the Lord gives my children spouses with these qualities. It’s never too early or too late to ask
The New Testament
I began in the New Testament because honestly the Old Testament was over my head until I was able to process it with someone who could explain it. I love the whole New Testament, but the Book of James is a short and straight to the heart on living a Christian life!
Any time a scripture stood out to me I would write it down. If there was one that fit exactly what I needed at the time I would memorize it. Using the word of God to help you through something is the most powerful weapon you could have.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
If you read in Matthew 4:1-11 you will see that Jesus himself fought the temptations of the devil with scripture. If Jesus uses the word of God as a weapon why wouldn’t we do the same?!?!
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is hands down my favorite devotional. It was given to me four years ago and has been such a gift. I try to always find someone to give it to because it never fails me. I have read it now every year and it seems new and perfect every time! Brian also reads it so it is great for male and female. There is also a Jesus Calling for children that is great.
Stormie Omartian has many great books. Two of my favorites that have helped me in my prayer life are The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent.
Both books are easy reads that you won’t want to just read through. A chapter at a time is great because each has a different prayer topic followed by a powerful prayer that you can use. I read both years ago, but I marked prayers in them that I still go to and many times I reread other the chapter that I may need help in at the time.
A great book for all marriages is Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
A great bible study that is great for a small group or even on your own is Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. It’s a great read for all us busy woman who try to be all things!
Francine Rivers is an unbelievably gifted writer who takes biblical stories and turns them into some of the most beautiful and powerful novels you will ever read. I have read quiet a few of her books and I love how she paints the picture for me of how living during those times truly were. I love the different perspectative I have when I go back and read those stories in the bible. If you like reading you will not be able to put her books down. Did I tell you I never really liked to read? But now I can not put her books down! Redeeming Love, The Mark of Lion, A Lineage of Grace are some of her best!
I hope these references help some of you. I have many more I could suggest, but all of these were stand outs to me!
So how do I get out of the trench faster now? Because life will always bring them I tried to be prepared. This is going to sound way too easy….. I try to have a dose of His word daily!! Sometimes I get a lot and sometimes I only get a tiny bit. But some is always better than none! Too be honest I believe if your spending time daily in the bible the trenches of life don’t quiet catch you off guard as much as they could have.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
He tells you that you will have trouble, but you are not alone!
Finding a church, small group, or bible study was another big piece to my puzzle! This is where I started to make the Godly friends and infulences that I needed. If you already have a church you love try to get as involved as you can. What areas can you help? What classes or events can you attend? If you don’t currently have a church, first pray the Lord will lead you to one. Then don’t be scared to visit one. If it doesn’t feel right then try another one. Just do not give up until you find one and commit yourself to attending every week! Moving so many times through the years I know all too well how scary it can be visiting churches for the first time. Especially when you have children involved it’s easy to make excuses why you just can’t do it. I promise the reward last longer than the uncomfortable feelings.
My prayer for today:
In both times of trials and times of comfort Lord your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path! Give us all a burning desire to know you through time in the word. Reveal to each of us on a individual level what it is you need us to see! Guide me! Guide us! I ask all of this in Jesus Christ name.
Your word is lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105