The Bible isn’t a shelf decoration. It’s your life’s dedication. To grow in faith requires reading God’s word and putting it into action.
If you grew up in a Christian home you might remember singing this song as a kid. It goes like this… 1 Chorus: “Read your Bible, pray every day, Pray every day, pray every day; Read your Bible, pray every day, And you will grow, grow, grow.” 2nd chorus: “Don’t read your Bible and forget to pray, And forget to pray, and forget to pray; don’t read your Bible and forget to pray, And you will shrink, shrink, shrink.”
Lean into the growing process
As my fear becomes larger than my faith I tend to shrink; burying myself in worry and distrust in God. I realize my earthly priorities aren’t in line with God’s eternal vision. A sure sign I haven’t been reading my bible and praying everyday. A sure sign that I need to get that Bible off the shelf and into my hands. Then I’ll… “grow, grow, grow”. Grow in faith, grow in peace and grow in vision of God’s will for my life.
1 Verse in 3 Different Translations
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
In these three different translations you have 3 different verbs: “persevering, patiently and enduring.” This verse encourages us to not only hear God’s word but to actively hold on to it. How do we do that? Through consistency of reading and praying everyday so his words are secured in our heart. Even in face of trials and suffering we can stand firm on the word of God and grow… grow… grow!
Obey Christ to Follow Christ to Grow in Christ
It takes obedience to follow Jesus, the original trailblazer, who blazed a trail for us to connect to God. To navigate this route we have our “map” – the Bible. A navigational tool that leads and equips us to take the steps it requires to stay on trail so we can grow in likeness of Jesus.
This year, 2023, represents two words for me: “stay faithful”. Every year I have a word to focus on, which keeps me accountable on what I want to work on for that year.
Last year, year 2022, the focus word was, “vulnerable”. For me, this meant, processing pain and not avoiding it, asking for help when I needed it, sharing my testimony/journey of faith publicly and utilizing my physical body to it’s best (i.e. running my first half-marathon).
A New Year
For 2023… I scramble to come up with a new word… like… “risk” or “try”. Thinking about pushing myself even further in what I dream of doing. “But before I get ahead of myself,” *I write in my journal*, “maybe I should pray and ask God first of what HE thinks my 2023 word should be…”
“Stay faithful” – immediately came to mind.
Simply, daily, without pressure to be perfect, stay faithful.
What does that mean? It means, responding to the daily convictions of the truth of the gospel. Wherever I am, however busy or mundane my day is… I stay faithful to God. In my decisions, actions, thoughts, words, and behaviour. I choose to seek Christ not culture.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Stay faithful even under the pressure to “stay relevant”.
For me, the pressure falls more on my eternal call as a Christ follower and less on my earthly call as a woman. One where society might say, “work harder, be skinnier, make more money, increase followers… don’t you dare wear those skinny jeans anymore… etc”.
Fear to perform for man (people) makes me feel inadequate, not enough, and/or less than. Whereas faith to perform for Christ makes me feel at peace, hopeful, enough, qualified, because it is HE who does a work in me. He keeps me faithful, so I can stay faithful.
Stay in Christ
My word(s) for 2023 is: “stay” – “stay faithful”… in whichever emotion, feeling, situation, circumstance I am in. I’ll not allow the fears of WHAT IF overtake my faith in WHO IS. Jesus Christ my redeemer, Saviour, one true God, teacher, counsellor, creator, healer, and miracle worker. I choose to “stay” in him, who has overcome sin in the world.
Recently a woman asked me, what fills up your days? Sitting next to my 4 year old daughter, I looked down at her, then back at the woman. I replied, “parks, play dates, preschool and… play dough” (priceless). In giving her an accurate answer those 4 P’s just came out so naturally. It’s truly what fills up my days. But not everyday truly feels fulfilling…
I caught myself daydreaming of the “other work” I could be doing rather than watching my daughter. Assuming “other work” might be “more important” than staying at home. I knew these weren’t Godly thoughts because its He who fulfills my purpose in motherhood. So I quickly googled: “Christian mom quotes” (internet perks), I needed a perspective change and stat!
Here are some quotes I found encouraging:
Motherhood is a million little moments that God weaves together with grace, redemption, laughter, tears, and most of all, love. – Lysa TerKeurst
Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God might not be something you do, but someone you raise. -Andy Stanley
You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts. -Charles Spurgeon
The Christian mom doesn’t love Jesus instead of loving her children; she loves Jesus by loving her children. -Jen Wilkin
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” – C. S. Lewis
Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children. -Billy Graham
My Daughter’s schedule fills up my days, but its the Lord who fulfills my purpose.
These quotes changed my perspective on how God sees me as a mother rather than how I see me. His grace pulls me out of the self-pity and into a willingness to be a self-less servant. For scripture says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….” Isaiah 66:13. God does not leave us alone when we comfort our children, he’s here for our comfort too. I feel that every time I turn to him.
Dear God, thank you for reminding me that motherhood is important work. To help me realize that truth you call me to spend time with you to refuel my motherhood energy. You help me to re-centre, re-focus and remember WHO I am is found in you. Especially, who I am as a mother and the purposeful work that it is. Lord, open up windows of “me-time” that refuel my energy so I can remain thankful and present with my child. Amen.
What About You?
How can God uplift you today and remind you that your role as a mother is important and fulfilling? How might he show you ways to give you energy to live that out? I learned that the Lord fulfills my days by seeking him in all I do. Regardless if its 5 sick days stuck at home or 5 vacation days exploring new experiences. God is in the center of all my days. He is what fulfills my purpose because he fulfills his promise. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:8). SO, I come to him with all my needs, desires, wants and complains. He refreshes my soul with his never ending grace.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Seeking God is not in vain if you seek: humbly, wholeheartedly and in faith that he will answer you.
What a joy it is to know God wants us to find him because he wants to be found. He wants a relationship with us. He is a forgiving and grace-giving God waiting for us to acknowledge, admit and adhere to his love. Our part is to realize we are in need of him; the start to seeking.
I grew up in a Christian, God-serving, church-going household and I am forever grateful for my upbringing as my parents guided me to faith. Growing up, I also grew very passionate about playing basketball with the goal to receive a scholarship to play in university. In 2007, I achieved that goal and accomplished a great rookie year. However, the academic side of school became a huge stress in my life and basketball became more of a job than a sport I loved. I started to question my own happiness and wondered where God was in all of this. I worked so hard, yet became so unhappy. Aren’t “Christians” happy people? I’d often ask myself. I realized I needed help beyond myself. I needed God.
Seeking begins with a realization we cannot save ourselves.
Summer of 2008, I cried out to God in desperation to find this “inner peace” and “joy” I heard so many times in church. Why hadn’t I found this to be true for me? I went straight to the source – God in prayer. Laying it all out, my fears, disappointments and feelings. Then, after much prayer, I decided to take a year off to learn about my identity as a Christ-follower instead of a basketball player.
Seek and you will find.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
I sought God in prayer, surrendering my scholarship or what else I knew to give me happiness in exchange to learn more about following him. So, I asked God for three things: the ability to keep training my basketball skills (to keep the option of playing again probable), to get a job and to travel. Within three weeks of this surrendering prayer, God answered me. I received a job as an assistance basketball coach, whilst on the side being trained by the head coach. As well as, working as a front desk clerk for GoodLife Fitness (which included a free membership). Then a friend invited me to join her to volunteer for a bible school called, “Youth with a Mission” (YWAM) in the Sunshine Coast of Australia. God gave me the three specific things I asked for in prayer (basketball training, a job and travel). To me that was confirmation that God heard my prayer. Now, it was my turn to learn about following him…
I took the year off to travel and seek God.
I took a year off of university and set off in January 2009 to travel with YWAM in Australia. During my time volunteering with the Bible school I got to sit in all the Bible lectures teaching me about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
One day I can remember the moment that all my seeking came to a halt because the presence of God met me. It was during a worship song and prayer time. I felt so discouraged that I made all this effort to serve God and I still didn’t feel he was near. I became mad and left the room towards a bathroom stall to pout. Then I prayed again, “God, why aren’t you answering me? Don’t you see all my effort I am doing to pursue you???” I will never forget the immediate answer I felt in my heart from the Lord that day. I heard within my Spirit God say, “Emily, you are here becauseI pursued you”.
God is always in Pursuit of you.
God wants a relationship, a two-way-street. He wants us to respond to his pursuit of love for us. For me, I realized he wanted more than just faith, he wanted my participation or willingness to allow him to change me. The moment I realized he wanted my participation was the moment our relationship became real. He wasn’t forcing me to follow him, he was waiting for me to say “yes”.
You seeking him is a response to that initial pursuit of his.
Saying “yes” to God means repenting of our sins and adhering to his will. We learn about his will through reading the the Bible. Understanding God’s character makes his presence more known than simply waiting on a physical “feeling” to emerge.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
I am more aware of the presence of God because of how much more I know about him. And one thing I know about him is that he calls us to seek him diligently (Proverbs 8:17) and continually (1 Chronicles 16:11). In all things and in any circumstance he is there and he is approachable because his love for us came before our love for him.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Deciding to take that year off changed the course of my life and my faith for the better. As it lead to another month of travel and yet another bible school with YWAM in Montana, USA, called: Summer of Sports. Continuing my training on the court whilst training spiritually off the court.
After that year off, I was able to return to my university basketball scholarship and finish my degree. What a miracle that was! Praise God!
Why I share my story.
I share part of my life to encourage you that when you seek God with your whole heart, your seeking is not in vain. Every time I go back to God, whether its in a life-crisis or a day’s stresses, he answers me. He answers me in peace to not understand why some things happen and others don’t. In joy, knowing I am secure in my eternal fate or in friendships and community when I experience change and transition. The Christian life isn’t a perfect one but it is a content one, which was the most important thing I’ve learned in my year of seeking God. As I understood that my identity is not in my ability to play basketball or in my ability to make people like me, but it’s found in the acceptance of Jesus Christ.
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,
What about you? Are you seeking God, willing to trust he’ll find you?
Are you seeking? Searching, pursuing, thinking, mediating, or striving after God in order to be found? As we seek God in faith, we trust that he answers us in the best way possible. Trusting God knows us better than we know ourselves, which includes the answers and outcomes of our prayers. We can be uncertain of how God will answer, but certain that he does answer. There is not an if he will answer but a HOW he will answer, which is the beauty of faith. When we trust in the character of God and rely on the previous testimonies of how he met us before (or others we know, or people in the Bible), we are more willing and continually able to seek him again and again.
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Dear Heavenly Father, the most high God, the creator of the world and everything in it. You made, know and see the largest of creation – the mountains, the seas, and you know each animal that rest and live among them. You are vast, great and powerful and everywhere at one time. Yet, you delight for us to know you personally because you know us personally. You seek the 1 out of the 99, desiring a personal relationship with care, comfort, counsel and connection. I praise you for your mightiness and your gentleness. You can stop a storm and comfort a heart in one second. I come to you, oh mighty God, in prayer for the women I know and pray for them today.
For the Women I Know
I pray for the women I know that you would connect to them on a deeper more intimate level where there isn’t a doubt you aren’t in their midst. I present to you God these particular women in my life that long to know you more… seeking to find your peace. May you present to them your miraculous love and affection. Change the course of their life for the better. Help them to see you as alive and in pursuit of them. Make them know and feel your peace as it rests within their soul.
Specific Prayers for Women in Need…
God, I present these women to you in need of your divine power, grace and love. I pray that you would mark in them a stamp of your care today and forevermore.
I pray for the women that doubt you in disbelief, I pray that you would break down those strongholds of lies, deception and power of the enemy and open their eyes to see you.
I pray for the women in stress, God, in decision making mode and chaos – protect and guard their minds from negative self-talk and guilt, free them from the pressure to perform or to be perfect and offer up your grace. May your grace be enough for them today, so they can walk in contentment.
God, I pray for the women that are sad, please grieve alongside them – help them to see that their pain is your pain too and you are more than available to hear their cries. Rescue their souls from darkness and remove the lie that says, “I am alone”, as they never are when they have you.
God, I pray for the inspired women with big dreams, give them direction, hope and reassurance of their next steps. Offer up your confirmation of what to do next. Build up their faith to wait upon instruction.
Finally, Lord, in Prayer I Ask
Finally, Lord, give us all patience to parent, energy to use and joy to sustain us. Thank you for the women who seek your face and long to know you more. Present yourself to these women and offer up your holy power to renew, refresh and refrain their minds to know you more. Amen.
Psalm 93 – The Lord Reigns
The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.
You don’t have to love you body or hate your body to motivate yourself to move. You just have to start.
It’s in the perseverance of your consistency that you’ll begin to see the benefits of your workout. The imperfections that used to torment you will subside because you’ve gained more energy, more confidence, and more joy about what you can do with the body you have! Just start.
Don’t let set backs defeat your progress
There are set back seasons, of course, like sickness, injury or career change for example. This is simply life. Where routine gets changed and certain circumstances are just out of your control. However, there always comes a time where you can re-start again. Those time are the hardest for me. Sometimes I am so frustrated with how far behind I am in comparison to where I once was in my fitness. Comparison with others or “your old self” will always defeat you. Instead, I choose to let it motivate me – again and again. Yes, Emily, you’ve been here before and you can do it again!
Zero KM to 10 KM
I ran my first 10km when my daughter was 9 months old. When I started my training, I could barely run without feeling my stomach jump along with me. I thought my stomach was training for it’s own 10km rather than my legs! But, I chose to see the end goal. 10Km in 9 months, which means one step at a time. I slowly worked my way up until I ran a successful 10km under 60min. Now, where I am TODAY, I can barely run a consistent 5KM without my knees buckling. So, again, I face a choice. Will I let where I am defeat me or motivate me?
Move to motivation
I choose to let it motivate me.
Having goals is great as long as you understand that perfection is impossible. Instead, let’s celebrate the progress along the way! Allow where you’re at in comparison to where you’ve been motivate you to move not defeat you.
Could time stop? Just for a minute… or ten. I just need to catch my thoughts which are running ahead. I need to slow down, process some pain, not sure when it’ll feel fine, like it did the other day. I’m not sad about my future, I’m actually thankful. It’s the current state of my mind that is painful. If time stopped just for me, I could catch my breathe and work out the possibilities. What to do, how to do it, and work through my responsibilities. Alas! Time ticks forward not slowing down today. I guess this is perseverance; working through difficulty without delay.
Follow the Trail
As we walk the trail of following Jesus we will face mountains in our life. To stay on trail you must climb the mountains along the way. This requires perseverance – “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. If you know hiking, you know the pain it takes to endure and you know of the reward that waits at the top. You eat your snacks, take in the view and give yourself a real satisfaction of “I did it”. Perseverance is agreeing to climb the mountain then actually climbing the mountain and finishing the climb to feel that satisfaction. It’s a process not a product. You can’t just buy perseverance and slap in on yourself – you have to endure the difficult terrain to get it.
Why I wrote the Poem
I wrote this poem because I wanted to avoid that climb. I wanted to be okay with stepping off the trail for a moment. Asking God, give me another way, please. But the funny thing about the trail is that it doesn’t give you many options. There is only one trail and it’s narrow (Matthew 7:14). Most of the time, along the trail, there are mountains to climb. The more we CHOOSE to climb them, the easier the climb will be.
Don’t Step Off the Trail – Persevere!
Anytime I choose to persevere God meets me in midst of my struggle. I witness the provision of God come through time and time again.
God is asking us to stay on the trail of following Him, how? With perseverance. We cannot have perseverance without testing our faith during difficult terrain that scares us. Perseverance means you don’t quit easily despite the mountain you face.
So, I am thankful I do not control time because it forces me to constantly make a decision. Will I climb this mountain or wait for a new one to appear? In my experience, waiting for a new one to appear is deciding to step off the trail of following Jesus. And for me, there is only one trail I am willing to take and that is following Him, the original trailblazer.
Overcome your Mountain with Jesus
Mountains (or hardships) are inevitable in life. It’s the choice that we make that determines if we find perseverance or not.
Stuck in fear? Distracted by the heights or are you willing to just take that first step? Perseverance is continually taking that step… one foot after the other until it becomes part of who you are. Don’t underestimate the power of Jesus who has given us His Spirit to endure all things.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus loves you. Sometimes I don’t think we can fathom how much He really does. Jesus loves me even with all my baggage… even the over-weight-need-to-pay-the-extra-25-bucks-for-it-baggage… he wants it all.
In the Bible we learn that Jesus loved His friends Martha and Mary (John 11:5). In Luke 10, Martha’s anxiety was her baggage, stressing about the order of her house and annoyed at Mary who just sat there with Jesus. What struck me was how Martha goes directly to Jesus with her concern and trouble – not to Mary. She recognizes the authority in the room and goes straight to the source.
“She went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
I just love how Martha is not scared to confront Jesus with her baggage of anxiety and stress. She is her authentic self as she approaches Jesus not withholding how she really feels. By Jesus simply responding to Martha says how he cares and loves her.
As believers in Christ, today, Jesus by His Holy Spirit is in our midst – in our hearts. Always in close proximity to us. We get this beautiful relationship wherever we are, in whatever situation we are in. Jesus is near. He wants us to approach Him for our own benefit to receive His comfort. Not be prone by our own worry and anxiety.
Let go of your baggage at the feet of Jesus. He will correct your ways and comfort you with His love. Just like He did for Martha.
Jesus will correct you and He will comfort you
Jesus corrected Martha and he comforted her with a solution to be closer to him. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but on thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
Jesus corrects and comforts us. No one can take those lessons or love away from you. Beautiful. Jesus loves you. He welcomes you as you are, with what you have, and in whatever stage/mess you are in.
Jesus loves YOU and wants you to draw near to Him.