This photo was taken in September of 2016, newly married, and almost about to summit my first mountain with my husband. I have a huge smile on my face for many reasons. 1. conquering a mountain 2. overcoming my fear of heights and 3. sharing it with my husband. But right before this moment, there was an intense portion of the climb for me. It started to rain. A rope was dangling ready for us to use to tackle a steep section of wet rock. Trembling in doubt and then fear, I told my husband, “I don’t think I can do this.” My husband’s response, in his calm, cool, and collected manner was, “you don’t have to”.
Committing is a Choice
I am reminded of that moment because being on the trail is a choice. It is a choice to follow Jesus and to commit to changing your ways to knowing and becoming more like him. It is a choice because it is also a relationship.
Because of the relationship I have with my husband I trusted in my ability because he was there with me. I overcame my fear that day and finished the treacherous climb of Golden Ears Mountain.
One Path – Different Journey
There is only 1 path and its the same for all who commit their lives to Jesus. But two individuals on the same trail can have different experiences, perspectives, and strengths just like my husband and I that day. It was stormy for me, and not for him. A hard slog for me, and not for him. Comparing our journeys with other believer will keep us stuck, frozen and unable to move forward. Commit to your own journey with Christ and ask God to remove the temptation of comparison.
I pray that you continue to step forward in your walk with God. Despite the fear you face and the lack of confidence you’ll have. I pray you will still persevere knowing Christ is with you.
The heaviness of unknowns lurk into the next season and it’s weighty. Many of us feel the same weight. As Covid-19 progresses, or stays the same, the unknowns in how to walk it out remains. Some of us are sending our kids to school in fear. Some of us have big life changes looming with fear. All are valid fears. But then I heard of a life near to us that was on the line. The weight of surviving life or death became much more desperate in terms of unknowns. For me, it brought into perspective of how little we know about the trajectory of our lives.
This is what we train for: to have faith despite the unknowns we face on earth. Since earth is temporary to our eternal home in heaven. So, instead of stressing over the unknowns we must think about what we do know. Christ in us for us.
Unbelief into Belief
In Mark chapter nine, a father brings his demon possessed son to Jesus. Asking him, “if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “if you can?! All things are possible for one who believes.” Then the boy’s father confesses to Jesus that he has some faith but acknowledges that he is spiritually weak. Then he appealed to Jesus to create in him a heart that believes more firmly. He said, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” And Jesus healed his son who had an unclean spirit (Mark 9:14-29).
Pursuing life faithfully is a mental battle we must prepare for everyday. Scripture is not just a book with cool stories, its a life line of hope. We learn from the boy’s father who knew Jesus was the Messiah but not sure if he could heal his boy. It’s the half truth we have of Jesus. Yes, I know you’re good God – but I don’t trust you. Without scripture we become lost in our knowledge and understanding of God. Thus, the only way to overcome our anxiety is through fellowship with God by prayer and reading His Word.
Fear into Faith
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Every morning I wake up and grab my journal and my Bible. I start my day writing out my prayers, making my requests known to God. I end my prayer with thanksgiving, because I acknowledge and remind myself who it is I am praying to. The Almighty God who was, is, and is to come. The same God who spoke directly to Moses guiding the Israelite’s to the promised land (despite their constant sin and setbacks). The same God who sent Jesus to die for me and bore my sins. I am praying to the God who formed me in my mothers womb. Who knows me better than I know myself. I pray because it turns my fear of unknowns into faith of being known by God.
Unknowns into Known
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
A big part of releasing my anxious thoughts and feelings is through prayer. The peace that comes upon me after I pray is a reassurance that God is with me. He guards my heart and mind like a solider guarding his own territory. As Christians, we can entrust all our unknowns and difficulties to the Lord, who rules over all creation and who is wise and loving in all His ways (Romans 8:31-39). Therefore, having an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving contributes directly to inward peace.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
There is no doubt that we will suffer and struggle in our faith because we are up against an enemy that is unseen, but seeks to devour our joy in Christ. Causing a heightened anxiety in us because we are fighting between two voices. A voice elevating our pride to worry and another voice humbling us to submit and pray. We must learn how God speaks to discern what is true.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I like to call this time of isolation: a forced time of introspection. Whether you like it or not staying present is mandatory. When we are busy we like to say, “we have no time” and when we have loads of time we like to say, “we wish we were busy”. The point is we aren’t good at staying present because we don’t have any peace. So let’s learn how to stay present by receiving God’s peace.
Oh boy, what is peace? How do we get peace? I want peace! Simply put peace is a blessing from God, and it’s in His nature to give us peace. Its readily available to all who call upon Him.
Okay, so how does this work? Well first lets accept introspection – “the examination of our own mental and emotional state” and name the burden that is preventing peace.
Second, let’s look at these three verses that teach us how to have peace:
1. Name your burden and give it to Jesus
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Our “yoke” can feel like a heavy plow or cart weighing us down and instead of moving it forward we stay stuck.
I have misread this verse for a long time
I used to think Jesus meant He will take off our heavy load so we don’t carry anything. Assuming that whatever was causing me burdens would leave entirely. But it says, “take my yoke upon you” – so we still have a load to carry. This is more encouraging because its realistic. We all have responsibility in our day which simply cannot just stop – we all have loads to carry. However it doesn’t need to be a burden, God says, “come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. How? “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… for I am gentle and humble in heart”. We are to come to Christ in confidence that He will help us because he is “gentle and humble in heart”. God is approachable!
How to stay present in peace… we learn from Christ
“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). Walk in the way in which Jesus walked which is doing what pleases the Lord. The peace is in the knowing my Father God. He has the best for me so it’s in Him where I will find it. So I gladly take upon His yoke which is easy and light because He is good and wants good for me. Spending time reading my Bible gives me peace because it’s a daily reminder of how much He loves me.
For me staying present in peace looks like focusing on the blessing rather than the burden. For example, my husband working shift work. Everyday I only get half days with him and sometimes when the weekend comes this is a burden because I want a full family day not just half. However, the blessing is he has a great job and provides well for our family. So I focus on the gifts God gave me rather than what I do not have. This takes discipline to practice daily.
Avoiding our burdens by distracting ourselves with anything other than God will not bring us closer to peace. Spending time in prayer helps to refocus our hearts and mind back onto His. So, if in doubt pray it out… (oooo did I just make a snappy saying?!?).
3. Do not worry about tomorrow
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Until we are with Jesus Himself, in heaven, we will always be working towards something here on earth. I know I can get bogged down with a mentality of a “finish line” assuming success is something concrete. But success is making the most of TODAY – a constant state of progress. Humbling ourselves before the Lord so we can have His joy and His peace to guide our thoughts and actions of today. Its all about taking action in the right direction and maximizing the time we have, now! Jesus said it himself, do not worry about tomorrow. So we learn from His words and do as it says because its meant for our own good.
Jesus, I pray that you would change our perspective. Help us to look to you so we can receive your atmosphere of peace as we learn to stay present.
The WWJD question cannot be answered if we don’t know Him. For example, sometimes when I want to make a decision I ask myself, “What would Landon do?” (my husband), because I respect him and know he is a man of integrity so I trust his actions. I can assume what his answer would be because I know him well.
Trusting the integrity of Jesus – having faith that He has every answer
Knowing Him well enough to make decisions (big or small) in a timely manner
To better understand the character behind the bracelet we bring back our Bibles for answers.
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2