by BARB LOWNSBURY
What breaks us from our faith? I think it’s very similar to what breaks us in any relationship we’re in. We have unexpressed expectations that aren’t met, or expressed expectations that aren’t met in our timing or with the answer we want. When we face intense pressures financially and emotionally, we walk away.
But here’s the crucial difference between our human relationships and God: God never makes mistakes, and his answers to our questions always work. Always.
I didn’t used to believe, honestly. Oh, I said I did. I knew the right lines. But when it came to surrendering to the difficult decisions God was calling me to make, or trusting Him in the midst of circumstances I didn’t understand, I acted more like a frustrated teenager. I would yell and stomp around, pouting; I would give way to fear or simply ignore what my Father was asking me to do.
There is an odd sense of freedom when I go my own way. Initially, at least, I have the illusion of control. I do what feels right to me. But the end result? My successes feel hollow. Constantly dissatisfied, I keep searching for more. And my failures—ouch! My forehead has scars from all the walls I ran into.
Enter Covid-19, isolation and financial stress. Many options of how to respond lie in front of me, with fear at the top of my list. I only need to look behind me to how incredibly faithful God has been over the decades, and how fulfilling my life has become since I started doing it HIS way instead of stubbornly clinging to my own.
In the midst of the crisis, I am determined to not run away from God, but to run TO him instead. Wow, has It has made a difference!
I have a cranky teenager at home 24/7, but somehow we’ve found a way to embrace the chaos and find joy together. My husband launched a new business literally a month prior to the outbreak, and we should be scared to death. Yet every day we make a decision to choose peace and joy. It hasn’t been easy, I won’t lie. But when the dark thoughts reach out to grab me, I fight to reach for Jesus instead.
God works in mysterious ways. I can’t pretend to understand the whys behind all that is happening in our world right now. What I can do is remind myself of what is true, of who my Father is, and that ultimately this world is not my home anyway.
Scriptures I’m personally holding onto right now include:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:1-2, 7, NIV).
“Lord, I passionately love you and I’m bonded to you, for now you’ve become my power! You’re as real to me as bedrock beneath my feet, like a castle on a cliff, my forever firm fortress, my mountain of hiding, my pathway of escape, my tower of rescue where none can reach me. My secret strength and shield around me, you are salvation’s ray of brightness shining on the hillside, always the champion of my cause. All I need to do is to call to you, singing to you, the praiseworthy God. When I do, I am safe and sound in you” (Psalm 18:1-3, TPT)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you in my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV).
I want to challenge you today. During these unprecedented times, make a decision to invest more deeply in God. It can be streaming the Bible so you’re hearing scripture, or tuning into worship music that inspires you. Dig into your Bible and find your own scriptures to hang onto and remind yourself of when you’re feeling weak, and when you’re feeling strong. Pray more.
Do whatever you need to do to choose spiritual freedom. That’s the stuff that brings peace beyond understanding and joy despite circumstances. It’s what turns your mourning to laughter and your darkness into light.
Are you up for the challenge?
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Make space to read all of Psalm 18. It is such a powerful and encouraging passage! When you read it, anytime it talks about “enemy” or “foe,” replace those words with what you’re struggling with—fear, isolation, worry, stress, anger. Those are, after all, the enemies that can plague us and hold us back. You will feel encouraged when you remember that the Lord is capable of destroying them all. And post your favorite scriptures below so we can all be encouraged!
PRAYER Father, during my seasons of fear and worry, thank you for being my place of refuge. I know you love me with everything you have, and that you work out all things for my good as I seek you. Help me to connect with you in deeper, more meaningful ways in the midst of challenge. To see the obstacles as opportunities to grow with you instead of rail against you. I know you have my best interests at heart. Would you remind me today that this world is not my home and the grave is not my final destination so I can be at peace. You are the eye in the middle of my storm, and I praise you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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BARB LOWNSBURY serves as the Executive Director for The Dented Fender ministry, has B.A. degrees in History and Education, and a Masters degree in Education. She is a speaker, author and entrepreneur. In her own words:
Hi! If I was going to sum me up in a sentence, it would read something like this: I am a Jesus loving, faith-filled, broken and flawed, redeemed and joyful, passionate, playful, bold yet shy truth seeker and freedom fighter who loves my family and friends with a healed, healthy heart. Whew! Oh, and I love the outdoors. And playing sports. I am a part of a beautiful blended family of 8, and I can't wait to become a grandma someday!
I am a life-long learner who loves to hear stories like yours, and I'm passionate about building into others spiritually, personally and professionally. I have believed way too many lies from the enemy about who I am, how I look, the way I work, how I parent--that's a list that could go on and on! I hate when any of us lose out on having that "life to the full" Jesus promised us, so if I can help someone learn some of the lessons God has taught me to get there, I consider it a privilege and joy.
For speaking inquiries, please click HERE.
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