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Monday again. Let’s kick off this wonderful week with an important reminder…Jesus is interceding for you, God is for you, and Holy Spirit is with you, ready to empower you. So stop dreading the day! Stop working!
In other words, Hakuna Matata!!
If you were a kid in the 1990’s or had a kid in the 1990’s, you’ve probably heard this song before. Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase that when translated means “No worries.”
Now where besides the Disney cartoon have I heard that before? Hmmm. Oh yeah! The Word of God! Do not fear is in the Bible 365 times. And yes, worrying, like dread and stress and anxiety, is a type of fear.
Hakuna Matata, God’s People! Hakuna Matata!!
Point to ponder while you wander…”Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need & thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6
I painted this about a year ago. It now hangs at the end of my bed. But it used to hang in the kitchen of my old house. The house I lost due to long stretches of unemployment.
After a two year suckfest, my life was rebooted last fall. I moved into a new place, got a new and better job, a newer car, and started going to a new church.
I’ve had my life uprooted and rebooted before, but this time is different. This time I cannot seem to find the rhythm of the new normal. It just doesn’t look like I expected…so I’ve been in a funk.
But it has dawned on me this week that I’m trying to be the old me in the new place, and I’m not the same person I was before the last two years of lean life.
Two years of alternating unemployment and part time work. Two years of leaning completely on God to provide. Two years of learning that God really doesn’t leave nor forsake you. Two years of my reality being one of my worst cast scenarios, and finding that God really is enough. I could go on, but basically it was two years of living Romans 5:3-5.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 5:3-4 NLT
Jill translation: When everything falls apart…and continues to fall apart…no matter what you do. And you keep asking what did I do wrong and how do I fix it? But you can’t fix it, and you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just life. And sometimes life is hard. You just gotta put one foot in front of the other. Every. Single. Day. Until you get to the other side. And in that suckfest you begin to find joy in the little things again. Things you forgot about. And you understand there really is strength in joy. What is important becomes clearer. Who is important becomes obvious. You realize God is with you in it and He’s loving you. He’s loving you the same as when your tithe was more in a month than you’re now making a month. And He teaches you that He is and always was your provision. And He proves to you that you can face fear because fear is merely a liar and a bully. You weren’t given a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. So fear doesn’t actually belong to you like it said it did. So you stop calling it “my fear.” And you begin to realize you really are more than a conqueror, you just didn’t have to conquer anything like this before. And you now know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
I am different now, and stronger, but the best part about this whole deal, or ordeal if you prefer, is that I have a real understanding of hope.
“And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” Romans 5:5 TPT
Hope isn’t a weak or wimpy wish. Hope is not a frail whisper. Hope is a battle cry because your hope means that you trust in and rely on and wait for the Lord. For real. You don’t just say it because you think you should. And it’s awesome. And worth it.
God didn’t send me the two year suckfest. But He used it to draw me closer and He turned it around for my good. And the good is still being revealed a little bit every day.
Bonus point to ponder while you wander…God takes delight in those who hope in and wait on Him.
“No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11 NLT
So I say…
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 64:5-6 NLT
It’s supposed to be the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year and yet all I am hearing is:
“I’m so stressed out.”
“I cannot wait until this season is over.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to afford Christmas this year.”
“I meant to only have a glass of wine, but then x, y & z happened, so I just drank the whole bottle.”
“I need a drink or a xanex or both.”
“I’m freaking out. I don’t have enough time to get everything done.”
Probably sounds familiar to you, right? You hear it at work, in the stores, and from family and friends.
I’ll be honest, hearing this breaks my heart and pisses me off. I’m angry because anxiety/stress is basically fear. And I loathe and detest fear!!! And it breaks my heart because this season should be about the joy of the greatest gift anyone has ever given, Jesus.
Jesus came to give us peace & rest. He came to set people free and heal their bodies and broken hearts. A celebration of His birth should not drive you to wino-hood or prescription meds!
Here’s what the Word says about anxiety:
1. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB
Don’t let stress win! Change your perspective! Give God the things your stressing about & focus your energies on the things your thankful for!!
2. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT
Give your anxious thoughts to God and THEN His peace comes & guards your heart & mind.
3. “And now, dear brothers & sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
A mind fixed on lack of money or creating perfect holiday will find stress. And stress is fear! Fear is a bully! And bullying is unacceptable!
You do not HAVE to spend a fortune on presents and decor! You don’t HAVE to cook a 7 course meal! If that stuff is stressing you out, scale back! I don’t care if it’s been done that way since forever! It’s not worth it.
Jesus came to give life and life abundant! He came to free you. He came to heal you. He loves you! He doesn’t want you to be full of anxiety!
You have the right to say no. No day, meal or gift is worth the loss of your health or sanity!
Point to ponder while you wander… Ask yourself what is important to you. What do you enjoy about the holidays? Now focus on those lovely and excellent things.
Point #2…Fix your mind & focus your energy on loving your family and friends well this year instead of big expensive gifts and perfect dinners.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I recently read this blog post by Nate Pyle about confronting the lie that God won’t give you more than you can handle. All I have to say to this is AMEN!
I get so irritated by that trite NON-Biblical saying. Life will dish out way more than you can take. It’s life. It happens. And it happens to absolutely everyone at one time or another. No matter your age, race, religion. No matter what country or city you live it. Crap happens. Sometimes it’s deep crap.
I can tell you with certainty that it happens because I’ve been treading in the deep crap end of the pool for months and months. I haven’t loved the trials and struggles. I have hated every single minute of the struggle. No disrespect to the Apostle Paul, but rejoicing in trials is not my thing.
But even though I have hated every minute of this season, I have been learning a lot about myself, what I believe, and about who God really is. Even in this season of struggle, I have peace. When you receive letters from your mortgage company threatening foreclosure and your phone rings off the hook with collection calls, peace is a precious commodity. All I can say is that I would not have made it this far without Jesus and the peace He gives.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”- John 14:27 NLT
I have peace even though there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix this situation by myself. I need a miracle. It’s pretty much the only answer to my situation right now. So I am praying for a miracle and trusting that God is with me in this mess that is more than I can handle.
The other thing that irritates me is when people say, “So where’s your good God now?” Um. Same place He’s always been. Right here with me. Loving me. Believing in me and rooting me on. I may not understand or know why, but I do know that I am not alone. And for now that is what I choose to focus on. To focus on the fact that I am loved nor am I alone. For that I am grateful.
I have days where I lose it and I whine and cry and eat whole pints of ice cream. I know ice cream doesn’t help, but it’s ice cream. What does help me when my focus is centered on how much my life is sucking at the moment is remembering Job. He went through about 9 months of trial and sickness, So I read the book of Job. But not the whole book. Not the parts where his friends try to explain why this is happening, when really they are more clueless than Job is. Nor the parts about what he lost or his suffering. I just read the end, chapters 38-40. It’s where God answers Job and Job gets to know God in a real and tangible way. It gives me hope to hang on for one more day and the peace squelches out my fear for that day.
If you’re swimming in the deep crap end with me, you don’t want to hear trite sayings. What you are going through sucks and I am sorry that you are hurting. I cannot fix it for you or tell you how long you’ll be there. I can tell you that you are loved. I can tell you that you are not alone. I am praying today for those who are suffering through a rough season of trials.
Worry. Stress. Anxiety. All 3 are a type of fear. The Word tells us do not worry, do not fear, and to be anxious for nothing. God desires you to have a life filled with joy! Not fear. So instead of freaking out, remember He loves you and “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18
I am counting down to my upcoming vacation. I am sooo excited. I haven’t had a real vacation in quite some time, and I need it desperately right now.
There’s something about taking a break from life and unplugging now and again, it recharges and rejuvenates. For me it can be a spontaneous road trip to anywhere I can get lost in the beauty of the earth God created, a completely planned trip and itinerary or anything in between. No matter what I adore traveling. I love to explore new places. I enjoy sitting and watching the waves hit the beach at Lake Michigan. I enjoy walking around art museums and seeing the different architecture in historical towns. I enjoy taking a camera and capturing little details that other people may not bother to look for. Those things make me happy.
I’m sure I’m not alone. I would imagine everyone likes to go on vacation and just get away from everything for a bit. Get away from the stresses and pressures of work and family life. Get away from the general day to day grind. But what about those times when you need a break and you don’t have the vacation time or money or your situation will not allow you to have that break you need? What do you do then?
Personally I like to talk nice long walks, like 4-5 miles. It helps. When I’m really overwhelmed (when I don’t want to think) I will read or watch movies. I like to go live in someone else’s world for a few hours before coming back to deal with real life.
Jesus never took a vacation, had hobbies or anything like that. But what He did do was maintain a good balance with His time. 1. Ministry: Jesus talked to people, poured into people, prayed with and for people, healed them and etc. 2. Growing and teaching disciples: But He also took time to teach and grow His 12 disciples. 3. Friendships: He spent bonding and chilling out time with 3 of the 12 disciples. 4. Alone time and God time: Jesus went off alone to pray & spend time with Father God often. That is how He was able to do what He did. He was continually rejuvenated and refreshed by seeking God. Check out Matthew 14:13-23 to see Jesus’ priorities.
Matthew 14:13-14, Jesus heard that John the Baptist was killed and planned to take some time alone. But he was unable because the situation. So He took care of the immediate situation first, “As soon as Jesus heard the news, He left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where He was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
After taking care of the immediate situation, Jesus took the time He needed as soon as He was able. Matthew 22:23 says, “Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.”
This wasn’t a onetime thing, in Luke 5:16, it says Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. In His biggest trial, knowing He’d be crucified, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and seek the Father. Jesus knew that no matter what was going on, taking some alone time to pray and just enjoy God’s presence was essential.
When you have to deal with things you’d rather hide from or you need a break and a rest, seek God first. Here’s what I mean….
If you are a new parent with a tiny screaming baby, pray while you are giving them a bottle in the middle of the night. Praise Him for your baby’s healthy lungs and that you have a healthy child.
If you have a stressful situation at work, take a few minutes and go into the bathroom and pray. Or go for a walk around the building and pray. It’s amazing what even 10 minutes in the midst of a situation can do.
If you are at the hospital with a loved one, take a minute and go to the chapel or to sit on a bench outside and remind yourself that sickness isn’t from God, it is one of the curses from the enemy, along with lack, poverty and death. Speak life to the situation. Speak His word. Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. Every single one.
If you are under attack from people, read Psalms out loud. Give the situation to God and remind yourself that the battle is His, and the victory is yours.
These are just some little things you can do to seek God no matter where you are or what’s going on. God is always with you. He’s everywhere so it is physically impossible for Him to leave you. The word tells us that He never leaves us or forsakes us. All you need to do is acknowledge His presence (even just speak His name) and He turns His attention to you.
I’ve found that these seemingly small things keep me focused on God and prevent my attitude from spiraling downward. It helps me get from day to day in the rough patches and deal with the people in my world that aren’t exactly pleasant.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Thessalonians 5:16-18
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6