Experiencing God as More Than Enough

Continued from here.

If you will take that first step of faith – the first step onto the rickety bridge – then God will be faithful and show Himself to be more than enough in that area of your life. God’s ways really do work, but we must do things His way, not our own. While my own way might be to build another bridge, charter a boat, or find another way to cross the river, His way is to trust Him – to be completely dependent upon him to keep the rickety bridge secure while you cross over the raging river below you. It is when we step out in faith in our weakness that we learn the degree of God’s sufficiency for us.

I have learned this lesson in many ways in various areas of my life, but this doesn’t make the rickety bridges I encounter look any sturdier. No matter how much experience I have gained in crossing rickety bridges, the one I am currently facing always seems like the one that isn’t going to hold. This is why it’s so important to reflect upon all of the other rickety bridges that God has safely led you across. This is my favorite Bible verse for doing this:

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. ~ Ps. 9:4

Every rickety bridge that held me was a demonstration of God’s faithfulness. Because God was faithful before, I can believe He will be faithful again. As I meditate on God’s prior faithfulness, I lift up my shield of faith to block the enemy’s taunts about how this bridge could not possibly hold.

In this season of crossing the rickety bridge of the Christmas season, to avoid holiday depression, I must take a step out on to the bridge and believe that the same God who has carried me through so many other life trials is more than enough to carry me through this one. I am using the plan I designed from Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions to help me keep focusing my thoughts back onto God. I am fully dependent upon Him to keep this rickety bridge secure. My job is to keep walking and trust that God truly is in control, no matter what I feel.

[Graphic: Cover of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Courtesy Amazon.com.]

 

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How to Turn Knowledge into Belief

need_a_rideContinued from here.

I knew the Bible very well for decades before I actually started doing what it says to do. I could give wonderful advice about how to live a godly life … I simply did not do it myself because, in my heart of hearts, I did not really believe it, despite what I knew. Perhaps this is why God’s Word says that it is impossible to please God without faith. Knowing a whole lot about God doesn’t get us to the other side of the river any faster than not knowing anything about Him at all. In fact, it can even be a hindrance because someone who does not know God has not spent years talking himself out of stepping out onto the rickety bridge.

The key to experiencing God’s sufficiency is simple and yet very difficult – you must take that first step in faith. What is that first step? You need to give away whatever it is that you need, which is counterintuitive but is the key to turning knowledge into belief.

Let’s say you need more money: give more to those in need. If you need peace, give God thanks for all He has already done for you. If you need to feel loved, do something loving for someone else. If you need to feel accepted and valued, be accepting and loving to someone who is different from you. If you need to feel joy, do something for someone else that makes that person joyful. If you need more time to meet your responsibilities in this season of life, spend more time with God. This is the spiritual principle of sowing and reaping, and this principle is woven into the Bible in many ways and many contexts.

When you give away what you need, you are taking that first step onto the rickety bridge. You are also planting a seed that will bear fruit in the future if you do not give up. I know this seems counterintuitive, but God’s ways are different from ours, and the principle of sowing and reaping is one that God created. Whatever it is you need, give it to someone else, and God will show you that He is more than enough to meet that need.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace driving a car and asking, “Need a ride?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Believing God’s Word is the Key to Experiencing His Sufficiency

lifeContinued from here.

The key to experiencing the reality that God is more than enough to meet whatever you lack is believing God’s Word over how you feel. Belief involves more than knowledge. I knew for decades that God was bigger than anxiety, but I did not experience God being bigger than anxiety until I started believing it. Believe something involves taking action in reliance on that belief.

For example, I might know that a rickety wooden bridge is sufficient to hold my weight as I walk from one side of a river to the other. I might see other people walk along the rickety bridge, which adds to my knowledge base that the rickety bridge is sufficient. However, whether I believe it is sufficient will dictate my actions. If I stay too focused on the rapids below the bridge, I might fear them enough not to attempt to cross the bridge. My choice whether to cross the bridge is based solely on my belief as to whether or not it is safe. I might be able to recite stories about other people who successfully crossed the bridge. I may even be able to tell you 10 specific reasons why the bridge is safe to cross. However, until I actually walk across the bridge, I don’t really believe it is secure, and I am missing out on the blessings waiting for me on the other side.

As I remain positioned on the same side of the river, I might become angry with the builder. Why didn’t the person who built the bridge make it more secure? Why isn’t there another way to cross this river? I might become envious of the people who cross it and receive the blessings on the other side, making excuses for why it was easier for them to cross the river on the bridge than it is for me. I might lie to myself and others about why I won’t cross the bridge, saying that I don’t really want to cross over, when the truth is that, in my heart of hearts, I don’t really believe the bridge will hold for me.

Either I believe the bridge will hold or I don’t. My actions will be based upon what I believe, not what I know.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking across a river with a bird under the word, “Life.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Believing God’s Word over What You Feel

feelsContinued from here.

When we lack something we need, it feels natural to align our thoughts with our emotions rather than trust that God is going to meet that need. This holds true even when we know God is able. For example, we read about Jesus feeding the five thousand with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and we know that God is able to meet our physical needs in abundance. Even though we know this, when we look in the empty refrigerator and the depleted checking account, we react not based upon what we know but what we believe. Most of us believe what we see rather than what we know and react accordingly. This makes us double-minded and vulnerable to our emotions tossing us around like the waves of the ocean.

My natural reaction is to try to take matters into my own hands. I doubt that God is enough to meet my need, so I look elsewhere to meet it, which the Bible calls idolatry. When I seek out idols, God will let me do it for a while until I learn that idols cannot meet my needs.

For example, I needed unconditional love, but I didn’t think God was enough to meet this need because I wanted “someone with skin” to provide this. I sought it in marriage, parenthood, family, and friendships. God allowed me to experience disappointment everywhere I turned, and my breaking point was when my final two idols (my two best friends) left. I thought this would break me, and it did … it broke up my unplowed ground so it became fertile for sowing righteousness, and I reaped the fruit of unfailing love.

My experience and emotions told me that I was fundamentally unlovable. God’s Word told me that I was lavishly loved. As long as I followed my emotions, I experienced need. Once I chose to believe God instead of my emotions, I learned that God was more than enough to meet that need – so much that His love overflowed out of me, changing the dynamics of all of my relationships so that I no longer sought to receive love but, instead, to give it.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of an arrow piercing Grace’s heart below the word, “Feels.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

God is Enough

helpOne spiritual lesson that was particularly transforming for me was learning that God truly is enough – actually, He is more than enough. This is a lesson that I am currently learning at a deeper level as I am learning to walk through the Christmas season without holiday depression. To make a very long story short, the Christmas season is my Achilles heel. As a child, the Christmas season was a time that the safety of school went away, and abusive family “friends” had greater access to me to harm me. Many Christmas songs and symbols have negative associations in my head, and I power through as best I can, trying to spend a little time as possible in a depressive funk.

This year, I have decided that I am finished with surrendering to my past and allowing it to control my present. Jesus died to give me victory over every bondage, even this one, so my prayer this holiday season (since before Halloween) has been for God to teach me how to walk in that victory. I have not done it perfectly, but I have not gone down the emotional well and don’t intend to … and not because I am strong. I am painfully aware of my weakness, but God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, and He is enough.

To embrace the reality of God being enough, I must rely on what His Word says, not on how I feel. It does not feel like God is enough. If I allowed my thoughts to align with my feelings, I would already be deep into a holiday depression. Instead, I must stand firmly on what God has to say about the matter, and He says that He is enough.

I have been praying this Scripture quite a bit since October:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ~ 1 Cor. 10:13

I tell God that I am tempted to go down the emotional well, and I need Him to show me the way out. He always does. When I pray this, I don’t feel victorious – I feel weak. I choose to believe God over what I feel.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sinking in quicksand and yelling, “Help!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Overcoming Despair: God is Bigger

mountain_full_perspective

Continued from here.

Please know that I do not take the subject of despair lightly. I am not a proponent of minimizing pain or the human condition and balk at the advice to compare my situation to someone else’s so I can gain perspective that my situation isn’t that bad. Sometimes it is “that bad,” and your situation is the one people compare against to feel better about their own.

Being repeatedly raped as a child was “that bad.” My father’s sudden, unexpected death was “that bad.” Being unable to conceive a child was “that bad.” The Bible does not shy away from “that bad” life situations, nor does it minimize the depth of the pain. Instead, the Bible assures us that God is bigger. Jesus said,

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

Worldly trouble is to be expected. It does not mean that God has forgotten you. Instead, it means that God is going to show you that He is bigger. I have lived this truth, so I know firsthand that it is so. God was bigger than my childhood abuse, grief, and infertility. He was able to heal my pain and bring me joy and peace. He was even able to heal a post-traumatic disorder condition that experts said was incurable. I am not minimizing your problem: I am encouraging you to recognize that your problem is dwarfed by the size of your God.

If you are ensnared in despair, you have zoomed your lens onto your problems so that they take up the entire screen of your focus. It’s time to zoom out so your focus includes not only your problems but also your God. As you do this, you will gain perspective: not that your problem is not big but that your God is even bigger … much bigger! Shifting your focus back onto God is the key to removing the shackles of despair and restoring you to a place of joy and peace.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace standing in front of a large cube with “Problem” written on it and a huge triangle behind them with “God” on it. The huge triangle makes Grace and the “problem” cube appear small. Courtesy Bitmoji and Grace Daniels.]

Overcoming Despair: Praising and Worshiping God

dancingContinued from here.

One of the most powerful ways to restore hope when you are mired in despair is actively choosing to engage in praise & worship, especially when you do not feel like it. If you let your feelings of despair drive your choices, you will spiral deeper and deeper into the emotional abyss. The fastest way to change direction is to make a conscious choice to praise and worship God. This works because it takes your focus off your yourself and places it squarely onto God.

While praise & worship do not require music, that is my preferred way of doing this. I am musical by nature, so combining praise & worship with music enables me to shift my focus from myself to God more easily. I also find it helps to engage my entire body in the process, such as by singing praise & worship songs to God while standing rather than sitting and raising my hands upward.

If you are not musically inclined, you can accomplish the same thing without music, such as by reading the Psalms aloud. For example, read Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 aloud while standing to engage your body. The Psalms provide a wonderful blend of expressing the human condition while redirecting the focus back to God.

No matter what is going on in your life, you have something to be grateful for: your relationship with God, which can never be taken away from you. You are not walking through this painful season alone: God is always with you. Whatever you are feeling and experiencing will come to an end, just as the seasons end. The one constant that never ends is your relationship with God. He is walking alongside you through this challenging time and even carrying you, when needed. Shift your focus from yourself to God, and the despair will transform into hope.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace dancing, surrounded by musical notes and lightning bolts. Courtesy Bitmoji.]