Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Source of Life

Tired. Discouraged. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Burned Out.

Too often these are the words that describe my feelings toward a situation or even life in general. And I know I am not alone in these feelings. Whether we are missionaries, parents, teachers, pastors, engineers or businessmen, we all have days or seasons where we are weary and struggle to keep going. We have so many responsibilities. Things happen unexpectedly. We are burdened by hard situations that lack clear solutions. And of course, the pace of the world around us seems to be going faster and faster every day.

So how do we keep going when we feel exhausted? When we feel like giving up?

We turn to the Source of Life.

The Lord is our Source of Life. He is the one who created us and it is He who can and does sustain us. The Word of God is full of reminders and promises that only in God, through the Lord Jesus do we find true life.
  • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]
  • “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” [John 10:10]
  • Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” [John 6:35]
Scripture also reminds us that only in God do we find the things we truly need. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” [James 1:17]
  • We find hope. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Jeremiah 29:11]
  • We find strength. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” [Isaiah 40:29]
  • We find wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” [James 1:5]
  • We find joy. “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…” [Psalm 16:11]
  • We find peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Phil. 4:6-7]
  • We find rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11.28]
He promises us all of this and so much more. He does not promise to change our circumstances, but He promises to be with us, helping us to carry our burdens and providing what we need in the moment to keep going.

I personally experienced this a couple weeks ago as I served in the kitchen for a short term team. On what was supposed to be my last free morning, I ended up helping a friend and working a 14 hour day. Usually I don’t deal well with the unexpected, but I had read a verse from Psalm 29 that same morning – “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” God knew I would need this reminder, and it was enough. God and His word were the source of my peace, my patience, my strength and my joy that day, and throughout the rest of the week.

Of course, turning to the Source of Life is not a once and done thing. Even if we know the truths in our heads, we will quickly be overwhelmed by the broken world around us if we do not return often to the Lord. So whatever situation you find yourself in today, seek the Lord and His promises and trust that He will be enough to sustain you!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

10 Ways to Fight the Winter Blues

It is the middle of February in southern Romania. Everything outside is cold, wet and muddy, aka not at all pleasant. I have not left Olt county in almost two months. It is safe to say I have a little cabin fever and I am impatiently waiting for spring to come.

However, the last couple months have actually been really good. I realized that God filled this season with a lot of small yet beautiful and joyful moments.

Here are 10 small ways I discovered to help fight the winter blues:
  1. Wake up intentionally. When it is cold, dark and gray outside, you usually want to stay curled up asleep under warm blankets. But I have found that waking up early to have intentional time with the Lord helps feed my soul as well as set myself up for the rest of the day.
  2. Read a book. If you’re going to be stuck inside because of the weather, you might as well pick up a book. You can let your mind be inspired with true stories and encouraging words or you can let your imagination escape into other worlds.
  3. Get creative. A little color and design goes a long way in the gray of winter, especially when you can use that creativity to brighten someone else’s day. And don’t worry about it being perfect, just get creative!
  4. Reach out. Remember that you are probably not the only one experiencing the winter blues. Reach out, offer to get together with a good friend or even someone new and encourage one another.
  5. Pray intentionally. Prayer can be an incredibly life-giving activity, especially when shared with brothers and sisters in Christ. From a daily prayer time with my best friend to praying through scripture with the women in my ministry, prayer has been a joy these last months. (Plus the more prayers we pray, the more prayers God can answer!)
  6. Make something from scratch in the kitchen. While I have never loved cooking, there is a feeling of accomplishment when you make a meal from scratch. My personal favorite is a delicious homemade soup, perfect for warming you up on a cold day.
  7. Share a meal. Food always tastes better when you share it with others. I am blessed to be in a community and culture that believes in hospitality and sharing a meal together. It is a simple reminder that I am not alone.
  8. Say “Yes”. If you’re like me, cold weather can lower your motivation to go out, especially if an activity was not pre-planned. However, some of my favorite moments happened from saying “yes” to the unexpected.
  9. Document. Whether you use pictures or a journal or something else entirely, it is important to document the small moments that make you smile, especially in harder seasons. I use this as a form of reflection on all the ways God has provided joy in my life.
  10. Be thankful. As you document and reflect, remember to thank the Lord for all He has done, even if it is just a collection of small moments. Gratitude is an easy way to shift your thinking in any season.