“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him, so that you
may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I can’t remember who taught me how to ride a bicycle. I do remember the dirt lane that I tried to navigate and the big pine tree that I crashed into. I recall the bike wobbling side to side as I desperately tried to keep my balance. It took me quite a few attempts and quite a few falls before I could ride comfortably. But once I learned, there was no stopping me. I rode my bike everywhere. (It was great being a kid in the ’60’s. So much freedom!)
This morning I felt like a part of my life was wobbling side to side and that soon, I’d cash into something. I snapped Shakespeare’s leash to his harness and off we went for a walk. That’s always a good remedy for when I’m stressed out. It didn’t take long until I felt God’s hand on my shoulder. “You’re worried,” He said.
“I’ve got this really big responsibility on my shoulders and I’m not sure I am up for it,” I said. “I’ll feel like an idiot if I make a mistake.”
“If you knew that your big responsibility was part of the plan I had for you, would you feel differently about it?” God asked.
“I’d feel even more stressed! I’d want to be perfect for you!” The minute the words left my mouth I knew how silly they were. I know God doesn’t expect me to be perfect.
“What if I run along beside you, and I guide you, Would you feel better?”
“Would you do that for me?”
“Of course! God said.
I knew that much like learning to ride my bike, I’ll learn how to navigate this big responsibility if God runs along beside me. I may crash from time to time, but once I learn, there will be no stopping me. Wait. Correct that. There will be no stopping us. Once I learn, I’ll be peddling but God will be riding on the handlebars, pointing the way.
“You’ve got this!” God said, and patted me on my back. I grinned from ear to ear.
“Thanks!” I said, and turned towards home.
“In all your ways acknowledge him…”
When God has closed one door but hasn’t opened the next one, praise Him in the hallway. It is sometimes easier said than done, I know. But it’s such good advice to take to heart. No matter what you face today, God is there with you. It’s going to work out for the best, even if the storm seems darker than anything you’ve ever seen before. Hold onto God’s hand and remind yourself that you are in His great care. Don’t tell yourself scary stories and believe them. Don’t rely on your own understanding. Instead, rely on God, fully.
I know the hard times test our faith. It’s a challenge to wrap our heads around why God allows suffering. Instead of asking “Why?” ask “What?” “God, what can I do to serve you while I’m in this place of darkness?” Then praise Him! It’s interesting to note that when we praise God in all things, we re-wire our brains for the better. Praising God actually makes us smarter and healthier in the long run! Praise God today, no matter where you are.
“Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us,
the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
2 Timothy 1:14
The morning had a bite to it as I shut the door and clambered down the front steps to start my walk. The sky was a pale blue, a welcome sight, given all of the rain we’ve had. My little dog scurried on ahead of me, stretching out the leash, eager to sniff new smells. I walked along and asked God to help me write tomorrow’s Soul Reminder. “What shall I tell them, God?” I asked.
“Tell them that My spirit is inside of them. All they need to do is to push their ego aside and they will find Me. They can rely on Me,” God answered.
I came to a house that had three beautiful yard chickens pecking around in the cool wet ground. The little guttural sounds they made filled my heart with joy. I closed my eyes and listened. “Thank you, God, for these small joys,” I said. I turned to head back home, to write the words God wanted me to share. As I walked the rugged pavement, I thought how easy it is to forget that we house God’s Spirit—how easy it is to rely on our understanding and not rely on God. I resolved to push aside my ego more often so that I am better able to find God’s spirit inside of me and to rely on it.
“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him,”
I pushed my hands together and bowed my head in prayer. “Dear God, some of the decisions I made in the past created challenging consequences for my life. I’ve got some regrets,” I confessed. I sat quietly and waited for God’s reply.
“When you made the decisions, did you feel that they were the best at the time?” He asked.
“Yes. Of course,” I answered.
“Did you learn anything from the decisions?” He questioned.
“Yes,” I replied.
“What did you learn?”
I told God about the lessons I had learned “the hard way.” When I was done, God said, “You learned quite a lot.” I nodded my head. “Are you a better person for having learned those lessons?”
“Of course!” I said.
“So tell me, what was the biggest lesson you learned from your regrets?” God asked.
I pondered the question for a few moments. “The biggest lesson I learned was to trust you more,” I answered honestly.
“Then the decisions that you regret ultimately worked out to the good!” God exclaimed.
“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” I said. “Thank you for pointing that out.”
“Anytime,” God replied. “Come on, let’s go for a walk,” He suggested. I tugged on my boots and leashed Shakespeare. The three of us tumbled out the door together; out into the sharp chill of the winter morning. My steps haven’t felt that light in a long time.
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior…”
“What are you going to do with it?” God asked me yesterday morning as I was drying my hair.
“What?” I turned off the hair dryer (as if that help me hear Him!). “Do what with what?” I shook my head. Why does God always want to ask me a question when I’m doing something? I thought to myself. I turned the hair dryer back on.
“What are you going to do with the new year I’ve given you?” He asked.
“Oh, that,” I said. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, hoping that maybe it knew the answer. I thought about God’s question while I dried my hair and put on my makeup. I thought about it as I tugged on my jeans and sweater and headed out the door. I thought about it as I pruned the passion vine that had gone rogue and taken the milkweed tree hostage. I thought about it all day. When I crawled into bed and laid my head upon my pillow I finally answered God.
I’m going to live this year that you have so generously given me by discovering and living the answers to these two questions: “What’s true for me?” and “What do I really want?” I whispered a thank you for the glorious first day of the new year and then closed my eyes. I knew sleep would find me fast, and take me to the land of dreams. I smiled with my eyes closed as I nestled my head deeper into my pillow, satisfied that I will be a good steward of the coming year, with God’s help, of course!
“In the same way, let your light shine before others…”
“I want you to be a light for others,” God told me on our morning walk together.
“I thought I was already,” I said, rather defensively. God laughed, as He is apt to do when He talks with me.
“Yes, but I want you to really shine now. Really burn.”
“What about burning?” I asked. I wasn’t thrilled with the word.
“The work of being a candle is that it has to burn in order to share its light,” God explained.
“You want me to burn?” I asked. I’m sure God could hear the concern in my voice.
“I want you to burn with my love for you. I want you to be on fire with the Holy Spirit. I want you to shine so bright that other’s hearts will be illuminated.”
“So, it’s a metaphor, this fire you speak of,” I said, relieved.
“Of course it is Sparrow,” God smiled. ” I want you to fall even more in love with me. I want you to trust me even more than you do.”
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“I’ll help you,” He said gently as He rested His hand on my shoulder.
God wants you to do the work of burning for Him, too. To share your light with others, you’ve got to be on fire for God. It doesn’t happen on its own; you’ve got to strike the match. Ignite your reality with God.