How do you respond when tragedy strikes?
How do you live when the routines of life have been turned on its head?
The way we respond during times of hardship really exposes the cracks in our foundation, does it not?
Conditions around us have all been shaken in the last year…..home life, worship, education, jobs, shopping, the basics of everyday life….it’s ALL been affected by this world wide shut down. All the world’s sickness and suffering have never been more real to us than in the last 15 months. And, even though things are starting to open back up (at least in some places), we still may be asking ourselves these questions-
You still may be asking “What is God’s will for my life?”
You still may be feeling like you are walking in the wilderness.
How are you responding to all this upheaval?
Consider this- The way in which you respond and your resulting behavior are tell tale indicators of what you actually believe. What has come out of you during this time? Fear, panic, worry? Even if these peace stealers slip out in small, little ways, they can have a big impact in our lives.
What can we do?
Yes, we pray. Yes, we seek God. Yes, we look to Scripture to guide us.
Here’s something else to consider- We also need to put action to our faith in order to live it out in real, productive ways. If we say “Jesus is Lord of my life”, but then our actions prove otherwise (such as trusting in the news or our bank accounts or panic purchasing), then what we say we believe isn’t being manifest in our lives. Our behavior isn’t lining up with our beliefs.
Admittedly, living this way is often harder than it looks.
Knowing it and doing it are often two separate things. More times than not, it takes an act of the will to engage our faith and choose to respond in a different way other than a familiar default mode.
What has been your default mode to life changes in the last couple of months?
How have you responded to the strict and sometimes severe circumstances since all this started?
Really…… ask yourself. What worries or fears have crept up around you?
Ok, I’ll ask it another way.
What extreme or excessive behaviors have you found yourself exhibiting?
Whatever your *fill-in-the-blank* behaviors are, ask yourself an honest question- What am I really saying about my life or believing about God when I act this way?
What did you find? Are you even conscious of it? What could you do to live life more in faith than in fear?
Here are some Kingdom principles that have helped me in the last year or so.
Live with an open hand-
When I clench something in my fist, trying with all my might not to let it go, I don’t want to give it up or lose it. I am not willing to give it away. The problem with that is I also can’t receive anything either. If I live with a clenched fist, I don’t trust the fact that God can fill my hand again if I freely release what’s there. As a result, I am not able to give or receive.
Instead, If I live with an open hand, I can give away or release what I have in order to allow God the opportunity to fill it up again. What I give away becomes a blessing, and what I receive becomes an even bigger blessing!
I found myself clenching the shredded cheese recently.
My girls eat a lot of cheese by putting way too much of it on their food. I found myself scolding them saying “you can’t use that much, we have to make it last”. What I discovered beneath my scolding was a fear that we won’t have enough, and we might not be able to get more. In the process of clenching the cheese, I was too hard with my girls. Living with an open hand means I won’t fuss or scold so they will use less (but come on, girls, use a little less cheese, ok?). Rather, I will trust that if all the cheese gets used up, God will provide more.
Bless it and give thanks-
Even before the pandemic started, I found myself thinking about all the stuff our kids will need over the next 5 years. We will have 4 kids in high school all at the same time this fall. Three of the 4 are girls….girls are expensive! I found myself worrying about how were we going to pay for it all.
The very next Sunday, my pastor spoke about how Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus didn’t worry. He took what He had, He blessed it and gave thanks for it. Then, the miracle followed- there was enough to go around plus more than plenty left over. That’s true for us as well. Instead of worrying about what you don’t have, thank God for what you do have. He can multiply it and make it go farther because of your thankful attitude. This was huge for me. So, I’m trying to practice this every time I go shopping or pay bills or whatever. When I’m grateful for what I have, it far outweighs what I think I don’t have.
If the Lord wills it-
Everybody’s plans have fallen through this spring. Everything that was scheduled has been canceled or put on hold. This made me realize how much I take for granted when it comes to the plans I make for my family and me. Here’s the verse the God brought to mind-
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16
When I allow room in my schedule for the Lord to take the lead, then I trust more in His sovereignty and control. I can more readily live at peace with the plans He has for me. When I don’t let the Lord take the lead, my actions reveal how I really think I’m in charge. This pride and faulty thinking exposes my boasting which James said is just plain evil.
God is showing me that I may have plans, but He’s the One who really directs my path. I may have doubts as to how my life will unfold, but He’s the One who has everything under control. So, as I schedule the plans, I will also say “If the Lord wills”……
All of this boils down to trust.
Do you trust God?
Living out these Kingdom principles stretches and exercises your faith in trusting God. When worry and fear creep up, it exposes the areas where we’re not trusting Him. In what ways, even in the smallest of ways (ehem….uh….cheese:} ), can you practice these Kingdom principles?
Living with an open hand
Blessing and giving thanks for what’s in your hand
Letting God lead by declaring ‘if the Lord wills it’?
Your faith will be stronger for it which will serve you as a passionate, devoted follower of Christ even while we recover from this pandemic passes.
I’d love to hear how you practice these Kingdom Principles in your life! Do you have any others?
Leave me a message on the WoW Tn Facebook page!