One Answer to One Million Questions

What am I doing wrong?

Where do I go from here?

How do I know everything is going to work out okay?

How do I know You’re listening to me?

How do I know if I’m doing Your Will?

We have one million questions that plague our thoughts throughout our lives. Life questions hit us at every stage, whether we’re wondering about in which ministry to become involved as a teen, which college to attend, which career to choose, or to which part of the city we should relocate with the best schools and safest community for our children. It seems the possibilities and answers for each scenario are endless. But there is only one answer that suits them all.

(5) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

(6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

Often, we find ourselves trying to figure things out and predict what might happen using our own logic and rationale. Even though we may have hated math or not excelled at it in school, we’re still using equations to find the answers to our questions.

If a equals b and b equals c, then c equals the a(squared) scenario, which means I shouldn’t take out that loan, I should go into accounting, and I’m probably allergic to dairy.

Perhaps I’m one of the only ones who goes into Sherlock Holmes mode when deciphering questions and answers regarding various scenarios, but if you can relate to this even a smidgen, here’s something I tell myself that may help you:

Stop trying to figure things out on your own.

It hurts your brain, and it may be making your hair grayer. (Okay, maybe that last one only applies to me, but it’s food for thought.)

But also, it prevents you from completely surrendering yourself to God. If I find myself still trying to figure things out and so stressed out that I can’t focus during my prayer time because I’m still thinking about scenario a(squared), it’s most likely because I still haven’t decided to let God take care of it. I may say, “Lord, let Thy Will be done,” but there’s still a part of me that isn’t really sure it will work out, and so I’m performing mental algebra to decode the answer to my question. Sometimes, trusting in Jesus wholeheartedly requires a daily exercise that involves reminding myself of how little I truly understand. Man’s intelligence amounts to nothing when we consider the infinite amount of knowledge and wisdom God has.

Jesus is the answer to every life question and every struggle we may experience. In fact, all the answers we seek lie within His Word and in His Presence. We see through a glass darkly, but if we acknowledge God and declare His Glory and Power in all our ways, then He will make our paths straight and prosperous.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28 (KJV)

Going Deeper

Have your prayers ever seemed like a one-sided laundry list of your problems, preventing you from going deeper in your relationship with God?

“So, God, I have this problem with this thing that just won’t go away, and this has been happening, and this person has brought ‘x’ situation to my attention, and I don’t understand why they don’t seem all that concerned, and why won’t so-and-so do this one thing that I really wish they would do that would help us with that other situation, and ugh, God, my finances have been so tight lately, and I’m super busy, and it’s like I don’t have any time to get anything done during the day, and it seems I can’t find the time to really connect with You when I have all this stuff going on, and then there’s so-and-so’s health that we’re really concerned about, and this country’s problems, and my church stuff, and school, and work, and so many other things, and I just need You to help me out with it all, and oh, look at the time! I’ve got so much to do today, and I’m already exhausted. Okay, God, if You could just take care of it all today, that’d be great. Thanks. Okay, bye!”

Perhaps each of us have been here in our walks with God (most likely more than once) when life overwhelms us, but how often do we simply devote our prayer time to just worshipping God? Sometimes, when I’ve been overwhelmed with life, I often find my prayer time doesn’t take me deeper in my walk with Him because I’m going over all my problems and making myself more concerned about how “x” will go. But I always find myself wanting to go deeper.

How do we go deeper when life consumes us? Worship.

“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of his holiness.” ~Psalms 29:2 (KJV)

Worship helps us take our mind off our troubles and puts our focus on God, ushering us into His Presence. We can easily overlook the worship part of our prayers and our church services when we’re busy and preoccupied, but we should endeavor to break this habit and worship Him more when life goes all 2020 on us. We may worship God in various ways, but one way that helps me get in the spirit of worship is through song.

When Paul and Silas were in prison, did they give God a laundry list of their problems? No.

They sang praises to God.

(23) “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

(24) Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

(25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” ~Acts 16:23-25 (KJV)

It is when we worship God in spite of our problems that we find more peace and reassurance in Him when life gets overwhelming.

“I come to You, Lord, time and time again,

Needing answers to questions I don’t understand,

But today, Lord, I come to You, asking nothing in return.

I want to love You, just let me love You.”

(“Let Me Love You” by Clint Brown)

Worship helps us let go of our worries and cares, give them to God, and instead focus on His greatness. Worship is essential because it takes our focus completely off the self and onto Him.

“Take us to deep, deep places

Where all we can see is You.

Let us see open Heaven

With angels surrounding You.”

(“Deep Places” by William McDowell)

Worship takes us to a place where we don’t see our troubles, where we instead see the glory of our King. Worship helps us put in the time with God to develop a closer walk with Him as we focus on Him more and less on ourselves.

“I decrease as You increase

It’s all about You! It’s not about me.”

(“More, Holy Spirit” by Covenant Worship)

Worship is when we recount all the great things He’s done and reflect on how great He is. Worship is when we declare His power and might, and as we do so, our faith increases, our love for Him increases, and we grow spiritually. He takes us to a level of pure praise and worship and invites us into His Throne Room. Pure worship to God is when He fills us up with His Spirit until we overflow.

The Spirit of God is something of which we can never have too much.

No one ever says to God, “You know, I think that’s enough. I’ve got a lot of Your Spirit in me. I don’t think I need anymore. I’m good, thanks.”

We can never have too much or enough of Him, but we always need more of Him because we don’t have enough strength on our own to get through life’s struggles. Going deeper in a relationship with God requires that we surrender our desire to control everything, approach His Thone in worship, and give it all to Him.

“Fill me up till I overflow

I wanna run over, I wanna run over!

Fill me up, God; fill me up, God; fill me up, God; fill me up!”

(“Fill Me Up/Overflow Medley” by Tasha Cobbs)

If you’re struggling with going deeper in your relationship with God, then in your next prayer session or during the next church service, devote that time to pure worship to God and see the change in your spirit. Notice the change in your outlook on life and your love for Him when you spend more of your time praising Him for His mercy and love and might.

Worship is the key to that secret place with God. All it requires of us is our surrender, and that is the place where things change and where He takes us deeper.

Our True Value

30% off sales galore
On toys and clothes from every store!
Hurry to get them before they’re all gone
When the Black Friday shoppers battle at dawn!

Shopping carts clash and fights become petty;
You buy all the things but run out of money.

~a poem by yours truly. Quite Shakespearean, don’t you think?

•••••

Black Friday has commenced once again, and I may have bought fuzzy socks on sale, but even I have to remind myself every year that “things” are not why we’re here. If we’re not careful, we can become obsessed with buying and acquiring all the things we think we want–shoes, appliances, boats, new hunting gear, or whatever we’ve set our sights on. Before we know it, materialism has consumed our pocketbook and corrupted our sense of value. Many consumers wind up finding their happiness in the things they acquire as though they’ve won trophies and have elevated their own social status.

But we do tend to equate a person’s value with the things they own or the amount of money they have. If a person has a bigger house, better car, or money for elaborate vacations every year, we think they’re more important or special than us. They mean more because they’re “worth” more. However, our value is not found in things but in our salvation and in Christ. This material, physical, tangible world will not remain forever, and sometimes we must remind ourselves not to make idols of the things we may possess.

(19) “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
(20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:”

~Matthew 6:19-20, KJV

Although shopping in itself is not an evil thing and neither is money, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Instead of finding our value in the things we can’t take with us to Heaven, we must remember that to God we are all worth saving in spite of what we may or may not have. The poor man is as special and valuable to God as the rich man. Our home is in Heaven and our worth is in Christ. So, while all the things we may have are okay and are often gifts from God, they are not what determines our value in life.

I love clothes and shoes and hats like many girls, but I know that whether I’m wearing that expensive, pretty, new dress that is all the rave or not, my worth does not change to God. I know that we should all instead strive to remind ourselves this time of year to remember what’s truly important and why we’re celebrating this season. We celebrate Christmas not for the things we can buy but to commemorate the birth of the One who thought we were worth saving. Jesus came to save the poor, the lost, the broken, the lonely, the hurting. He is our treasure, and Heaven is our goal.

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

~Colossians 3:2 (KJV)

Constant

In the age of 2020 in which everything seems to be rapidly spiraling out of control, it’s often difficult to find comfort to still our nerves and calm our anxious minds.

As a recent college grad, my conversations with God often involve questions about my future and wonderings about life, meaning, and purpose in a world that chaos consumes. There’s so much noise in this world that tries, and sometimes succeeds, to cancel out those quiet moments—quiet moments to focus on God, His Word, and what He wants. Frankly, I’d love a pair of noise-canceling headphones to shut up those obnoxious thoughts sometimes.

This summer, I read through Genesis and studied the first women of the Bible, and as I read one passage in particular, I came across a small nugget of revelation that gave me a bit of comfort I hadn’t expected. After the Flood and after Noah and his family left the Ark on Mt. Ararat, God made a promise:

Genesis 8:21-22

21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

When I finished reading these verses, I couldn’t help but feel comfort in the fact that a promise God made near the beginning of time after the Great Flood is a promise that has lasted for all time, the evidence of which I can see simply by looking out my window and into my front yard. Every time I feel the heat of summer and the cold wind whipping in my face in fall and winter, every time I see the leaves changing colors from green to red and orange or new flowers budding on barren tree limbs, and every time I see the sun rise and fall, I am reminded of God’s promise of constant comfort and stability in Him, knowing that while everything else is falling apart, I can find comfort in His Faithfulness.

At the beginning of time, He made the promise that from that moment forward there would always be the changing seasons on earth. It would be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. There would always be day, and there would always be night. While other things on earth might change, these things would never cease. And here we are near the end of time, and all we have to do to see the evidence of God’s promise is to look outside, and there it is. We find our source of comfort, our constant in life in Him and His Word. He is faithful and true.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, oh God.

Seasons of Change

God is a poet—really. His Word is chock full of the most poetic verses ever written, and some of the most beautiful poetry exists in my favorite passage of Scripture below.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

(1) “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

(2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

(3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

(4) A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

(5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

(6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

(7) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

(8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

I can’t pick one favorite verse from the Bible because, quite frankly, there are too many poignant verses from which to choose! But the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes chapter three is my favorite passage for its poetic beauty and the message it carries. No matter what season of life you’re in, there’s a new season coming that will bring birth, growth, healing, and laughter.

Yes, there are bad seasons in life—far too many it seems—but every bad season has an end (looking at you, 2020). Unfortunately, even some good seasons come to an end, a fact which yours truly does not appreciate because change is hard. When things are great, I want them to stay that way, but then life happens, and my happy, great little life gets uprooted and everything is different. That’s why I take comfort in Ecclesiastes chapter three.

There may be death, but there’s also birth.

There may be a season of uprooting things, but there’s also a season of planting and growth.

There may be times when we can’t hold back the tears, but joy comes in the morning!

With the change of seasons comes the promise and hope of new growth and life. It may be an unsettling time right now, but we can rest in the hope of new life in Jesus and peace in His Presence.