Cardboard Blessings

Women had written on both sides of a piece of cardboard. As background music played, women walked in, one at a time, holding her sign in front of her. The side that showed to all of us in the room described a burden, struggle, or doubt that impacted her life and faith. There was some tough stuff: drug abuse, pride, self-doubt, a relative’s suicide, chronic illness, abuse, and more. Each woman carried her sign like a confession, a public admission that her life wasn’t perfect.

Something marred it and still impacted her life. In some cases, tears sneaked down a woman’s face as she walked in front of the room and down the center aisle. In many cases, tears streamed down the faces of those of us who read the sign and saw a glimpse of women’s hearts. Perhaps we were catching glimpses of our own hearts.

Then each woman flipped her sign to reveal something that had changed in her life, a way God had provided, a truth about who she has become, or a truth about God she is claiming because of who God is. The flip side revealed redemption and blessing. Each of the women’s lives is not tied up in a neat and tidy bow, but she has changed. God has provided and changed her even if her circumstances haven’t changed.

Tears still flowed but with a renewal, cleansing, and gratitude.

One person in the room had a different perspective. One person stood on the platform by the podium.

When women walked in, instead of seeing the burden or struggle, she saw the redemption. She saw the end result (or at least, the present result) before she saw what led up to it. She glimpsed the renewal, cleansing, and gratitude. She saw the redemption, regardless of what preceded it. She was already thankful for the result before knowing what led to it.

If only life was like her perspective and we could be assured that whatever we are enduring is worth the result.

Yet we can.

We may not know the specifics, but we can trust that God is redemptive, and He has a sovereign perspective. He knows how He will change us and how we will respond. He knows how we will rely on Him, and how we will give Him glory.

He. Knows. It. All.

He. Knows. You.

Trust Him. Seek His perspective.

Fit Faith: Frequency: My Special Day

Consistency is important, but sometimes it’s the special once-in-a-lifetime experiences that stand out. The very infrequency of something strikes it with a bright highlighter, illuminating it for later attention and recollection.

I rarely asked for anything special on Mother’s Day. I felt as if every day of the year was Mother’s Day, because I got to bask in the joys of being a mother. Yes, there were challenges every day, but in the context of the blessings, I could accept them and appreciate the opportunities I had.

One Mother’s Day, I surprised everyone by announcing there was just one thing I wanted: to load up everyone’s bikes and go for a ride on my favorite hiking path after church. No one was as excited about it as I was, but they entertained me. The girls weren’t very old, and they knew the bike ride would be long and challenging. Tim knew he wouldn’t be able to ride his bike at full speed with the rest of us along. But we packed a lunch and headed to the trail after church.

It was a glorious day for me, and no one else seemed to mind it much at all either. We rode five miles, stopped for a lunch break beside a small lake, and made the return trip. It was a gorgeous day.

Had I experienced bike rides with my family every weekend, I probably would have enjoyed some of the experiences and endured others – when someone would be grumpy or get hurt or the weather wasn’t ideal. As it was, I had one glorious day of memories with my family on our bikes on that path.

Something similar happens when we go on a retreat or attend a conference. We walk away rejuvenated and ready to tackle our lives with renewed energy and purpose. The infrequency makes these experiences impactful. We build time with God into our daily lives: devotions, prayer, accountability. While we benefit greatly from the consistenty, daily also means routine. When we’re at conferences and retreats, we step away from routine. While routine is excellent for discipline, occasional escapes encourage us to listen in fresh ways.

How can you capture renewed energy and purpose on limited time, money, and flexibility?

Here are a few thoughts:

Use your senses. Quietly reading your Bible is wonderful. Experiencing God’s Word through multiple senses helps us put an exclamation point on a verse. Consider how you can see, hear, and touch Scripture.

Use repetition. Carry your quiet time throughout the day with you. We too easy compartmentalize our time with God. Choose one key verse of the day and post sticky notes in places you’ll find them throughout your day. Set your cell phone alarm to vibrate hourly as a reminder to reflect and act on the verse.

Use social networking. De-compartmentalized your faith while engaging others. Tweet a verse each day on Twitter. Post a reflective question or action challenge on Facebook.

Whatever your approach, seek renewed energy and purpose with occasional escapes from routine. Listen to God in fresh ways. Open your ears to hear from God.

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. (Proverbs 8:34)