Hardships and Trials, Resting in Christ, surrender

Peace in the Stress

I’m stressed—and I mean capital-S stressed. Do you feel me? Have you been there, too?

My to-do list overflows beyond anything I can comprehend. The days are blurring one into the next. I’m so frazzled. I can’t even remember what I need at the grocery store, let alone whether that event with my daughter is tonight or tomorrow (and I’ve checked my calendar four times today).

It’s enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. (Oh, wait—maybe that’s what this is!) Kidding. Sort of.

I started out this year with one word in my heart: Peace. We’re not even halfway through February and I feel like a hypocrite. Who carries on about peace in one’s heart when they’re so stressed and busy they don’t even know what day of the week it is?

Is it even possible to have peace when we are stressed out?

Good news: we can have peace in the stress, in the crazy-busy, and even in the downright bad.

How? Because of Jesus.

We can have peace in the stress, in the crazy-busy, and even in the downright bad. How? Because of Jesus. Click To Tweet

This isn’t a platitude; it’s a perspective switch. I used to think I could weather storms by hanging on and “being strong.” Now I know there’s only one way I can make it through—by clinging to Jesus, who gives me true peace.

Every day we have a choice as to how we look at the world. Sometimes our view is near-sighted—all we can see are the details, the to-do list, the piddly (and not-so-piddly) concerns. Other times, we get a glimpse of the big picture, a “God’s eye” view. And that’s the key.

Even when we are caught up in the difficult daily details, such as a sick child or a looming deadline or a catastrophic phone call, Christians can trust there is a bigger plan at work—far bigger than what we are going through.

While my life might be out of control and stressful today, I choose to rest in an important truth: I am God’s daughter. I follow Jesus and have the Holy Spirit in my heart. That means His plan is my ultimate plan—even when I can’t see His plan.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV).

And in the Gospel of John, He says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

My daily life might be hard right now. But at the end of it all, it’s just a piece of God’s grand jigsaw puzzle. God’s master plan.

My daily life might be hard right now. But at the end of it all, it’s just a piece of God’s grand jigsaw puzzle. Click To Tweet

I can have peace even in the stress by reminding myself I am His. I serve a mighty, mighty God of heaven and earth and everything else in the universe. His way is the priority. When I can step outside myself and allow myself to know and trust this, I have true rest.

When I can step outside myself and trust I belong to Jesus, I have true rest. Click To Tweet

Do you have trouble coping with stress? How do you handle this?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free ecopy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE. 

Resting in Christ, security

Perfect Vision 20/20

book image for Kimi's post

I don’t recall there ever being as much anticipation and excitement for a new year as there was surrounding 2020: “20/20! It’s the year of perfect vision!” Now, nine months in, “perfect” is far from the list of words most would choose to describe it.

Maybe it’s all in how you see it.

I’m quite dependent on my glasses to see. Some people are nearsighted (only able to see things up close) and others are farsighted (only able to see things far away). Lucky me, I’m a bit of both. So, when I say “quite dependent,” I mean in every possible way – not just to read, or drive, or at night. Without them, I can’t even see my reflection in the mirror. (All of which makes paying the extra dollars for ultra-ultra-thin lenses––so my glasses don’t look like two magnifying glasses strapped to my face––totally worth it!)

A lot like my glasses, the Holy Spirit helps me apply God’s truth from the Bible to my life so I can see more clearly. Without His help, my interpretation of things is often a bit blurry and out of focus.  Just like being physically near-sighted, there are times when my spirit can’t concentrate on anything other than what’s right in front of me; when this happens, I’m not able to see the bigger picture God is painting. Then there are times when my spirit feels far-sighted; in these moments I become so focused on what’s further down the road – good or bad – I miss experiencing the beauty He has planned for me in the present.

Proverb 4:25 states, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” Click To Tweet

Through this verse, the Holy Spirit helps me readjust my vision to see what is important. He reminds me of the infinite plan – the bigger picture – as well as all the finite details He’s orchestrating in every moment revealing His glory. This verse gives me reason to decide on what I want to see: I can continue looking at the things that bring me worry, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness, or I can turn my gaze to the One that brings hope and peace.

I read the Bible because I need God to reassure me of Who He is. Click To TweetWhen I concentrate on Him – when I read about His love, His goodness, His sovereignty, His faithfulness, and His sunset, Kimi's quote 2justice – everything that once seemed chaotic and out of order begins falling into place. I guess, in a way, help from the Holy Spirit and the Bible is like putting on “lenses of eternity” – helping me to see things more clearly from a heavenly perspective.

So maybe this is the year for perfect vision after all. Maybe this year – this wild, messy, upside down, Jumanji-like year – is an opportunity to decide what lenses to look through. I wonder, if in the midst of upset, heartbreak, turmoil, uncertainty, and death, God is opening our eyes to see awakenings of peace, wholeness, clarity, certainty, and life… in Jesus. Click To Tweet

Perhaps, in the stripping away of what was convenient and normal, God inserted an invitation of appreciation for that which is difficult and extraordinary. Maybe He’s given us a choice to see beauty up close and faraway all at the same time. And while the view from where we stand may not be perfect it does give reason to look for His perfect plan. It gives reason for us to look for Jesus.

Some thoughts to ponder:

What lenses have you been using to see 2020?

How has this perspective made you more Christlike? What might God be using in 2020 to help you see with greater clarity?

The next time you find yourself looking at your struggles with lenses that bring about worry, anxiety, and fear, try “changing your glasses” for His. Reflect on His truth, and rest your eyes on the One Who sees it all.

 

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Get to know the author!
Kimi Miller's headshot Kimi Miller is a California native who grew up in the Midwest. She is a United States Air Force veteran and former pastor of women’s ministry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication and a master’s degree in Christian Ministry with a concentration in Theology. She spends most days caring for her home and family, their two high-strung cattle dogs, and working part-time as a secretary at the local police department; although her most favorite pastime is conversing with her friends over coffee. One of her many God-sized dreams is to organize a free city-wide women’s ministry event that spreads the love and hope only found in Jesus. Her laughter is contagious, as is her passion for the Word of God. You can connect with Kimi through her blog www.kimimiller.com.
Faith, Hearing God, Resting in Christ, security

Stuck in the Middle of a Mess

Have you ever been stuck in the middle of a mess, then out of nowhere comes exactly the help you need?

Between academic overload and heavy work commitments, our lives are incredibly busy and structured, so our family tries to plan a couple of weeks of fun every summer. This year, coronavirus restrictions hindered travel, so we teamed up with my sister’s family and rented a huge lake house in our community, complete with canoes, kayaks, and a 10-person pontoon boat, plus a giant boat tube perfect for pulling five shrieking teens and preteens for hours in the summer sun.

Our vacations are as much for us parents as for the kids—sometimes we, too, need to get a bit wild (within reason!) given our intense workload. So, when my kids begged me to hop on the tube, too, I couldn’t resist.

“Sure!” I shrugged to their delight. My sister shot me are-you-crazy-you-could-get-killed daggers and my husband, who was driving the boat, got that gleam in his eye that meant he was going to ensure I got drenched.

The water felt glorious on my skin as I stepped gently off the boat onto the giant rubber tube, settled carefully next to my stepson, grabbed the tube’s handles, and gave the go-ahead nod.

And then we were off! While my head knew we weren’t going crazy-fast, it certainly felt like we were zipping along at a million miles per hour. “This is the best!” my stepson screeched in glee as we bumped along the surface, water spraying in my eyes and mouth. All I could do was hang on tight as we circled around and around, my family cheering us on from the boat and my legs smacking against the waves of their own free will.

Then whoosh! With a tremendous zing, a wave washed me clean off the tube. There I was, coughing up water, looking like a wet rat, and bobbing like a buoy in my red-white-and-blue lifejacket smack in the center of Lake Murray, South Carolina.

Surely they saw me fall, I told my worried inner self. And, indeed, they had. In moments, the pontoon circled back to pick up first my stepson, then me.

“How was it?” my daughter asked with a wicked grin.

I shook the water out of my ears and gave her a high-five. “Fantastic! Who’s riding with me next?”

Of course, it was fantastic—because everything ended well. I’d fallen off the tube into the center of a clean, safe lake, wearing a life jacket, knowing rescue in the form of my loving husband and family was minutes away.

But there’ve been times in my life when I’ve “fallen off the tube” in the center of the lake of life, with all sorts of unknown and possibly deadly terrors lurking beneath the surface and no rescue in sight. I’ve been in emotional peril and, once or twice, physical danger, too.

Those moments have been scary and almost paralyzing. Divorce. Poverty. Spiritual wilderness. Debilitating illness. I’ve sat at loved ones’ hospital beds and deathbeds, sat vigil long into the night not knowing what rescue, if any, would come.

Sometimes the outcomes have been fine. Sometimes my prayers have been answered. Sometimes not.

Yet, stuck in the middle of the proverbial water, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, remains with me. Even when I didn’t know He was there, He was with me. Even when He didn’t resolve the situation in the way I wanted, He was there, working all things for the ultimate good. By my side. No matter what.

Stuck in the middle of the proverbial water, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, remains with me. Even when I didn’t know He was there, He was with me. Click To Tweet

In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul reminded the early church that they were once dead—stranded in the center of the dark and scary lake, drowning from the weight of their sins and the evils of this often-cruel world. But through faith in Christ and the good, saving mercy of our Father God, they’d received a “life jacket” and access to the Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity.

As Paul wrote, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV).

We all get stuck in the middle of the lake sometimes. Often, there’s a happy resolution. Sometimes, there’s hardship. We might feel alone, and we might worry about the outcome.

But rest assured: in Jesus, we always have rescue, whether on this side of eternity or the next.

In Jesus, we always have rescue, whether on this side of eternity or the next. Click To Tweet

 

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Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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And before you go … have you grabbed your free e-copy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

freedom, God's Will, Intentional growth, obedience, Resting in Christ

Learning to Live in the Now

Image of candles

Learning to depend on God’s plan, not my own, is a constant struggle, and these last few months with the pandemic have made that painfully obvious.

I’ve been both completely aggravated and wildly liberated this spring and summer by the inability to plan—well, pretty much anything. And it’s teaching me a lot about what it means to be dependent on God and live in the moment.

By nature, I’m a planner, which is where the frustrating part comes in. I keep multiple calendars, including six different categories of calendars on my iPhone, a hard copy calendar on my desk and another on my fridge. This doesn’t include the daily to-do list by my side. This all probably sounds completely obnoxious to some of you, I’m sure, but I’m a busy woman and a working mom. For me, it’s how I do life.

Yet as a Christian I’m well aware my craving for a plan is all too often an exercise in futility. We humans mistakenly believe we are “in control” and that planning can put the chaos of life into a tidy little box. That is an illusion, for only God is in control. I know this intellectually. Still, my mind often all-too-conveniently forgets this, especially in times of stress when I crave a plan, order, structure, and routine.

It’s as if the plan, not God, reigns supreme. Ouch.

At the beginning of the year, I had a grasp of how 2020 would probably go—a hot mess of travel between work and a host of family commitments, not to mention the day-to-day juggle of business meetings, church activities, school events, youth theater, and everything else that sucks up all our time. When the pandemic hit and all those things were forcibly paused, I’ll admit I was a bit relieved. For the first time in what felt like eons, I had unexpected free time.

It was both freeing and frighteningly chaotic.

As a planner, this was good for me—really good. I soon trained my brain and my heart to let go of the nonessentials, to let each day dictate what was to come courtesy of God, not Jessica.

When life started getting more normalized and our state began to reopen, that familiar go-go-go began to rise up again inside of me. I found myself impatient again, wondering “exactly when” we’d do this or that.

How quickly I started to forget the most important lesson the pandemic taught me: let go of the steering wheel and let God be the driver.

How quickly I started to forget the most important lesson the pandemic taught me: let go of the steering wheel and let God be the driver. Click To Tweet

God created us to lean on Him and be in a dependent relationship with Him. I struggle to remember this on a daily basis.

Yet Scripture assures me repeatedly that God is the one in control, not me.
God created us to lean on Him and be in a dependent relationship with Him. I struggle to remember this on a daily basis. Yet Scripture assures me repeatedly that God is the one in control, not me. Click To Tweet

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV).

Graphic quote: we're to let Christ live through us.

And, as He says in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Faith is about surrendering control, about understanding that control is an illusion. The only plan that matters is God’s plan.

Faith is about surrendering control, about understanding that control is an illusion. The only plan that matters is God’s plan. Click To Tweet

And God sees how this year, this decade, this century will play out with a perspective only God has. I cannot possibly understand all that God’s plan entails, or even why. All I can do is my part to bring myself into alignment with His plan and work to serve Him and spread His holy truth. All I can do is walk on the path God has laid out for me, and bring myself back on that pathway if ever I walk astray.

I think the Bible’s King David might have felt the same way I feel. For much of his life prior to his rule, David—while God’s anointed—lived on the fringe, his guard up constantly because King Saul resented, feared and envied him. For a time, he was forced to live in the wilderness, taking refuge in caves and other hiding places. Maybe he, too, fancied himself a planner, wanted to be able to say, “Next year, we will go here and do this,” or, “Next week, we will achieve that.” Instead, he lived on the run. Perhaps he felt forgotten or irrelevant. Perhaps he struggled with giving over his plans to God.

Yet the psalms, thought largely to be written by David, are filled with verses that acknowledge God’s reign and almighty power, a power we can trust and shelter beneath. Take a look at these three just as an example:

Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Psalm 28:7-8, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

And Psalm 62:6-8, “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Again and again, the message is clear: I can trust God. God is my refuge. God is in command.

Today is a good day, for today I remember the truth: When it comes to a choice between my petty human pride about all I plan and want to do, and heeding God’s plan, I choose the latter. God’s way is the better way—the only way for me.

When it comes to a choice between my petty human pride about all I plan and want to do, and heeding God’s plan, I choose the latter. God’s way is the better way—the only way for me. Click To Tweet

One day, maybe life will go back to the kind of existence I feel I can “manage” with multiple calendars, to-do lists, life goals and more. But right now, God is showing me a new challenge—what I call a “no plan” challenge.

And it’s good for my soul.

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free e-copy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

Resting in Christ

God Sees You––Video Devotion by Kat Lewis

Do you feel unseen and unheard? Does it appear, sometimes, like God is inattentive to your prayers? If so, we hope this video devotion by Kat Lewis encourages you. Read the full chapter this devotion is based on HERE.

If this video encouraged you, make sure to check out our Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which covers the full story surrounding Sarah, Abraham, Hagar, and most importantly, our God who sees.

Find the free ebook version HERE.
Find the print version HERE.
You can also find our latest devotional, Anchored and Secure, HERE.

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.