Sometimes it is hard to have a long-term vision for your life and not grow impatient or ungrateful in the present. I think just as God exists as Three Distinct Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) we must think of our lives in three planes: the past, present, and future. We must thank God for our past—the lessons learned, the blessings provided—and our present—His provision and protection—and our future—His blessings and Sovereignty. And when we grow impatient in the present to remember, what God promises us will come to pass.
“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2: 3
Commentary (Life Application Study Bible, NIV): To trust God fully means to trust Him even when we don’t understand why events occur as they do.
As we are operating in our present and trusting God for next steps in our path, He is right there, ready to provide the tools we need.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
This wisdom will enable us to make the right choices and decisions to be in places where God intends us to be—where we can receive our blessings.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place where he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him to the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11: 8-10.
Commentary: Do not be surprised if God asks you to give up secure, familiar surroundings in order to carry out his will.
I don’t know your particular situation but as you work toward your next, I pray you thank God through your present, and give Him praise for carrying you through your past.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16
Knowledge is definitely power. In order to make changes, we need to become knowledgeable or exposed to things. I for one am grateful for Apple’s iOS update that included Screen Time stats. I set social media app time limits for each day and monitor my screen time from week to week to see if it has hopefully gone down. The reports are pretty detailed, and I can even see how often I pick up my phone and what is the first thing used when I do. I was surprised to see the first thing I usually go to are my messages (then email then Instagram, I’ll see if I can get Instagram down on the list!). I liked that my first thing was messages because I thought that showed some intentionality; I’m usually picking up my phone to respond to a message; otherwise its tucked away so I can be more productive. As much as I love scrolling through various timelines lately, I’ve been feeling like hmmm what else could I be doing? Could I be on a business or trade app reading up on the latest trends? Could I be reading a book for pleasure? (I’ve recently started Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration). Could I send a message to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while?
Moving forward I would like to be more intentional with my phone; and, more broadly speaking, more intentional with my time. I heard a great message from Pastor Toure Roberts recently about prayer (link below). A portion of the Lord’s Prayer is “Give us today our daily bread…” (Matthew 6: 11), each day has great value. Pastor reminds us that the most valuable day is not tomorrow or yesterday. If our greatest day was yesterday, why would God bring us into today? And tomorrow is not guaranteed. So we have to be intentional with the time we are given. It is said that procrastination is the arrogant assumption that God will give you another opportunity to do tomorrow what He anointed for you to do today. That really got me. Prayer is something that I’ve always struggled to do consistently well each day; but, now this is something I want to be more intentional about. Each day I want to seek God’s Wisdom on how He wants me to utilize the day. I’m confident if I intentionally seek God each day using the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-15) I will have a great year. I encourage you to be intentional and do the same. I’m sure your life will be blessed.
P.S. Let me know if you have any prayer requests
Link to Sermon: https://youtu.be/psUnwM0ZH_o
I’m generally not one for formal new year’s resolutions but often times I find myself reflecting going into the new year and resolving to make changes to my spiritual habits. Whether through a school break or a work vacation, I find myself with more time to reflect at the end of the year. For 2019, I want to use a prayer journal. For awhile I’ve been wanting to bolster my prayer life and say more meaningful prayers. My morning prayer time can be solid sometimes but in the evenings I find myself praying right before I go to bed when my energy is at its lowest. Doesn’t God deserve my full strength? My prayers would often follow a social media scrolling session or streaming time. I need to get back to prioritizing God over my screen time. So I’ll be praying earlier in the evening to make sure God gets my best.
I also noticed that I journaled and made requests to God about certain aspects of my life but not all. If I could see God moving so clearly in some areas of my life through my journaling what other things was I overlooking by not documenting it? Writing things down is so powerful and helps me see how God is moving in my life. I can see through journaling over the last few years how I prayed through my graduate school application process and got accepted to how I asked God for specific traits in a significant other and not two weeks later I met someone who exhibited all of them :) But I also want to move beyond myself in my prayers and see these same miracles in other people’s lives. This is way I am resolving to do a prayer journal for not only all aspects of my prayer life but for many aspects of others. I’ll also touch on community and world issues. I’m hopeful that throughout the year I will see God’s work and progress. I welcome you to join me in this journey.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on Earth agree on anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18: 19-20.
My spirit was stirred during a recent church service to restore back intimacy in my relationship with God. I caught myself on the other side of a storm and in a place of calm. It’s in the storm that I’m closest to God and my faith is the strongest. I always tell myself I want to be close to God whether I’m in the valley or on the mountaintop but inevitably I find myself drifting away during times of less resistance and struggle in my life. But I believe God is gracious and gently prods us to return to His presence during times of distance and when we seek Him out, He hears us.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33: 3)
Commentary: God is ready to answer our prayers, but we must ask for His assistance. Surely God could take care of our needs without our asking. But when we ask, we are acknowledging that He alone is God and that we cannot accomplish in our own strength all that is in His domain to do.
As I worked to restore my intimacy with God, I decided to journal. I enjoy journaling because I’ve always liked to read and write. I love to journal prayer requests and concerns because then I can look back and see how far God has brought me. I think embedded in our passions is the most intimate and natural way we can fellowship with God. As a writer and communicator, I feel closest to God when I’m journaling, blogging, reading commentary, or simply speaking with Him. For musicians, you’re highest form of intimacy may be when you’re strumming your guitar or humming; for outdoors people, it may be when you’re hiking or surfing. God is so great in that He’s made us all different; your fellowship with Him will look like no one else’s.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the Earth, your eyes saw my unformed body…” (Psalm 139: 14-16)
So as we are all unique, I encourage you to make your intimate time with God your own; whether you find yourself journaling, singing a song, painting; whatever it is I encourage you to continue to stimulate and grow your relationship with God. He is always there, patiently waiting for you to draw near.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4: 8)
This school year I moved into a new house. I went from sharing a bathroom with 2 people to having my own bathroom (while exciting in LA, definitely something I took for granted before I lived here)! My new bathroom allows me the privacy and time to take bubble baths. It took me a month into the new place before I took my first one but boy am I glad I did! It was so relaxing and refreshing; a moment to disconnect and recharge.
Disconnect from the world’s need to always be on and always respond right away; to incessantly scroll and like. And reconnect and recharge into God’s plan for my life. What is He trying to tell me at the moment? What messages was I missing with all the noise and interference? What instructions does He have for my next steps?
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:7)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5: 14-15
Commentary (NIV, Life Application Study Bible): When we communicate with God, we don’t demand what we want; rather we discuss with him what he wants for us. If we align our prayers to his will; he will listen; and we can be certain that if he listens, he will give us a definite answer. Start praying with confidence!
So I encourage you to find your quiet place; the place where you can disconnect and recharge.
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” Matthew 14: 22-24
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35
Jesus went to the mountainside, my new quiet place of choice is the tub, but yours can be wherever; God can meet you anywhere.
When I came to California I had an idea of what the first year of my MBA program would look like: I’d breeze through my classes, get an entertainment summer internship, and be THE sought out 2nd year to speak with when classes resumed in the fall. Whelp I was wrong on all accounts. While there have been many high moments in business school and great experiences there have also been many trials and struggles. Thankfully I was pretty solid on my sense of self before business school started but there would have to be a lot of professional growth that needed to take place in between business school years.
I had to get some tangible internship experience and I had to get my hunger back. When I first started the program, I would have been content interning at a big company and taking cute pics, but my naivety and immaturity probably wouldn’t have gotten me far in the role or helped in my campaign for full time positions. So God led me somewhere unexpected: an e-commerce art company, a position I almost didn’t apply for. It is in this role working alongside the company founder that I am being molded and equip. As the business is only comprised of myself and the founder I have a lot of responsibility and a vested interest in wanting to see the company succeed. As there are only two of us, there is nowhere to hide, no one to pick up my slack if the work doesn’t get done. I also take more pride in my work and try to make every minute count because I know my hourly rate is coming from an entrepreneur and not a major corporation. In my role, my voice is heard, and I get to wear a lot of hats. Creative direct a photoshoot? Sure! Reach out to potential business partners? Check! Find opportunities to participate in promotional events in the city? Got it! I know I wouldn’t have gotten this kind of varied experience anywhere else; like positions prior to business school I may have slipped through the managerial cracks and simply done my role, not seeking out additional projects or new ideas.
Furthermore, in regards to getting my hunger back, the process of landing a summer internship was long and full of many highs and lows. But I’m grateful to be in the mode of seeking out opportunities, keeping relationships warm, and constantly keeping my skills sharp as I will need this same energy to begin looking for full-time opportunities in the fall.
So as you go about your life and see things aren’t unfolding as they seem, look a little closer and see if God is redirecting you. That redirection may not mean you won’t get to your same final destination but God needed to take you a different route because there were some things He needed to show you along the way.
“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25: 4)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 56: 8-9)
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21: 2)
The 10-year mark since my car accident and traumatic brain injury fell during my Tokyo trip and on the same day as the royal wedding but I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect on May 19, 2008, and how far I’ve come since then. I’m grateful for the life I’ve been able to live since May 19, 2008. I went from possibly not living to see my high school graduation to graduating high school on-time with my class, to graduating Magna Cum Laude from college, working for 4 years in local news production, completing 1 year of a top-tier full-time MBA program, and traveling the world along the way. I speak a lot about my accident, so I’ll keep it short and reflect on 10 truths I’ve realized over the last 10 years:
I’m the middle child of three and I love it. While you may be the oldest, youngest, or even an only child…in a way you’re in the middle too. This point has become very clear to me as I’m in business school. On the one hand, I’m reaching above me to set up networking chats and meet and greets and on the other hand I’m being sought out for conversations about getting into business school and what it’s like once one enrolls. I’ve realized our time in the middle never stops. We’ll always be striving to advance while also propping open the door for those coming behind us.
Our spiritual growth is a continual journey of where we are, where we once were, and where we are heading.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 13-14)
Commentary (Life Application Study Bible, New International Version): Don’t dwell on your past. Instead, grow in the knowledge of God by concentrating on your relationship with him now. Realize that you are forgiven, and then move on to a life of faith and obedience. Look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life because of your hope in Christ.
The truth is we are always developing, and always growing into the person God would have us to be. Let’s keep running the race and encouraging those on the track with us. Let’s give it all we got and keep running til the end.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 6-8)
Since January I’ve been riding my bike to school a few days a week (thank goodness LA “winters” are mild!) and it has been an interesting experience. Prior to this year, I probably hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I bought a used mountain bike and it’s getting the job done but for a few weeks I was doing more work than I had to. The bike was in the wrong gear. I was peddling like mad but not getting anywhere. I felt slow and ridiculous on the sidewalk, praying no one I knew saw me passing by. Ok I’m being a bit dramatic, but I definitely wasn’t getting to class as efficiently. I had a suspicion I should shift my gears but it was awhile before I went from thought to action but when I did my biking experience was vastly changed. My commute to school was cut in half! When I went up to the next gear, my strength was greater utilized, and I was getting to where I needed to be faster.
The whole process reminded me of our relationship with God. How often do we exert excess energy/waste time when it could be so much easier? What are we resisting that while challenging could be the best thing for our lives? As scary as it may be to shift to the next gear…what blessings could we be missing out on because we’re not stepping out on faith?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
And with faith there will always still be challenges but an eventual reward.
“…Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. They were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11: 35-40)
So as we’re riding through life it is important that we continue to shift gears and grow in our faith.
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. And God permitting, we will do so.” (Hebrews 5:14, 6:1-3)
Now that I’m back in school full-time and not working, I have become much more resourceful. $17 for a spiral notebook at the campus bookstore? I think I’ll just scrounge together my unused paper from last semester. $500 a semester for a parking pass? I think I’ll buy a used bike and get my exercise. The examples go on and on; and, they go beyond money.
Recently, I’ve had to complete tasks that have really tested my resources. Things I always had the capacity to complete but probably wouldn’t complete if I had the choice to hand off to someone else like assembling and installing a new hubcap for my car or navigating the administrator portion of the business school website to create and share a campus event. These recent tasks showed me that I’m capable of so many things if I actually try. Instead of asking some guy for help I could (thanks to Youtube) properly install my retention ring and find where the valve stem was or figure out a new website interface. The new tasks also taught me independence and reminded me of the confidence that through God all things are possible.
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3: 4-5)
This newly discovered independence must be necessary for something God has tasked for me in the future. As I look toward to the future, to be ready—I must strengthen my knowledge and study of the Word.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17)
Not only will the Word equip us, it will bless us.
“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16: 20-21
Hi! I'm Marilyn!