How often does it feel like the whole world is not only against you but reveling in your defeat? The psalmist, David, understood those feelings but also knew and declared the truth of who God is and who God says we are meant to be.
“Oh God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly;
my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
– Psalm 63:1
Word of the Year
At the end of 2019, I did what so many of us do – I reflected. I thought about what I’d accomplished in the year as well as the ways I’d grown and the many areas in life where I hadn’t achieved quite what I’d set out to do.
There’s been a trend for some time now for people to choose a word that will be their focus for the year. Sometimes it’s simply a word that a person chooses based on what they hope to accomplish, while some people seek God to give them a word. I’ve sought God in this process multiple times over the years but it seems like He wasn’t super keen on my approach. It’s equally possible that I just wasn’t being a good listener. It’s a problem I sometimes have. Can I get a witness?
This year, as I moaned and groaned to God about why He never gives me a word for the year (please tell me I’m not alone in sounding like a whiny kid when I talk to God), He answered. And man…how.
Standing in the shower, I felt a spiritual gut-punch like I’ve not often felt. And the word “Enough” hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew, hands down, that God was giving me exactly what I’d been begging for: a word to focus on.
Here’s how I knew: I’d spent the bulk of 2019 comparing myself with every other person around me. I compared myself to other podcasters, writers, speakers, musicians, needlework designers – all the fields I’m a part of. Daily I was feeding on everyone else’s success and instead of rejoicing with them in their victories, their accomplishments were rotting in my heart and festering into an emotional bile that left me feeling more bitter than blessed by being surrounded by people that are walking in their gifts with grace and purpose.
That day in the shower, this is the conclusion I felt like God was bringing me to: I, Brandy, am enough. The call that God has placed on my life is enough. The talents He has given me and the ability He’s given me to grow those talents, is enough. The arena He’s put me in, no matter its shape or size is enough. And above all…He is Enough.
Thus began my year of Enough.
Enough is Enough
But Friends, we are in February and I am here to tell you, that when God gives you a thing to focus on, He won’t quit just because you think you’ve learned the lesson. If that were the case, I’d have been good two weeks into January when all of the above truths were affirmed at a women’s worship night I attended at a local church.
Instead, here’s where we are now, God and I.
After my shower revelation, aka Holy Spirit gut-punch, I sat down and made a plan to read through the Bible in a year. Mind you, I’ve done this before, though not in some time. Not only is reading through the Bible a good practice to develop but it also seemed like a really sound way to be reminded of all the ways God is faithful and how He truly is Enough. So, I did some research, found the Bible reading plan I wanted to use, transferred January’s reading into my faith journal where my plan was to keep track of reading, my prayers and gratitude, as well as write Sunday sermon notes and a little reflection at the end of every week. It all seemed so simple.
Until January 4th hit. There was nothing special about that particular day. I just didn’t read. No big deal…I can make that up easily on the 5th. Oops…..well…. Now it’s January 12, I have 9 days of reading to do and listen…I do NOT have time for that!
Less than 2 weeks in and I’d already failed miserably. Again.
In fact, the only part of my faith journal that I’ve managed to be consistent with up to now is keeping my sermon notes. For some reason, finding – or rather making – the time to sit down and read my Bible for 15-20 minutes a day has been impossibly difficult. So much so, that here we are nearly done with February and I’m still working on finishing January’s reading. Oy vey.
Give Lent a Chance
But…yesterday marked the first day of Lent. Now, I’m not a Catholic and have never been very big on the kinds of traditional observances of our more liturgical brethren, but this year I attended our church’s Ash Wednesday service and decided to give Lent a try while I reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf so that I could know God intimately and eternally.
Once again, I found myself in the shower whining to God about what to give up for Lent. (God probably wishes I didn’t shower so much as I seem to get very needy then). I went through a litany of things I could give up: TV time. No. Soda. Nope. Listening to podcasts. What??? Social Media. Uh-uh. The list went on and on and my heels dug in.
Finally, after days of praying and considering, I landed on the thing. I’m giving up my time.
What does that even mean?
Giving Up and Gaining More
I’ll tell ya. It means that instead of jumping right into work before I’ve even gotten dressed (working from home is a blessing and a curse), or rather than watching YouTube for an hour while I cross stitch because that’s my therapy or any of the other million distractions I can find, I am devoting 40 minutes for 40 days over to God.
Here’s what that looks like for me: Given that my work mostly keeps me in front of a computer all day, I am lacing up my sneakers, grabbing my earbuds and phone and taking a stroll through our neighborhood while I listen to an audio Bible app. Three birds; one stone. I get physical exercise, God’s word seeps into my heart, and I might…might…even get caught up on my Bible reading plan.
If I want to fully understand what it means for me to be enough and more importantly what it means for God to be enough, I have to spend time hearing from God. I have to see the myriad ways He has been enough to millions of people before me, how His faithfulness is certain and that no matter what storms life may throw at me, God is a safe refuge for me to trust in.
What about You? Is there anything you’ve decided to let go of during this season of Lent? What about your resolutions? Are you keeping them? Tell me how I can pray for you – I’d be honored to lift you up before our God.
Joy in the midst of suffering. That’s what David, as the Psalmist, shows us time and time again. When all is going well, David sings his praises to the Lord. When he is feeling pressed by his enemies, He cries out to God reminding himself of God’s promises and His faithfulness to deliver.
Whether you are on the mountain-top of life or feeling crushed by the weight of the world, you have a great defender, a God who will respond to your cries and be glorified in your praise.
It’s time to take a few minutes to rest and reflect on God’s provision. Even in the storms of life, when we are hard-pressed, feel alone and defeated, we have a Refuge in Jesus. He is an immovable force, unshakable and unbreakable. He is for His people and passionate about pursuing our hearts, even into the darkest corners.
Christmas is a magical time of year full of sparkle and anticipation. It’s easy to get distracted with the gifts and the carols and food and fun. With that in mind, how do we get quiet enough to really celebrate the birth of our Savior? What does it mean to experience God?
Join me this week for a conversation with the host of the podcast, Halfway There and author of “Jesus is Willing: An 8 Day Experience,” Eric Nevins as we dive into how to more fully experience God this Christmas holiday. You’ll learn a great way to spend meaningful time in scripture without feeling overwhelmed and pressured to ‘do it right.’
These are quick little stops along the way, as we go along on our journey of faith and understanding of who God is and who he says we are to Him. May they bless you as you meditate on God’s work throughout the week.
Special thanks to the 126ers for the use of their song “Rainy Days” as the intro and outro.
Join Matt and Brandy this week as they talk about Bible reading and prayer – two of the greatest ways to navigate your faith. They’ll talk about things that have worked in the past and where they’re at now practicing these spiritual disciplines. You might be shocked!
Bible Apps for your phone (and maybe your computer): You Version Bible App – A great resource for multiple versions of scripture as well as a variety of reading plans and reminders to help you keep track.