Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Enjoying life's journey

Recently, I have been reflecting on the saying, "life is a journey, not a destination."

I was having lunch with a friend who was intimately sharing with me some of the anxieties that have plagued her. Most of the fears she spoke about had to do with the future. She was caught up in trying to figure out the outcomes of various situations in her life.

Have you ever felt like that?

I shared with her my own journey to grow in trusting God with my relationships, my family, my finances, my career -- all the things He has destined me for. As I was reflecting on our conversation later in the evening, my spirit asked, am I so attached to the outcomes, the ending, that I am missing the process, the whole journey?

What if rather than looking at where I am not, I focused on where I am? I might realize that my life, right now, and every experience I am having is bringing me closer to my true self and to realizing all the things God has for me.  What a more joyous experience that would be! The fact is no man can discover anything about his future -- so what am I gaining by concentrating so much of my energy on how it is going to turn out? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

The question then becomes, how can I be present and enjoy life while on the journey?

Here are some things that I want to focus more on embedding in my everyday walk with God:

1) Stop resisting. Rather than fighting what may or may not be happening, be fully there in it. One of the ways I do this when I feel my body literally tightening up against something is to stop and begin to breathe. With each breath, I am reminding myself that I am here in this moment for a reason and that God is with me. In God I live and move and have my being. Breathing allows me to relax and open up to whatever is happening. Rather than letting my feelings overwhelm me, I can embrace them. Too often, we try to fight what we are feeling through denial but that just gives what we resist more power. We have to know what our burdens are in order to lay them down. As I breathe, I often will close my eyes and put my hand on my heart. By connecting with my heart, I am reminded of the God in me who loves me and who has designed all the days of my life. I am reminded that, with God there is no reason to fear, which is usually the cause of my resistance. The safety of that space allows me to feel my feelings. I allow each feeling to come and then I gently, prayerfully surrender them to God, thanking God for empowering me to overcome any obstacle or challenge that may come. This brings me to the next point…

2) Surrender. Akin to resisting, is to let go. Surrender whatever it is that you have been wrestling with to God. Let go and stay present with yourself, looking upon yourself with love and kindness and compassion. Remember that what you long for, what you need, and what will heal you is already yours, gifted to us from Him.

So often we are trying to hold on to a false sense of control when the most powerful thing we can do is to be still and know that He is God. When you do this, you will find that it’s not that the feelings, thoughts or situation will necessarily change - but your perception will! So many scriptures describe what happens when we trade our sorrow for the joy of the Lord:
  • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30).
  • You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3).
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Once you let go and seed your faith, just watch how God will move!

3) Show gratitude. Give thanks to the Lord! There are so many ways in which you can practice gratitude daily; including keeping a record/journal of all what you are thankful for, offering thanks verbally through prayer, or demonstrating kindness to those around you through acts of service.

Show gratitude by enjoying your life. Among the fruits of the spirit are joy; yet, so many people have never asked themselves the question, what brings me joy? Find the things that make you uniquely you and run with them. Delight in the gifts, people, opportunities He has given you. God gave us life -- how we dishonor Him by walking as the living dead. Rather than getting caught up in worry and anxiety about situations, we are invited to cast our cares on Him. This enables us to move on and take hold of what God has for us!

No matter what is happening in your life right now, each day, each moment is an opportunity for gratitude. We all know how to thank God when we perceive “good” things happening; but even those things that we feel distressed over should be cause for celebration. What we think as painful are often moments of great growth when God is preparing us for the next phase of our journey.

4) Last but not least, be confident! Remember who you are and who God is. Remind yourself of how God has consistently moved in your life. Do not underestimate the power of keeping a record – I guarantee God will come out on top! Last year, I created my own prayer box. I write specific prayers on a piece of paper and put it in a picture box I purchased – it is a symbolic way of physically releasing something to God. It’s amazing when I go back in the box and see how God has answered my prayer directly or made that prayer no longer relevant in my life. 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.

Be confident that God will do what He says He will do. Meditate on His word:
  • God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:2-3).
  • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9).
  • For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame. (Psalm 25:3a).
  • Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6). 

Yes, life is the journey not the destination – and it’s a beautiful journey indeed! Below you can find some musical inspiration. Be blessed!

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