Sunday, October 10, 2010

WARNING: Curveballs ahead...

This last spring, when I was a student at Corban College, I attended a women's conference. One of the speakers was talking about life's curveballs, how when things in life happen that we don't expect it's easy - and oftentimes our first instinct - to just hide away and try to fix it yourself.. I know that I find myself doing that when I get overwhelmed or scared.  This woman talked about a situation in her life where she didn't even know if her daughter would live to see the next morning - this situation lasted for almost a year at least.  She came to a point where she was so physically and emotionally overwhelmed that she just broke down in tears in her bedroom, too exhausted to do anything else. . . She was broken, tired, unsure of how to proceed, and feeling far from God.  

She told us that just before her breakdown she was given a small trinket with a scripture reference on it,  Romans 15:13. It reads:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
She didn't think much of it, in fact she discarded it after glancing at the passage. It was not on her thoughts again until the night she broke. God used that verse to remind her who her life preserver was that night. From this I see the fragility of the human experience, how easy everything comes crashing down. . .

I took detailed notes of each class I attended that day, but filed them away somewhere w/o another thought.  I remembered to call my mother and share some thoughts with her about it but other than that it was just a pleasant memory.  This verse, however, began popping up everywhere I turned it seemed.  As I look back now, I see it as God moving - with each reference to the verse it was being engrained into my memory, making a permanent home in my head. 

Although I now remembered the words to this verse I, for some reason I'm not quite sure of, regarded it only as a nice way of remembering the conference - not as something that I could also use to hang on to when times got overwhelming in my life. I suppose I didn't think that anything in my life that would be that unexpected to me. Everything seemed in order: schooling, finances were tight but manageable, relationships were good at the time in every aspect, etc. But, as each of us knows, things happen --> Life happens.<-- Things occured that fit into the good as well as the bad and what came as a surprise to me was that I continually found that both were overwhelming to me at times.  

None of this may make any sense to you at all... but what I want to emphasize in this post is not what makes a good memory verse or what verses can be used to make you feel better when you're sad or frustrated with life. I want to emphasize the words of this verse. "May the God of hope FILL you with JOY and you TRUST... so that you may OVERFLOW with the power of the HOLY SPIRIT."  

In my understanding, God does not want to be the go-to-guy/back up plan whenever things go wrong.  He wants to be ever present in our lives. He wants to fill us. In fact, He wants us to be constantly filled. As the pastor I heard this morning said, we should be like sponges - soaking up all He has for us.  In this case, soaking up all the hope that we can get from the God of hope. He will give us the peace and joy we so desperately desire, and like the pastor also said, sponges have flaws, just like we do. They leak and need to be consistently refilled in order for them to stay filled.  God will keep us filled to the point of overflowing if we would only go to Him everyday. 

Now, though this is advice I hold in the highest respect, I am guilty of not holding to this practice.  I am human like the rest of you and with God's help I am working on it but it is not always easy. There is something that really jumped out at me from the verse: " the power of the Holy Spirit."  To me this says: "hey! quit trying to do it yourself because it's never gonna happen! It's through Him and Him ALONE!"  I think I should write that down somewhere and post it in a place I'll see it everyday because no matter how many times I say that to myself I never seem to quite get it, you know? It's so true though. All that I've talked about in this post, all we can achieve through going to Christ daily, is not possible through our strength or power.  Only through His.  Remember that next time you're struggling. (Ps. 46:10 might also be a good reminder verse for you if this is the case!)

Growing up, my family and I loved listening to a group called the Winans (To this day Cece Winans is one of my all-time favorite artists!) and one of our very favorite songs by them was entitled, "Count It All Joy."  I want to leave you with a link to this song.  It is based on James 1:2-4. Look it up, be encouraged, and remember the passage from earlier in this post along with it.  Allow God to help you use trials and unexpected, overwhelming situations to grow in your faith and your walk with Him so that you can be filled and overflow with hope and peace that only comes from trusting our savior, Jesus Christ. 
I hope this song encourages you :)

In Christ,

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