Last week, I had an epiphany: electronic communications have recently scooped up much of the time I should be spending with the Lord.
Let me state that more accurately: I have allowed the many forms of social media to take priority over the time I once spent with God.
Rather than read my Bible, rather than pray, rather than spend time simply talking with God, my epiphany revealed that I have an idol that steals my time from God.
Little wonder I’ve felt less peace and joy in my life, but have been experiencing more stress, more worry, and an abundance of anxiety.
I knew this needed to be rectified, but what could I do?
I completely unplugged from all forms of social media—including email—for the past three days. Rather than read what others are doing, rather than addictively clicking the “Like” button, rather than looking at endless emails, I focused on God.
Because it’s been a while, there was a lot to talk about with the One who is never too busy to listen—starting with admitting that I’ve sinned by making something more important than God.
I read my Bible—and because I now had the time—I contemplated what I’d just read. Amazingly, I was able to view situations in my life with clarity and discernment.
Now, four mornings after unplugging, the joy in my heart and spirit has been restored. The things that were stressing me have been handed over to the One who can best deal with them. Gone is the worry and anxiety that had become heavy burdens. And in their place is peace—the perfect peace that can only be provided by God.
Social media has become an important part of our lives, and I need to use it. But I need to limit the time I spend with electronic communications and make my personal communication with God my first and foremost priority. I can already see the difference.
Do you need to unplug for a while? Leave a comment and tell me what you do when you’ve reached your stress limit.
Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Do you ever find yourself thinking that it’s just too late in your life for certain things to happen? I didn’t even realize that I do this. That is, until I took a lovely walk through the French Quarter in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday with my daughter Megan.
We stopped at an art gallery and admired numerous paintings by highly skilled artists. One piece in particular caught my eye, but the hefty price tag prohibited me from purchasing it.
Taking into account my age and my lack of income, I bemoaned my circumstances to Megan as she walked slightly ahead of me on a narrow sidewalk. “I love oil paintings, but I’ve never had the money to purchase any.”
Megan murmured something.
“What?” I called out to her. “I didn’t hear you.”
She continued walking but turned her head toward me as she repeated her comment. “Yet.”
“You haven’t had the money to purchase works of art. Yet.”
“Yet,” I repeated.
“Yet,” Megan affirmed.
In the window of another shop were photographs of England, the one place I’ve wanted to visit since I was eleven years old. “I still haven’t been to Europe.”
My daughter, diagonally in front of me on the threadlike sidewalk, muttered something.
She turned sideways, still walking. “Yet.”
“You haven’t been to Europe. Yet.”
Yet. I pondered the word, my foot twisting on a raised cobblestone. “Yet,” I said out loud.
“That’s right, Mom. Yet.”
“So what’s your point? I don’t have the money to buy art and I don’t have the money to travel to Europe.”
“Yet. You talk as though you’ve given up on your dreams. If you give up on your dreams, they definitely won’t happen.”
“I’m being realistic, Megan. I’m an unknown Christian writer who just started their career and hasn’t earned a penny.”
“Yet. You never thought you’d write a book, but you just signed a book contract.”
Yet. I stopped and let her words sink in. Yet! This child is right! I’ve given up on my dreams. Dreams can’t happen if we give up on them, if we allow them to die, if we stop pursuing them.
I hurried to catch up. “Yes, Megan. Yet! Buying fine art and traveling to England have not happened yet!”
She glanced at me and smiled, the teacher and student trading roles. “Yet.”
What about you? Yes, you. What dreams have you given up on? Maybe you should tell me while we’re having this conversation. I’ll start the sentence, and then you fill in the blank: “I have never…….”
This is where you need Megan: “Yet.”
Isn’t that three-letter word unbelievably empowering?
What’s your biggest dream? The one you’ve never told anyone, the one you are most afraid will never happen? I know you have one. This time, say your big dream out loud. Speak life into it. Revive it. I’ll help you begin: “I have never……”
And Megan says: “Yet.”
You see, what you are saying, in essence, is this: I have had this dream for a long time, but it hasn’t materialized. Yet. I thought my dream was dead because I thought it was impossible for it to actually happen. But if I remain hopeful and focused and keep my dream alive and continue to work, it could happen. Yet.
I’ll take the last turn: “I have never written a best-seller.”
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me such an incredible daughter, and for the opportunity to share her wisdom with my friends.
“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photograph: Cynthia Howerter © 2012
Last May, I happened to be driving on I-85 in North Carolina on what could be called “Turtle Day.” Seemingly every turtle within a five-mile radius of the interstate crawled onto the busy road.
Traveling at 65 miles per hour, I came upon turtles so quickly that there wasn’t time to swerve to avoid them. Fortunately, I missed every turtle in my lane for at least 25 miles.
Then came the small turtle. Cringing, I prayed that my tires would miraculously miss the little terrapin with a great desire to cross a high-speed highway.
But it wasn’t to be. With a thump, I knew I’d run over him. Heartsick, I looked in my rearview mirror only to see pieces of exploding turtle shell. I had murdered my first (and hopefully my last) turtle.
Fast forward to this week. Back on I-85 in North Carolina, I saw a small groundhog on the left berm, and hoped he’d stay put. But this little guy had the heart of an adventurer.
Scurrying into the lane ahead of me, he stopped cold and stared at me. Bearing down on the little guy at 65 miles per hour, I could not swerve without losing control of the car. I prepared myself to become a double-murderer.
Then, little guy made an on-the-spot decision: he bolted for the right side of the road as fast as he could run. Just as he reached the safety of the right berm, my car passed him thump-free.
The turtles’ and groundhog’s approaches to adversity made me think of how people handle tough spots.
Some folks allow their problems to immobilize them. They view some difficult situations as hopeless. Usually it’s because they can’t see how God can deliver them out of their troubles. Like a turtle, they pull in their appendages and shut their eyes to what God can do.
Other folks see their problems as overwhelming as the national deficit. But rather than sit still, they, like the young groundhog, take charge of their situation. By turning their problem over to God, they run the race the Lord puts in front of them and they keep moving forward.
Hmm. Turtle or groundhog. Which approach makes sense to you?
For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLV)
Photograph by Andrea Bowling Perdue © 2013
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Socks, socks, and more socks! It looked like my dryer contained more men’s socks than the Gold Toe sock display at Macy’s.
The sight of so many socks now piled on top of the dryer made me exasperated. My best estimate told me there must be at least 50 socks that I needed to match, fold, and put away. I definitely was not pleased with this menial, time-consuming chore.
“It’s all in a person’s perspective. You can either find the blessing and be grateful or find the fault and feel awful.” I could hear my friend Miss Caroline explain the value of perspective as clearly as if she stood next to me. It made me take a second look at the sock pile.
I suddenly realized several important things:
- These socks belong to my husband.
- I have a precious husband.
- If my husband owns 50 socks, then it’s because he has a job and can afford to buy socks.
- And if my husband has a job, it’s because God provided it for him – for us!
My disdain at having to fold so many socks turned to joy when I adjusted my perspective. A chore that could be viewed as drudgery was actually a blessing.
What things in your life need a change in perspective?
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Photograph by Cynthia Howerter © 2013Read More
It’s amazing what can happen to a nation in the span of about a week, and the span of that week isn’t quite over. We are in the aftermath of a natural disaster that has affected thousands of Americans’ lives and simultaneously in the face of a critical national election. All around us are people who are mourning the tragedy that has befallen us and at the same time fearing what may be to come.
What can we say, dear sisters? The tragedy of Hurricane Sandy is widespread and runs deep, and the physical, spiritual, and moral needs of our nation seem on many days to be a bottomless pit. We would sink in despair if we thought we had to climb our way out of this pit, but as followers of Christ, we have a different understanding on the situation, both in our nation and around the world. We participate in our government and we pray for our leaders, but we don’t count on them to meet our needs; we have a God in heaven who has adopted us, and He is able to provide for His children. We get involved in the relief efforts and we reach out to those who have lost much to the hurricane, but we also don’t take on the burden to rebuild people’s lives; we point them to the Savior, who is mighty to save and able to put all of the pieces of their lives back together.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). Lift up His name. Call upon His name. He is Bread for the hungry, Living Water for the thirsty, Wisdom for the confused, the Alpha and Omega for those who need a new start in life, the Shepherd for those who need direction, the King of Kings for all who long for the security of bowing the need to a trustworthy leader. He is Lord. He is God. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken (Psalm 62:2).
Will you take time now to pray for the people of our nation and to ask God to give Christians a great measure of courage today?
Thank you, Kimberly Sowell, for your sage words today. Please visit Kimberly’s website, “His Heart” at: http://kimberlysowell.wordpress.com
IN GOD WE TRUST
Do you have a special place where you go when you need a break from life? Perhaps it’s a nearby park or a quiet room. The place my soul longs to visit when life delivers too many problems is near the foot of Chestnut Mountain in northeast Georgia.
During our long bout of unemployment, I found myself in desperate need of sanctum. Completely spent, I packed a suitcase and a borrowed laptop into my car and drove alone from Pennsylvania to Georgia. The 13-hour drive allowed me to put distance between devouring stresses and endless problems. Mile after mile sent heart-felt prayers to the Creator, alternately calling for God’s help and praising Him for spectacular sights as I drove between ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains, heading due south. Near Asheville, North Carolina, my car began the climb into mountains so beautiful, my weariness from 11 hours behind the steering wheel was forgotten.
Having left Pennsylvania in the middle of a sticky summer sunrise, I arrived at Chestnut Mountain with enough time before sunset to climb to the summit and absorb views capable of resuscitating my spirit.
I awoke early the next morning and after filling a mug with steaming coffee and covering my shoulders with a blanket, I slipped outside to the screened-in porch where I sank into a cold, damp cushion on the seat of a rocker. Thick white fog blanketed the valley meadows and veiled the mountains to the west. It wasn’t until the first rays of morning sun climbed over the peak of Chestnut Mountain that the shroud slowly dissolved and revealed the uneven peaks of timeless mountains that Cherokees once called home.
The mug warmed my hands while I breathed in the sweet smells of summer grass and clover that grow in the field between the house and the creek. My shoulders lost some of their tension and my bare feet, pressing against the floor, pushed the rocker in a soothing rhythm. Outside, my ears hear best when my eyes are closed. I turned my head slowly from side to side, the sound of creek water tumbling over rocks rode across the tall field grass and became my porch companion.
But this was only part of what I sought.
Needing more coffee, I tiptoed inside. The house was reverently quiet. Carefully holding the too-full mug, I picked up my Bible and returned to the porch. A vivid blue indigo bunting streaked past to the mature red oak at the edge of the garden where it landed on a moss-covered branch and began its early morning reverie. It was soon joined by phoebes and vireos.
Surrounded by a symphony, I opened the worn Book to the Psalms and asked the Lord to speak to my weary soul. Words ancient but relevant comforted, encouraged, strengthened, guided. Sanctuaries aren’t always confined.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
My God in whom I trust.”
Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY