A little over a week ago I got to spend some time with the ladies of Lindsborg Evangelical Covenant Church and speak at their women’s retreat. It was such a sweet time together. It is a pretty incredible privilege to be able to share with others how God has worked and continues to work in my life through sorrow. And then to hear firsthand how He is moving in the lives of others as well?! So amazing! I left feeling so encouraged but if I am honest with you the weeks before were a little rough.
Levi got a bow and arrow for Christmas and he thinks it is the best present ever. Joel put a hay bale in the yard for him to practice shooting at. He is getting pretty good but that didn’t happen without practice. I heard Joel talking to him about keeping his eye on the target. He told Levi that if his eyes started to wander and he lost sight of the hay bale his arrows would go all over the place. It could even be dangerous. Hmmmm….life application, maybe?!
You know, for some reason God continues opening these doors for me to speak and each time I question Him a little because speaking still doesn’t feel like “my thing”. I don’t feel like I’m gifted at speaking, my heart aches as I relive some of the hardest days of my life, the “whys” begin to resurface again, I worry about presenting God’s Truth accurately (which I think is probably a good worry!), and pretty soon I feel like I’ve lost sight of my target–shooting arrows all over the place. Wandering. And while some of those emotions are just part of the ups and downs of grief, it is not a place that I want to stay. I have to refocus, get my eyes back on Jesus and work to keep them there! Each time God proves himself so faithful to equip and give me the strength to do what He has called me to do. Each time as I approach the week or two before I speak, God guides me through his Word and reminds me of how He has walked with me and proven Himself faithful over and over again. I am no seasoned (or even gifted!) speaker but I can tell you that by some miracle, each time, God has given me a message to share and the strength to get up in front of people (and even use a microphone!) and share it.
This month has been a hard one for me because of both the time of year (when Cora was in the hospital) and other normal life things. January and February always seem to have a way of rolling in all gloomy like. I shared with the women at the retreat how the Bible was a lifeline of God’s voice to me as I searched for answers and comfort after Cora died. And you know what? The same has been true in my life again over the past few weeks. It was not by accident that God had me pouring into His Word extra hard as I prepared for the retreat weekend. He knew that I needed to draw near and be reminded that my inmost needs are completely and fully met in Him. My eyes were wandering and my emotions were all over the place. He reminded me that I needed to keep my eyes on Him. God is good like that, isn’t He?! Before I jump too far into this year, getting distracted and pulled by so many other things, I want to remember to look to Jesus. Goodness, I need Him.
I know that January is over and everyone is done making their goals and resolutions for the year but these speaking preparations have reminded me how important it is not to lose sight of Jesus. I thought I would share a few resources with you that have been helpful to me:
If you have been following along since Cora died you know that I love Nancy Guthrie and that The One Year Book of Hope has been such an important tool in my life as I’ve navigated through grief. If you have lost a loved one or are just facing disappointment or heartache this is a great book to use daily.
Last year I found another yearly devotional that I love so much. New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp is packed full of the gospel and is such a great tool to read daily. I will always love The One Year Book of Hope and still pull it out often but this is a new favorite for sure!
This year I committed to read through the Bible. I don’t think I have ever read it all the way through and I wanted that to change. Joel and the boys got me The Daily Bible and I am loving it. I got behind when I was preparing for the retreat so I have some catching up to do! I like having the Bible in my hands to read and mark in but the ESV Bible app has a yearly reading plan and is great too. I use the app occasionally because it will read the passages to you. So helpful if you are doing dishes or driving in the car! You don’t even have to wait until next year…just start now!
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin is such a great resource if you don’t even know where to start with reading your Bible. She has so many great Bible studies as well!
And lastly, Bible Study Fellowship has been so great for studying God’s Word in depth and with more of a whole Bible perspective and it also keeps me accountable. I love BSF and I can’t say enough about their children’s program (it is amazing!). If you are looking for a Bible study to plug into, see if there is a BSF near you!
Let me just say that of course I don’t use all of these things every day. Don’t feel overwhelmed! These have just been a few things that have worked for me at different times over the past few years. I fail over and over again just like everyone else. But I find that when I am using some of these tools to stay in God’s Word it helps me keep my eyes on Jesus. It helps me “bind my wandering heart to Thee”. I long for the overflow of my life to reflect a deep love for Jesus. That starts by daily connecting with Him.
We all are prone to wander, aren’t we?
What about you? How do you stay in God’s Word and keep your eyes on Him? I’d love to hear!