Four Refreshing Words

Sometimes I wish life would offer a little heads-up: “STORMS AHEAD!” I’m not saying I need all the details, but wouldn’t it be helpful to have a five-minute warning like the meteorologist gives when a tornado or storm is on the rise?

Photo by JFXie (Flickr: O Praise Him) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This summer, it would’ve been helpful to know my husband’s herniated disk treatments would take twice as long as we thought, or that Alzheimer’s disease would take away more and more of one friend’s memories, or a member of my family would be diagnosed with cancer along with two of my friends. I could’ve used a warning that parenting would be more challenging than expected this summer. Just a little heads-up would have been great—nothing huge—a traffic sign that alerted me there’s a bend in the road up ahead.

Then, something surprising helped my perspective.

Ragged to Refreshed

Feeling more ragged than refreshed as I drove my son Jon to his first few days of school, I wondered how I would fit in the added two-hour commute to our already packed schedule.

I was aggravated about the growing traffic . . . and we all know how I feel about traffic! But on the way to work after dropping off Jon, I listened to a podcast which spoke words I have been repeatedly hearing from the Lord. Of all things, it was a business podcast on the topic of the heart and how we must constantly keep it in check because it’s what gives us life.

While sitting in traffic, I realized traffic and Alzheimer’s and cancer and family demands and even more traffic are not the root of my frustrations. I realized that God is directing me to focus on my heart’s condition—its need for care and healing. Frustration, pain, loss, being wounded, or whatever shuts us down internally requires time and attention. If we don’t slow down and attend to our wounds, we tend to believe we would be fine “if only _________ didn’t exist.”

Not so true . . . it’s the “_________” that exists in our lives that God uses to slow us, so we may be refreshed with His healing care.

Reminder of Truth

Hebrews 4:15–16 says:

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (NLT, emphasis added).

In Greek, the term translated “let us come” indicates an ongoing action of running to Christ; for Christ also suffered, understands our suffering, and is capable of helping and holding us as we suffer.

Let Me Hear from You

So I have to ask, how’s your world these days?

  • Has life surprised you with an unexpected event or diagnosis or change?
  • Are you running ragged trying to meet life’s demands in your own strength, or are you focused on Christ, who is with you to give you strength?

Healing takes time—necessary time—for us to find that the bigger picture is about our heart, not our circumstances.

I’m repeating one simple statement these days; I encourage you to as well as we learn to walk by faith: “LET GO, LOOK UP.” Will you let go of trying to control and instead look to Christ for help? In fact, what is one area or thing in your life you will choose to hand over to the Lord?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

  • VickiHD

    Colleen,
    I right there with you wanting a little warning about the next challenge or crisis. But thankfully, God has other ideas. It seems like I am always running ragged and even when I am I still keep going. (It must be the long distance runner in me) But reading this message today really has reminded me that “ragged” just doesn’t do life gracefully and in many times realty does not honor God with my heart and attitude. I am grateful to be reminded that indeed it’s my heart that needs adjusting and the only way to do that is to look up.
    A couple of things I really need to let go and turn over is worry, fear and the Illusion of control. This has been a struggle of mine for years and it’s a constant battle to turn things over to God. Thankfully, God doesn’t get tired of me trying.
    We have a saying on our chalk board at home. “Do you best…trust God for the rest”. It’s a nice reminded to keep seeing throughout the day.
    Blessings,
    Vicki

    • Vicki,
      I’ve decided if ‘letting go’ was easy, we all would do it without a second thought. But, this is a core issue with our humanity; who do we want in control…God or the illusion of our control. It is a constant battle! I was listening to a sermon recently by Timothy Keller on Anxiety and he noted the story of Mary and Martha…one basking in the presence of Jesus, the other so irritated with the whole deal. He referred to the anxiety as being “in pieces”…such a great word picture of how we fall apart when thinking we can hold it together. Be assured, finding the balance between God’s sovereign care and our responsibility is a difficult one to find…and it changes over time. I love your statement “Do your best…trust God with the rest”…that is it in a nutshell. Would love to hear more about what has helped you release the illusion of control….I think all the audience would benefit from your thoughts. Great to hear from you as always. You are a fantastic mom! Colleen

      • VickiHD

        Colleen,
        I would love to listen to the sermon you mentioned by Timothy Keller. Any suggestions on how to locate it would be greatly appreciated.
        I am constantly trying to be aware of turning things over and trusting God. It is definitely an on going processes I must be deliberate in doing. I practice, practice, practice !! I would say praying, listening to and reading Godly helpful material, especially your blog here, really does assist me trying to stay on track with HIM.
        It is so easy to be side tracked by the stresses and demands of life and before you know it you think you can handle everything by yourself. That is usually when something happens and it’s back to the starting line again making the conscious decision to turn it over.
        Thanks for your kind words about being a Mom. Now it’s back to sewing a Pinocchio costume 🙂
        Blessings,
        Vicki

        • Vicki,
          Yes, the Timothy Keller sermon is on my podcast selection. You can subscribe to his podcasts as they are free. I think the sermon was titled “Peace, Overcoming Anxiety” dated 4/10/2013; it also could have been one titled “A Christian’s Happiness” dated 6/27/2014. I love his thinking; pretty ‘heady’ if that makes sense but it’s obvious he has studied and knows his topics well. Let me know if you can’t find it and I’ll see if I can help. You can also look up “Redeemer Presbyterian Church where he is the pastor, located in New York City, NY. And yes, you are an amazing mom and to think you went to sew a Pinocchio is over the top awesome. So way to go. Love to know how it turns out! Have a great day. Colleen

  • Mardra Sikora

    I’ve been reminding myself that change will happen. What’s bad, may get good. What’s easy may get hard. But there will be change and I need to be OK with that. 🙂

    • Mardra,
      Great to hear from you! What wise words about how we need to view “good” and “bad” issues. Because our God is all loving, he cannot be the author or instigator of evil. Nonetheless, we live in a fallen world and it’s so easy to fall into labeling life in such ways. From my recent reading about those who are considered “faithful”, their lives were not simple, easy or pain free. But they were honoring to our Lord…a life which chooses to move through the circumstances allowed as these transform our soul. Love your comment and would love to hear more about how the Lord brought you to this place. Such wisdom! Thank you, Colleen

  • Gina Marie

    Wonderful reminder. It’s so easy, isn’t it, to be overwhelmed and then try to relieve ourselves.

    Recently I listened to an interview with a psychologist, Leisa Aitken, about worry and had the most lovely sense of relief.

    “It’s important not to take that scripture – ‘do not worry’ – as a rebuke or as a condemnation, but as a gentle exhortation of where one day you will be. So let’s work towards getting there.”

    Living in shame is not God’s plan for us. Jesus died and rose to life to set us free from all that binds us, shame is binding. Guilt, on the other hand leads me to accept I am not who I should yet be; leading me to sadness; leading me to call out for the God who can and wants to restore me to who I should be, and will be IN HIM.

    I want to be continually working with God, in obedience, so that He makes me ever more surrendered to His goodness for me and the world. How appropriate that you would remind us of Hebrews and that we can BOLDY come to our Heavenly Father through His Son, who is completely familiar with us; and our circumstances; and our suffering; and our joy; and our desire. But, Colleen, to show us that the coming actually means a continual coming will be so important for us to remember. Thank you. Perhaps as we do as Vicki suggested, “making the conscious decision to turn it over” to our God, we are exercising, coming repeatedly, progressing ever nearer to who our Saviour is restoring us to be…and repeatedly exercising something makes it stronger. John Maxwell said “practice makes permanent” rather than perfect.

    I have traditionally been ok at ‘switching off’ on holidays, allowing others to care for me when I’m unwell etc. Perhaps being taught by a friend during my teens the importance of letting others be my servant too, but recently the letting go has been stepped up – not so much a notch, more like a whole staircase. It is so difficult to let go. For some of us circumstances, some possessions, some relationships, all of them difficult. But God has proven Himself faithful, good, all-knowing and just in the past, so why wouldn’t He be the same today? He will of course, be the same. He doesn’t change, I do. Thanks be to our God, who ‘little by little every day, little by little in His own way, Jesus is changing me’.

    Gina

    • Gina,
      How I love what you said…to take the “do not worry” as a gentle exhortation. I don’t think we hear God’s loving voice nearly as often as we need to…how easy it is to become hard on ourselves yet God is not that way with us. (Of course, within reason). Also, what you said about the holidays is close to heart…you have a LOAD of responsibilities and not much help which makes the seasons of typical celebration more difficult. Of course it would be desired to receive or be ‘taken care of’….when can you let down? But you are right on…God’s got us practicing and developing; not expecting perfection. That is a misconception of reality itself for if perfection were attainable, why would we need a Savior. You are so in His hands…what words of strength and peace you bring always. Hope you have rested well tonight as you will probably receive this in the morning. Let’s connect soon. Colleen