Monday, April 4, 2011

Three Ways to Keep my Head Above Water

I was going to name this post, “Three ways to Stay Spiritually Fresh,” but that sounded too holy.  Some days I’m feeling spiritually renewed; other days I’m just fighting to keep my head above water!

In my part of the world, Christians face a tough spiritual climate.  We share the gospel, but see few results.  Sometimes people put their faith in Christ, and then fall away.  I remember a time several years ago when a dear young man my husband discipled for over a year left our church over a disagreement.  We loved this younger brother and were sorry to see him go.  We rejoiced that he continued to follow the Lord in another fellowship, but we missed him. It was discouraging for our small group, who lost another member due to divorce during the same time.  Discouraging circumstances can be part of everyday life.

Maintaining spiritual vitality in this climate is crucial for me.  I don’t want to just survive here.  I want to live joyfully, thankfully receiving all God has for me.  Three things help me to keep my head above water and stay fresh:

         1.  Reading God’s word.

This sounds cliché, but it’s true.  God’s word inspires me, encourages me, strengthens me, and challenges me to grow.  I try to read it daily. I also find it stimulating to talk about what I’m reading with others.  Most mornings before breakfast, my husband and I talk about what we’ve read.  Last night driving home in the car with my Turkish sister we spoke briefly about Romans, which we are both currently reading. My children and I are reading Proverbs together, and it’s great to hear their thoughts.

David wrote: “Blessed is the man”…who delights “in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:1,2,3)

        2.  Journaling and Writing

I keep a journal where I record scriptures that encourage me, or write short prayers.  It helps me keep track of what God is speaking to me.  Last year I read a book by Bill Hybels called Too Busy Not To Pray, and he shared his approach to incorporating writing with prayer.  At the start of his daily quiet time he does some journaling about what is on his mind, and after unburdening his heart, he is attentive and ready to read God’s word.  He also suggested writing down prayer requests as well as questions that we want to ask God. The idea of writing down questions for God challenges my faith.  For me, writing is a powerful tool to come to terms with what I am thinking.

        3.  Taking Time to Enjoy Life’s Small Blessings

It’s easy to rush through life without stopping to smell the roses.  I remember this when I walk out of my apartment building and see the roses cultivated by our doorman.  I often take time to stop and smell a rose. I look at it and remember it’s a small miracle of God.  There are so many things in life to enjoy: a conversation with my children when they’re excited about something, tea with a friend, the taste of an apple pie, reading a good book. Most days I take a walk in the park near my house.   It’s a 30 minute mini-vacation. These are gifts from God, and I want to enjoy them to the fullest! 

What are things that you do to maintain spiritual freshness?



Jamie Jo said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post. I'm off to smell some roses rather than dwell on the stinkiness of my house right now. Yes, yes, and yes to all three of your points.

OliveTree said...

Yes, I'd much rather smell roses than dwell on the state of my house! Thanks for stopping by.

Karin said...

Thank you Betsy as always your Godliness, wisdom and zeal for the Lord encourages me.

OliveTree said...

You encourage me as well, Karin!

Women of the Harvest Blogs said...

Betsy! Thank you for participating in the "Power of 3." I loved your post and how you made it real...I too love to talk about what I'm reading in the Word; it always seems more real when I can say out loud what is penetrating into my heart. The concept of thankfulness keeps coming to me...thanks for your post. Keep writing! your friend, Cindy

Columba Lisa Smith said...

Thanks, Betsy - what a helpful post! I find that journaling really restores my peace. It's like praying on paper. I'll remember scriptures that apply as I write, and the Lord shows me things. I've been realizing lately that I don't appreciate the beauty around me when I'm too focused on the things that need doing, so that's a helpful reminder.
Bless you!

OliveTree said...

Thanks for visiting, Cindy and Lisa. It is really true that talking or writing about what God is doing in my life helps me to understand it, and really does make it seem more real. I think it helps me to know myself better too!

Lisa, I love that description of journaling as "praying on paper."