This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 (NLT)
TODAY. A simply powerful word, yet so often underappreciated and taken for granted. I’m not really sure when the shift happened, but somewhere between the simple pleasures of childhood and the increasing pressures of adulthood, I have often found myself rushing through, or finding ways to avoid, TODAY. It is a recent realization that stopped me in my tracks. Here I am intentionally seeking time with God, in which I have seen Him move mountains for me! Yet, I still find myself stuck in a rut that mixes a lack of energy with either the anxiety for the future or the regret of the past. God knows my battles and has reminded me that the problem, AGAIN, is not my circumstances but, rather, my perspective!
Really, God?!? It’s been a perspective battle for me since last fall (or really, most of my life)! How could I still be stuck in a perspective rut when I have been seeing the fruits of growth that God and I have been experiencing together? God simply whispered lovingly, “My darling daughter, I see how hard you are trying. But, I wonder what would happen if you stopped trying so hard and just marinated in daily praise and gratefulness for each moment?”
I’m not sure about you, but for me, as a single mother of a seven-year-old, sometimes the idea of conquering just today makes me feel exhausted before I even start! I know I’m not alone in that. Whether you have one or five children, are married or single, are taking care of your aging parents or aging children, are leading a company or small group, or are doing the job of two parents on your own, life can be a challenge! Every time I find a groove, a massive shift happens, and I find myself off-kilter. Before I know it, I’m so busy fearing what is to come, or trying to stabilize the last onslaught of battles, that I completely forget to stop and smell the roses! I carve out time with God, and that time is my “peace time” and my rest. Yet, as soon as I finish, the challenges come barreling in, and I’m back to being impatient and in full panic mode until my next God meditation.
Then it hit me. Clearly, I am not so good about celebrating the life I am gifted with! Instead, I tend to focus on what is wrong rather than embrace what is right and what is good! I save up all of my energy waiting for the perfect, or seasonally appointed, moments before I allow myself to REJOICE! I know that God loves our intentional time together, no question about that. Still, He is pushing me to extend our relationship into the small, seemingly insignificant moments. God wants me to ENJOY the life I have instead of waiting for the battles to be over. I am realizing that God does not want us to live in a defeated, stressed-out state of being. No! We were designed to do more and be more than short tempered, angry, fearful, overly scheduled, and exhausted people .
Step 1 of that plan is realizing that we already have all that we need. Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV) says:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
I lack nothing. He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths. Well, my friends, this is where the rubber meets the road. Do I believe this, or not? Here is the point where I come face-to-face with my own Faith issue. The Word is clear: It states that I am provided for, that I am headed down a good path, and that I am refilled along the way. Could it be that my lack of energy is actually A CHOICE to look at the negative vs. the positive? Could it be that I willingly hold on to the wrongs and injustices, because it is more comfortable and easy instead of trust that if God allows a battle, then ALL THINGS will be worked together for my good and for God’s Glory? (Romans 8:28). Could it be that all this time, I have wasted precious moments focusing on MY STRENGTH, instead of praising and claiming what GOD CAN AND WILL do?
God didn’t promise a stress-free, comfortable life. In fact, we are reminded to not be surprised at the trials (1 Peter 4:12). Historically speaking, there has not been a single generation who hasn’t had to walk through some trials starting at the beginning of time, and we are no exception. There have been World Wars, famine, sickness, addictions, and the like. Still, the images and messages around us on a daily basis promise an exquisitely pain-free existence if we just…. (fill in the blank; just eat this, buy that, do this, etc.). Often, I have found myself longing for the public-facing, perfect life, instead of appreciating the beauty of my own flawed, and often floundering-on-the-way- to-flourishing, life. I want easy. I want things handed to me on a silver platter. Well, guess what??? As the Word would have it, things ARE handed to me when I look for them! They just may not come in the package I thought they would!
Psalm 23:4-6 goes on to explain that:
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
You see, my friends, we have to WALK THROUGH the darkest valley knowing that God is with us in every single moment. Not only is God with us, He is our protector, our comfort, and our provider, and that is something to celebrate!! When we know that we are loved so much that we have an Advocate that goes before us, and when we live this Truth from our hearts and souls, then we can walk confidently through anything life wants to throw at us (and maybe even be able to dance in the rain)! In fact, this passage reminds us of the beauty that God gives us in every day, especially in the battles! When we lean on God, THANK HIM, and PRAISE HIM in the midst of difficulty, then the most amazing things happen as God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies and allows our cups to overflow! We have people who step up on our behalf, we appreciate the moments of glorious victory, and we come out stronger on the other side, just to name a few!
As we shift from spring into summer, I am reminded that every single day is truly a gift! My personal next step is to STOP classifying each day as a “Good Day” or a “Bad Day.” Instead, I am charged to focus on the beauty of each moment and know that whether a day is easy or hard, it is all good! If the day is hard, then I need to look at myself and see whether there is something that I am doing to make the day harder than it needs to be, or what the challenges are teaching me, growing me, and giving me as a new skill set. Likewise, if the day is one of those most wonderfully perfect days where all things fall instantly into place, then I can rest easy and marinate in these seasons of as well. I am learning how to appreciate the darkness and the light and be grateful for both. I am understanding that without the battles, we would take for granted the beauty, and without the beauty, we would not have hope during the battles.
So, for now, I will tap into the power of my Creator through the simple acts of gratitude and praise. Every day, I will challenge myself to keep a grateful journal, so I can document God’s daily goodness! Also, whether through smiles or tears, I will sing my heart out, praising God for every single moment knowing that each is an opportunity to experience the Divine. On those days that are a bit harder to remember my praise and thankfulness, I will blast Rend Collective and Carrolton on my Spotify as I recenter on King David’s proclamation in Psalm 28:7:
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him (NIV).
Remember that life is short and we GET TO get up with each new day and BE GLAD! Rejoice and Have Fun!