July 15, 2014
The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1, NKJV).
Friend to Friend
Stress happens. I believe much of our stress is the result of a constant and innate quest to love and to be loved. The problems come when we look in the wrong places for that love. When we know God, we will know love. When we experience His unconditional love, we are then freed and empowered to love ourselves and to love others.
I have personally discovered that it is downright frustrating and completely impossible to live the Christian life when you are not a Christian. I tried.
For years I desperately struggled to be a Christ follower with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.
I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors were open. I sang all of the right songs, spoke all of the right words, and did all of the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith, and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler.
It was not until middle school that the spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for more. Benny had something I did not have, and I did not like it one bit! He was always praising God and thanking Him for something. Nothing stole his joy. No matter what happened in his life, Benny chose to praise God. He seemed to know God in a way that I didn’t. That was it! I wanted a personal relationship with God and I longed to experience the unconditional love that can only be found in God.
During a special Saturday evening church service, I sat in my usual spot, clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. I knew what I needed to do – but it was hard to surrender.
As a middle school student, I was an active church member, a soloist, and the pianist for our worship services. I even directed a children’s choir. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I’d been living a lie.
My mind argued that I knew all about God – and then the deeper truth of that argument hit me. Yes, I knew about Him, but I didn’t know Him.
God’s perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with His children. That night I met God.
I surrendered all that I knew about myself to all that I knew about Him. While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered that I still had to deal with the pain in life. And there was a lot of pain and a lot of stress even then. The difference was that God’s love preceded me and surrounded and sustained me as I lived each day.
Knowing we are planned, wanted, and loved by God fills our hearts with contentment and peace. And when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress.
Right now, I encourage you to surrender to God. Lay everything at His feet. I promise you that He will give you rest unlike any you have ever known.
Father, thank You for the peace that comes from knowing You. Help me remember that no matter what comes my way, You are with me. When I am tempted to worry, give me the strength to choose faith over fear. Teach me Your ways, Lord, and empower me to walk in them.
In Jesus’ name,
More from the Girlfriends
I want to challenge you to read Psalm 23 every day for one month, and then check the level of stress in your life. The Lord really is your Shepherd. He loves you and He will take care of you. Rest in Him, knowing that His peace will follow you all the days of your life. I would love to hear about your decision. Connect with me on Facebook or through email.
NEW from Mary! An E-Bible Study that will change your life. The Power of Forgiveness is a five-week Bible Study that will help you choose to forgive when you really don’t want to and show you how to let go of the hurt in your life.
I also encourage you to check out my weekly online Bible Study, A Glimpse of Heaven beginning August 11. Join women across the world and learn how to understand and apply God’s truths to your daily life.
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Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 1311
Huntersville, NC 28070