Posted by: Kris Lindsey | February 28, 2015

Joy in God’s Strength

Come on, Kris, it’s 8:30. You’ve got to get yourself out of bed and get something done today. I pulled back the covers and slid my feet to the floor. But instead of heading to my usual shower, I turned right into the living room, plopped down on the sofa, and opened my Bible to Psalm 81.

“Sing for joy…” Yeah, yeah, I know. Still trying.

Then my eyes locked in on the end of the first line.

Now I saw it…God didn’t command us to sing for joy about just anything, he said to sing for joy to God, who is our strength. I could sure use some strength. After running for months, I was emotionally worn out.

Okay, that’s it. I’m done trying to run my life in my own strength. Jesus, you take the lead.

I imagined a tandem bike with Jesus steering and pedaling, and me on the back seat just pedaling a bit.

tanden bicycle with red hearts, vector

I’d heard this illustration before, but this time I saw how to apply it to my life.

If I was really going to let Jesus lead, I needed to let go of my agendas and desired outcomes. Was I willing to trust God to lead me into and through whatever situations he thought were best? Did I believe God had good things in store for me? Did I believe that God would work even the hard situations he would lead me through to my good?

My heart raced. I felt like I was on the edge of a steep ski slope looking down toward the lodge. Should I take the plunge?

Young woman skiing

Yes, I wanted to try.

I thought of all the things on my agenda for the next weeks and months, and one by one let go of my idea of how they should turn out. I really did want God to direct everything.

As I turned each area over to God, I felt a weight lift and at the same time felt empowered to move forward with him.

horse in field

I would take this step of faith and see if I could find joy in God’s strength.

And I’ll continue reading Psalm 81 each day until the truth of God’s joy sinks in.

 

photos courtesy of Crestock

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Posted by: Kris Lindsey | January 31, 2015

Why Would God Want to Bless Me?

Come on. What’s it going to take for me to open up and trust God for my future?

I looked back down at the verses I’d underlined in Psalm 81.

Yes, God had removed burden after burden from my shoulders over the years, too. I couldn’t even count the times I called out to him when I was in trouble and he rescued me and brought me through.

Yes, you are the LORD my God, who has always been there for me.

Then my shoulders and chest tightened and my arms pressed into my sides as I read the end of verse 10. “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” I pictured a baby bird with its beak open as wide as it could, waiting expectantly for a tasty morsel to drop in from heaven.

baby birds

Why was it so hard for me to open my mouth wide and believe God would fill it? Why was it so hard to say “It’s going to be a good day” and believe God had good things in store for me?

Maybe because many years ago I went through a tough time where one bad thing after another happened to me. Sickness, isolation, trauma. And plenty of hard things had happened to me since. Maybe I was defensively wary of the future. I didn’t want to let down my guard and get broadsided again.

Maybe I didn’t dare hope that good things would happen each day for fear of being disappointed.

Although I’d had a lot of bad experiences, I’d also had so many fantastically good things happen that I couldn’t count them, either. Maybe I felt I’d had my share of blessings and didn’t deserve more.

Whatever the reason, I wanted to get unstuck. I wanted my arms to break free from my sides and open wide to take in all the good things heaven had for me.

But open felt scary. Risky. Vulnerable. How did I know God would bless me with good things on any given day? Maybe he would, but maybe he wouldn’t. Besides, wouldn’t assuming an unlimited supply of blessings be rudely presumptuous?

Then it hit me. God will provide blessings for me each day because he loves me.

??????????????????

He is my beloved and I am his (Song of Solomon, 6:3). I am his precious child, as are all who believe and trust in him (John 1:12). Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we Believers are totally righteous and accepted by our adoring Heavenly Father. Jesus loves us so much that he gave his life so we could be with him forever. Of course he would want to give us good gifts.

Then I realized, God does provide me with good things every hour of every day, I just usually take them for granted…until they’re gone. A few weeks ago, due to a mishap, we were without propane for a few days. It was inconvenient to burn wood in the fireplace to keep warm, but what we really missed was our hot showers. I wasn’t about to step under a shower of cold winter water. I didn’t fully appreciate my hot water until I didn’t have it.

And awhile back, I hurt my shoulder. I can still do most things, but I can’t put on my coat by myself. A couple of times I’ve had to go out in the cold with my coat slung across my back, which kept only half of me warm. I’d never thought to be thankful for healthy deltoid muscles, or thousands of other body parts and functions that are working well and don’t hurt.

God has been providing so many things for me every day. What makes me think he will stop?

The Bible says God will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). He has always been there for me, even when I couldn’t see it at the time.

God wants to shower us with good things, and will. And when bad things happen, as they often do, God will be there to rescue us, help us through, and work the situations to good. What’s so scary about that?

I took a deep breath. My shoulders eased a bit.

Okay, I’m going to continue reading Psalm 81 every day and saying to myself, “It’s a good day” until I can open my arms wide and sing for joy to God my strength.

Senior Woman With Arms Outstretched On Winter Beach

 

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | January 24, 2015

Is Today a Good Day?

There it is…again. God telling me to do the thing I can’t do. I looked up from my Bible and sighed, then looked back down at the little word that taunted me—joy.

The first line of Psalm 81 said to sing with joy. But I didn’t feel like being joyful, or singing. It was laundry and grocery shopping day, and I was all set to plow through and get things done. Trudge mode felt comfortable.

I read on.

Oh great, verse 4 said singing for joy is a command, not an option.

I leaned back and crossed my arms. I couldn’t just “be joyful.” Especially with nothing happy going on. Still, God says I have to do it…

What if I took it by faith that today was going to be a good day?

My chest tightened in resistance and my heart screamed, “No, don’t do it!”

Uh oh…why was I afraid to think good things would happen?

Because maybe something bad will happen instead. How can I possibly know if it’s a good day until the events actually unfold?

Yeah, wasn’t it safer to just wait and see if good things happen?

But then I took inventory of my mood and realized I felt lousy. On this ordinary day, with nothing bad going on, my muscles were all tense and achy. I felt listless and glum, like I was walking through a dimly lit trench.

I don’t like living this way. I really do want to live on a higher plain—with joy.

Girl with Ballons

Okay, I reasoned that technically every day was a good day for those who love God because, even when bad things happen, God works those things to good (Romans 8:28).

I decided I’d try to believe that every day would be a good day, with God by my side. To do this, I would do two things:

  • Say to myself, “It’s a good day”
  • Read Psalm 81

And I’d keep doing this every day until God’s joy finally sunk in…hopefully.

The next morning, I told myself It’s a good day.

Hope brightened my heart for a second, then fear snuffed it out.

I read Psalm 81 (NIV). God’s admonitions and promises tugged at my heart, but I couldn’t bring myself to open up and take them in.

But after three days of doing these two things, I noticed my optimism increasing, and my mood getting brighter. The truth of God’s word was prying open the door of my heart a little more each day. Wow, progress! I’m going to keep it up.

Maybe God does have good things in store for me today!

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | December 21, 2014

LOVE – Advent Week 4 Christmas Card

The Bible says God loves us, but since God is invisible, sometimes his love is hard for us to comprehend. How can we know that a God we can’t see or touch really cares?

God solved this problem 2000 years ago when He became a visible, flesh-and-blood human. God came to Bethlehem in the form of baby Jesus and demonstrated the depths of His love.

Nativity FR

And how much does God love us?

God loves us so much that He left his glorious place of authority, surrounded by swirling galaxies and adoring angels, to live among us on Earth.

Star field in space and a nebulae

God loves us so much that He humbled Himself and became one of us,

Jesus manger

experiencing:

  • the lure of temptation
  • the pain of betrayal and abandonment
  • and the heartache of loss,

so we’d know He could relate to all our issues.

 

God loves us so much that He went around showing His loving ways and healing touch to everyone who would listen—from laborers to lepers, from prostitutes to priests.

ZZ023-65

And ultimately, God came to remove the barrier between us, so we could be reunited with Him forever.

hands in form of heart

The Bible says that God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

This fourth week of Advent, we remember the “Love” that motivated Jesus to come to earth so we can have an abundant life with Him.

 

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | December 14, 2014

JOY – Advent Week 3 Christmas Card

One starry night 2000 years ago, something happened that was so amazingly awesome, it changed the course of the human race forever. When the angels found out about it, they were so excited they did something they’d never done before, or since.

First, a great company of the heavenly host gathered above a certain field. One of them appeared, with the glory of the Lord shining all around, and told the shepherds below the good news that would bring great joy to everyone.

angel treetop

The angel told them our Savior—our Messiah and Lord—had been born in Bethlehem!

Then, bursting with joy, all the angels appeared to the humans, singing “Glory to God,” and “peace on earth.”

angel flat

Once the shepherds had recovered from the overwhelming display, they hurried to Bethlehem to see this miraculous baby in a manger for themselves. When they did, they were also so overcome with joy that they too ran around telling everyone the good news. It was just as the angels said.

Our Savior—our Messiah and Lord—had come.

manger needlework

At last, God himself had come down to rescue us from our endless cycle of temptation, sin, and guilt and reunite us with God once and for all.

At last, all the love, forgiveness, and healing our heart needs was available to everyone who would believe.

At last, Jesus—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—was here for us to receive.

On this third week of Advent, we celebrate the “Joy” Jesus brings, singing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King.”

 

All photos in this post were taken by me.

 

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | December 8, 2014

PEACE – Advent Week 2 Christmas Card

Night sky

Pinpricks of light dotted the black, moonless sky. The pungent smell of wet wool, manure, and sweat hung in the air as the dark restless shapes of beast and man shifted like shadows on the hillside. Only an occasional “baa,” or clacking of hoofs on stone, broke the silence of the night.

abstract background

Then brilliant, dazzling light from above flooded the hillside. The men fell flat on the ground and shielded their eyes.

Squinting, they peeked out at the myriads of beautiful, bright figures floating above.

Angel

The company of heavenly host sang out, “Glory to God, and peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.”

Wait a minute…did they say peace? What “peace” were they talking about?

Peace sign made of flowers

Wars rage on. Man’s restless heart continues to strive for more—never satisfied, never settled, never able to achieve lasting peace.

But that night, peace did indeed come to the earth.

Not a peace we can conjure up by ourselves, but a peace we can only receive.

tree fern and waterfall in tropical rain forest paradise

Thousands of years ago, in a garden far away, Adam and Eve had all the peace they needed in communion with our Heavenly Father. But they chose to rebel and do their own thing instead—as we continue to do—causing a rift between us and God. When we lost our connection with God, we lost our peace.

Fortunately for us, our gracious God came to Bethlehem that night to bring us—his lost sheep—back.

Nativity no Wisemen

Jesus came to make peace between us and God, opening the way for our relationship with our Heavenly Father to be restored, and with that, our source of peace.

On this second week of Advent, we remember the peace God provided us through his Son, the Prince of Peace—Jesus.

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | December 1, 2014

HOPE – An Advent Christmas Card

Candle Christmas

On the first week of Advent, we light a candle symbolizing hope.

We all need hope, but what kinds of things do people hope for?

Present Christmas

A young boy sits under twinkling lights and snuggles into his blanket as he eyes a certain brightly wrapped box. It’s the right size and shape. I sure hope it’s the WowWee MiP robot with the hand motion controls. If I had that, I’d never need another toy again. It does everything.

??????????????????

Outside her window, almond blossoms dance in the breeze as she twirls in her new gown and listens for a knock at the door. Wow, a whole evening with Rob. He’s so dreamy. In the candlelight, and with the music playing, maybe we’ll fall in love.

Judge wooden gavel isolated

A drop of sweat trickles down the boy’s face as he tugs at his collar, attempting to loosen the tie his mom made him wear. He studies the traffic judge’s face, bracing himself for judgment. Yes, I know I did it, but maybe, just maybe, he’ll have mercy on me.

Show me the world

The leaves above the bench where she sits glow orange, yellow, and red in the crisp afternoon air. She lays her hand on her ever-growing tummy, wondering at the movement of new life inside. I hope I can be the kind of mother he needs. And I hope he’s healthy and strong. Just 25 more days ‘til I can hold him in my arms, look into his eyes, and finally see his face.

 

2000 years ago, a young woman named Mary laid her hand on her ever-growing tummy and wondered who the special person inside her would be. All of Israel was expectantly waiting for God to send the promised Messiah king who would save them from the Romans. But God knew the deeper needs of their hearts, and ours:

  • to fill that empty space inside
  • for unconditional love
  • for mercy and forgiveness
  • and for God’s guidance and abundant new life.

In just 25 more days, God would send his Son to us, and the world would finally be able to see their Savior’s face.

The Bible says to set our hope on the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. (1 Peter 1:13)

Christmas Lamp

The candle of Hope reminds us to put our hope in the One who dispels the darkness and warms our hearts as he fulfills our greatest needs—Jesus Christ.

 

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | November 29, 2014

Tension Relief

Oh no, here I go again. My body ached with tension as I lay in bed, thinking about all the situations I needed to address that day. Darn it. I was feeling so good. Until last night.

My combined Czech Republic mission trip and vacation had left me nice and relaxed,

Kris at Cesky Krumlov

and that good, peaceful feeling had continued for several days as I unpacked, did laundry, and grocery shopped.

But now, after a couple of phone calls and emails, I suddenly faced three big matters that all needed my attention right away. My mind raced with the details of each one. How could I possibly do them all? Which one should I tackle first? What could I delay?

question mark

The muscles in my shoulders, back, and chest ached with tension, and an unpleasant sense of urgency replaced the feeling of peace I had been enjoying.

 

No. I don’t want to do this painful tension thing anymore.

Oh yeah, I don’t have to. I’ll go to God.

“Dear God, these aren’t my matters—they’re yours. You’re the only one who has the power to deal with parts of them, anyway. If you want me to tackle them, then you lead, and I’ll follow. I hand over all responsibility to you. I’ll listen and watch for what you want me to do.”

The room brightened as the pressure of responsibility lifted, but I still felt achy and glum.

Nope, I’m not doing this tension thing anymore. I consciously relaxed my chest, stomach, and shoulders, and since they hadn’t been tense very long, my muscles obeyed.

As my chest expanded—released from my vice-like grip—my feeling of peace returned.

sandy beach and sea

Much better. I smiled.

Over the next two weeks, one of the situations I’d turned over to God resolved itself. With God in the lead, the second one went better than I’d anticipated. And I had fun working with God on the third.

Whenever I found myself tensing up, I told myself No, I’m not doing the tense thing anymore. I turned whatever leadership I’d taken over back to God, and let go of the tension.

Ahh. This is the way to live!

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | September 1, 2014

The Ultimate Anxiety Solution

I plopped down on the sofa and took a deep breath as I surveyed my living room. Everything was now in its place. I went down my mental check-list. I’d washed the guest bed sheets and made the bed. I was all ready for company. Or was I?

My body ached all over. I took another deep breath and commanded my shoulders and chest to relax. They eased up for a second, then clenched again. My stomach was in a knot. I should eat something, but the thought of food made me feel ill. And I felt so antsy. Why was my anxiety fan running at full blast?

I thought back on the past few days and the three projects I was working on—all complex with lots of steps, controversy, and inadequate solutions. I’d spent hours struggling to bring all the parts together and make them fit. No wonder I was all worked up.

I’d better get myself calmed down before my company gets here or I won’t be much fun to be around. I called my friend to see what time she would arrive, but instead found out there had been a miscommunication about dates and that she would come in a couple weeks instead.

Oh well, with this change I could escape to the mountains and meet up with my parents at their camping spot a few days early. The thought of pine trees, babbling streams, and marshmallows toasting over a campfire seemed so appealing that I packed up my gear and was on the road in two hours.

CREEK PANORAMA

 

I had a great time visiting and hiking with my parents. At age 86 they still walk easily up the steep trails—quite an inspiration! After two days of clear mountain air I felt calmer and more relaxed.

As I drove home, I sat back in my seat and tuned in the Christian music radio station. God, what did I do wrong to get myself so wound up and anxious?

The answer suddenly seemed clear. I’d been working hard to put things together. I’d been trying to solve all the problems. I’d been trying to make all the decisions and make things happen. I’d been steering my life instead of letting Jesus lead.

driving a car

I knew I was supposed to hand my steering wheel over to Jesus—I could even sing all the lyrics of the song about it. But how could I actually do it?

That answer now seemed clear, too. I’d spent months practicing connecting to Jesus. Now I just needed to take it one step further. At each turn in my day, I’d not only remember Jesus was there, I’d let him lead by:

  • Asking for God’s advice on what to do next.
  • Listening expectantly for his answer.
  • Waiting for God to provide the help I need.
  • Accepting that help and advice by acting on it.

I thought back on my anxious week and realized I hadn’t once asked God to help me with my tasks. Even so, God had provided at least two people who offered to help me, but I had turned them down and plodded on by myself. I picked up the phone and took them up on their offers.

Since then, I’ve been practicing asking God to direct each step of my day, and trusting him to provide the things I need. It’s not easy to remember or to do, but when I put Jesus in control I feel a new peace, and I think this is how the Christian life is supposed to be.

What do you do to let Jesus lead?

 

Photos courtesy of Crestock

Posted by: Kris Lindsey | July 31, 2014

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, when Bob and I sit down and talk, I like to tell the story of the things that happened to me that day. Bob has learned to listen patiently, but what he really wants is the bottom line. On this blog, I’ve enjoyed telling stories of how God helps me with my anxiety and depression issues, but today I want to talk plainly about the bottom line of emotional healing from God.

Part 1

To get God’s full help and support for our emotional issues, we first need to be on board with him and agree to follow him. I did this in the spring of 1979 and began my relationship with God by:

  • Clearing the air by admitting the hurtful or offensive things I’d done and then asking God’s forgiveness.
  • Inviting Jesus to come in and lead my life.
  • If you want to do this too, pray a simple prayer something like this:

“Dear Jesus, I know I’ve made some wrong choices and done some hurtful things. Please forgive me. From now on, I commit to following you and doing things your way. Amen.

When we invite Jesus in to guide our lives, we join God’s family and gain a spiritual connection with him.

heart from sisal rope

Part 2

To get help for our emotional problems, we can ask God to help us.

God knows how our emotional issues developed. If you’re anything like me, when trouble comes my way I put up defenses—walls to block the pain and protect me from getting hurt again. Then I change direction and do things differently. I’m a little more cautious when I meet a new person. I hold back my enthusiasm to avoid disappointment. I go on in my new pattern, unconscious of why, and the wall I put up becomes invisible. I forget it’s even there.

After years of putting up walls and coping by turning to the left or right, I find myself lost in a maze.

Question sign in the maze

I don’t know how I got here—why I’m anxious, tense, defensive, or depressed—and I don’t know how to get out. But God sees the maze from above. He sees those invisible coping device walls that served a purpose at the time but no longer apply, and can tell me which way to turn to get healed (see my other blog posts). God’s just waiting for me to ask for his help.

Ask for God’s help:

  • With an open heart, willing to change.
  • Listen for God’s answer when you pray, read the Bible, attend church, and talk to Christian friends and mentors.
  • Do what God leads you to do, such as letting go of an issue and trusting God more, forgiving someone, or seeking a counselor.

I’d heard people pray for all kinds of physical and financial problems, but I didn’t know God could help us with our emotional problems until I went to him and asked. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows all and sees all, and is willing and able to help us heal. When he does, he also fills us with peace and joy. I want to drink the whole glass of that loving provision.

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