Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Beyond the storm - Part 1

So what happens when you make it through the storm and you are at anchor in a safe and peaceful location? A few things. 

Firstly there is likely to be a feeling of relief, we made it! Thank you Jesus. 

Then if you are process-minded like me you may start to do a mental review of how you could have been better prepared for the storm, or consider what could you have done differently in the storm

Finally you may ask that important question, what did I learn from the storm and how can I use that knowledge in preparing for the future?

And so it is with the storms of life, how do we take what we've learned about ourselves, God and our relationship with Him, and move forward? How do we at the very least maintain and hopefully build on the new level of intimacy with our heavenly father, that has developed through the storm?

It is easy when we have a deep personal need to cry out to God, petitioning Him to move in the circumstance, to heal, to provide, to help us through that minute of the day. The Psalms express these cries so well.

Oh, Lord God, answer my prayers!
I need to see your tender kindness, your grace,
your compassion, and your constant love.
Just let me see your face, and turn your heart toward me.
Come running quickly to your servant.
In this deep distress, come and answer my prayer.
Psalm 69:16-17 TPT

But what happens when by His grace and mercy that desperate need is gone and life moves to a new normal? How to you make sure that you don't revert back to that self-sufficient independent life, forgetting to do your day with Jesus because there appears to be no immediate need for Him? 

Over the past couple of years as our family has transitioned from survival mode to a more normal life, here are some of the practical things that I've done to keep growing the hunger for a deeper relationship with God.

1. Read a different translation/version of the Bible
For me this has included reading different translations of the Bible. I am currently loving reading The Passion Translation.  I have also been reading a NKJV Bible with that includees leadership commentary from John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible - Lessons in leadership from the Word of God, by John Maxwell. His commentary includes thoughts ont how God used the trials people faced to build character to enable them to do what He had planned for them.
I believe reading different Bible translations/versions helps to keep God's word fresh, and can help us to get greater revelation of His truth to help us move along the maturity path.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energising, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of the joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 AMP

2. Get a new devotional book, start listening to a new podcast 
God speaks through so many different people, in different ways for different purposes. I sometimes go to Koorong, knowing that I want to listen to someone I haven't listened to before, and I stand in front of the audio book section and say, "Holy Spirit, please show me who you want me to learn from," and he always directs me to exactly what I need to hear.

3. Reading about or listening to other Christians who have done similar journeys
As Victoria has grown older and started to process her journey in new ways, we have sought out the stories of other Christians who have faced challenges, particularly physical challenges. We are currently reading, Joni, by Joni Eareckson Tada. As we read how she coped, what God taught her, it has prompted discussion about what we have learned. It has also given us another example of how God has used what happened to her for good, just as He promises in Romans 8:28.

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God's perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose. Romans 8:28 TPT

4. Sing a new song
How blessed are we today to have access to a multitude of  scripture based, Jesus inspired music. Again, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to something new. So many times, in my private worship time, I have heard a song for the first time and it has been like God has unlocked a little more of my heart with the lyrics and music. Or perhaps it is time for you to write your own song .... just a thought.

Go-ahead - sing your new song to the Lord!
Let everyone in every language sing him a new song.
Don't stop! Keep on singing! Make his name famous!
Tell everyone every day how wonderful he is.
Give them the good news of our great Saviour.
Take the message of his glory and miracles into every nation.
Tell them about all the amazing things that he has done.
Psalm 96:1-3 TPT

5. Experiment with the times and places you talk to God

I love routine. But I know that routine can stifle what  God wants to do, because the truth is I can sometimes loves my routine (code word for control) more than God! So it is good to sometimes change it up, to have your quiet time in a new place, perhaps out in the garden or on a balcony. Look for a different time in the day to do a devotion, maybe while you are waiting in the car to pick up children. Give God space to talk to you in new ways.

I am passionately in love with God because he listens to me. He hears my prayers and answers them. As long as I live I'll keep praying to him, for he stoops down to listen to my heart's cry. Psalm 116:1-2 TPT

So in your life, if the storm is finished, and you are entering a new season, and you want to continue to grow your relationship with Christ, I pray that these practical ideas I have shared today will be a starting point. Even if they are just a prompt for you to say, "God, I want a greater intimacy with you, please show me how."

He will answer you, because he wants that closer relationship with you. Be expectant and have courage to do what he shows you. He loves you.

Look with wonder at the depth of the Father's marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children. 1 John 3:1 TPT 

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