When You Believe

And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side...
— Judges 8:34

In college, I was asked to speak in Convocation, which is the university’s “chapel hour.” The talk was part of an annual series highlighting testimonial reflections of graduating seniors. My goal was not to rattle off accomplishments or tell funny stories; instead, I wanted to point others to God: saying that while it’s important to plan ahead, He ultimately has something better (than what we could plan on our own) in store.

I recently found myself thinking back to this talk, for this summer hasn’t played out how I thought it would. When we try to take control and chart ahead with God as a sidekick, how quickly it is to forget. Things go right, and we’re fine. Things go wrong, and we look up to heaven with anger, feeling like God isn’t listening or upholding His end of the bargain.

The God of the universe not providing?! What a peculiar thing to propose. And yet, we do it.

It’s a “what have you done for me lately?” mindset. We thank God whenever our requests are answered in our timing, and we thank Him whenever a majorly positive event occurs. Then, we go about our merry way. Something negative happens, and doubt creeps in.

It’s a cycle that needs to be broken. But how?

The events of this summer are still unfolding, so I’m not going to suggest that I have this thing figured out. However, I do have a few thoughts that I’d like to share.

Pray

Prayer is a discipline that needs to be learned. It’s our communication line with Christ; and just like speaking with a friend or relative, it should be often.

He may not answer our prayers right away or even at all, but that shouldn’t deter us. Instead, we should seek to pray for the things that God has in store for us. Certainly submit your requests to him (Philippians 4:6), but also seek peace and worship Him no matter the outcome.

Read

The Word of God is relevant and important. It’s a road map for life filled with narrative, poetry, epistles, and wisdom.

Over the years, I’ve tried to read the Bible in its entirety, but I always get stuck. This year, I finally started using a reading plan that helped me better understand how to break it up into sections. I’ve really found a new joy from this practice and often exclaim, “This is in the Bible?!”

(Full disclosure: I’ve since gone a bit rogue with my following of the plan, but it’s definitely a great catalyst for consistent reading.)

Commune

This summer, I’ve committed to not live in the shadows. Sure, there is a place for silence and restoration, but I didn’t want to use that as an excuse to hide. 

In fact, Christians are called to live in community. We should be proactive to share our prayer requests and lessons learned from Scripture. It can be a messy process, for we’re all broken people trying to serve a perfect God. Nevertheless, don’t delay or lose heart.

All of these are opportunities to worship Christ right where we’re planted. I won’t lie; it’s hard. Regardless, I find hope when I recall the ways He’s already provided, and I’m able to move forward, slow and steady.

(PS: I’m pulling titles for my “Life” posts from songs played in animated movies. Here’s a live version of Mariah and Whitney singing this one, which won Best Original Song at the 1999 Oscars.)