Sunday, September 11, 2016

What’s with all the noise?

It is no secret I have always thrived on movement.  From childhood until now I have lived to run, bike, or do anything that kept me on the go.  Sitting in class going through school was torture for me, as I think more clearly and am calmer with movement.  This movement has also become an important piece of my faith. 
Coming to God in prayer seems simple: you pray for your relative with cancer, you pray for grandpa who is sick and throw in a thank you for the blessings that God has given you.  This, however, I do not see as enough.  One must have a relationship with God.  He is not some distant friend who you share the basics with and then depart.  God should be with you in the deepest of ways, and there should be a closeness to you with no secrets hidden.  
So, what does all the noise have to do with prayer, one may ask?  I personally respond better in prayer and feel closer, more vulnerable, more clear in my prayer without the distractions.  I still can have great conversations with God at stoplights or even in bed before falling asleep, but there is a stillness, a peace that comes from praying without the noise, without the distractions.  For this reason, escaping to the mountains for hiking, running, or cycling has always resulted in some of my greatest spiritual eye opening prayers with God.  Movement is not the problem; it is the noise, the to-do lists, the opportunities to check my phone, or worry about everyone else’s problems along with mine.  I can be vulnerable and really dive into my faith, my problems, my struggles, and feel direction in my heart after doing so.  While being vulnerable, I can admit my flaws and admit that the struggle I may be going through was my own doing and that I should fix the problem I created.  But I could really use God's help or direction in how to get out of the mess I created.  Now, just because I enjoy escaping to the wilderness or a workout to get deep in prayer does not mean one cannot be as successful in their own home.  I have heard from several friends that they feel so at peace in their own homes or with their significant other that they can pray the deepest of prayers with them and in their home.  I hope some day that I can find such a woman and create such a home.  I have a hard time believing it will be quite the same as my prayers that I have prayed in the mountains, but if that day comes, I will welcome it.
So, my advice to you is to find your place of comfort.  It does not have to be the mountains or in movement, but having a place of security where you can pray and truly open up to God is vital for the growth of your spiritual health and relationship.  If you have a place, then I encourage you to go a step further and find someone you feel comfortable with so your prayers can be shared and amplified, as the power of prayer works.  Cut out the ear buds, the cell phones, and anyone that does not help you grow or allow you to be close to God.  Get rid of all the noise, and fill yourself with the peace that comes from deep and honest prayer. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Journey Continues

Taking the initial step into the unknown, I thought was going to be the hardest part of moving to Colorado.  For years I had felt pulled home, closer to family and to the state that I love.  I had known that coming home was the right decision, but knowing the right decision and going through with it are not always a simultaneous act.  I have heard story after story from so many friends, even my closest of friends who are in a tough situation or situation that is far more drastic than just feeling called home.  Yet they struggle to go through with it.  Why is it so hard to take the step that you know is the right one?  Maybe it is leaving some place, some career, or someone who is holding you back or simply not the right place, career, or person to be sharing your life with?

In the book of Matthew after Christ is seen by his disciples walking on water, they question whether it is really their leader.  After they are sure it is Him, Peter asks to join Jesus on the water and walks out to him.  Despite the fear we all have in making a tough decision, Peter too had fear, but seeing Jesus standing firm on the sea he asked to join Him and began walking on water as Jesus was.  The initial courage, perhaps like jumping out of a plane, is easier than the courage it takes to stay committed once one is in free fall. 

So, what happens after you have made the decision and taken the first step, to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Christ?  Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who keeps the faith, and everything goes according to plan and works out.  But maybe you are like me, struggling in Colorado to still find my way.  While I still stand behind the decision, it does not mean the struggle is not real.  Sinking at times I am reminded by Peter that my eyes must stay fixed on Christ.  In Matthew 14, we are reminded that Christ is here for us and that we should not be afraid to follow our heart.  Second, that when He says to "Come," we need to act and know that He will be with us through the entire journey.  Finally, that if we begin to struggle or sink that we must hold to our faith.  Christ asked, "Why did you doubt?" and in our struggles we must not doubt.  Standing firm in our faith and trusting in Him to our path that He has laid in front of us may be difficult, but refusing to act and follow our hearts will only separate us from Him. 

My advice to you is to first listen to God and trust your heart.  Once you have made the decision, do not hesitate; there is rarely a good time for a tough decision, so acting will begin the tough process but bring happiness all the sooner.  Finally, if things do not go according to plan, do not turn and try to swim back to the boat, for Christ is closer than the boat, and keeping your eyes and heart fixed on Him trusting in your decision and faith in God will deliver you from the sea and to your dreams.