I’ve had a hard time knowing how to follow Jesus for about the past year. We’ve all been through soooo muchhh. I feel like I’ve been in self preservation mode for a long time. From the pandemic to painful societal tensions to cancel culture to the freeze (for us Texans at least) to this devastating turn of events in Afghanistan, I have really gone inward. Maybe you can relate. I’ve looked at all that’s going on in the world and wondered what God is up to. Sometimes I’ve even wondered if he’s there at all. But the testing of faith is a good thing. It develops perseverance. Perseverance produces character. And character produces hope. And hope will never put you to shame.
I have hope that God is here and working in all things I see and struggle with. But staying connected to God is vital to keeping that hope vibrant, like a spring constantly bubbling up to the surface. Maybe you’re new to faith and connecting to God seems impossible. Maybe you’ve been a believer your entire life like me, and you find yourself a little lackluster lately. Here are the things I do to refresh and renew my connection to God, especially this year!
I recently moved my morning quiet time station to the window in our bedroom that faces our little “wilderness” piece of property as we call it. The window view features a very popular bird feeder, trees, bird baths, a dry creek, and lots of pretty grass to enjoy. Sometimes I pull out my bible, set down my coffee, open my journal, only to find myself staring out the window at all the birds. At first I’d chide myself for this. I should really be reading my bible. But now, I let myself enjoy the slow pace. I let myself enjoy the silliness and happiness of the birds as they fight for spots on the feeder and forage in the grass below for stray seeds. This is a really soothing part of my day. The beauty of the scene feeds my soul and my hope. Of course, this practice hasn’t even brought my outside yet! Sitting on our porch in the back, walking through our little field of wildflowers, tending to our gardens, looking at the sky, all of these things point my heart to the source of their beauty. I know that is the point. God made nature for us to enjoy and marvel at. How could we not?! It’s resilience and rugged loveliness is like a guidepost, steering me back to God all the time.
This one is very important! Talking to other believers is absolutely crucial to faith. We sharpen, admonish, encourage, and inspire each other. We carry one another’s burdens. There is soooo muchhhh division in culture right now! We can get divided over literally the tiniest thing. I know that the enemy revels in this division. He instigates and takes pleasure in it. I think it is very important that we fight against division aggressively. This is why cancel culture is so hideous to me. Why would we ever count a person out because of a mistake or differing opinion? There is no room for grace or understanding or patience or growth in that protocol. It is a dead end leading to a dead end. Opening up with other believers about the things we struggle with is super important. And having a grace-filled attitude while we both share and listen is how we can talk about hard things and still walk away united.
I struggle with this. It feels like the world is on the internet! Like if we’re not on social media in some way, we lose out on what’s going on. Maybe to a degree that is true? But it still isn’t real life. Real life is wind and trees and animals and doing good work and resting and family and breaking bread with friends! Having perimeters around our consumption of pop culture and social media is a very healthy discipline. For me, it’s not allowing myself to look at the phone at stop lights. Just be in the world! Take that time to think or pray or just look around at the cars next to me and see those people. I think we’ve just gotten used to a lot of noise, so being truly quiet is almost unsettling. It’s like we need a distraction or something to do. But creating quiet makes space for God to speak.
There are so many more things we can do (heck — I’ll throw in prayer and reading scripture in here because those are obviously a great ones!) but these are the first three that came to mind! I hope this helps and you can connect with God today!