Choosing PEACE instead of PANIC

With all that’s happening in our world currently with the spread of COVID-19, there’s one thing I know for sure:

Panic, fear and anxiety are spreading faster than the virus!

Usually when we’re faced with uncertainty and lack of control, we start to worry. When our lives become unpredictable, it’s human nature to slip into anxious thinking.

When negative news consumes the media and we continually see the death numbers rise, fear rises even higher.

I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to align my mind with truth and words of hope.

In Matthew 6:25-34, we find Jesus speaking to a crowd. He’s just laid a foundation of where their true treasure can be found. It’s not in possessions or money. But in God alone.

Then right after that he assures us why we should not worry and gives examples of questions one would ask IF they were in a state of worry.

What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?

These questions refer to necessary items. No luxuries (non-essentials) are mentioned.

Our current questions in the midst of a world pandemic might look like this:

What will I do now that I’ve lost my job?

Will I have enough food to last through quarantine?

What if I get the virus?

Where will I buy toilet paper?

The response Jesus gives to these questions should grab our attention. His response then is still his response now.

Why do you worry, oh you of little faith? 

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

For the world runs after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them.

Jesus emphasizes that worry will do nothing for us. It will not add anything. It will bring more stress. More panic.

When he says the world runs after all these things, I automatically think of long lines outside grocery stores where people are ready to race to the toilet paper shelves, knocking down whoever gets in their way!

I’ve seen multiple social media posts where meat and dairy shelves are empty.

An obvious result of people running after these things. 

What should bring us assurance and comfort is that Jesus says, Your heavenly Father knows you need them.

Yes, He’s very aware of our needs.

Needs

Notice it doesn’t say our wants.

We’re living in a time when we’re realizing the difference between our needs and wants.

Essentials and non-essentials. 

I want lunch at Panera.

I want to watch college basketball games.

I want my fitness class.

I want my hair appointment!

But when all these things are stripped away from us, our perspective dramatically shifts.

My basic needs are being met. I have food, a roof over my head and plenty of clothes. (And even if toilet paper is running low, it ultimately will not cause me to die!)

The last thing Jesus says to give us peace and assurance is this:

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

We’re being forced to slow down and live one day at a time.

We’re used to planning things out weeks and months ahead of time.

We’re used to stocking up on things in bulk.

We’re used to our predictable routines.

Maybe it’s a good thing we are now literally having to live one day at a time.

When I start worrying about tomorrow, the “what-if” syndrome knocks me down and I can’t recover.

What if _______???

Jesus promises to be our daily bread. (Not a weekly or monthly stockpile.)

Because if I have a year’s supply of food and toilet paper, I’m going to trust in that and not Him.

He wants us to trust Him one day at a time. 

One moment at a time.

And when we do that, we can trade our panic for peace.

How about you dear friend?

Are you caught up in the whirlwind of worry? The pandemic panic?

Lean into the peace and assurance that can only come from trusting in the one who knows exactly what we need.

Blessings to you,

Lisa 

 

He Knows Your Stats

Psalm 139:3-4 “You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (NLT)

 

In our ever-developing world of technology, various devices are available for tracking and recording our fitness stats. Garmin® watches track distance, pace and exactly how many seconds, minutes and hours have ticked by. (In my pre-Garmin® days, I drove my car around the block, using the odometer to figure out the distance I needed to run!)

Many have embraced the latest Fitbit® craze. A proud owner of one of these, I’m enthralled with this powerful tracking device. It monitors my daily steps, calorie consumption, flights climbed, heart rate, distance traveled and how many hours I slept. I can even sync all these stats with my phone or laptop, analyzing in detail just how active—or inactive—I was on any given day. All of this information is displayed right at my finger tips.

To take it a step further, it blows me away that I’m not the only person Fitbit® tracks. I’m one of thousands of people—each with their own unique stats. How in the world can technology operate like this? How does it absorb all this information, keeping it specific for each and every person?

As impressive as our technology is with all its bells and whistles, there’s something much more powerful than this. It’s not a device. It’s not something man has created.

God in all his infinite power and knowledge knows everything about each and every person in the whole wide world. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s mind boggling, trying to wrap our human minds around this truth.

He knows the steps we’ve traveled (Proverbs 20:24), the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7), when we lie down, and our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:3-4).

In Matthew 10:29 Jesus tells us, “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” So if God notices all these birds, how much more does he know about us—people created in his own image?

Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

It’s one thing for him to know our spoken words, but according to Jeremiah 12:3, he examines the attitudes of our heart.

Yikes! Even the stuff—good and bad—nobody else knows?

Yes, He knows the stats of our soul. Let this bring comfort and not condemnation.

He knows our fears and dreams.

He understands our disappointments and desires.

He comprehends our strengths and weaknesses.

He even recognizes intimate things about us we don’t understand ourselves.

Now that’s more complex than any manmade device that has been or ever will be developed!

If it’s possible for the human mind to develop such powerful, complex technology, then how much more believable is it to grasp the fact that our sovereign God—the creator of the universe—is all-knowing and all-powerful?

But let’s take it one step further. Not only does God know everything about us, but he loves us anyway. Our ugly messes are displayed before his eyes. But instead of condemning us, He syncs our sin-stained souls with the blood of Jesus, lavishing his forgiveness all over us.

READY? Take a moment and embrace the fact that God knows everything about your life. Is there an area of your life you’ve tried to hide from him? Reflect on today’s scriptures and allow God’s powerful presence to penetrate every area of your heart. The next time you charge your favorite device, let it be a reminder to you of God’s power.

GET SET. Proverbs 5:21 “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” (Also read Proverbs 20:24 and Luke 12:7)

GO! Heavenly Father, my mind simply can’t fathom your all-knowing, all-powerful presence. Help me accept by faith that you know every single detail of my life. May this truth comfort me when I doubt your involvement in my life. Amen.

Fitbit

 

View From the Top

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to New York City for a fast-paced, adventurous get-away with my mom. A popular landmark constantly being pointed out to us was the Chrysler Building. This skyscraper stands strong at 1,046 feet tall with 77 floors. Straining your neck to look at it from the ground, it towers over you with its monstrous stance. Insurmountable. Overwhelming. You can’t even fathom how tall it is.

The_Chrysler_Building.2  2ndCB

 

But just a few days later we ventured up to the top of the Empire State Building. Once we finally arrived at the observation deck, we peered out at the magnificent view in front of us. We tried to point out the landmarks we’d previously seen. Suddenly it came into view. There it was!

The Chrysler Building….

empirestateview

Really? Was this the same building we observed earlier?

The same building that appeared monstrous, insurmountable and overwhelming now looked much smaller! From the view at the top, you could see the entire building without straining your neck. You could see for miles! The view was breathtaking and spectacular.

The difference between the ground view and the top view was PERSPECTIVE.

As I looked out over the magnificent view of New York City, a powerful truth hit me hard:

From our perspective, the challenges and trials we face appear to be insurmountable, monstrous and quite overwhelming. But from God’s perspective, our challenges and trials are part of a magnificent and spectacular plan that only He can see all at once!

As humans, we will never have the top-of-the-observation-deck view of our lives. We will not be able to see the whole picture but only one part at a time. But we can trust our faithful God because He always has the upper view of everything.

We can absolutely trust Him with the things we can’t see.

The challenges that seem overwhelming.

The trials that threaten to strain our souls.

Yes. That is what true faith is, dear friend! Trusting God with the things we can’t see, knowing that He sees it all.

Where are you today? Are you looking up at something that seems overwhelming? Is there a challenge smack in front of you, crowding your vision?

I encourage you to run to your Heavenly Father to the top of the observation deck. Take his hand and let him lead you out to a place of rest. Let your soul soar with peace as you gaze upon the spectacular purpose He has for you.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is like a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.

Blessings to you, dear friend!

Lisa Preuett

 

Are You Ready for Battle?

Ephesians 6:12 “Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The night before a race, adrenaline pumps through your body as anticipation builds. In preparation for running out the door at the crack of dawn, you strategically organize your gear just right. From head to toe, every single item is laid out in clear view to make sure nothing is overlooked: Hat, shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, anti-chafing cream, Ipod, and of course your GPS watch. If any of these items are forgotten, you’ll struggle to run your race. Each item has a distinct purpose—designed for a specific job to protect you. When your alarm blares loudly in the morning, you’re ready to grab your essentials and confidently head out the door. You can’t fathom not being prepared! You fully understand what’s at stake.

A hat protects you from the blistering sun. Your wicking shirt and shorts soak up moisture—keeping your skin dry. You’d never dream of wearing cotton! Your pricey running socks and cream are worth every penny, protecting your feet from blisters. Your running shoes give you ample support for pounding the pavement.  You’ve downloaded the perfect songs on your playlist, trusting they’ll motivate you throughout the race. Your GPS watch is fully charged, ready to keep you on track. A wise runner is fully prepared—ready to conquer the race ahead, like a soldier armed for battle.

But there’s another battle that should get our full attention. We’re told in Ephesians about a spiritual battle. This battle threatens every believer in Christ. It’s ugly. It’s fierce. Thankfully, this battle is one we don’t have to fight alone.

When it comes to preparing for this battle, are we putting as much emphasis on the armor of God as we are with our running gear? Do we intentionally ponder the powerful pieces of armor God has designed for us? Are we carelessly rushing into challenges and difficulties without any thought of our protection?  If so, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. And in this case the disaster is much more serious than sunburn and blisters!

Each piece of armor is designed with precision to arm us for battle. Our helmet of salvation symbolizes what Christ did for us on the cross. In Biblical times it stood for a sign of military strength.

The breastplate of righteousness allows us to walk confidently, not in our own power, but in the righteousness of Jesus.

What about the girdle of truth? Without this, we don’t stand a chance against the deception of the world and the ploys of the enemy. We must cling to the truth of who we are in Christ.

The shoes of peace we’re privileged to wear allow us to demonstrate love to a hurting world.

The shield of faith is the most important defensive weapon we have. It protects us in the heat of battle, extinguishing all the flaming arrows hurled our way from the enemy.

And last but not least, we must firmly grip the sword of the spirit—the only offensive weapon given to us. With it we demolish the temptations set out to distract and destroy us.

So the next time you’re laying out your physical running gear, let it remind you and inspire you to be prepared for the spiritual battle within your soul. Ready or not, the battle awaits you.

READY? Are you being intentional in putting on your spiritual armor? Reflect on each piece of armor and how it can empower you for your life’s challenges.  What steps do you need to take to ensure you’re completely dressed for battle?

SET. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (Also read Ephesians 6:13-18)

GO! Dear Jesus, thank you for giving me each piece of armor. I desperately come before you and ask you to remind me of the power you’ve given me through each of these.  Help me to humble myself as I put on each piece and walk victoriously each day of my life on this earth. Amen

RunnersGear

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Branches of Humility

In the dead of winter, the trees stand barren. Without any budding leaves, they appear so dismal.  Almost as if they are whispering pangs of loneliness. Just months prior their leaves danced in the sunlight, thriving with life. But one by one, their leaves dropped to the ground as autumn exited and winter made its grand entrance.

Black_walnut_tree_winter (1)

But these barren trees in the bitter cold are a reflection of something powerful. A symbol of a deeper story that relates to each and every one of us. Don’t miss this! It’s something you’ll never forget once your eyes have been opened.

These winter trees symbolize seasons of humility. Every fiber of life seems to be disappearing right in front of our eyes. Life slows down to an abrupt halt. Just like the trees, we stand bare. The cold winds of the unexpected blow harshly deep in our souls and we feel so barren. Helpless. We can’t hide anymore. Just like the colorful leaves of autumn disappear, we’re left with nothing. We don’t feel alive. We don’t feel pretty. There’s no beauty in our days. Stripped bare of anything promising, we have NOTHING to offer.

But take a closer look at those leave-less trees. There’s something intriguing about them. On a bright-sunny day, although blistering cold, there is a unique beauty that silently whispers. Faint glimmers of hope. The sunlight twinkles more brightly through those barren branches. It seems more powerful because there’s no leaves to block its path. A transcendent splendor. You can see every tiny branch, shooting in multiple directions off the main trunk of the tree. These tiny twigs you wouldn’t see if they were covered with flourishing leaves.

Every. Single. Part of that tree is visible. Nothing is hidden.

sun-through-trees-0385

 

You don’t see the winter trees bending over to hide their barrenness. You don’t see them withering away for lack of fruit. You don’t see them cutting themselves down. What are they doing?

They are standing still. Standing tall. Roots stronger than ever. They aren’t going anywhere.

They must wait. In the right time, spring will come again. New buds will grow. Slowly. One at a time.

The once barren branches will produce something beautiful when the season is over. This season of winter prepares them for spring.

We too must wait patiently through our seasons of humility. Those times when we feel utterly hopeless. Helpless–desperate for any sign of life. And just as the sunlight shines brighter through those barren branches, the love and grace of God illuminates more powerfully through our surrendered souls. A mysterious, marvelous beauty. When we have nothing to offer, this power is magnified immensely. For all to see. For all to be pointed towards our amazing God.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be in a season of humility. When things come crashing down all around you. No fruit. No life. Everything looks dark and gloomy. It’s okay to say God, I have absolutely nothing to offer you right now. I’m bare inside and don’t feel happy. 

He welcomes our seasons of humility. He beckons us to surrender everything to Him. His astounding grace and mercy is lavished on us during these times. The end result is breath-taking. A gift only He could articulately design.

What about you? Are you walking through a season of humility? Do you feel barren and hopeless? Ashamed? Unworthy? Insecure?

Stand still, dear friend. Stand tall like the trees of winter, knowing that your roots are in place. Growing stronger with each passing day. Although you feel stripped with nothing to offer, please know you are dearly loved by our amazing God. Let His light shine through you. Soak up the warmth of His light. Breathe in the life of His presence. He’s got you. And remember…..winter doesn’t last forever. Spring is coming.

wintertree

James 4:6 God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Pace?

Hebrews 12:1. “…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”

One of the phrases you’ll frequently hear among fellow runners in conversation is this: “What’s your pace?” It’s also a  question most registration forms require an answer to when signing up for a half or full marathon. Deep down we probably know the answer to that question, yet sometimes we may be tempted to alter this figure so as to appear faster. Some runners are fast and can run like the wind no matter what the distance. But for me, long distance running is all about endurance. Speed is not a priority.

Could I run faster at the start? Absolutely!

Could I run at that pace throughout the entire race? Absolutely NOT!

If I started off running with all my might, I’d be sick to my stomach for the rest of the race. So I pace myself, trying to remember that it doesn’t matter if people are passing me quickly. It doesn’t matter who is in front of me. It doesn’t matter if someone else crosses the finish line before I do. My determination is focused on finishing the race. At my own unique pace.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an elite runner, as a follower of Christ you are in a race. Not a physical race, but a spiritual race. Maybe you’ve never thought of your life as a race, but it really is. Our goal is Jesus. We should desire to finish well and have Him say to us “Welcome home good and faithful servant.” 

But if I compare myself to someone else’s pace, I’ll crash and burn if I try to keep up with them. Trying to keep up with your friend who’s further ahead in their life’s journey would be like a brand new runner trying to keep up with a veteran marathoner. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Yet we often try to keep up with others to achieve a certain image. Or perhaps we feel unrealistic pressure from others to keep up with them. Sometimes pride drives us to run someone else’s pace. Or maybe it’s fear of walking a leg of the race alone. Whatever the motive is, it’s not good if it isn’t where God wants us. We are designed to live this life at the unique pace God calls us to. This life is definitely not a quick sprint, but a marathon with lots of twists and turns. Lots of valleys and hills. And sometimes a lot of flat land in between.

READY? Are you in a season where things are rough? Are you at the start line of a new adventure God is calling you to? Or maybe you feel as if you’re plugging along slowly in a desert land with no oasis in sight. Ask God to show you where you’re running ahead too quickly or not quickly enough. Wherever you may be, pace yourself.

GET SET. Galatians 5:25 “Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit.”

GO! Dear God, I confess that sometimes I try to run my race of faith at a pace you simply did not design me for. Forgive me for running in my own power instead of relying on the Holy Spirit. Help me surrender completely to the purpose you created me for as I run with endurance each step of the way. Amen 

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

 

 

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Matthew 14:29  So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid. He began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” Right away Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small! Why did you doubt me?”

After running six half marathons during a four-year stretch, I felt God nudging me to attempt a full marathon. At first I fought against this gentle nudging. What? Are you getting me mixed up with someone else, God? Can’t I just stick with what I’m already doing? But when I realized He was indeed nudging me, I completely surrendered. Yes! I stepped way out of my comfort zone. I’d grown quite comfortable in running half marathons. I knew what to expect. I was comfortable with my pace. Comfortable with the training schedule. Confident in beating my own personal records from previous races. I was satisfied with my collection of medals from finished half-marathons.

But when I finally decided to attempt a full marathon, I stepped into unknown territory. It took me several days to muster up enough courage to actually register for the race. And once I officially registered, fear gripped my heart. I was no longer comfortable.  Maybe you’re comfortable jogging a few miles around the block, but you think you’d be too uncomfortable to sign up for a 5K. Perhaps you’ve grown accustomed to running nothing but 5K’s and the mere thought of going beyond that distance makes you break out in a sweat. You don’t want to leave your comfort zone because it’s just not….comfortable. But you know what? Sometimes that’s exactly where God wants us to be.

I’m sure Peter felt the same way in today’s passage. It’s pretty obvious that Peter most certainly stepped out of his comfort zone! The other disciples huddled together as they watched comfortably from inside the boat. Nobody else dared to follow behind him. He progressed from being a spectator to a participant. He stepped completely out of the boat and then he walked toward Jesus.

But when Peter saw the huge waves in the distance, he began to sink. He didn’t sink from the presence of the waves; he sank because he gawked at the ferocious waves and took his eyes off Jesus. When Jesus calls us out of our comfort zones, the wind and waves may still distract us. What are your distractions? Doubts from your inner soul? Criticism from others who don’t understand? Unexpected circumstances?

When Peter began to sink, he didn’t have to wait long for Jesus to rescue him. It’s because Jesus was right there. When Jesus calls you out of your comfort zone, he doesn’t just watch from a distance. He is right there beside you to catch you when you fall. The first timid step into the unknown can often usher in a tidal wave of fear. When that happens, humbly drop to your knees in prayer. Call out to Him like Peter did and let him rescue you with the strong grip of his loving hand.

READY? Where do you think Jesus is calling you to come out of your comfort zone? Are you still in the boat? Then trust Him as you take that first step out. Are you a few steps out of the boat? Then keep going one step at a time as you fix your eyes on Jesus. Are you beginning to sink? Then call out to Him! He is still there to catch you and get you going again.

GET SET. Psalm 105:4 Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.

GO!  Lord Jesus, I humbly come to you and ask you to show me where I need to come out of my own comfort zone. Please forgive my unbelief and my human tendency to worry! Help me to not focus on the gushing waves around me, but to focus on the strength and peace you promise when we choose to seek your face. 

 

 

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com