My daughter, Charlotte, is not quite two years old. Recently, she stumbled and struck her head very hard against the door frame in our home. I knew by the loud thud and her screams that she was hurt—I just wasn’t sure how badly.
As she sobbed, I evaluated the immense knot and bruise on her forehead and prayed she didn’t have any significant trauma to the brain. After just a few moments she grew very drowsy and wanted to nap. I panicked. I thought for sure this was indicative of a concussion and that allowing her to sleep would somehow be the end to her very short life.
After a Google search, a prayer, and my husbands’ words of encouragement (not necessarily in that order) I allowed her to rest. After 45 minutes, I gently roused her to see if she would wake. I was comforted by her opened eyes, and I allowed her to drift back to sleep to finish her daily nap. I said another prayer, this time thanking God for his protection and for my daughter whom I love so immensely.
The Bible describes new believers as babies. This metaphor isn’t designed to insult those who are new to the faith, rather to illustrate that our faith journey is a process in which we grow and mature over time. Just as my Charlotte, who is still new to walking, is prone to stumbling, so it is with new believers who are learning what it means to take up their cross and follow after Jesus.
Perhaps you or someone you love is new to faith, and you fear that you might stumble in such a way that you can’t come back from, a way that would end your short new life as a Christ follower. You might be afraid that your mistakes might somehow disqualify you from this beautiful gift God has given you.
I want to assure you that what the Bible says is true, 100%. In the Bible we are promised many things. In Philippians 1:6 we are promised that, “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished.”
We are told in Romans 8:38 that, “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
I want you to know that even when you stumble, God is still with you. God is perfect love. He is quick to forgive and does not keep a record of our wrongs after we ask for and receive His forgiveness. This gift, made possible by Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross and resurrection from the dead, has the power to overcome any of our mistakes, stumblings and shortcomings. Do not walk in fear, rather trust in God that He will never leave or forsake you.
When Charlotte fell, there was a bruise to her forehead. When we stumble, there may be consequences we have to navigate. But know that this is not the end. This is part of the process of becoming a mature Christ follower.
Allow God to pick you up, clean you up, to love you, and then keep going. Try again. Keep living the faith. As you grow in faith, you will stumble less often (though know that no one is perfect!). Learn to rely on God’s strength and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the way out, the way of escape when temptation comes knocking. And when you fall, know that God is always there to pick you up.
So, how stressed are you? Would you be willing to try Christian meditation to deal healthily with your stress in a way that draws you closer to the Lord? (There are free apps for this, but I’ll get to that.)
Meditation is a rich part of the Christian tradition. Richard Foster says in his book Celebration of Discipline: “Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word. It is that simple.”
Through meditation we may remove ourselves from worldly distractions and attach our souls to God, becoming attuned to the divine presence. Foster says we may meditate on God’s promises, on Scripture, on the goodness of his creation. The Christian practice of meditation infuses our stress-filled lives with much-needed stillness and quiet.
Philippians 4:8 says: Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. (VOICE)
C.S. Lewis says: “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”
Need help in learning how to meditate? One app you might download and use is called “Centering Prayer”. You can set how long you’d like to pray or meditate silently. You can choose a Bible verse or prayer to open and close the time. You can also select a calming sound to begin and end the time, for example, piano, birds singing, or even Gregorian chants (which is what I use).
In the Centering Prayer app you’re encouraged to choose one “sacred word” that you focus on and repeat during the time. For example, you might choose the word “peace,” or “love” or “grace” or “Jesus” (which is what I use). The app provides a structure to practice being still and focusing on God for a set length of time.
Another tool you might use is YouVersion Rest. To listen to this on Alexa, say: “Alexa, open YouVersion Rest.” To listen to this on Google Assistant, say: “OK Google, talk to YouVersion Rest.”
I listen to YouVersion Rest through my computer. It’s a way to find peace in the words of God while listening to a calming voice read the Bible to you. These videos include a female or a male voice, along with four soothing background sounds: rain, thunderstorm, ocean and soft piano.
What are other ways you’ve found to engage in meaningful Christian meditation? Would you share them through Journey’s Facebook page or group?
Faith? Why bother? Because you don’t have any choice when it comes to faith. The reality is you will put your faith in something or someone. The question is what or who. Material possessions? Personal popularity? Technology? A political leader or party? A celebrity? A sports figure? Yourself?
So, what or who are you putting your faith in? How do you spend your time and energy? What is the focus of your life? What does that tell you about what you truly value in life? Your priorities reveal what’s most important to you, what you worship, what you put your faith in.
Hebrews 11 identifies some outstanding examples of the Christian faith. It begins by declaring: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” Hebrews 11:1 (MSG)
The faith we embrace is the foundation of our lives. If we embrace a Godly faith, it leads to a life worth living. If we do not embrace a Godly faith, it leads to a life not worth living.
When it comes to faith, two options are to deny or to defy. Some people think that faith is about denying the reality of the world we live in. But Biblical faith does not deny the reality of hurt and hardship, discouragement and despair. Biblical faith does not allow those things to define us. Biblical faith defies that the bad things of this world will ultimately win out. It embraces that there is a spiritual realm that we cannot see, but which is real.
Biblical faith is about the passionate pursuit to become more and more like Jesus. When we center our lives in Jesus, we find that when we seek God when our foundation is shaken, it’s often God who is doing the shaking. It’s sad that it’s this way, but again and again our lives show that we often choose to turn to Jesus only when our lives are starting to fall apart.
So, what if you are dejected, despondent, defeated, desperate right now? What should you do? Turn to Jesus. It’s as simple and as challenging as that. Get to Jesus. Commune with Jesus. Live in and for Jesus. The question is—will you do it? Will you genuinely put your faith in Jesus as the fundamental fact of your existence, a spiritual reality that transcends the brokenness and selfishness and sin of this world? About that you do have a choice.
Two-year-old Hagen Davis flew with his family from Sacramento to Dallas to attend his great uncle’s funeral. He left his beloved Buzz Lightyear action figure on the plane. The aircraft then flew to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Beth Buchanan, a Southwest Airlines operations agent, discovered it. She noticed the name “Hagen” on the bottom of Buzz’s boot and decided to scan the passenger list.
A ramp agent named Jason William Hamm saw the toy sitting on his colleague’s desk. They confirmed that Buzz belonged to Hagen, and Hamm decided to get it back to him. He emailed the family to let them know he had located Buzz and to ask for their address so he could return the toy to them. Then he decided to convince Hagen that Buzz had been on a mission before returning home.
So, Hamm, an aviation photographer, took pictures of Buzz in front of an airplane, an engine, and a cockpit. He wrote a letter from Buzz to Hagen explaining his “mission” and the photos. He decorated a cardboard box with drawings of Buzz, stars, planets, and classic Toy Story sayings, including “To infinity and beyond!” Then he mailed Buzz, the letter, and the photos to Hagen.
Why did Hamm go to such lengths? He said: “I have an autistic son, and he gets attached to toys. If he loses a toy, I know how hard it is for him.”
Hagen’s mother said: “For Jason to go above and beyond for someone he did not know, and to take that much time and effort, it’s just incredible.”
In John 13:34-35 Jesus says: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)
How are you showing through time and effort that you are truly a disciple of Jesus? How are you going out of your way, above and beyond, to demonstrate the love of Christ to people?
Mark Twain is reputed to have said: “Faith is believing in what you know ain’t true.” Is that what faith really is?
As a person of faith, I see no benefit in clinging to falsehoods, lies, things that are not true. When life is knocks you down, throws you for a loop, disorients you (like many people feel right now), it is truth that offers security and stability and hope.
At Easter, followers of Jesus by faith celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Some people falsely think that God’s miraculous resurrection of the crucified Savior of the world is fantasy, fiction, foolishness. Those people who are Christ-followers celebrate that Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact and is the foundation of the Christian faith.
Of all the belief systems in the world, Christianity is the only one that insists that its truths must be founded on the historical existence of a person named Jesus and that he historically said and did the things claimed of him.
The validity of the resurrection as a reliable historical event is paramount to personal faith. The Christian faith is historically verifiable—or it’s nothing.
If Jesus did not die (really die, dead-as-a-doornail-dead) and then rise again (in a physical body, that walked, talked, ate, and resumed relationships with his friends), then what Paul said is certainly true: “If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:17 (GNT)
I pray that with God’s help this Easter season you will embrace with deep faith Jesus’ resurrection with renewed confidence, wonder and hope.