How are you? I ask that question because I want you to take a moment and ask yourself, “How am I doing?” I was asking myself the same question the other day and I realised that the beginning of the year for me is a mix of emotions. I am excited because I know God is good and He has some awesome things lined up for me. I am nervous because I don’t know what challenges I have to face this year. I am skeptical because there are some things I was hoping for last year that didn’t quite pan out. And yes, skepticism is by definition doubt.
When we are asking ourselves how we are doing we need to learn to be honest with ourselves. When we can be honest with ourselves, we can be honest with God. When we are real about what we are experiencing, we can take that to God and He can help us out. The other day I was feeling stressed out and I felt God wanted me to write down a list of all the things that were stressing me out. Took me a while to do it because, well, I’m still learning how to be a good listener. I did it and as I was writing down the list something came to mind which was stressing me out before but soon as I thought about it, my response to myself was, “nah I’ve prayed about that, so I am not stressed about it anymore.” In that moment I realised that I had prayed about everything on the list. So how come some things I prayed about and moved on and others I am hanging onto?
1 Peter 5:7-8 says, “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you. Be well balanced and always alert, because your enemy, the devil, roams around incessantly, like a roaring lion looking for its prey to devour.” When we do what the bible tells us to do and we take our cares and leave them with Jesus, we are not weighed down by stress, anxiety, fear or worry. Instead, we have peace. Isn’t it fascinating how the very next verse tells us to be well balanced because we have a real enemy seeking to devour us? Could it be that we are looking for the devil in the big things, but he is hiding in plain sight? Your emotions, if you let them go unchecked, can make you easy prey for the devil.
Worry, stress and anxiety will not only steal your peace, but it takes away your time and robs you of your joy and if it goes on long enough, it can affect your health and well-being. Worrying doesn’t change anything. I think that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Worrying does not change anything, it just robs you of your present moment. What is in the present that God wants you to see that the devil wants you to miss?
Yes, 2023 may have its own challenges but worrying about them won’t stop them from happening. Instead, I can choose to build my faith now and start telling my soul that God will never leave nor forsake me, so come what may I know that God will cause all things to work together for my good. I have a choice what I play over and over in my mind. I choose to acknowledge how I am feeling but in that, bring the truth of God’s word. Something I learnt from my pastor Esther last year was that our feelings are real, but they are not facts. God has the final say in any situation. So instead of being led by my feelings, I need to be led by the word of God. What does God say about this?
Circling back to areas where we may be feeling skeptical, my pastor Glenn said something amazing last year in Bible College (very subtle plug, lol). He taught us to focus on our expectation not our experience. Our experience is reflective of the past. But what God wants to do next in your life is not determined by your past. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”
Don’t be so caught up about what did or did not work out in 2022. God is on the move. He is doing something brand new. All we have to do is to keep our eyes on Jesus as we journey through the new year. We have to follow the Holy Spirit at all times, pray about everything- big or small. Involve God in our decision making. Not, Lord bless my bad decisions but God, what do You want me to do? Listen to godly counsel. Surround yourself with people who fuel your passion for Jesus not people who make you comfortable. If you want 2023 to be different, you have to be willing to do something different in 2023. God is into different. So buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Love and blessings,