The Week of Provision

For the past couple of months, I have been reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  It has been an enjoyable yet challenging read.  It has pushed me to try new things, helped me discover some areas that still need attention, and encouraged me to be more accepting and open about my artwork and writing.  I’ve been doing a lot more journaling, as well, which enables deeper soul searching.  It is very freeing.

The first week of March was the chapter entitled “Recovering a Sense of Abundance”.  I dubbed it the Week of Provision and set a goal to watch for and make a mental note of all of the things God did for me during that week.  I was filled with anticipation entering the week as He has always been faithful and His idea of blessings are always better than mine.  It just so happened that this was also the week my family was going on vacation.  For the record, I don’t believe in coincidence.  The timing of our vacation and this chapter was divine.  

My anxiety always heightens before a trip especially when flying.  There were already news reports circulating of coronavirus extending out of China and across Europe.  People were asking us if we would cancel our trip.  I prayed for the trip to go on as scheduled.  Originally, we were supposed to take this vacation 9 or so years ago when we had to cancel two days before leaving due to a family emergency.  My daughter’s heart was broken though she handled her emotions gracefully.  It would have been awful to have to cancel at the last minute again not to mention losing the money already spent on the trip for a second time.  

As it turned out, we were able to go, and it was a beautiful time of family, fun and relaxation.  We were blessed in so many ways:  some of our tickets from the first attempt were still good, free luggage on the plane because we are veterans, no crowds, perfect weather, and safety just to mention a few.  And the rest was so needed – sandwiched between an always stressful first quarter and returning home to the beginning of the implications of the coronavirus.  (It would have been tough to sustain that high level of stress.)  All of these things were reminders of God at work in my life.  My dear friend says He was putting deposits in my trust bank.

God used my intentional awareness to show me His deep love for me and just how faithful He is – even in the things that seem to have little kingdom value, like a vacation.  He knows what we need and loves to pour out blessings on us.  If you are struggling to see His blessings on your own life, ask Him to show you.  Then keep your eyes open!

“Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” 

Psalm 144:15b ESV

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:7-11 ESV

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:25-33 ESV

How are you dealing with isolation? Update

Today, I was thinking about a time when I was full of fear and a deep sense of loneliness.  There was no doubt that there was something seriously missing in my life.  Something that went way beyond my situation in life.  As we are all dealing with the coronavirus, I can’t help but wonder how many people are having the same experience right now – full of fear and loneliness.  Considering the scope and isolation of this pandemic, it must be a lot of people.  Some may recognize that these feelings have been with them long before the virus. Maybe the feelings are just magnified by the chaos in our world.

I vividly remember my days of, well, emptiness.  With every part of my being, I never want to go back to living like that.  Sure, I have moments of fear and loneliness, but it is only because my heart misaligns and I need to refocus.  Refocus?  Have you ever heard the phrase “filled with the Spirit”?  You may know exactly what this means.  Others may think this sounds like nonsense.  Stick with me on this for a moment.  Some things seem like nonsense until we experience them ourselves.  Remember being a child and not listening to advice from your parents.  Later, you discover that they were right, and you think “how did they know?!?”  Experience.

God knows that life on this planet can be hard, and He doesn’t want us to walk through this alone.  He wants a relationship with us.  To have this relationship, He gives us His Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is my constant companion.  He helps me go back to sleep when I wake up overwhelmed.  He helps me calm down when I get stressed at work.  The times I need to refocus are when I forget that the Holy Spirit is with me – when I try to live on my own strength.  I can tell you doing things on my own is not good.  The Holy Spirit fills me with peace, love, self-control and more.  There are still hard days – on my own, I would dig myself deeper into a the hole.  He carries me through.

I get it.  This is hard to believe or understand without experiencing it yourself.  I encourage you to do some investigating.  Here are some suggestions on how you can do this.  I recommend that you try each of these.

  1. Go directly to the source.

Ask Him.  Ask Jesus if He is real and if there is a Holy Spirit.  He loves to talk with us.  Jesus is all about relationship.  Though, it is important to address Him by name.  He wants you to talk to Him directly and not some vague higher power.  

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.”
Psalm 145:18 ESV

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Acts 2:21 ESV

  1. Go to the book.

One of the best ways to learn about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is by reading the Bible.  It explains history, what God is doing, why we need Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and even your purpose in life.  Now, some of it might be confusing at first. Give it time.  I highly recommend starting with a Bible reading plan.  Using the YouVersion app, a great option is Nicky Gumbel’s “Bible in One Year”.  (It is also available as a book).  Nicky Gumbel does an excellent job of introducing each day’s reading and bringing it to life.

  1. Go to Alpha.

The Alpha Course is a series of videos and discussions that give you an opportunity to learn about Jesus and to ask your tough questions.  There is no need to hold back or to hide your skepticism.  In these days of coronavirus, we cannot literally go anywhere.  Fortunately, there are Alpha courses available online.  Nicky Gumbel actually developed this course and his church, HTB, offers an online Alpha class.  It consists of eleven sessions.  Each session includes a video and a discussion area.  To learn more go to http://www.htb.org/alpha.

You might not believe what I am sharing; however, I can tell you my life has been blessed by my faith in Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Check it out for yourself.  And truly, you can expect great things – like nothing before in your life.

Edit:  A friend of mine shared this video of HTB’s Easter message which discusses our situation with the Coronavirus, the hope of Jesus, Alpha and even touches on His Holy Spirit.  It seemed like a perfect addition to this post.  I hope you take the time to watch.

Thank you for reading my post.  May you stay healthy and find hope & peace.  Essie