Trading Prince Charming for the Prince of Peace

king-1304612_1280Recently, two videos snagged my attention. In the first, a YouTube celebrity expressed her grief over the breakup with her boyfriend. In the second, Michelle, the widow of Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi, explained how she was handling her husband’s death. Their opposite strategies for processing grief revealed where their hope truly rests.

The celebrity YouTuber was crushed because life had revolved around her boyfriend. In the aftermath of their breakup, she not only had to cope with his absence, but other damaged relationships that she failed to maintain while she was pouring everything into her boyfriend. While fighting back tears, she came to the conclusion that we just need to seek happiness.

On the contrary, Michelle immediately acknowledged that although she had lost Nabeel, she had not lost God. Nabeel provided for her for a season, but God was her true source of all provision. God used Nabeel in her life, and He would continue to provide for her in his absence. She refuses to label herself as a “widow” or a “single mom” because first and foremost, she is a child of the one true King. While she is still processing her emotions, the grief is not destroying her.

Both these women lost the love of their life, but one is crumbling and the other is steadfast. Why? Because Michelle never lost sight of her everlasting identity – daughter of God.

Ladies, we naturally desire that special guy in our lives, but we must realize three truths.

  1.  We may never have a “significant other”.
  2. We could lose that significant other through death or a break up.
  3. We can never find lasting peace and happiness in another person.

Even though a significant other can fail us, die, or simply never enter our lives, if you have a relationship with Jesus you are never left alone. You may not have Prince Charming, but you always have the Prince of Peace. People constantly shift and slide, but Jesus is rock solid. He will always be peace and stability in our lives.

Here are four verses that show us the role God plays in our life:

  • He is the firm foundation, the unmovable rock, the only One who will never fail us. (Psalm 18:2)
  • Jesus is to us Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
  • While many relationships leave people bruised and broken, our relationship with God heals and restores us. (Psalm 103:2-4)
  • Jesus turns our mess, our brokenness, and our ashes, into something beautiful. (Isaiah 61:3)

Expecting peace and satisfaction from another person is placing an unfair burden on their shoulders–one that they cannot possibly carry. Rather, we should turn our desire for peace and stability to the only one who can satisfy–Jesus Christ. Due to the changing nature of humans, we should never find our identity and value in another individual. We have already been given an everlasting identity–a daughter of the One True King. Regardless of whether you meet Prince Charming, you can know that the Prince of Peace is always by your side, constantly comforting, counseling, and loving you.

 

Advertisements

Navigating the Choppy Waters of College Decisions

laptop-3087585_1280

Figuring out a college major is not always black and white. In fact, discerning college ambitions and vocational desires is a trial and error process that requires both faith in God and common sense. College is often the beginning of the journey into figuring out what we want to do with our lives. And one of the first major decisions in this journeys is which major to choose.

In his book, Thriving at College, Professor Alex Chediak says, “Not only could there be more than one great major for you, but changing majors in not the end of the world. Better to try something and then have to shift gears if it doesn’t work than to never try something at all.” (Page 199)

In other words, having everything figured out is impossible.  As we venture out and try new things, we discover our God-given personalities and passions, allowing us to purposefully peruse the path He has set before us.

It is not our responsibility to figure out our whole lives by some arbitrary age like 18 or 22. However, it is our responsibility to utilize wisdom and common sense when making immediate decisions that affect our future.

For instance, when I was choosing my college major, my mom was included in the process (after all, she practically knows me better than I know myself). I evaluated both my weakest and strongest areas. I am only mediocre at math and science, but I tend to excel in writing and reading. Thus, even though a career as a computer engineer or marine biologist might be lucrative, I would be miserable due to the math and science foundation required.

I considered a professional writing major, but I am a complete extrovert and want to regularly interact with people in my future career. Therefore, I finally landed on a communications major. I see it as a unique way to combine my love for writing and public speaking with interacting with people. Of course, this is always subject to change, but God cannot guide you unless you are moving forward. God utilizes our passions, desires, talents, and strengths to lead us in the direction He has planned for us.

Now, at this point, I do not fully know what this major will entail. I could start the program, discover that I need to readjust, and turn down a different route. But that is okay. Again, trial and error is not a terrible route when figuring out your future.

Avoid making decisions for your future self, way down the road. Rather, choose to make logical, wise, God-led decisions in the here and now and be flexible to make needed adjustments. God does not stop leading us when we make a mistake or misstep. Rather, He promises to continue His guidance everyday of our lives. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way. But the Lord directs his steps.”

 

Refreshed by God’s Word

ben-white-167553-unsplash.jpg

I have always struggled to read my Bible consistently. At times, I have been able to read a chapter a day, sometimes even for months in a row. But more often, I slip into the abyss of not cracking the cover open for weeks on end.

At the beginning of this year, I had fresh determination. I printed off a Bible reading plan and made dozens of Bible memorization cards. My plan was to read the Bible through in a year and memorize a verse a day.

I think I fell off of the reading schedule after the first two weeks of January and the memorization schedule even sooner. I failed yet again. Almost every night during the hectic spring months, I thought about cracking my Bible open, but was not able to muster the energy to do so. With a heavy heart, I would turn off my light and crawl into bed. Soon, self-condemnation began to cause me to avoid my Bible. I would kick myself down before I had even started.

I like measuring progress by numbers. Thus, if I do not read an entire chapter or several chapters, I feel like a failure.

Finally, I realized that I just needed to feed on God’s word.

One April night, I fell into bed exhausted. It had been a straining day academically and spiritually. Even though my eyelids were heavy, I knew that I desperately needed God’s word. I was dry. Rather than discipline myself to start back where I had left off (weeks ago), I decided to adapt my strategy to my lack of energy.

I lounged against my pillows and flipped to the New Testament. I landed on the last few chapters of Romans. I soaked up the verses I had highlighted, then flipped to the next page. I started at 10:45 and continued this pattern for the next hour.  Occasionally, I would stop to read a whole chapter, but for the most part I just enjoyed reviewing the verses I had highlighted in previous reading sessions. It was informal. It was enjoyable. It was refreshing. And best of all, it did not demand too much concentration from my sleepy brain.

From this experience, I learned that sometimes we need to adjust our Bible reading strategy to our current phase of life.

If you have stalled out on reading your Bible, then do not force yourself to jump right back on your plan. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a chance to just relax in God’s word. Not every Bible session needs to be intense or “highly productive”.

Enjoy God’s Word.

If you have found yourself spiritually dry, but condemnation is keeping you away from your Bible, then your mission should be to find refreshment and enjoyment in the scriptures again. Go to your favorite book of the Bible, track down your favorite verse, and soak it up. Once you gain some momentum, you can return to your original reading plan.

Just remember, even random Bible reading is better than zero Bible reading. If, late at night, reading your appointed three chapters feels too daunting, then just savor a few of your favorite verses.

Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is restart after we feel like we have failed.

Restarting our journey through scripture after a period of spiritual dryness is tough. We just need to dive in, even if that means restarting ourselves in an easier place.

If you were learning to ride a bike, would you rather start climbing up hill or rolling down a flat sidewalk? If you are trying to jumpstart your love for God’s word, would you rather follow your reading plan and trudge back to Leviticus or bask in your favorite Psalm? Nothing against cycling uphill or reading the book of Leviticus, but we need to build our endurance and momentum if we are to make it through the tougher challenges like these.

If you are like me and often find yourself stalling out on your Bible reading plan, not opening your Bible for days, then remember the ultimate goal: get in God’s word daily, somehow. If that means reading a few verses at 10:45 at night, then that is still a victory. If it means scanning a few chapters on your lunch break, that is also a victory. The point is not to zealously follow a schedule-rather the goal is to incorporate God’s word into our lives. Squeeze in time today to bask in some of your favorite verses. Relaxing in God’s word will leave you refreshed, wash away condemnation, and embolden you to read the more challenging parts of the Bible.