Health Check: Faith
Pastor Rachel Billups | Proverbs 16:9
Happy New Year, friends! You made it another year, and all things considered that seems like a major accomplishment! For some of us who are operating on the day-to-day plan, every new day is a good day!
How’s your faith these days? Is your faith strong enough to take you through this coming year? Do you have the tools navigate our changing world?
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
Sometimes, we attempt to move forward in the New Year without a plan or network of support outside of ourselves. We believe the lie that we should have the willpower, or at least an extra dose of grit, to make our goals happen on our own. But what if we took a cue from our friends in the recovery community: “I can’t, God can, and I think I’ll let God!” We might have the best intentions, but so much of the time we do what we really don’t want to do. Paul said it this way:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7: 15 NIV).
What if we just got honest with ourselves and admitted, “We were powerless over – insert your weakness here – so much so that our lives had become unmanageable.” The first step in AA is always the most challenging. It takes courage to realize that you can’t do this by yourself. We need help beyond ourselves. We need…
A GOD WHO IS ABLE!
Change is challenging, can I get an amen? Even for those of us who like change, there are some changes that more difficult than others. We need help, we need a power greater than ourselves to step in and help us step up. Paul, speaking of our human fragility says it this way:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 NIV)
Life can be challenging; change can be challenging, and we need God’s power to empower the transformation we need. So how do you position yourself to receive God’s power every single day? Faith doesn’t happen by osmosis. You can’t just leave your Bible app open through the night and expect God to just magically change your mind, heart and habits. We’ve got to position ourselves daily to receive God’s power.
Very early in my call as pastor, I realized that if I was going to gain clarity from God about the future, I would have to do what Jesus did. Although Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, ate with all kinds of folk that made the religious elite frustrated, he also spent intentional time with God. Throughout the gospels we read passages like Mark 1:35-37, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” If Jesus, fully God and fully human, needed time to be quiet and pray, I imagined that I did too. I began to develop a practice of retreating away with Jesus, sometimes a half day, many times for 24 hours, to slow down, to open my ears, mind and heart to God’s voice. Look, I don’t sit still well – but there are times in my life when I need to sit down in solitude and silence and listen for Jesus’ voice. Jesus modeled this practice, reminding us that to experience the full life that God has purposed for us we’ve got take time to be alone with God and set God priorities for the year!
MOVING FORWARD WITH MY GOD PRIORITIES
I call these priorities “rocks.” When regular life gets in the way of what you want most, when you’re dealing with a busy sports schedule, too many emails, or free time wasted on TikTok, we must tell ourselves the truth about ourselves and determine where our time should be spent. This is our participation with God and preparation for whatever’s ahead. It’s what I have affectionately named “butt-time with Jesus.” (Sounds weird, but you aren’t going to forget it!) It’s when we carve out time, a half day or maybe even a full day to lean in and listen for God to speak into your life and set those priorities – your rocks – for the next 90 days, focusing on three months at a time. Every three months we reassess and reestablish priorities! So, remind me, Pastor Rachel, what does butt-time with Jesus look like? I am so glad you asked.
- Prepare in advance – Don’t just wake up one morning and say today’s the day I’m going to lay out my priorities. Plan when that day happens!
- Select a Place – This is important. Select a space and ensure it’s in solitude so that you can honestly be alone with Jesus.
- Create a Technology-Free Zone. – No text messages, emails, or social media. Phone gets turned over or off. This is time with Jesus. and we all know the power of distraction.
- Name Your Rocks – Literally pray and ask God to help you name one or two priorities that will shape the next 90 days. Once that or those come to mind, here’s where the real magic of your plan happens.
- Integrate those rocks – Take those priorities and weave them into the days ahead. Calendar them out. How will these new priorities inform and shape your daily, weekly, or monthly rhythm?
You be you! Whatever your rocks look like, take that next step of integration, and then include time to pray and reflect on how these healthy habits are helping you emotionally, physically, and spiritually. That’s integration. That’s a plan. If you stop at just naming your rocks, your priorities will be good ideas, pipe dreams. Integration is essential in order to reclaim any part of your life. What is it that you need to do to align your life with the purpose and plan that God has for you?
Let’s not wait to get started. Let’s commitment ourselves today to a whole new year with whole new chances.
Senior Pastor | Ginghamsburg Church