Category Archives: Surviving the Dark Places

Serenity

Many people associate the “Serenity Prayer” with recovery programs, mainly Alcoholics Anonymous. I propose if we’re truly honest, many of us would realize we’re “-aholics” of some variety—workaholics, controlaholics, moneyaholics, shopaholics, sexaholics, etc. There are even websites now dedicated to “iPhoneaholics” (I fear I am quickly becoming one!)

At times, most of us cling to something other than God to numb the pain. No matter what we’re holding onto, I have found that saying the Serenity Prayer is a great way to refocus on God and what’s truly important. It’s a good reminder that we must surrender those things we can’t change or control. Peace is found in the present moment, not the past or the future.

A prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr, commonly known as the Serenity Prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Content Copyright 2012. Allison K. Flexer @ Anointed With Grace.
Photo taken by Allison K. Flexer in Monterosso al Mare, Italy.

2 Comments

Filed under Change, Faith, Fear, God, Surviving the Dark Places, Who is God?

What If?

Since I first heard the song Blessings by Laura Story on the radio, I can’t get the song, or its questions, out of my head.

Most times, when we ask God to bless us, we are really asking him to bless us with an easy, comfortable, and safe life. I’m learning that God is a lot less concerned about my comfort than about my relationship with him. When I examine people in the Bible who were close to God—those who God used in the Old Testament and those who followed Jesus in the New Testament—I notice they didn’t have easy or comfortable lives. In most cases, it was quite the opposite. Their lives were full of trials and opportunities to depend on God in the midst of storms.

I love how Laura Story explains the meaning behind her song in this video…

What if we’re supposed to consider our trials in this life as blessings?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller

Content Copyright 2011. Allison @ Anointed With Grace.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, Random, Surviving the Dark Places, Who is God?

“His End is the Process”

Max Lucado’s Facing Your Giants is one of my all-time favorite books. There is one story from the book that sticks with me in tough times. In the book, Lucado tells the story of Florence Chadwick. Here’s a good summary of her story from Wikipedia:

In 1952, Florence attempted to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island and the California coastline. As she began, she was flanked by small boats that watched for sharks and were prepared to help her if she got hurt or grew tired. After about 15 hours a thick fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she didn’t think she could make it. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, unable to see the coastline due to the fog. As she sat in the boat, she found out she had stopped swimming just one mile away from her destination.

Per Lucado, Florence later explained at a news conference, “All I could see was the fog. I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”1

There are many times when all I can see is fog. I want to give up. Pull me out of the water; I’m through. In those dark times, I remember Lucado’s advice:

Take a long look at the shore that awaits you. Don’t be fooled by the fog of the slump. The finish may only be strokes away … Stay in the water. Stay in the race. Stay in the fight.1

Florence Chadwick learned that lesson as well…

Two months later, Chadwick tried again. This time was different. The same thick fog set in, but she made it because she said that she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam.

I love this story and Lucado’s advice. We do need to stay in the race. Honestly, though, I sometimes struggle with visualizing the “shoreline”. Sometimes, I have no idea which direction God is leading. A life of faith often means taking one step without knowing what the next one will be. For me, faith means staying in the race and focusing on my Father, not necessarily a finish line. Sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination. Oswald Chambers does a great job of explaining this in My Utmost for His Highest:

His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process—that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.2

Too many times, I want to skip the process and get to the end. I love that God loves me enough to focus on the process—because that’s where I learn to keep my eyes locked on him.

1 Facing Your Giants, © 2006 by Max Lucado, Pg 70-71
2 My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, July 28th entry

Content Copyright 2011. Allison @ Anointed With Grace.

Photo credit: stock.xchng


2 Comments

Filed under Faith, God, Surviving the Dark Places, Who is God?

Just Believe – Part 2

“Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.”
(From Fearless by Max Lucado)

Remember this post? When I wrote that post, I was experiencing a difficult time. Each moment, I had to remind myself to believe. There are times when believing God will show up is as easy as breathing. Other times, it’s a struggle. It’s not that I ever stop believing there is a God. I just start relying on my current feelings and circumstances instead of God’s plan for my life. I wonder whether he is really driving this crazy bus or whether it’s skidding out of control.

One thing I have learned: feelings cannot always be trusted. I may not feel like believing every day. But I do it anyway. On those days, I ask God to please help me overcome my unbelief and hold on for dear life.

Right now, belief comes easily. Like breathing in and out. But unbelief still finds a way to creep in. It slides in undetected—disguised as anxiety or stress or panic.

Anxiety. Will I make the right decisions? Will I be able to fulfill what God is asking me to do?

Stress. Will I be able to meet my deadline? What if I don’t finish everything in time?

Panic. God, you are telling me to wait and trust, but the numbers in my bank account keep getting smaller and smaller. Are you sure about this?

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a Hillsong United concert. Although it was a concert, it felt more like worship. We had church in Birmingham, Alabama for three hours that night.

During the concert, I noticed two teenage boys in the section next to us. Hands raised, eyes closed—they were totally lost in a moment of pure worship. I remember those days. I remember being that carefree teenager. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. I was totally sold out for God.

It’s a beautiful thing. Of course I would never do this, but part of me wanted to lean over and tell them something. Hold on. It’s not as easy as it all seems right now. You won’t always feel like worshiping. You won’t always feel like believing. It won’t all work out the way you think it will.

But I would also tell them…

In spite of your feelings,

When it’s difficult to see through the fog,

When you are afraid,

If your faith is being tested,

Just Believe.

God is still there. He is in control, no matter the circumstances. He is driving the bus. It just may be going a different direction than you planned. It’s okay—you can trust him with your past, your present and your future.

Freely you gave it all for us
Surrendered your life upon that cross
Great is your love
Poured out for all
This is our God.

(Hillsong – This Is Our God, By Composer/Lyricist: Reuben Morgan, Copyright 2008, EMI Christian Music Group)

(Photo and Post, Copyright Allison at Anointed With Grace, 2011)

6 Comments

Filed under Faith, God, Surviving the Dark Places, Who is God?