The summer months aren't all that have heated up! This year has been chocked full of, as Paul said, affliction after affliction, one on the heels of the last. Not just run of the mill difficulties, but downright spiritual warfare. These seasons of trials are never easy, but are mercifully followed by a season of harvest. And this harvest promises to be a doozy!
Have you ever read much about PSI? Pounds of pressure per square inch. The pressure exerted against an object by air, water, or a host of other things. There are mathematical equations to determine the amount of PSI. My husband factors for it when he designs bridges. The glass windows of a submarine must be inches thick as the water pressure at great depths flattens the glass to a fraction of an inch. The Plexiglas walls of the aquarium at the zoo, as well. PSI of one form or another is exerted against everything around us, day and night. It's a constant of life. Standing against never-ending pressure is fatiguing.
Especially during the afflictions of this year, I've been more aware of the constant negative pressure the secular world bombards me with. Externally from the radio, TV shows and commercials, movies, the generic criticism and negative attitudes of people around me, selfish complaints, bickering, manipulating, a long list of stressors, and countless other things. Internally from sneaky shadows of doubt, traces of fear, insecurities and the like. Negative PSI is designed to distract us from keeping our eyes on our Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and to get bogged down in the mire.
God reminded me that instead of praying for the worldly PSI to subside or to be removed, I should deliberately push back. Exert a pressure of my own. Neutralize the negative. The duty is mine to censor my surroundings and edit my reactions to them, as God guides. Over time, He has clearly led me in the ways below. And I'm so glad He did!
* Create computer or phone passwords to be phrases like "believeGod" or "trustGod", so that each time I type them, I am reminded to do so.
* When writing a check, instead of drawing a straight line from the dollars and cents through to the end of the line, I draw the Jesus fish, right there on my check. This was God's way of reminding me to be thankful there was enough money to cover the check!
* Instead of sticking my Jesus fish on the back of my car so others would realize a Christian had just blown past them on the interstate or angrily honked when they cut in front of me, God had me place it on a chain and hang it over my rear view mirror INSIDE the car. It reminds ME, that I should behave like a Christian in every situation. Regardless if others see.
* While rushing through my morning routine like a mad woman so I can get to work on time, I BLAST upbeat Christian music in the house. (This was especially gratifying when my sons asked me if I could turn the music down, it was hurting their ears!) The positive message of the songs starts my day off right!
* God helped me seriously examine the types of movies, TV shows, and non-Christian music I expose myself to. It's another form of GIGO.
* After getting a new battery for my car, God prompted me NOT to re-enter the code to resurrect the radio, but instead to go without it for a while, and revel in the "found" quiet time, to pray (eyes open!), to meditate on a devotional thought or scripture, or simply to listen for His voice. That was three years ago. Now, I LOVE being in my car for any length of time!
* Keeping a prayer journal, made from a simple table on the computer, with spaces for the date of the prayer request, actual prayer request, a scripture, the way it was answered, and the date it was answered. Nothing has been better for showing me how faithful God is!
* Practice Beth Moore's favorite saying about a prayer request or a desire God places in our hearts: We have to believe it before we can receive it!
* There are simply some places in this world that are a stumbling block for me. One such place is downtown and called "Cupcakes". 'Nuff said. There are just places I should not let me go! An ounce of prevention is better than a month of damage control.
* God stressed the benefit of corporate worship services. I may not remember all the sermons, but like the thousands of meals I've eaten and forgotten, each has aided in the nourishment of my physical body. Sermons, with my spiritual body.
* God restores my soul when I bask in the beauty of His handiwork. A walk in the woods. A day at the beach. A sunrise or sunset. Actually listening to the song of the birds. Creation sings its praises. And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.
* God reminds me to spend time with other believers. Yes we are to be salt and light to nonbelievers, but it is often restorative to be with other believers.
* God revealed that not everyone who crosses my radar screen was meant to be a lifetime friend. Some are there for one reason alone. When the reason is accomplished, they are removed. Some are there for a season. When that season has passed, they are removed. But some ARE there for a lifetime. Blessed is he who has a friend such as this!
* God is teaching me to avoid "energy vampires". You know, those folks who leave you feeling physically, emotionally, or spiritually drained. This becomes problematic when the EV is a family member. :)
* God stressed the need to have Paul/Timothy relationships at all times. Someone who is a little further down the spiritual road than us, who can pour lessons learned into our lives. And someone we can, in turn, pour our lessons learned into. Such a continual pouring creates a precious cycle of renewal and growth.
* God provided a few wonderful accountability partners. People who know me well enough to lovingly question my actions and words, when necessary. Iron sharpens iron.
* And lastly, while there are many exceptional folks I admire and long to be like, God warns against it. He created me with a unique set of traits and capabilities. Nobody can do things exactly like me. I am not to fight this, but to learn to accept it. And revel in it. (Not there yet, but trying). Only then can I be all He wants me to be.
Adopting these changes and new habits during my current period of trials and struggles, helps me flex spiritual muscles against the damaging effects of the world's PSI. Following God's guidance lessens the stress of this world. And keeps me focused on the Most Important Thing. Obviously not there yet . . . but flexing, flexing, flexing.
How has God directed you to combat the effects of this world?