Refusing to Drown in Worry| By Zuzana Niedelová

You know that feeling when everything just works out, God is providing and you don’t have to worry too much about anything? That genuine happiness and thankfulness for all that you have?

That is what I felt, or at least, what I thought I felt. When people asked how I was doing, I would talk about the great job I have, or my ministry that is going so well. I would say I had an assurance of knowing I am in the right place even though not everything is perfect, and of God’s guidance and peace.

I truly meant all that I said, but I had not yet realized there was more to everything that I had not yet seen.

It was only when my mentor mentioned something small that he noticed and valued about me that I could not hold back the tears. It was in that moment that I realized there was something more, something deeper that I was holding back not only from others but from myself as well.

I realized I felt unappreciated, overlooked, undervalued, not known or wanted by anyone and most of all lonely. As if it that is not enough, God revealed even more; He showed me I was also hiding this from Him too. I did not want to disappoint Him after He gave me so much! I felt like I had to be thankful for all I have and hopeful for what is coming.

It was unacceptable in my mind to not enjoy my life after being brought to a stream while wandering in the desert. I knew what I needed to do – God had been teaching me this for a long time. I had to be honest with Him and to know He loves to hear how I am and what my desires are. So there I was, kneeling in front of God, crying my eyes out, and telling Him all about how I felt. I did not know what was to come, but once again, I trusted that He has me in His hands.

To be honest, not much has changed. I am still insecure about my future in my job. I still long for seeing more growth in my ministry. I still miss having close friends who live at least in the same country, and I am desperate for the freedom to be myself without being misunderstood or judged by everyone.

However, one thing has changed. I am no longer alone for all this. I have my good Father by my side who is ready to fight for me, to take care of me and to give me everything I need even if it is not exactly what I asked for.

With God, we have the freedom to feel our feelings whatever they might be. Freedom to come to Him with everything that we are and pour our hearts out to Him because only He knows how to turn our worries into blessings and our battles into praise.

A while ago, God gave me a picture of me drowning in deep waters, gasping for air between the currents pulling me down and letting me go again and hopelessly reaching out for someone – anyone to take me out. Right after, there was a different picture. I was enjoying a gentle rain coming down on me during a hot summer day. Every one of us desires that rain that comes in just the right moment, so refreshing and joy bringing. Drowning, however, is not so pleasant at all.

God does not want us to drown in the worries this life brings. He wants to refresh us with the water but by His own terms not ours. He wants it to be life-bringing and easy. Although the outcome of drowning and the rain is the same (you’re soaking wet), the process makes a difference between death and life.

Maybe your desires are good and Godly, but if we try to force the blessings to come into our lives, if we try to do it all alone, if we pretend we are alright and if we deny our need for God, we are willingly jumping into the deep waters, willingly drowning just for the sake of getting to that water.

God invites us into a deep relationship with Him. In this relationship we can be real and open without any fear of judgement or disappointment. He invites us to look up to Him first and to trust Him that He will let the water come down in just the right time and in the right form, that will not be harmful but will bring us life in all its fullness.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

When Following Christ Becomes Hard| By Tori Savoy

Christianity has been a part of my life since I accepted Christ into my heart at the age of five. Yet, sometimes being a Christian is still difficult for me.

From the outside looking in, it may appear I have it all together and that I am happy. Yes, I have unspeakable joy my Savior has given me, but I still have my off days, or sometimes months.  

Sometimes I catch myself going through dry spells where I am not as devout to spending time with God as I would like to. I will begin to compare myself to other Christians around me and feel as if I am not as good at this “Christian thing” as I have led myself to believe. My failure consumes my mind and makes me want to run away and never return. However, my faithful and loving Savior always ushers me back in.

I have found since becoming part of a ministry that the enemy likes to attack me all the more in this area and tell me I am not fit to be sharing my testimonies with the world. His attacks make me feel as if I am not a good model of what Christianity is suppose to be.

However, God tells me differently. Christianity is merely a sinner making the choice every day to lay their sins at the feet of Jesus and share His love and forgiveness with the world.

Jesus’ disciples are a prime example that being a follower of Him is not always easy, but that we do not have to be perfect to be transformed and used by Him.

I have often time caught myself embracing my failures like Judas, who betrayed Jesus for worldly treasure. Judas’ regret following the betrayal drove him to the point of taking his own life.

Sometimes, my guilt for not being a “better” Christian causes me to avoid any contact with God.  This results in severe depression for me when all I need to do is bring my failures before a forgiving Savior to start all over – just as the apostle Peter did.

Peter is one of my biggest reminders of God’s faithfulness to use someone imperfect like me. He was one of God’s most devout followers, and yet, He failed God on numerous occasions.

He walked on water with God in the midst of the storm, but began to sink as soon as His doubt set in. Still, He was the only disciple who even tried to step on the water in the middle of the storm.

Despite being warned of God of his upcoming unfaithfulness, Peter still denied having any association to Christ. Although I have never denied my Christianity, I know many times I may sugar coat it or just not mention my Christianity to those around me.

Luckily, we are never too far gone or have made so many mistakes that God cannot shape and mold us to use you and me for His glory.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven following the crucifixion and resurrection, Peter preached to people from all over and won many souls to Christ. He died a martyr for the name of Jesus.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Just because you started off making mistakes does not mean that is where it ends for you. We can let our failures define us or give them to God and let Him define us. We can let our failures become a testimony, or allow them consume us to the point of spiritual death.

God never asked for perfection, but that we continue to follow him. Yes, following Him will be hard, and we will have to pick up our cross daily. However, He can turn our mess into a great message.

Today, I challenge you to be open with God about your shortcomings so he can make something beautiful with them. Do not try to outrun a Savior that is standing there for you with arms wide open.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)