A friend and I squeezed in one precious hour together the week after Christmas last year. They had gotten a bouncy house that fit perfectly in their garage—an ideal gift for all our energetic children. While the big ones bounced and the babies snacked, my friend and I dove deep. What have you been reflecting on? How has the Lord been working in your life? What are your current stressors? She humbly recounted a recent point of conviction and need of repentance, refreshing me by rejoicing in a Savior who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). The self-pity occupying my heart shriveled at her testimony of the Word transforming her attitude, replacing resentment with joy.
Stuck in Painful Circumstances
Her honesty helped me share that I dreaded the coming month. My husband travels several days a week for his job, and Christmas break was a much-needed respite from caring for our children alone. But Christmas was over, and my husband’s travel schedule was about to resume. My friend's countenance filled with compassion, but rather than joining my pity party, she exhorted me with wisdom and understanding.
What would sustain me for the trying days ahead? What would replenish my emotional well? And what would overcome my self-orientation and clear out the dread? Our culture typically answers with a plan of escape. Yet every practical piece of help my friend offered me came down to this: prioritize and depend on the Word when you feel stuck in your circumstances. Ten more minutes here, thirty more minutes there, listening to it here, memorizing it there. Sharing it with my husband before he leaves, sharing it with my littles whenever I feel needy.
Stuck in Bad Habits
Our hour together ended too quickly and I hurried out the door with my littles, my head spinning. I knew God’s Word promises to rejoice my heart, revive my soul, and enlighten my eyes (Ps. 19:7–9), but was I depending on it to do so? My actual living told me the truth. When stress and needs ran high, my reflex wasn’t to reach for more of the Word or remember the Spirit living inside me but to plan and organize our chaotic lives to avoid additional challenges. When I read my Bible in the morning, I struggled to pay attention as my agenda for the day landed squarely on my shoulders. I wasn't coming to the Word desperate for transformation. I wasn’t coming to the Word because it's God-breathed and has the power to change me even when my needs and circumstances don’t change.
My friend’s swift recognition of my need and her fearlessness to speak words of conviction to me sent me running to Psalm 119. The longest psalm in the Bible overflows with affection for God's Word. Psalm 119 displays a life utterly oriented around God, absolutely dependent on his Word for life. I meditated on one stanza at a time, asking the Spirit to expose my wayward living and combat it with the truth of his Word.
God’s Word Doesn’t Leave Me Stuck
As I read Psalm 119 thoughtfully each day, I chose one or two verses that pierced me. Then, I rewrote it based on how I was living, on the attitudes of the heart that I was stuck in.
Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
Deal bountifully with your child,
that I may be spared of exhaustion and dying to self.
I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
I live as if this earth is all there is,
therefore, I want to hide from trial and prioritize my comfort.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Lead me in the path of least resistance,
for without need, I can delight.
When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies.
When I think on my ways,
I feel overwhelmed and under-resourced.
God held up the mirror of his Word so I could see my heart clearly. Writing my own exposing version of the psalm showed me the well-worn paths my heart was stuck in. Comparing my version to the real one made me aware of a fork in the road. When I cry out for grace, is my end goal for ease or for obedience? When I'm tempted to hide and retreat from trial, the Word asks me directly where my true home is and what trials accomplish in my Father's will.
Choosing God’s Path
When I find myself thinking on my ways, my plans, and my days ahead, the Spirit clears my vision to see the two paths: feeling overwhelmed or turning my feet to his testimonies—the ones that proclaim God's power, goodness, and holiness time and again. I’m no longer stuck in the futile patterns of my thinking. I can choose to follow God’s path instead.
Quite the theme emerged through these counseling sessions with the Word. The shame of seeing how resistant I am to trial convicted me of my pride and left me in no doubt of my dependence. Through the prodding of the Word into the crevices of my unbelief, the Lord released me from shame and empowered me to utilize my neediness by depending on his promises. God’s Word helped me look at my overwhelming circumstances and recognize them as the opportunity to have more of God—the faithful One and the fount of all resources. A life of fruitfulness requires living as if my life depends on God’s Word.