Reaching into my pocket after another walk on the beach with my dog this afternoon, I am met with the feel of the rough shells and the bit of sand that collected in the corner of the pocket. My heart overflows into a smile on my face, having enjoyed the experience with my dog and my son.
As another birthday is marked on the calendar, I tend towards nostalgia. With prayerful hind sight, it is wise to glance back over the experience of this life with Christ thus far and consider the lessons we are are collecting like shells along the way.
Some of the shells are broken, tattered by the waves and the shore but offer a unique color or pattern. Some of the shells are rather plain but so perfect they begged to be gathered. As I place them all into the jar in my office where so many other shells have been collected since our years on the shore began, I can’t help but think of how beautiful they are in this redeemed estate.
In a similar way, the experiences we collect along life’s path, I trust will one day be gathered and fully redeemed by the Lord. When I stand before Him when He has called me Home, will He pour out the jar of experiences and recall with me how they were collected in love and how they were gathered in His hand to be redeemed, even the broken ones.
God wastes nothing. He can redeem anything.
Every experience, every pain, every joy and every trial we are lead through has a purpose.
Why fear anything when God uses everything? Ann Voskamp has said.
How then do we remember this in the midst of the daily experience of our life? It requires tending our soul by the Word of God, lest we keep forgetting that even this broken, hard moment has a place in the redeeming hand of God.
To tend our soul by the Word of God is to take in His Word in such a way that it becomes part of the lens through which we view our thoughts and our experiences.
Three ways I have found to tend His Word into my soul that I practice continually are:
- Time in the Word daily. Soaking in the truths there, verse by verse. Seeking to apply the truths of the Word to my daily experience. Just as a gardener presses a seed into the moist soil in the garden, I allow the Holy Spirit to press His truth into the soil of my heart.
- Praying the Word. As I spend time in the Word of God, I remind myself this Word is alive with His breath, warm for me in the morning. It is Him speaking over me. So I respond to Him in prayer as I read and as I bring my concerns to Him. This morning as I spent time in Psalm 37:2 and saw that what evildoers do is temporary and thus what is done for the Lord is eternal, I then turned that into prayer for me and my loves. I asked the Lord to give us hearts to respond to Him and do what matters for eternity over responding to the world and doing what is temporary.
- Renew my mind in the Word. It is so easy to fill my mind with lies of the world. They come in by large doses on my phone all day. The news and the socials and the texts even can be overflowing with lies and critiques and even half truths. But the Word of God is always truth and if my mind is filled with His truth then there isn’t space for the lies to take root. I renew my mind by memorizing God’s Word. I carry my small moleskin notebook with glued in or written in verses that I am working to press deep into my mind. It is not easy, but I have found it so worth it!
God’s life-giving Word is the only place through which we will be able to rightly interpret our life experiences and catch glimpses of the redemption found in His hand. He alone holds all things together well. Will you spend time in His Word allowing him to speak truth over you as you examine the shells of your life?
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