Trusting & Seeking Strategies

I am becoming quite tired of looking for job postings, applying to relevant job postings, and either being rejected after an interview or not hearing back at all. I keep telling myself that it is still early. Reality is setting in for me and becoming more relevant. The next school year doesn’t start till August; therefore, I may not know what I’ll be doing until August. And some days it is becoming hard to hear my prayer of “God, I trust you. Thanks in advance for taking care of this for me. Place me where I may bring you glory. I trust you.” Truthfully, sometimes I get so stressed about job prospects, I abandon any effort of praying.

In fact, I have learned over the past few months that I have become dependent on presenting my prayer requests at Christian functions, banking on other people’s prayers for me because I am not mature or strong enough to pray for it routinely on my own. Ridiculous yet honest.

But that small prayer is teaching me a rhythm of trust. Surrendering in those small sentences is the most tangible way I know how to trust God in such an uncertain time. But it is not easy. In fact, I also find myself praying “God, please remind me to come back to you.” Or, “God, please give me the strength to turn to you. I won’t do it if I am left on my own. I’m not strong enough to desire you in my human weakness. Please place in my heart a strong desire for you.”

I am still dealing with the weirdness of that idea. Shouldn’t I naturally desire God? I can speak about how He has redeemed me, saving me from the pit of my dark destruction, and how I see Him blessing me and Ben in our marriage and lives. Yet, it is not always an appealing idea to have free time and think, “Oh, now would be a great time to seek God.” I tell myself verses like “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart” -Jeremiah 29:13.

But I often get caught up in the reality of the amount of work it takes on my part to seek with all of my heart. That is an intense work load. And, often it is an enjoyable journey of spiritual highs and pleasant moments of peace flooding over me. I don’t ever really regret spending time investing in my relationship with Jesus. But the trick is actually starting.

Being married to Ben has been lovely in some ways because we have tried to begin patterns of seeking God and reading His word together, mostly through Moravian Daily Texts. But, we are still learning. We are not perfect by any means, yet it is nice to have a bit more accountability in each other. I love bringing Jesus Calling to the schools I substitute teach at because it is a small book, and I feel as though I am bringing Jesus with me, even though I know he readily walks with me everywhere I go.

I think part of my struggle in seeking God is that I do not know if I was ever really taught how to seek God. Growing up in church gave me the idea that I need to be reading my bible and praying. But is there one right way to do that? Maybe it is the teacher in me, but I need strategies or as many approaches as possible, so I can learn from the best angle. The direction “Read your bible, Bekah! Pray, Bekah!” feels forced to me. I feel like I am doing it wrong, and I quit. I feel like I wasted years in high school and middle school occasionally opening my Bible with the approach of magically flipping it open thinking whatever I read is what God wants me to know today. So then, I end up reading instructions on how to build the Temple and quit.

As I am reflecting on this, here are some ideas I feel encourage me in seeking God that are more specific than “Read your bible and pray.” Most of them are about establishing rhythms in my life:

1. Meditation
My dad has taught me multiple times about Psalm 119:99, “I have more understanding than my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” Reading a passage slowly, multiple times over, meditating really, seems to offer more understanding into the character of God and his ultimate plan and story than speed reading through the sixty-six books of the bible. (Which, I have still not done by the way. I would like to make that a goal in the next couple years.) I especially want to try this more with Jesus’ parables.

2. Reading Aloud
When Ben and I read MDT together, usually one of us reads it aloud. I always get so much more out of it when I get to read it. It’s because I am not a great listener. But, I can follow along okay. Giving myself space to hear the words coming out of my mouth, off my lips makes God’s presence much more real in my life. It’s like He is there as I read. A bit uncomfortable at first, but then quite comforting. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young teaches me the practice of hearing what God promises me.

3. Moravian Daily Texts
Our church, Mill City Church, enlightened us about this small book. I learned from the front pages that it started as oral tradition in Germany, and then the first printed edition was published in 1731! That means these sacred words have been shared for hundreds of years. And there are new words and mercies each morning. You can read about the cool story and history of the MDT here. You can also sign up to receive each day’s MDT in your email inbox for free here.
You can buy a book there too. They go through the whole Bible in two years.

4. Breathing
If I can escape the clutter of a 21st century life for even a few minutes, close my eyes, and observe my breathing- noticing the irregularity of it and bringing it back to deep and slow, full breaths, I often feel more present. I try to clear my mind. If and WHEN a thought pops into my head, I am learning to say “God, you will take care of that.” I remember at one point having a pen and paper by me to write down things I thought I would forget to look at later. Maybe I should try that again.

5. Listening to Music
I find this as a form of worship and one way I can seek God. I like loud music. Turning the lights off and just listening, sometimes singing along, other times just sitting and soaking the story of the song in and making it relevant to my life. This usually makes me cry. But I know how healthy it is for me to have a nice catharsis here and there- purging of my emotions, coming back to a place of reverence for Christ. Often times, I feel like it is a form of kneeling before the Father’s throne without actually kneeling at all. It’s about a posture of worship that shows my receptivity to His spirit and teachings. Some favorites: Hillsong, All Sons & Daughters, Gungor, The Brilliance, John Mark McMillan, Jars of Clay, Phil Wickham, Robbie Seay Band, and then songs from Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens, MuteMath, Sleeping at Last… I am sure there are more.

6. Blogging
Here I am. I have journals filled with some reflections and written out prayers of my life over the past 10 years. It requires time and vulnerability, but I gain so much more reflection, interpretation, and ability for application. I am beginning to really like the idea of establishing a rhythm of writing in my life and in my spirituality. It feels less “forced” because I like to write, but it also ensures I am spending time thinking critically and sharing what I think. I am finding that as I write, I am seeking God in my words and finding his truths and promises there.

7. Pray for the irritating
I do not necessarily think I have “enemies” in my life. I believe there are spiritual forces protecting me all the time from dark enemies, but I don’t have any human friends actively pursuing my downfall. Yet, there it seems at all times in life, there is always one or two people who are so hard for me to love. Almost impossible. These are the people I do not want to make sacrifices for or to love, yet God consistently calls me to be in relationship with them. And my sister in law Emily gave me this advice several years ago: pray for the people who are hard to love. Praying for them changes your heart and attitude about them. How can you pray that God would be honored through your relationship and then have a sour attitude? Such hard advice! But it is true. I find I am seeking God and what He desires of me when I find the courage to pray such a hard prayer.

8. Invest in people
I find I can seek God when I intentionally seek out his people and spend time in relationship with them. I love how God shows up in conversations over coffee or going on a walk. I definitely feel challenged to pursue more friends and make investments like this a pattern in my life. Through these times, I learn about things and friends I can pray for and better love my brothers and sisters in Christ.

9. Find supplemental texts.
When I read something I do not understand in the bible, often I just say to myself “Well, I am not going to understand everything.” But God reveals His heart to his children in different ways. I am learning the importance of collaboration and sharing. There are women and men who pour hours into studying parts of the Bible and writing about it in commentaries and books. It really wouldn’t hurt to seek out more information on confusing portions of Scripture. Or ask a pastor or friend. Sometimes, reading through a book and reading Scripture listed is more beneficial for me than reading scripture that I don’t understand. I need to do this more often.

10. Test
When I think God is revealing something to me, I feel skeptical. I feel more skeptical when someone else tells me God is revealing something to them. I find that I can seek God by asking him to share a vision or a word with me for myself or for someone else on my heart. I am learning this as a new rhythm of prophecy, to some extent. If I am openly sharing with Ben and my community of Christ-following friends what I am feeling God is actively doing in my life and showing me, then I can get their feedback and their prayers to help discern.

11. Make time for renewal
Going outside or praying to see things in a new way helps me find out more about God. Asking for fresh eyes or attentiveness makes me more ready for what God might want to show me. Now that spring is coming, I hope to make going for walks outside a rhythm in my daily life in seeking God with all of my heart.

12. Serve in the little ways
I realize I can actively seek God when I show love to others, especially Ben. And usually that means showing love in ways that are unnatural for me: like doing the dishes instead of waiting for him to clear the sink. Or putting his needs, wants, dreams above my own. It’s so easy to say and so difficult to do in the moment. But I try to remember Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, if working for the Lord and not for humans.”

That verse almost sums up so much of my struggle to seek God with all of my heart. I am not reading my bible, praying, engaging in conversations, promoting the love of Christ for any human friends, really. Even though they may benefit from it, the work required to seek God with all of my heart is ultimately for His glory. And he will extend that hard work into some crazy wonderful benefits within me and my life.

Writing this out was somewhat of a good process for me to remember different ways that I have been taught or thought to seek God besides “read my bible and pray.” What are some ways you seek God? There are billions more. I would love to hear some ways in which you actively seek God or tools and strategies that have helped you in various stages of your life.

Our God is awesome and mighty, high above us, yet also our God is with us. How cool is that?

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