Today I made my 3rd annual trip to the beach. No, it’s not the only time of the year I go to the beach…I went a few times this summer. This particular beach trip is for a much different reason than a normal trip. It’s has a very focused purpose.
The purpose is to spend time praying, reflecting, listening, and seeking wisdom from God for my future.
This now annual trip began 3 years ago, in November of 2015. That first trip was to seek God concerning my future, because after 5 months of fighting hard to hold onto my marriage, I had run out of ideas and hope, so I took a day to seek God for wisdom and guidance. I chose to go to the beach because I actually don’t really like the beach very much. I mean it’s ok…I’m just not a fan of the sand, of all the things in the ocean that can eat you, or of how crowded it can get with people. So I chose to go to the beach because it represented a place I don’t really like…and at that time I didn’t like where my life was at, so it was fitting.
I didn’t plan on it becoming an annual trip, but the next year I ended up making a trip back to the same beach on Christmas Day of 2016. The purpose that time was not so much to seek God for my future, but rather to simply spend time praying and reflecting, as well as take time to listen to God. It had been a year since I had lost my marriage, family, and ministry, and at that time I was simply trying to be patient and heal from all of that loss. And just like the first trip, God encouraged me with words of wisdom and scripture, and he also challenged me to remain faithful to him in ways that I needed to be at that time.
Again, I wasn’t planning to make this an annual thing…but today I decided it was time to make my 3rd trip to the beach. This trip was much more like the first one…a focused time of prayer, reflection, and seeking God for my future. My life situation now is a bit different than that first trip; I haven’t spent the past 5 months fighting for my marriage, I lost it 2 years ago now and the divorce has been official for a year and a half. But, the past few months have been difficult in their own right, and I’ve definitely been struggling lately.
The struggle I’ve been having lately has been largely due to finances. My financial situation is very tough right now…actually it has been for a while, which I know is part of what a person who goes through being divorced must deal with…but lately it seems that no matter what I do, more bills keep piling up and I keep feeling more and more overwhelmed. I now have 2 steady jobs, which I thought would help. But this past month I’ve had knee issues that has kept me from being able to work my second job, so that just makes another difficulty in the world of my finances.
As I continue to struggle with this, it has been getting harder and harder to be positive. I’ve been struggling more and more with feeling so overwhelmed that I just want to give up, as well as struggling to believe that God has any kind of a future for me that is better than where I’m currently at in this moment. Despair has been on my heart more, and faith and trust and been harder to hold onto.
So this morning when I woke up, and honestly didn’t even want to get out of bed because it felt as though the burdens were just too much to face, I decided I needed to go back to the beach again…the same place I have gone the past 2 years when I needed a special word and encouragement from God.
And, just like the past 2 years, God gave me just the word of encouragement and challenge that I needed.
(Now, before I continue, I want to say that I’m not sharing any of this so that whoever reads this can feel sorry for me. I’ve always believed that God wants me to be willing to use my life to both encourage and challenge others…so that’s why I’m willing to share personal things. And I know I’m not the only one struggling either, so I don’t think I’m special. I’m simply being open and transparent as God leads me to be.)
As I sat there on the beach, on this October day, praying and listening to God, he shared 2 things with me that I needed at that moment.
One of them had to do with faithfulness, which is something I’ve been focusing on a lot lately in my life. I’ve been praying constantly that I would have the strength to remain faithful…I even wrote a blog about it recently. One of the struggles in my mind lately has been having the thought “God, I’ve been faithful the past 2 years despite all that has happened to me. When are you going to recognize that and begin to bless me with what I need so that I can move into a better future?” Yes, I admit that this thought is a bit selfish, that’s why I’ve been struggling with it. But it continues to come back into my mind regularly.
This is the word I received from God concerning faithfulness: Before you can be called faithful, and thus rewarded for your faithfulness, you must first remain faithful. And it’s not you who determines if you are being faithful, it’s the one who will reward you that determines if you are truly faithful. I needed that. It’s not me who decides if I’ve been faithful or how I should be rewarded for it. God is the one who knows and decides that I’ve been faithful, and he is the one who will decide when and how to reward that faithfulness. I am simply to continue to be faithful.
The other one had to do with my future…specifically my inability to see it and the discouragement growing in my heart as a result of that. As I was sitting on the beach looking out on the ocean, I noticed that it was quite foggy, so I wasn’t able to see very far. But I didn’t doubt that the ocean continued on beyond what I could see, I knew the ocean still existed beyond what I saw at that moment. And then I received the following word from God as an encouragement…
This verse accompanied that word of encouragement: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18
There were a few other verses that God brought to my mind, all of which were just what I needed. This trip to the beach was certainly just what I needed. PRAISE GOD!
My hope and prayer in sharing this is to encourage anyone else who may be struggling right now; encourage them specifically with the words God gave to me, as well as encourage them to find a time and place to seek God themselves. Don’t only seek God and listen to him once a year…have a regular time of reading his Word and praying. But, definitely also have special times set aside to go and intentionally do nothing more than spend time praying, reflecting, listening, and seeking wisdom from God.