We live in a world full of change, hatred, and division. But we serve an unchanging God of love and unity. My question for us to consider today is this: How are we showing that we serve this God?
When I was little, my parents gave my siblings and me each one of those cards that often have a scripture or a cute quote on them, but ours said, “Put God in the center, and everything will come together.” It may sound a bit cliché, but I believe it speaks the truth. So how do we put God at the center of a life turned upside down and topsy-turvy as they have been this past few months?
Our focus has to be in the right place. That’s not to say you never think about softball or pretty dresses again and solely speak in quoting Scripture. It’s that we view all things through the lens of the Word, to have it always as our guidelines. So how do we get it there? Personally, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t struggled with their focus, and few have truly conquered, but, there are some things that help. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Keeping communication lines open does wonders for human relationships – it prevents misunderstandings, and brings you closer to one another. Just as it aids our relationships with one another, communicating with the Father aids our relationship with Him. So, set reminders on your phone or alarm clock. Put sticky-notes on your bathroom mirror, in your underwear drawer, or on your laptop. Pray for the mundane, pray for your struggles. Offer to pray for your friends. Pray for your parents, even if it seems a little odd at first. Prayer changes things, but more importantly, prayer changes you. Don’t just pray because someone is telling you to, though. Pray because you mean the words. The verse says to “Thank God at all times.” That means even when things aren’t going the way we like, the way that seems good to man. God’s ways are higher, but more than that, God’s ways are ALWAYS based on love.
The other act of communication with God is to stay in His Word. Bible reading often feels like a task- “I’ll just read my chapter, and then I’ll be off the hook for today.” What kind of relationship is that pursuing? “I’ll just text Sarah back twice and say I need to make dinner, and then I’ll be off the hook for today.” Doesn’t sound like a very healthy friendship – so why would we do that to our God? We must make time to listen to what He has told us and to glean wisdom from those words. It can be tough. One thing that has helped me is to have a designated “reading” Bible. Earlier this year, I had a friend tell me about a word-for-word translation from the original languages but set in simple English as if you’re talking to a friend. My relationship with God has grown from it. This isn’t a “solution” for reading your Bible. In the end, that’s a decision you have to make every day – whether you will, or whether you will not. It can help to set your phone or computer wallpaper to a Bible Verse. It can be a powerful memorization tool if you read the verse before swiping in your password each time you pick up the phone.
Another help my family uses to keep our focus where it should be is to sing worship songs as we go throughout our days. Ephesians 5:19-20 reads, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” both Amazon Prime Music and Spotify have the Keith Lancaster Group, or Acapella, available. Before turning on the next Billie Eilish song, I suggest you listen – really listen – to the words of praise songs. Sing along, keep it on your heart. Play it while you do the dishes, or just in the room with you. Pray the words of the song, and actually mean them. Things like, “Lord, make me a servant.” Or “Pierce my ear, O Lord, my God! Take me to your door *THIS* day. I will serve NO OTHER GOD. Lord, I’m here to STAY.” – Do you know what those words actually mean? If not, it may be a spark to study and to contemplate whether you can genuinely mean the words you sing.
Finally, I encourage you to surround yourself with encouragement to focus on the right things. While visiting is limited, and school will be so different when we go back, there are still ways to keep in touch with good influences in today’s world. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 27:6 reads, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Make sure you’re talking to the right kind of friends – the kind that will try to get you to heaven with them, that won’t throw temptations into your newsfeed, that as Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – friends that will encourage you to love, to have joy. Use your electronics for good.
When you watch where your focus is and keep God in the center, neither politics nor disease will steal your peace. Remember who you serve, this day and every day.
By Hannah Lowe
Hannah Lowe is a freshman at Freed-Hardeman University, studying Marketing and English. Her free time is often spent with her dog and a book. She hopes these writings will bless your studies as we strive toward Heaven together.