Despair tingled within – an inner alarm I bypassed for years, until a dangerous lie was exposed.
Ignoring despair doesn’t make it go away; we need a healthy strategy for disarming it.
I’ve learned – not perfected, mind you – to persevere through disappointments, inconveniences, and true trials of life with God’s loving lead.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1: 2-4 NASB95)
It was the third day of my journey at a writers’ conference – a mission of purpose – with four more to go. I’d navigated an a/c unit, which spewed warm, humid air, shower water the color of steeped tea, and an embarrassing situation at dinner one evening. I was proud of how well I handled every challenge, and I thought I could handle the one thing that seemed to poke at my peace.
The window. The only window in my room was covered with plastic – brown paint-rimmed, milky-colored, plastic
Lord knows I tried to just ignore it, but I needed to see outdoors; it’s therapy to me.
It became evident that I needed help with my mindset when I sat at the faux wood desk to spend quality time with God. Once, twice, three times I glanced toward the window. And it did nothing to elevate my mood. I couldn’t see creation, and it got to me.
I found myself stuck between giving up on my quality time with God and heading to the café with my friends versus choosing to endure the situation.
That crossroads was familiar ground – sacred ground in His hands. Specifically, it’s the place where truth reigns because whatever I deemed most important would be evidenced by my choice.
I chose to pray. Prayer is priceless in my life; it’s critical to thriving. As I asked God to elevate my mood, I began filtering thoughts of places I could go – a space to be.
That’s when I recalled the prayer gardens. Of course, it was pouring down rain.
More than caffeine, I needed a sanctuary with my Savior.
Equipped with my Bible, prayer journal, and phone, I drove up the mountain to the parking lot. I was the only one in the gardens. Stillness fell over my soul – with one exception. The closed car windows. I saw creation, but I wanted to experience it.
Again, I prayed. With His lead (and a couple bungee cords), an umbrella became an awning over my car window.
As I lowered the window, anxiety gave way to reward. Stillness opened the door to knowing God was with me. Creation evidenced the Creator, and the park became my earthly sanctuary.
Rain thumped the umbrella fabric like a muted drum.
Puddles formed on the parking lot pavement.
The lamp post lantern emitted a glow, which reflected on rain-glossed leaves.
A mountain stream rushed – unseen yet heard.
Blossoms offered their barely-there fragrance to the breeze.
I found my sanctuary, and I embarked on a new season on my quest to advance the Kingdom.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but His delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1.1-3 NKJV)
I tend to give much time for reflection, and this event provided a perspective I’d never noted during all my outdoor adventures.
On that depressing, humid, gray, rainy day, creation gave witness to the glory of the Creator.
When I heard a bird call from its distant perch, I considered my call. Am I singing for the glory of God to a world where distance evaporates with technology?
The peeper – and its choir – made me smile with its creation praise. Is praise to our Father second nature to me?
The scent of blooms refreshed my spirit. Is the fragrance of my life pleasing to Him?
That ambient glow from a single streetlamp in a storm? It endeared Me to The Light of my life. May His Light radiate unhindered all my days – yes, even those punctuated by storms.
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12 NASB95)
Friends, pay attention to those trials with the lens of The Word. I arrived at the conference as a woman fleeing certain tragedy. I was weary, weak, and worn thin in spirit; most who knew me had no clue. Unrested from days – and nights – of striving to keep up with demands. Unresolved grief buried beneath my stacked agenda. Unrealized dreams. We all know how that feels, right? I’m not talking about all dreams, just the ones I believed were God’s will for me. I’d resuscitated them for months on end with waning hope.
Finding my sanctuary turned the plastic into my tutor, and here are a few things I learned with God’s gracious lead:
- Stop focusing on the plastic – on what I couldn’t control.
- Accept the truth – and the purpose – of trials in God’s capable hands.
- Find my sanctuary – true separation from what hinders to abiding in the eternal holiness of God.
I knew the trials relented when I uttered praise for the plastic.
Father, thank You for the plastic over my hotel room window. I now see. It was a tool in Your hands for wooing me here. You knew how much I needed this time of separation, this holy setting apart. Now I’m excited for the season on my horizon. I am grateful for the endurance You produced in me.
May the trials of life help you acknowledging despair for what it is,
an emotion to overcome – an invitation to find your sanctuary in Christ.
When your inner alarm sounds, where’s your favorite space to sanctuary with our Savior?
Let us know with a comment below.