by Jamie Bonnema
Awhile ago, I was disheartened by many issues going on around me. I was frustrated and overwhelmed. I felt torn and divided, not knowing which battles to fight and understood that I can’t fight them all. I backed away a bit from the things I had been working on, realizing that I felt like my wheels were spinning, I was out of the fiery enthusiasm that I had started with, and felt at a loss for the role I am to play. I was burdened by the thought that I have to do more, but questioned what I can really do that would make a bit of difference. The joy had seemingly been stolen from me. And with a wonderful holiday season approaching, I did not want that heaviness to linger much longer.
Without even realizing it at the time, one little thing broke the daily cycle. I had a great day visiting family, which provided a huge distraction and relief from the heavy emotions I had been carrying. That same night, I hit the pillow, ready for the next day, and inspired to be better in the morning. I made a tentative plan in my head, which documented how I was going to start my day and what I was NOT going to give my time to. In the morning I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer something. I sat down with my morning latte and a quick devotional to begin the day right. I opened the soft leather book to the ribbon marking the last page I read, an indication that I was actually a few days behind, yet again. I decided to ignore the date, stayed on that page, and there I found some answers to what had been bothering me for many months.
In a devotional titled, Obedience Opens the Door, Max Lucado begins by writing, “Heeding God’s Word is more critical than fighting God’s war.” I paused to digest that first sentence. What impeccable timing! I continued on, “Indeed, heeding God’s word is fighting God’s war. Conquest happens as the covenant is honored.” Lucado continues by quoting C.S. Lewis that obedience “is the key to all doors.” What? All doors? The door that frees us from a place we do not understand to a place where we are content in God’s grace? For the door that leads from feelings of inadequacy to a heart of boldness? For the doors that lead to a fulfilled life—even those?
I had been so busy being consumed by issues beyond my understanding and control that I had neglected the simplest and yet greatest thing I could possibly be doing—diving into God’s Word DAILY and allowing His truth to consume me and my actions. I had let confusion (about what my role in the world is) distract me from my daily steps. I was burdened by a battle for a war already won, trying to capture the hearts of others when my own was in poor shape. And, in hindsight, it is no wonder that I was so frustrated and sad when a hurdle (or locked door) was thrown up in the direction I was going. I had been trying to fight the battle alone.
Talking to God has always been easy for me. I depend on prayer all day, every day, to get through the day. On the other hand, taking the time to listen to God through His Word, for me, seems to take a lot of effort. Why? Because it requires being self-less, and apparently I’m kind of into me, or my daily routine may look a bit more consistent in pursuing God’s truth. It takes handing over my agenda, battle plan, and ideas to an enormous and powerful God. It requires setting aside ME and making time for HIM. And when I do, my frustrations subside, joy comes back to my sad heart, I begin to love others better, and I release the burdens of the world to Him. I find my role again, which is to first heed His commands. And that is a role that I can bear—one which brings me joy and keeps my intentions pure—and will guide me when He does call me to take a different part in what He is doing.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:14
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments! I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:9-11
Jamie Bonnema is a former youth treatment counselor for residential care, education, and wilderness programs. She is a married mother of four children, works from home with a biotech company, and loves spending time outdoors.