May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may ABOUND in hope.
It’s pouring down rain outside this afternoon. I’m snuggled under a warm red blanket with an equally warm beverage in reach. Once I got settled and comfy, I opened my laptop and began to ask the Lord to tender my heart to whoever might hear from Him when reading this post. With my eyes closed, I envisioned myself sitting in a cozy coffee shop with a massive cup of steaming hot white mocha—of course with a whipped cream heart etched on the surface for good measure! You see, for as long as I can remember, good conversations about faith and family over cups of coffee have been my preferred way to spend time with a friend. It always amazes me how a great conversation can continue for hours. By the time you part ways, you have covered a multitude of topics that weren’t even on the radar when you sat down to enjoy that person’s company. But that is how it goes when you spend quality time with someone.
As I sat down to write today, I had a totally different topic in mind to share with you. But as I prayed, I became inspired by the precious art of good conversation. The Holy Spirit gently reminded me of a specific dialogue between us that had taken place just a few short months ago. With that in mind, I would love the opportunity to share something special the Lord enlightened me with that has changed any conversation we will ever have going forward.
ABOUND: to be rich or well supplied; to have something in great number; to be filled; to exist or be in abundance; experience plenty; thrive; flourish; overflow with; being filled to the brim.
It was the beginning of this year. My kids and I were texting back and forth regarding the words we each had picked to focus on in 2017. I asked each of them to share how God used their word last year to encourage and strengthen their relationship with the Lord. Valley felt impressed to choose the word “grow” and easily gave testimony to how much God had grown her faith, her ministry opportunities and her personal relationship with Him. Brittany picked “persevere” and equally raved about how God helped her persevere through the birth of her first child, a move, a career change and her husband taking on a new ministry job. Tyler’s word was “invest”. He, too, felt the Lord had really taken that word and knit it into everything his hands touched through a new coaching career that gave him opportunities to pour himself into so many students and fellow teachers. Lauren’s word was “strength”—and boy did she need that in the forefront of her mind being a precious single mom who is working full time and raising our eldest grandson. Then there were our sweet son-in-laws who picked “generous” and “workmanship”—-both fully living up to each!! Last, but not least, was my wonderful husband, Gary, who selected the word “wisdom”. Wow, and has God ever knocked that one out of the park for him this year as he’s experienced a deeper fellowship with Jesus than ever before.
Then there was me. After reading all of these great confirmations, I found myself staring at my word—ABOUND. Honestly, my first thought was: “What the heck??? My word stunk this year!!! I didn’t see my word show up anywhere in my life! I spent a ton of time in Your word and praying! Lord, I was planning to pick “intentional” this year. Is that really my word?? I thought “abound” was last year. But obviously, mistakes can be made! LOL! How can I know this is the right word for me this year?” I truly couldn’t understand why I never saw anything manifested in regards to it. But in that quiet moment, the Holy Spirit began to whisper in my ear.
The day before, I re-read “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. Using that fresh information, the Lord distinctly confirmed that I had not made a mistake at all in picking my word last year. Abound was indeed the word. But here was the trouble. I had talked to the Lord—A LOT!! I did a lot of begging, and pleading, and asking him for guidance, and asking for peace…and even giving Him a little one-on-one instruction on what I needed Him to do on my behalf! (Lord, seriously, I am sorry!). The problem was this: I had not spent much time just being quiet before Him and abiding in the majesty of who He is. The Lord said so sweetly to me, “LeeAnn, my precious one, you have to ABIDE first before you can ABOUND.” My jaw dropped to the floor when that revelation hit me. You see, God already knew what I needed. In order for me to abound, I needed to quit dominating the conversation. I needed to quit talking and meditate on the truths of God’s Word. Meditate specifically on His character traits and His promises to me given in His word. I quickly realized my focus was far from ON Him…and absolutely on myself and what I felt I needed FROM Him.
Instead of ABOUNDING with an overflowing peace, and flourishing in hope as God’s love filled me to the brim…I went months experiencing the complete opposite. I was going day-to-day absolutely WHITE-KNUCKLED. I was literally holding on for dear life, fearful that I was going to miss God’s best or spend time going down a road He never intended for me to travel. When all the while, God’s Word says in Proverbs 28:20 that ‘a faithful man will abound with blessings’. God just wanted me to focus on who He is and experience the abundance of blessings that flowed from that knowledge. More of Him. Less of me. It’s a game changer.
So the next time you’re spending time with the Lord, don’t ruin the communication by dominating the conversation. Turn on some worship music and just let the words soak in. Let your triumphs and victories magnify His Name. Let the truth of God’s Word penetrate your fears and disappointments. Then release your death grip on everything you can’t control anyway. If you do, you’ll experience a peace that passes all understanding as you abound in God’s goodness.
“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE—if anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY—MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS.” Philippians 4:6-8
This discipline will not only give you a healthy glow. But it will also take years of wrinkles and unwanted frown lines off of your beautiful face.
Stay shiny my friends!