If many of us are honest, we know that staying connected with God through Bible study, Bible reading and prayer is an on-going challenge in our busy, daily lives. These things can be even more challenging during stressful seasons.
You start a new Bible reading plan only to realize a few weeks later that you’re 5 days behind in your reading.
Or, that pile of new books is still staring at you with maybe a chapter or two having been read.
You might have gotten off to a great start in a new journaling Bible and now you feel overwhelmed because it’s detailed and time consuming.
Finding a consistent day for a real Sabbath rest or deepening your prayer life or keeping up with a Bible study book… all of these things can be a struggle, especially with the added stresses of living overseas, working in team, never-ending interruptions, daily challenges and the many other things that play a part in our days as global workers.
We often think that as workers, we shouldn’t struggle with this; it should be easier. To make it more complicated, most people assume, because of our profession, that daily time spent with God would come as a natural part of our spiritual lives.
Yet, we all have experienced seasons where finding the time, resources, energy and perseverance to maintain our daily connection with God can be very difficult.
In those seasons, I love to picture Jesus looking down with love. I see him lifting off the burden we often place on ourselves to do or be or have or read or accomplish anything other than being still in his presence.
With that simple picture in your mind, here are 7 ways to connect with God in stressful or busy seasons:
1} Keep it simple.
So often, especially with social media, we feel like we have to have a lot of things going to stay connected with God each day. We need a journal, a book, a devotional, a Bible reading plan, a prayer acronym, a podcast, a Facebook Live service and the newest worship session from our favorite church. We also need to take a picture or do our own Facebook Live to show it really happened. That can get overwhelming. Fast. When you strip all of that away and simplify, you find what a simple time with Jesus can look like. Choose one of those things and let it connect you with God in the way you need for that moment, that day. Take the pressure off and keep it simple.
2} Let it be messy.
Right now, in our social media, filtered world, time with God often looks pretty and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The coffee shop is perfect. The journal matches the pen. The candle is placed just right. The natural light, the birds singing, the quiet moments of morning all encompass what we feel connecting with God should or could look like. But what if it means doing your Bible reading plan on your phone while sitting in the passport office for two hours? What if you’re stuck in traffic with people selling Kleenex and phone cords outside your car window? What if the kids brought in sand and got on the couch with dirty feet? What if ants are running along the wall behind your desk? Can time with God happen then? Yes. Thankfully, yes. The pretty moments with God are precious. Having a quiet moment with a cup of coffee is wonderful. But on the stressful, hard, busy days… you can still connect with God in the midst of the mess. Let it be messy.
3} Keep Scripture all around you.
Write it. Print it. Post it where you stand washing dishes, or in the bathroom where you get ready for the day, or at your desk. Make it the lock screen on your phone. Put it on the fridge or on a note card in your bag. When life is stressful, keeping Scripture all around you can help you stand on the promises, remember His Word, encourage your heart and even, if you read it often enough, memorize each verse. You’ll find quite a few lists to print on different topics at this link.
4} Have a prayer for hard days.
When the words don’t come, when tears are all you have, when frustration mounts, it’s in these moments that having a prayer can be so helpful. It can be the Lord’s Prayer or a selection of verses written that you’ve personalized or a prayer you’ve written yourself. When you’re overwhelmed and can’t seem to pray, read those prayers.
5} Use simple phrases of encouragement.
Sometimes, all I have is a phrase in my heart or a few words that God is using to speak to me, on repeat, all day long. Those simple phrases can encourage, help, comfort and strengthen in the most stressful, busy times. It could be a phrase from a song, a line from a poem, a quick caption on an author’s Instagram or a point in the pastor’s sermon last Sunday. Don’t discount the small, soft ways that God uses to connect and speak with us.
6} Read the journeys, testimonies and stories of others walking this faith road.
With a reading app on your phone, or a small book in your bag, or a link to an article online, you can read the stories and testimonies that can greatly encourage, challenge and help you in stressful times. Let their stories speak of God’s faithfulness, his power and his love. Remember that He is faithful and true for them and for you. Another way to connect with God that we often forget is to read back through your own prayer journals. Read over the notes in your Bible. Read your own words, your own stories of God’s provision, answers, and blessings in your life. What a wonderful way to remember what God has done and build your faith for what God can do again in the circumstances and stress of life!
7} Know where and how to fall.
Stressful times, interrupted days, busy seasons and inconvenient circumstances can and will happen regularly. Life knocks us down and will probably knock us down again. During one of these times, I felt guilty for falling again, for feeling weak in the midst of a stressful situation. Shouldn’t I be stronger, healthier, and better than allowing myself to fall again? God spoke very clearly in my prayer time that day–that I was doing just fine. That I was falling in the right place, that my foundation was sure, that His strength is perfect. He is for me, he will help me and he is such a soft, beautiful place to land. Every day, if that’s what we need. When life is stressful, hard and crazy, know where and how to fall.
These are just a few simple, honest, real ways to connect with God.
We can’t always have a picture-perfect hour to spend with Jesus, but if we learn how to incorporate Him into the flow of our days, we learn to sense His presence and see His faithfulness in creative, fresh ways.
We can connect with God in some way, every day.
How do you stay connected with God during stressful times? What are some simple ways you can meet with Him on busy, interrupted, intense days overseas? Which of these ways can you put into practice today?
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash