Maria Fontaine is the spiritual and administrative co-director (along with her husband, Peter Amsterdam) of the Family International, a Christian community of faith dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. She is the author of numerous articles on the Christian faith life. (Articles by Maria Fontaine used in Activated are adapted.)
As believers, we can sometimes have unrealistic expectations about our lives. When things aren’t going smoothly, there’s a tendency to beat ourselves up about it, or feel that God isn’t answering our prayers because He doesn’t care enough or because we’re doing something wrong.
There are many instances when we pray for people and they are healed immediately or within a short time. But we also experience situations where we pray for some very serious afflictions repeatedly over months and even years, and still don’t see the results we’ve asked for. We could then be tempted to wonder what has happened. Has something gone wrong?
Did you know that parking lots at midnight can be very romantic? I’m talking about the romance I experienced with Jesus while walking in a parking lot.
I needed to get some daily exercise and I only had two options: either go to the air-conditioned gym or walk in the warm outdoors. Since I get cold easily, I chose walking outside in the heat. However, I found that even for me, there’s a limit to the heat I can take. So since it was a very hot time of year, I had to wait until it was cooler outdoors—which turned out to be close to midnight.
I don’t think that God intended any relationships to be perfect. I think of it as the “thorn” factor that He allows into the equation—that element that we shrink from, but that He knows we need. You may wonder, Why would we need differences of opinion, sensitivities, misunderstandings, jealousies, resentments, comparing, sacrificing, arguments, emotional upsets, fears, heartbreaks, and adversity? Those things don’t sound like they would build a very strong relationship.
When I feel a sense of weariness creep in, because the queue of deadlines seems to be getting a little too long, I find it helpful to occasionally stop for a few minutes and allow my mind and heart to relax.
Sometimes I’ll step outside onto the balcony or I’ll sit in my chair near the large glass doors and give my sore eyes a break by looking out at the beauties that fill my view. From my vantage point, the scene is one of abundant trees and overgrown fields, with mountains rising in the distance. The dense clusters of trees have a deep green hue that has a soothing effect just from looking at it.
I have a dear friend who told me about something that happened on his birthday. His car was in for repairs, and on this particular day he was driving someone in their own car on an all-day excursion. Planning to pick up his car from the shop after his long day’s drive, he brought along a substantial amount of money to pay for the repairs.
Recently, I was contemplating the topic of wrong choices, after having made a few myself, and was feeling a bit discouraged. Most of us enjoy finding we’ve made the right decisions, and we can definitely see the benefits in those. But it’s harder to see any good that could come from our wrong choices. We make plenty of those, however, from the small ones that we often sweep under the carpet, hoping no one else noticed, to some real whiz-bangers.
My prayer is that in all the busyness of life, in the abundance of urgent needs and priorities, we don’t lose sight of how important love is—both in the big picture and in our daily choices and priorities. Sometimes we forget that all our accomplishments are nothing without love.
A sad part of my day is when I listen to the news. Almost everything is about people facing terrible situations. Both Christians and non-Christians face very painful suffering in one form or another in many parts of the world.
Much of the news is about some tragic circumstance somewhere. It ranges from financial crises to terrorism and wars and conflicts to drug-related violence to homelessness to persecution of Christians to devastation due to climate change to leftover land mines to lack of water in various places to horrible repressive governments.
Most of us are pretty busy people. We usually have more to think about and tend to than we can actually fit into our day. We all want to stay on top of our lives, but for me at least, keeping my priorities straight regarding the many things that I want and need to do can sometimes be a challenge, and my days are usually filled with more than I can fit into them.