I had a lot of ideas about God that weren’t actually God’s ideas about God.
When our lives initially got stretched through our marital pain, the picture I had of Him couldn’t stand beside the struggles we were facing. My prayers felt rote because of how I saw the One to whom I was praying.
Then with each successive layer of circumstantial pain, new false ideas of God that we’d carried were unearthed. The pain of infertility, the adoption delays, my father’s death, and now this business setback all revealed ways in which I saw God that didn’t line up with what His Word said about Him.
I needed a shift, foundationally, in order to grow up and out of these skewed ideas.
My first step in inhaling adoration was inviting that language into my everyday ache.
I started with one word, or one phrase from His Word. Some days, it was an aspect of God’s character that resonated with a particular need. If I was caught in a mind trap, condemning myself for failing in some area, this was my time to hold His Word up against the “truth” I’d contrived. So that’s where I started. I read from the Psalms,
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
I prayed, God, You are faithful. You are faithful when I am fearful. I can count on You. You will not leave me when You see my failure.
In that way, the irritant of the day became the conversation God and I carried on throughout it. I scribbled notes in my Moleskine journal, propped next to my Bible near my kitchen sink, stained by carrot peels and smelling of onions. I invited His Word into my head, the place most parched for His reality. If I didn’t have a specific circumstance stirring me toward a characteristic of God, I searched the Psalms.
Line upon line, this book showed the chasm in my understanding. Line upon line, this book brought me back to adoration as a way to bridge the chasm between my perceptions and God’s truth. Day after day, I felt the relief of holding my toxic thoughts up to His beauty.
I saw more clearly the disconnection between who I said God is and who I believed Him to be.
I saw that pain wasn’t a result of my circumstances; pain was a result of my detachment from the Father. Circumstances were merely unearthing my view of life.
It was adoration — practicing, trying it out, seeing what it looked like in my life — that led me to this new perspective on God. It led me to a Father who longs not merely to be served but also to be known. Who longs for us, His creation, to know the cadence of His heartbeat.
I pressed pause on my day to say His Word back to Him. I aligned my haphazard thought life with the Truth that changes. I started the habit of telling Him who He is, using His Word. And I let His Word reframe my experience.
As I utter those strong words about Him with my weak voice, words I can barely believe when they leave my mouth, something inside of me shifts. I begin to know Him not through my own interpretation but through His.
Adoration is exploration. The Father loves to be explored.
We underestimate the power that our knowing Him has in moving His heart. We underestimate the power that our moving His heart has on our lives.
Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory, of knowing His name and His nature.
Sometimes, instead of leading us up and out of those very fears, big and small, He lets us live them. He gives us over to them. Because it’s in this giving over to our fears that we find the perfect love that frees us from them. Forever.
The weeks and months after we found ourselves in this financial swamp, we expected to live with it sucking us deeper down. Nate braced himself, almost daily, for the blows he figured he deserved for his business mistake. He lived in a self-constructed purgatory.
As had been true through most of our marriage, we rode the teeter-totter. This time, he was down and I was up. So many times it had been the reverse. But in those months, the me who had been so inclined toward fear knew peace. And so we each walked in new places, neither better nor worse than the other. Both creatively spun by God.
Month after month we whittled down our little adoption nest egg until our bank balances ran close to zero. New bills rolled in and we watched their deadlines vigilantly, this time without a plan for how to cover our adoption.
What also began to grow in this low season were the testimonies.
Our stories of His abundance. The check that came, unsolicited, to cover a few months’ expenses. The bills that, somehow, got paid, month after month. The business that crept its way toward being out of the hole.
God was working every angle to change our knowledge about who He is. We realized that our lives aren’t, in fact, a series of rewards for doing things “right.” They are strung together surprises that continue to speak more of who He is than who we aren’t.
We wondered to each other, whispering, What if all of life, all of our understanding of God, starts — first — with Him?
Circumstances still would have failed us had we simply decided our lives were about “really good faith stories.” Like a child growing up on sweets, our craving for the gifts from His hand would have only grown. Each new testimony would be forgotten in light of the next breakthrough we desired.
But when God helped us see circumstances as the catalyst to a new understanding of Him, they became the testimony of Jesus in our lives. Look! Not at what is happening to us but at what that says about God.
There we were, gulping mercy, as God doled out events that allowed us to look at Him anew. Hard and challenging though they were, they forged a new perspective. Each one came from Him to us with an opportunity to shape our praise back to Him.
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What do you believe about God when pressed in on all sides, disappointed, hurt, confused, worried, or in any manner of storm in your life? Where do you go in those toxic thoughts and misunderstandings? Today, pick a Proverbs and let it roll around your head. Write it down. Read it over again. Practice adoration no matter what your circumstances. And, see what the Lord does in your heart as He did in Sara’s. Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about the transformation that comes through adoration!
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