daily devotional

How perfect do circumstances have to be for your happiness? What strings do you tie to your joy, and as a result you’re forfeiting opportunities for sheer bliss because they have a layer of less than favorable on top?

What is your current less than favorable? What layer of reality would you opt to forego if you could? Will you continue to allow it to keep you from experiencing what lies deeper below? A greater experience is just beneath this surface level layer of undesirable circumstances.

For the past 3 days I’ve been on Norris Lake in Tennessee hosting 11 women on a 7 bedroom houseboat for a retreat. Our packing list was swimsuits and coverups, sunglasses and big hats. Last week here at the lake it was 92 degrees. We arrived on Friday to a torrential downpour that just wouldn’t stop. Through the entire weekend, clouds followed us as temperatures never rose above 65, and today it’s a shockingly rude temperature of 46 degrees! What the actual crap is this?!!!!

Not only did we not bargain for this, we didn’t prepare for it.

Maybe you’re currently going through a situation you didn’t bargain for. Something you would have never chosen, but it seems to have chosen you. What will you do here? How will you show up today in the face of a reality you feel unequipped and unprepared for?

You may not see it right now, but this is your opportunity to rise up. This is your invitation to level up in your life. WILL YOU?

You don’t rise up from perfection, you rise up from the ashes. You rise up from the unfavorable, the uncomfortable, the unforeseen, the unfathomable. So, look around, if you have any of that in your life today, you have the opportunity to rise up.

With the proper, higher perspective, you will see these circumstances do not have to ruin everything. They may change things, but writing it off as a hopeless lost cause is optional. Cancellation is a choice. Will you cancel here?

I assumed a houseboat retreat in the south on the last weekend of May was going to be hot, muggy, humid and my butt would be floating on an inflatable unicorn the entire time. I was wrong. Really wrong. My biggest worry went from wondering if the houseboat AC was good, to where do you find warm fuzzy slippers in the summer.

This unexpected, and honestly unwelcome freezing cold weather presented us with the opportunity to rise above and find happiness that wasn’t cheap. It wasn’t easy, we had to dig for it. In fact, we had to jump in for it.

The average temperature for your hot shower is 105 degrees. That water feels good on your back. Subtract 38 degrees from that blissful hot shower and you get the water we’re floating on right now. 67 degrees. Cold. However, when the water temperature is 10-20 degrees warmer than the air temperature, did you know that same cold water feels mighty welcome? Different circumstances bring a different perspective.

I believe this is exactly why our all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God allows things to go sideways sometimes in our lives. He allows things to fall apart. He allows things to go wrong. He allows crazy crappy weather on a weekend you’ve been planning for and looking forward to for 6 months! On the surface it appears to be a real buzz kill, but look deeper sister, this is an opportunity to rise up and experience greater things you weren’t expecting.

Because of the real crap fest of weather we’ve had, we swam in those waters like they were a jacuzzi. We full on bathed, washing our hair while exclaiming how warm the water was. (By the way, if you’ve never experienced a lake bath, are you really living? Put that on your list and let that shampoo bottle float right by you.)

We had a group jazzercise exercise decked out in 80’s wear on the houseboat rooftop to warm up. We hiked the island and had an impromptu time of worship in the woods. We huddled inside, drank more hot coffee than is advisable, and had aggressive card games where a few may have walked away with slight injuries.

We did all of this because of weather we NEVER asked for. It was our opportunity to rise above.

And I wouldn’t change it.

Can you look back and see how less than favorable circumstances were just an invitation to rise up? Can you look back and see how God was offering you greatness when you had to forfeit goodness? Can you see how he allowed your disappointment to lead you to deeper happiness?

Jesus said it John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”:

You don’t need peace for perfect circumstances. What Jesus came to give you is for real life. The real life where things aren’t fair, sometimes disappointing, and often times unexpected. His peace still reigns here, and he says, do not let your heart be troubled. Refuse the bad habit of getting all stirred up over things you can’t control. Find the peace Jesus is offering here. Find the gift in this gutter, the message in this mess, the purpose in this pain, the treasure in this threat. It’s there, but it likely won’t be on the surface. You’re going to need to dig deeper for this, then use it to rise up above the circumstances.

Our God is not a surface level God. He’s deep. He’s bigger than you could ever imagine. He’s greater than your mind can fathom. He has the power to control the weather, the details, the timing, the unfolding, the right now and the future, and sometimes he says the exact thing you would intentionally avoid is what is absolute best for you. And here, you have a choice. Savor it, or sulk over it. Find the good in it, or focus on the gloom in it. Get yourself in a panic or dwell in peace. Grow bitter or get better.

Isaiah 61:3 tells us Jesus came to
“bestow on us a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”

Despair doesn’t look good on you honey. Start praising him here and see what he is doing. These ashes will be exchanged for beauty. Sadness turns to joy when you rise above the circumstances and accept the invitation to live on a higher level with Jesus.

Jesus rose up so you could rise up too. The enemy works overtime on you to keep you down. Simply don’t allow that crap in your life. Don’t blindly accept his invitation to dwell in the darkness of disappointment and miss your opportunity to rise up to your destiny.

Don’t stay stuck in the details of things that aren’t going your way. Maybe this is more FOR you than you ever imagined. God certainly isn’t against you. He is using all things together for good now and nothing shall be wasted in his capable hands.

Embrace the suck. Search for the goodness. Jump into that cold water and see that these less than favorable circumstances have made it delightfully welcoming. Accept the invitation of Christ to rise up here and experience greatness your good plans never included.

How does good become great? Good falls all apart then God gets in the middle of it and offers greater. Accept the offer.