"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Psalm 16:9
Life surprises us and sometimes makes it difficult to stay-the-course or see which direction to go. Our heart pleads we go one way, but our mind begs the question "should I?" because it knows the heart deceives.
Holding our breath, eyes peeking between open fingers, we wobble forward wishing God's heavenly spotlight would shed some light in our direction. When that doesn't happen we pray something like, "God, would you give me a little clue or maybe a map? Heck, I'd even settle for a dot-to-dot and a #2 pencil! Something? Anything?"
Okay, maybe we don't use those words exactly, but if we were honest, in the midst of life's not-so-little surprises, that's what our hearts are saying, isn't it?
Instead, why don't we work out our faith by doing a few calisthenics? (I agree, I never liked gym class either. I'd much rather sit in the corner with my #2 pencil and follow the dot-to-dot's in my coloring book. There, I'm safe, comfortable and quite happy with my dot-to-dot's, but they'll never make me stronger, except at counting.) But....difficult situations require strong faith muscles.
So, what strengthens our faith muscles?
Prayer - personal, honest, and unmasked conversations with God.
Jesus regularly went off alone to pray to his Father, especially when faced with difficult situations. "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed" (Mark 1:35).
Intercession - others praying for you and on your behalf, including the Holy Spirit.
There's also power in the collective prayers of other believers. They not only to encourage our heart by their willingness to carry our burden, but they carry wisdom otherwise missed by ourselves. God moves mightily when his children unite in love and concern for one another.
Reading Scripture - yes, cracking open and reading a Bible.
Waiting- actively waiting to hear from God.
If you're struggling with one of life's little or not-so-little surprises today, why not exercise some faith muscles? You don't have to go it alone, or pray the right words, or read the right Scripture. Let someone help you carry your burden, pray with you and when words escape you, know that God's Holy Spirit already knows your heart and prays to the Father on your behalf. Be encouraged. And Wait.
God's picture will be much finer than your little dot-to-dot traced in your #2 pencil!