Cloudy Days

In recent months I have had more cloudy days than I would like to admit, but I have began to realize how important it is for us Christians to actually talk about them instead of projecting this image of a struggle-free, happy-go-lucky life. Social media doesn’t help either, as more often than not, it’s a reel of good times – which I actually don’t think is all bad, until comparison rears it’s ugly head.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (NLT)

The past 4 years of my life have been incredibly challenging. God sure knows how to prepare us! I have grieved several unmet expectations of perfection, despite knowing the word above. And to be honest, I’ve lost a lot of hope for tomorrow in the process.

I used to sing the same optimistic song: “The best is yet to come!” But, new year after new year, I have waited, and the road to the best has been flooded with tears and more growing pains. My heart has gotten pretty sick of the deferred hope (Proverbs 13:12) for the long-awaited responses to my ancient prayers. My new song belts, “Great is thy faithfulness!” unto the Lord, and in my state of reality or doubt (yikes!), it also faintly whispers, “Even if You don’t, I will be okay…and I will praise You”.

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24 (NLT)

Do not be ashamed if you have felt or are feeling this way. The healing process begins with honesty. You are not alone! Let me say that again. You are not alone! Myself, many other believers, and our Savior feels your pain! I don’t know about you, but I find it so comforting to know that Yeshua has endured everything that we have or ever will. And we have a book full of reference points to help us with our challenges too.

Quick Story.

At the end of December 2018, as the new year approached, I began reflecting over the year. To be honest, I ruled it as overall horrible, and was feeling quite depressed about it. Before I could swim in the deep end of that lie, my Godmother who loves to take photos and document memories randomly sent me a slideshow full of captured fun times we’ve shared in 2018. Talk about God’s perfect timing.

I literally laughed out loud at how ridiculous I looked sulking, when right there in my face was proof that it wasn’t all so bad. I’m tellin’ y’all…THE DEVIL IS A LIAR! And you want to know what was even more ridiculous?! Some of the moments she shared were recennt! I’m talking within the last month, recent. Geez Louise.

See how depression warps our perceptions regarding our current circumstances; causing us to believe lies and throw a pity party of one? Things just aren’t clear through the lens of depression, my friends. In its selfish nature, it causes us to look for justifications to remain downcast. Instead of mentally going down a slide of injustices, we should be recounting the goodness of The Lord and thinking on virtuous things (Isaiah 63:7; Phil. 4:8). For some of us depression is a short season, and for others, a long one with evidence of being a stronghold. In both, God is the answer.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43:5 (NIV)

Now, I am not ignorant to the fact that there are a select few who remain depressed because they flat out refuse gratefulness. Maybe they fear freedom (a real thing), and having been bound for so long, those demons have become family. Maybe they don’t want to relinquish the sympathetic attention that they may gain from wallowing. Only when we genuinely decide that we want to be victors instead of victims is there hope for us through Christ.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. – Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

We also can’t forget that certain foods and beverages trigger mood changes as well. They can cause dips in emotions and/or increases in anxiety. Examine yourself and any habits that may be contributing. We worship God in our eating as well. Give us this day our daily bread, Lord… spiritually and physically! Ask God what you need for today. He knows and has gone before you.

Bottom line: It is impossible to be depressed within the presence of God. The fruits of His spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). So I encourage you to fight to praise Him for who He is and not just what He has/hasn’t done. Worship is key in the slump of depression.

One of my favorite ways to worship the Lord is in song. In no special order below, I have listed 20 songs that have helped me (and others) during dark times when it seems the enemy’s lies are just so dang loud. Maybe some of these can help you jump start a healthy playlist of your own. In my opinion, there’s nothing like reading the lyrics as you listen to really penetrate and motivate the heart to fight.

I pray that each time you get up, you get up stronger.

  1. Draw Nigh (Psalm 42:1) – Fred Hammond
  2. You Say – Lauren Daigle
  3. Fear Is A Liar – Zach Williams
  4. It Ain’t Over – Maurette Brown Clark
  5. Power to Redeem – Lauren Daigle
  6. You Are – Javen
  7. Get Up – Mary Mary
  8. I’ll Find You – Lecrae
  9. I Smile – Kirk Franklin
  10. King of the World – Natalie Grant
  11. Tell Me Wear It Hurts – Fred Hammond
  12. I Ain’t Done – Andy Mineo
  13. Still I Rise – Yolanda Adams
  14. Even If – MercyMe
  15. Yesterday – Mary Mary
  16. Let Your Power Fall – James Fortune & FIYA (feat. Zacardi Cortez)
  17. The Breakup Song – Francesca Battistelli
  18. Please Don’t Pass Me By – Fred Hammond
  19. You Can’t Stop Me – Andy Mineo
  20. Speak The Name – Koryn Hawthorne (feat. Natalie Grant)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. – Jude 1:24 (NLT)


©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

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Back to Basics.

Society convinces us that we have to be the masters and creators of our own destiny. We are consistently urged and praised for being trendy, multi-tasking go-getters, that ride or die, hustle and flow, with faces that are “beat” and “eyebrows on fleek”. Social, economic, and educational systems have been installed like conveyor belts to strategically move us along through life like lab rats, with little allowance to function outside of them. Death seems to be the only way out, and somehow, we have to get back to the basics. What does God say?

Wait for Him. (Psalm 27:14)
Be Still. (Psalm 46:10)
Trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5)
Seek Him. (Matthew 6:33)
Don’t Worry. (Philippians 4:6)
Your Beauty is Internal. (1 Peter 3:3)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (NLT)

I find myself having to ask God often if He is pleased with me, and I find myself often shocked to learn that He is. I’m shocked because His way seems to strike such a nerve with so many people, that even I doubt at times, hmm…maybe I was wrong. I am grateful for his affirmations of the truth. I guess Jesus had the same problem on earth as well. He challenged the thoughts of many hearts and upset a lot of people by bringing His sword.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10 (ESV)

The truth forces people to make a knowledge-based choice that they are accountable for on the day of judgement. It disrupts their ignorant bliss, while making God smile. So if the world is unhappy with your decisions, you’re likely doing something right. You go, girl!

Sadly, we have gotten so used to the glory that God has bestowed upon us, that we seemed to have forgotten where it is from. “We woke up like this”, remember? No longer are we humbly asking our Father to move on our behalf. Instead, we are abusing His power and making demands and declarations to get what we want in our own timing. We’re moving on our own behalf, taking matters into our own hands, and although it’s unholy, it works.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. There’s much forgiveness to be asked of God and so much unlearning that needs to take place within us, but gratefully Jesus left us with a beautiful gift of help for the process; The Holy Spirit.

The masses want to be rich, and many are slowly dying, trying. We’ve allowed money to come in and take the wheel and drive our actions, when the most liberating path of life is one under the control of God. We all have desires within our hearts— some that God has placed there, and others that we may need to let go, if serving Christ His way is our goal. We must embrace the truth that we all have different God-given portions as well. Our portions may or may not even require that we have certain natural or spiritual gifts. That is the beauty of being a member of the body of Christ; we all have a different beauty mark.

With our variety of beauty marks, we share the beautiful promise that God will supply all of our needs. That’s a promise to rejoice over! Have you ever wanted something that you just didn’t need? I think we all have. I have found that grateful and content people are the richest people! Dollars are on the bottom of their list of things they perceive as valuable. Their enjoyment of life is not contingent on a paycheck or salary. They praise God when they have little and when they have much. They praise God for who He is, not for what He can do for them. They go back to the basics as often as necessary, returning to their first love, Jesus Christ.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

God is on your side, and I do genuinely believe that one of the many ways that He wants to bless us is financially, but He knows the truth within our hearts and for some us, let’s face it: money is a god in our life. It has way too much value! If God gave us all the money we could ever dream of today, and asked us to give it all to our neighbor tomorrow, He knows that some of us would struggle with obeying His voice. That’s a problem. So, He’s sweet and very patient with us. He tests our faithfulness on smaller scales. He’s a good Father who well prepares and equips His children. So when He pops the question on a larger scale, the truth in our hearts (regardless of the dollar amount) will be, a cheerful “it’s a small thing”. God is a jealous God, so if money means too much to you (and He knows if it does), then the chances of you getting it (from Him) are slim.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. – Philippians 3:8 & 9 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. At the end of the day, despite the many disguises, there are only two masters to choose from and serve; God or money. Every choice that we make is linked to the servitude of one of those masters. We have to decide if we want to know the truth, and be honest with ourselves about what we’ve been embracing as a lie. It can all be a humbling experience, but it births something beautiful and it is amazing how God’s grace and love remains constant through it all. You can do it.

*Special thanks to the LYBM team for allowing me to contribute this post!

© 2016 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

The Greatest of These #Love

So these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinth. 13:13

con·tin·ue/kənˈtinyo͞o/
Verb:

Persist in an activity or process.
Remain in existence or operation.

I love love and love talking about it. We all need it and I believe we as a people are truly blessed if we’re granted the opportunity to experience in it’s purity at some point in our lives. It is the greatest and there’s no takebacks on the real deal.

One of the greatest things about love is that it is victorious and remains awesome even when us people are defeated and lowly. It never gives up or fails on us, we do. And, for whatever selfish reason we choose to stop cooperating with it, it still wins the championship belt. Ha, we’re not so big and bad afterall. Oh, but, it will certainly allow us to believe that we are. We always have a choice to do so and we’re always making them with our actions.

Love is very much a verb and requires action. In fact, it requires constant action. Yes,
Love must be a conscious act of continuity.

Sometimes the most difficult and consequently the best decisions in life are made from a place of love (believe me, I know). Shoot, My Abba Father makes them all the time. Decisions that hurt us, anger us, cause us to deny, ignore, retaliate, hide and change our demeanor…but Love’s demeanor doesn’t change when ours does.

Yea.

So, if you’re gonna do it (love, that is), I pray you do it right. If you’ve tried to love right but failed, know that really, you didn’t if you tried your hardest — and I hope you get a second chance. If you don’t know how to love (that’s okay), but you must accept that you will never be able to until you’ve been a receptor of it. If you’ve never been a receptor of it, I pray that one day, in God’s timing you will be (Yay!). And when that day arrives, I pray that you will be a good student of love and be a good steward of love because that one word is so great.

Faith. Hope. Love.

…the greatest of these is love. God is love.