the Stone and the Oak

A journey into bible education with the stronghold of the of the oak the accountability of the stone

This is Alexis.

Her drink is a peach and mint tea with honey.

Just one look at Alexis’s bible— overrun with pink sticky notes and annotations— and it is clear she is in love with the Word. In our lovely time together over our cups of tea, Alexis referenced several parts of the Bible; all of which were powerful and inspiring. But rather than do a deep close-reading of one of these passages, Alexis spoke of what was on her heart and mind and something else emerged. As she spoke, I found myself collecting gem after gem of sage practices that she uses to bring herself closer to God.

So this edition of Sips & Scripts will outline four of Alexis’s spiritual practices that I found inspiring and know will benefit the readers of this blog.

  • Alexis asked God to reveal a focus word to guide her through 2020

“In church recently, we discussed the book of Galatians. The sermon was about the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom and how the less His followers strive to do by themselves, the more glory is given to God. And here we live in a society where we are judged by our effort and output and then find ourselves perpetually burnt out. And if we are saved by faith and not works, then why are we always so rushed, so stressed, so tired?

But in looking closer at the gospel, I noticed that Jesus was never in a rush, ever, and He had the most important responsibility of any human.

Jesus was never in a rush, ever, and He has the most important responsibility of any human.

So I realized that it comes down to priorities. What are we determined to make time for? What needs to be cleared out?

This sermon connected to the word “simplify” that had been encircling my mind and is now my focus word for 2020. I am a nursing student, so my class and clinical schedule can get pretty full, but I am going to simplify my free time. Whenever I used to find gaps in my schedule, I would immediately fill them; but now I am capitalizing on grace and creating time for rest.

I am also simplifying my physical space by getting rid of clutter and removing distractions from my bedroom walls. In fact, I haven’t even put anything up in their place, and I love the bare walls right now. When I wake up, I am not distracted; my focus goes right to Him.”

  • Alexis grounds herself before her feet hit the ground

“As soon as I wake up, I properly equip myself for the challenges of the day. I pray, I read my Jesus Calling devotional, I meditate on its message, and I journal before I take my first step. This practice is like putting on the armor of the Lord, like in Ephesians 6, before I go out into the world and face its challenges. Before I was really disciplined about this practice, and if I skipped a day, I felt unguarded. I would go back and read the Jesus Calling devotional for the day I missed and realize that it was just what I would have needed. I am much more consistent with this practice now because it feels absolutely necessary to me— like breathing. Sure, I can skip a day, and go through the motions, but that is not what I was created for.

I like to gift Jesus Calling books to non-believers because the devotionals are tailored to daily circumstances and bring such comfort.”

  • Alexis stops feelings of overwhelm and lies from the enemy by redirecting her thoughts to Jesus

“If I ever get overwhelmed or caught in a spiral of anxious thoughts, I do a few simple things that really help. One thing I do is I lift my sight. When I look upward, my focus is shifted from my own fears to He who is bigger than them. Another thing I do is just whisper the name, Jesus. No other words are even necessary. I whisper His name and it feels like he reaches out His hand to pull me out of the depths of darkness. I whisper Jesus and I feel rescued. And if I ever get caught up in any “What if?” worries, I redirect my energy to gratitude. The “What if” fears aren’t real in the present moment, but my gratitude is.

When I look upward, my focus is shifted from my own fears to He who is bigger than them.

Last month, I went through a particularly anxious situation. I was going to Japan to visit my Buddhist relatives. I was the only Christian, and I was incredibly nervous about that trip. I was losing sleep and just feeling unsettled. I turned to 2 Timothy 1.7: ‘For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and love, and a sound mind.’ It reminded me that any fears aren’t sent by Him. And that He fortifies me through the Holy Spirit.”

  • Alexis boasts of her weakness and His strength

“I am goal-oriented, driven, and focused. Like any personality traits, they have their pros and their cons. Though I can be described as ‘high achieving’ and someone who ‘has it all together,’ if I let these things get out of hand, they overtake me. I can become a prisoner to achievement and start seeking the approval of people, not God.

A verse that has helped me understand my identity in Christ is 2 Corinthians 1:9 ‘But he said to me, ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’

This verse reminds me that I am limited but He is unlimited, which is counter-cultural. American culture will tell us that we should be independent, lean on no one, etc. But Christians know we are nothing apart from Him. If anyone asks me how I ‘do it all so well,’ I am ready with an answer: it’s because of Jesus.”

If anyone asks me how I “do it all so well,” I am ready with an answer: it’s because of Jesus.

Alexis is only 23. I tell her all the time that I wish I could have been as convicted as she is when I was 23. There is no doubt in my mind that God is going to use Alexis for incredible things.

I have heard Alexis say that in her nursing clinicals, she likes to imagine that her patient is Jesus so she can give the highest level of care and love to that individual. Can you imagine how many people Alexis will be able to serve in this beautiful way?

I am so honored to know Alexis. I call her one of my “kindred spirits” a la Anne of Green Gables.

If you would like to pray for her, she is seeking prayers for guidance after nursing school. She is applying for a few different externships, and she wants clarity for which medical area of specialty she should pursue.

with His love,

Adelaide