We are creatures of habit. We like predictability and regularity. We like to know what’s coming. Some of us might seem more adventurous than others or might like to live with a little spontaneity; but for the most part, the way we perceive and order our lives is by repetitions.
Sun up, sun down. Repeat
Wake up, go to work, come home, sleep. Repeat.
Work, work, work, work, work, weekend. Repeat.
Winter, spring, summer, fall. Repeat.
Games and recreational activities are built on patterns and cycles that repeat themselves. Music is formulated on a repeating scale using repeating patterns. Even in language, the way we learn is by patterns and repetitions!
My family just moved to Berlin, Germany a few months ago, and we are straining our ears to learn the language. I am amazed at how much more I can understand now than even just a few weeks ago. Now when I listen, I am beginning to recognize words, patterns of speech and regular form! It doesn’t sound like chaotic nonsense to my ear anymore! (At least, not as much chaotic nonsense …)
What about your life? Have you picked up on any repeating patterns?
Most people are quick to pick up on the negative patterns in their history: addiction, bad luck, illness, failure, loss, rejection. Those negative things in your life are easy to see because they have held you in chains and are at the forefront of your mind.
It is easy to criticize yourself and see your shortcomings. And it’s even easy to take one step further and believe that you ARE those shortcomings. But what about other patterns?
Maybe there is a theme that you haven’t completely seen yet. What if you could review your life and find the repeating patterns of God’s faithfulness to you?
Just for a moment, think over your life and see if there are any answered prayers. Think back to times when you knew God was with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you specific moments where He was working things out for you.
In the same way I am training my ear to hear a new language, we can all train our hearts to see the pattern of God’s faithfulness in our lives. If you aren’t used to doing it, it might seem difficult. But the more you try, the easier it becomes, and after a while, you will become “fluent.” By training your mind this way, you are doing what the Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “… bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ …” Training your mind to see God’s faithfulness behind you builds your faith to follow His leading in front of you.
God understands that we need proof—patterns that stack up evidence of His involvement in our circumstances. He is the one who created patterns and order in the first place, and He can certainly bring you assurance of His love through them! I think this is what David meant when he wrote Psalm 23: Even though life is full of pain and difficulty, the Lord is always gently leading us. And as David looked back over his life—victories, defeats, highlights and embarrassments—he could see the pattern of God’s faithfulness woven through it all. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …” As he looked back over his own history, he could see the goodness and mercy of God at every turn.
Want to change your history? Uncover the recurring waves of God’s goodness and mercy. Write down the instances He brings to your mind and keep a list of how He has helped you, saved you, healed you, blessed you, rescued you.
As you begin to see His presence in the details of your history, all of a sudden, it is redeemed. It doesn’t negate hurts and losses and failures, but it proves to your heart and mind that you have never been alone. Let yourself be won over by those patterns of God’s faithfulness in your life. He is good, and you can trust Him.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters,
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord