Keys to Victorious Living
By Stacy James
”Stacy, when I first met you, you gave me a big smile. I knew then that I had to get to know you.”
People are often taken off-guard when I smile at them from my wheelchair. A smile is often the last thing they expect. They probably expect depression, anger, sadness–and there was a time I felt those. However, I have found that true joy, purpose and meaning in life comes from a relationship with God and finding my significance in Him. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” Abundant life is not physical, it is spiritual, and as I develop my walk with God, I am able to trust Him more, be at peace with my life, and smile at the future. These seven keys to victorious living are ways I practically “walk” with God. The more I live these out in my daily life, the more joy I have. My prayer is that they help you walk with God, and walk victoriously through life. Remember: Walking victoriously through life has nothing to do with legs.
1. Praise and Worship
It is so easy to be focused on myself and my daily hassles. But praise and worship gets my focus right. Worship gives us the opportunity to lay our junk at the altar and express our adoration to the Lord. When we praise God, we lift our focus off the concerns of daily life and onto the holiness of God. Praise lifts our hearts because it shifts our attention from our need to the Source of our supply; from our problems to the Problem Solver. Worship is occupying our soul with God himself. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, everything else pales in comparison.
We often think of praise as the songs we sing in the beginning of church, but it can also be just reading a Psalm to God. I also love to play a praise tape in my quiet time or in my car from time to time. It is hard to get angry at the traffic if you’re praising God while you drive!
* How can you incorporate praise and worship into your life?
From the moment I was in the hospital, people have poured out their hearts to God for my recovery. I believe that is why my attitude has been so good, and why I have healed beyond the doctor’s expectations. I often have to trust God for my needs, and I have seen him provide a home for me to live in, an adapted van for me to drive, as well as people to help stretch my legs, roommates during the summer, and lots of other ways. Instead of worrying, I am learning to give my cares over to the One who can do something about them. When I see answers, they are often even better than what I prayed for, and I realize that God cares about even the little things. He tells us not to worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present our requests to God. And the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).
My guess is that He wants to bless you, too–won’t you let Him?
* Where in your day can you squeeze in a few moments to talk to your Father?
3. Bible Study/Devotional Time
If you are like me, your mind is crammed with a to-do list when the alarm goes off in the morning. The last thing I have time for is to sit and read my Bible! Yet nothing could be more important. I actually have to make time to do it. And as I read my Bible before the day starts, my mind is lifted to the truly important things in life.
I have shifted my focus as well–from head knowledge to heart knowledge. I am reading the Bible to fall in love with the Author, to get to know Him, and let Him comfort me, teach me, train me, correct me, and guide me in righteous living. It is God’s love letter to us, and our guidebook for life. No book speaks to the heart like the Bible. The joy of discovering new truths in the Bible sometimes makes my whole day.
I also keep a devotional by my bed, so it is the last thing on my mind at night.
* Can you start to spend 15 minutes with God in the morning or at night?
* Is there a Bible study group at your school or church you could participate in?
Trials may seem like a strange way to experience joy, but God says that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The trials I have gone through have shaped my character, made me value my family, grow in my faith, and have made me able to reach out to other handicapped people. I have become a better person, and I am grateful for my experiences.
I have also learned that trials are a part of life, and will come in small and great increments. The important thing is how we handle them. If we face trials without God, we will be miserable. But if we trust God, remember that He is always with us, and persevere with faith, we win, whether or not we win the trial. Although we hate tough times, when we get through them they develop our character and make us stronger people. God often uses trials to make us into the people He wants us to be, and to realize how great our need for the Savior.
* How can you let trials make you more like Christ?
God has given us the incredible privilege of telling others about Him. Unfortunately, I let people intimidate me! I honestly assume they won’t want to hear. However, every now and then God puts someone in my path who is searching, and I get the awesome experience of leading them to Christ.
My new perspective is to see people as lost. I imagine them with a little sign that says, “I have an empty soul. Please help me!”
Everyone is searching for answers and meaning in life. They are just looking in the wrong places. Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God. People search for meaning in wealth, status, image, relationships, drugs, and alcohol, but often those who get stone drunk on the weekends leave the party feeling empty and unsatisfied.
Then there are the achievers who get straight A’s, are involved in all kinds of activities and sports, and may even be class presidents. I was one of those, always trying to be the best at something, because when I was the best, I’d be fulfilled. But a person can never be full enough of worldly desires–they never completely satisfy. Only Jesus can do that.
Invite your friends to youth group, to church, tell them how they, too, can know God personally and go to heaven. I came to Christ because a girl in high school invited me to her youth group. There is no greater joy than leading someone to the Lord. The world is full of emptiness — show them something that works.
“I have an empty soul. Please help me!”
* Who can you start to pray for and share the gospel with?
The happiest people in life are those who serve other people. We have been blessed to be a blessing. Jesus saved us so that me might do the good works He planned before for us before we even knew Him. We are often more than able to help others. We can use our finances to feed starving children, we could serve in a food kitchen or help in our church’s food pantry. We could help build homes for the homeless through Habitat for Humanity, or join a mission trip in the US or overseas. My church also holds programs in nursing homes over the holidays. You could lead a Bible study, help somewhere “behind-the-scenes,” rake the yard of an elderly neighbor, bring flowers to a hurting person, jot an encouraging note to a friend. I, personally, lead a Bible Study for handicapped people, and it is the highlight of my week. And you don’t have to have the Christian life mastered to help others: God is more interested in your availability than your ability.
When we serve others, it often has a greater impact on us those we serve! After helping someone, I always leave with a feeling of thankfulness for my own blessings, and have an inner joy that comes from touching someone else’s life.
Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.
* Where is one area God could use you to be a blessing to others?
Did you know that giving thanks is the one thing in the Bible that specifically says is God’s will for you? That’s right! Look up 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
I used to go to bed and think of everything I did wrong that day and dwell on it. Then I started keeping a “Thankfulness Journal,” a small daily calendar I keep beside my bed. At the end of every day, I write down a few things I am thankful for. This has transformed my life. It has taught me to look on the positive side, learn from my mistakes, and be thankful in (almost!) everything. I have found that God blesses us in so many ways — we just need to pause and realize it!
“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you . . . ” (1 Thess. 5:18).
* Could you start keeping a “Thankfulness Journal,” too?
8. Eternal Perspective
The final, and probably most important part of victorious living, is to never forget that earth is our temporary home. God has created an incredible heaven for us to be with Him someday, where there will be no more tears, sorrow, crying, or pain, where every disease and sickness will be healed (I will walk again!), and where we will forever share in His happiness. We will be rewarded for faithful service in this life (esp. for those things only God can see!), and all the trials, all the prayers, all the living will be worth it.
Imagine eternity as a line that goes forever in both directions. Our life on earth is but a dot on that line, or a mere weekend in all eternity. If we have lived for the dot, how sad; but if we live for the line. . .What a joy to meet Jesus and hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant. . . Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:23)
* How can you keep your focus heavenward?
* Are you living for the dot, or for the line?
© Stacy James