This song has been in my heart and mind for a week. I sing it during the day. I even wake up singing it. So I thought I should pass it along…..someone may be needing it.
Saw this yesterday on Facebook and even shared it. Thought it was a great saying for people who are really going through a hard time. Tucked it away in the back of my mind for me but didn’t REAAAAAALLLY take it to heart now. Why not? Well, I’m NOT having STORMS….no “bad” times….no crisis like some I know & love. No sorrow. No fires in my house. No heartaches….Crazy busy, but it’s aaaallll gooood.
Uh, duh…someone had put blinders on me, trying to fool me into thinking I was in control again. That I was independent. That I didn’t NEED any help from The Helper. That I might be in danger of moving away from Him, step by step, until I became either self-sufficient or broken or bitter or…..
I’ve still been running at breakneck speed because…well, there’s still a lot going on. Two graduations (high school and college) coming up within the next month with all kinds of events and projects associated with them. And although I didn’t travel to be with them, both my father-in-law and my mother have had surgeries this past week. I’ve been praying for them but didn’t think it was affecting me very much. I can handle it all on my own, remember? I realized this morning that it was….
FINALLY I sat down to journal this morning. I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about neglecting my quiet time and my relationship with God. I’ve definitely seen Him working in my life and around me but haven’t “felt” Him. I know that “feelings” aren’t everything, but I’ve been missing that component of our relationship. I’ve been DOING for Him but not BEING with Him. Even reading the Bible has not been the “conversation with the Living God” that I wrote about before but had become something to check off on my “to-do” list.
After I had journaled and talked to God for a while (it was great by the way), I picked up an email devotion that I had printed out back in January. Obviously, I didn’t read it very well. *insert sarcasm*
This is what caught my eye:
Because the chaos isn’t from my circumstances. It’s inside me.
To be continued….
I had been struggling with a recent decision of mine. I had to choose between 2 things. In my heart I felt that God had led me to one particular choice so I felt that I was doing what He wanted. In fact, when I expressed my second-guessing, someone involved encouraged me by saying “you need to believe that you did exactly what you were supposed to do.”
But the decision I made wasn’t what I really wanted or even what I thought (in the back of my mind) would be the FINAL outcome. So…..even though I had peace about my decision, I still kinda second-guessed myself. Had I really heard God correctly? Unfortunately, I tend to do that a lot….but less than I did.
I just prayed that He would sort it out according to His Plan….what He really wanted. That doors He wanted closed would be closed and doors He wanted opened would be opened. And of course, that’s exactly what He did.
I could be wrong, but I have an idea why it happened that way. But in any case, this is just another step in the journey of trusting God…..even if it makes no sense at the time and even if I don’t have faith in myself. I just need faith in the Faithful One.
I’m sure what I just wrote makes absolutely no sense to you with all its ambiguity and vagueness! But that’s OK…..just wanted to acknowledge His Power and that HE is control. Always. Hallelujah for that!
I have to confess that I was feeling a little discouraged last night after the Pastoral Search Committee met. We have been meeting for months, reading profiles, listening to sermons,interviewing, developing questions, praying and talking. I was second-guessing and worried about our candidates and what our church needs at this point, our vision/direction and who might be the senior pastor that will be our partner in getting there.
I should have known better. I needed a little reminder that we’re just His tools – that’s He’s in control. As usual, God’s timing is impeccable and on target and speaks to my heart right where I need it!!!
Our Life Group is reading through the Bible, and I was reading 1 Chronicles 28:20 this morning when David is turning over the throne and the building of the temple to Solomon:
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”
This is the reflection I wrote for yesterday’s sermon. Now I just need to COMPLETELY take it heart and follow it.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself lying cushioned by a velvety green blanket of grass under a sky painted the most perfect shade of blue, with the occasional white cloud billowing by. Feel the soft, gentle breeze lightly brushing against your skin. Hear the tranquil murmuring of a nearby brook as it caresses the rocks. Lazily watch the path of a butterfly as it floats along its path. Empty your mind of everything except the pleasure and experience of this moment right now. Be refreshed.
That is the mental image I always have of the first verses in Psalm 23: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (NIV) Do you long to experience that? I DO!
We are on this quest to DO. To ACCOMPLISH. To be EFFICIENT, ACTIVE, DILIGENT and INDUSTRIOUS. On our vacations or days off, we feel the need to fill them with activities, to be productive, even if they are fun activities. If we slow down or try to relax, we may feel guilty because we are “wasting time.” I think we’re being lied to by an enemy that doesn’t want us to be refreshed. Are you BUSY? Being Under Satan’s Yoke?
Why did God include “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy” in the Ten Commandments? As a burden or another rule to follow? Or did He give us a gift? A precious gift of restoration. A time to come to Him and allow Him to refresh us with His Living Water. Do you know that deep satisfying feeling as you drink ice-cold water when you’re parched with thirst? We feel replenished, freshened, rejuvenated, revitalized. That’s how it should feel if we let Him quench our soul-thirst. If we allow Him to refresh us.
He knew our tendency was to STRIVE and try to do it on our own! Re-read those verses in Psalm 23. He MAKES me lie down, He LEADS, and THEN He REFRESHES. So this needed and vital Sabbath rest is partially about “unplugging” from our physical work because we are tired. And tired disciples are ineffective disciples. But it’s also about “unplugging” from striving on our own. It’s about “unplugging” from whatever is taking us away from those green pastures and quiet waters. It’s about “unplugging” from the world’s pull on us. It’s about “unplugging” from the lie that we have to DO because if we don’t, then it won’t get done. It’s about relinquishing our control and allowing Him to do His work in us and through us. It’s about being still and quiet and listening to the One who loves us. It’s about “plugging” into the One who can do all things. Even restore and refresh us. And then we are able to find rest in His promises.
With “life stuff” swirling around me, I’m in danger of being sucked down into the vortex.I’m on the Pastoral Search Team with weekly meetings & lots of responsibility, weekly Bible Study, full-time job that sometimes stretches to 9-10 hours, a high school senior in the midst of college applications, school activities, a college senior studying in Istanbul, Turkey, worry about jobs, money, and the future. The daily life of family and friends who need me. Trying to listen to God, trying to be what He wants me to be. Trying to be “Jesus with skin.” Trying to ignore the discouraging whispers, lies, deceits. Fighting off a horrible cold that finally knocked me off my feet and into bed last week that I’m still recovering from. And the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s….a time that should be joyous, full of love, hope, thankfulness, family. A time to focus on the most precious Gift ever given. The most stressful time of the whole year for me at WORK!!! Deadlines, crazy projects, problems, things that could have been done months ago but all of a sudden, someone realizes it’s the end of the year, and other such nonsense…besides the additional rush of gift orders to fulfill. Along with the other seasonal stressful obligations that I try to avoid but somehow can’t…..How has this wonderful time of year become such a drag?
Time for some Advent Attitude Adjustment….but that’s another post…..
I’ve been reading Moses’ last speeches in Deuteronomy to the Israelites in my Chronological Bible, and I just can’t get past it. Not for a bad reason (other than I’m dragging my feet about reading all the laws that are gathered in one place in the Chronological Bible). But I just keep reading and re-reading what Moses is telling them….how God is faithful, about His promises, about how they messed up so many times and warnings NOT to anymore, etc. God is talking to me so much in these passages.
And He is talking to me through conversations with a friend who is going through some frustrating struggles. My words to her are God’s words to me:
The words about God shaking you up and control and surrender….it’s just that is what came to my heart as I was praying….I know that when things are out of whack for me, I struggle to keep things under my control – things that I really have NO control over at all but I’m grasping so tightly that I am not surrendering & trusting God. And that only frustrates me more & causes everything around me to spin more out of control….the image is that of those bouncy balls bouncing all around a small room or a chicken running around with his head cut off (that image is a literal image that I got from my grandmother when she slaughtered chickens for our dinner….seriously! Still gives me nightmares!)
I know that things are so totally up in the air at church right now. It can be frustrating & I think we’d all like things to be “put to right” IMMEDIATELY. But unfortunately, that’s not what’s going to happen…I really feel, though, that it’s going to be all right. Better than all right, actually.
I’ve been reading in Deuteronomy – when Moses is giving the Israelites his last speeches, reminding them of what God’s done & is going to do as they go into the promised land…and how they didn’t trust or have faith & had to keep wandering for 40 years. I can’t seem to get out of that book because I’m learning so much. God is talking to me so much…I keep going back & reading & re-reading!!! Anyway, there is a verse that I keep coming back to & seems appropriate here: Deut 7:22 “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.”
Then I read in a blog (thank you Dean Gutch) that it’s the journey….little by little…..if we depend on ourselves and not God to do the work He is doing in us, if things always happen at once & not little by little according to His plan and His way, then some of those “wild animals” will multiply around us…..that could be pride in our accomplishment, complacency due our security, etc. And I think He has more in mind for us and our situation.
And another verse that keeps bouncing around in my head is Deuteronomy 8:2: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” YIKES! That’s what I keep thinking about myself! That’s why I’ve been in the wilderness for so long?!?!
Also, please don’t let the enemy steal from you…..the accuser of the brethren who wants to destroy our relationships…with the Father, with each other. He wants to spoil things. I am reading a book called Listening Prayer & this is what I read this morning:
“Satan’s voice may make you feel defeated, isolated, hopeless, helpless, cynical about life, full of despair, etc. He has a way of spoiling your attitude so you will turn your concentration away from the Lord and lose your sense of closeness to Him……Satan uses discouragement. He’ll try to convince you that God isn’t working quickly enough on your behalf. He’ll suggest that you should take matters in your own hands and manipulate the situation to your benefit instead of waiting on God’s ways and timing. (!!!! I’m just copying the words here!!!!! The above stuff was what I was already trying to figure out how to write to you!!!!) He is trying to make you distrustful of God. He wants you to question if God really knows or wants what is best for you.”
Ok, yes, I’m understand & am trying to take to heart. But I’m still struggling with the worry about projects, money, those things I am grasping onto, those things I’m trying to control….
As I am inclined to do, I woke up in the middle of the night/VERY early morning, with these things on my mind and heart. I cried out to the Lord for help, not really sure what help, just help! When I looked at the clock, I realized that it was almost 3:30 a.m. and smiled. Becaaaaauuuuuussse….a few months ago, God gave me the gift of a Joyce Meyer program that comes on at 3:30 a.m. my time. I just knew that God would talk to me through her as He has quite a few times. She just puts everything so plainly.
What did she talk about? The Shield of Faith! You can listen to it here. There is a part 2 also. Think I’d prefer to hear it online later rather that at 3:30 a.m. though.
She reminded me that faith doesn’t just stop at believing in Jesus…that it is much more….
That faith can grow….only as we use it! Joyce used the analogy (heard it before but had forgotten) of muscle mass growing through effort….exercise, lifting heavier and heavier weights as your muscle has reached its plateau with each weight so that you need to lift heavier ones in order to continue growing. And of course, we are the same in our faith walk. We may get past one faith crisis/growth period, but unfortunately, God doesn’t want us to plateau out. He wants us to keep growing in our faith, stretching us. Faith grows THROUGH EXPERIENCE WITH GOD.
She spoke about several facets of faith, including waiting when we don’t think things are happening fast enough or God isn’t working on our behalf quite as fast as we’d like Him, too. That faith dispels fear & worry. That we need to learn to LIVE in that faith, to exercise that faith…every single day, little by little. Hmmm…..is there a theme here?
Joyce reminded me to LIFT UP MY SHIELD OF FAITH! Not just drag it around with me. LIFT IT UP!
We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure.
What a comforting verse! I came across it this morning in my reading and was instantly drawn to it.
Some people think of these synomyms of an anchor: confining, binding, constraining, controlling, etc.
But these synonyms fit an anchor (something used to hold something else securely) of the soul: safeguard, protection, support, comfort, defense, mainstay, pillar.
Amidst the storms of this life, I am so grateful for and comforted by the ANCHOR OF MY SOUL. Hold me securely, Lord.
….my heart has been heavy and unsettled with a lot of things. Not much time to dig deep into His Word & rest in His Presence. And I feel down in a pit.
But God is loving and faithful. He sent Words to me this morning from my friend through her devotional. The EXACT Words I’ve given her before. The EXACT Words that He usually gives me…the “do not fear or be discouraged,” the “I am with you,” the “I have gone before you,” the “come to me,” the “take every thought captive.” My friend and I laughed through our tears at His wonderful sense of humor. Just perfect. Nothing new or earth-shattering. Things I already know. Things He has to keep telling me in His patient, loving way. I can just hear Him saying, “Chrystal, Chrystal. How many times do you need to hear this? Here it is once more.”
Last Sunday, our message at church was about Psalm 84. THIS, too, is perfect.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young– a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. “Selah” 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. 8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. “Selah” 9 Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
And here it is in music. Perfect again. My heart feels lighter. Thank you, LORD.