Here Confidence to face the unknown is some very sound wisdom for those of us who need some help when it comes to having confidence to face the unknown. It’s 24 minutes long, but you won’t spend your time any better than by listening to it. Just click on the title, sit back, and listen.
Today as I was listening to David Jeremiah, I heard him say something that made me think, and reflect on, and I’m going to share it with you. “Fear is a form of idolatry.” When we fear the problem whatever it may be we’re saying that the problem is greater than God’s ability to handle it. What problems do you have that are greater than God’s ability to solve them? The way to deal with fear is found in worship and praise. When we recognize God for who He is, and acknowledge that all we experience and know is because of Him, we put our problems, our fears, where they belong…. In His hands.
If you’d like to know more you can click here http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/turning-point/listen/ and click on “When Fear Dominates You” under the month of November.
“Trust you in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:4
THERE is no act of the soul more acceptable to God, because there is none that brings more glory to His great name, than this. Wherever we trace in the Scriptures of truth a trust in the Lord, there we find especial and remarkable deliverance. It is recorded of the children of Israel that the Lord delivered their enemies into their hand, “for they cried to God in the battle, and He was entreated of them; because they put their trust in Him.” Again, we read of God’s wondrous message sent by Jeremiah to Abed-melech, the Ethiopian, “I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but your life shall be for a prey unto you; because you have put your trust in me, says the Lord.” The experience, too, of God’s people confirms the blessedness of trusting in the Lord. “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped.” The promises connected with trusting in the Lord are equally rich and encouraging. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You.” “None of those who trust in Him shall be desolate.” “The Lord knows those who trust in Him.” “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You; which You have wrought for those who trust in You before the sons of men. You shall hide them in the secret of Your presence.” What a marvelous and precious cluster of Divine encouragements to those who trust in the Lord with all their heart, under all circumstances, and at all times! “Only trust,” is Jesus’ word. “This is all I ask of you, the utmost thing I require at your hand. I demand no costly sacrifice-no wearisome pilgrimage-no personal worthiness-no strength, or wisdom, or self-endeavors of your own. Only trust me. Only believe that I wait to answer prayer-that I am gracious-that I have all power at my command-that I have your interest at heart-that there is no good thing I am willing to withhold-that I, and I alone, can guide your present steps, can unravel the web of your difficulties, guide your perplexities, extricate you from the snares that have woven their net-work around your feet, and bring you through fire and through water into a wealthy place. Only trust me!” Beloved, is this too hard? Is the request unreasonable and impracticable? What! only to trust Jesus? Only to trust your needs to His ear-your burdens to His arm-your sorrows to His heart? Is this too hard? Is it beyond your power? Then tell Jesus so. Remind Him of His own words, “Without me you can do nothing.” And ask at His hands the faith to trust, the heart to trust, the courage to trust, and the power to trust all your interests, temporal and spiritual, for time and for eternity, into His hands.
I found comfort in this. Perhaps you will, too.
“Gather not my soul with sinners.” – Psa_26:9
Fear made David pray thus, for something whispered, “Perhaps, after all, thou mayst be gathered with the wicked.” That fear, although marred by unbelief, springs, in the main, from holy anxiety, arising from the recollection of past sin. Even the pardoned man will enquire, “What if at the end my sins should be remembered, and I should be left out of the catalogue of the saved?” He recollects his present unfruitfulness-so little grace, so little love, so little holiness, and looking forward to the future, he considers his weakness and the many temptations which beset him, and he fears that he may fall, and become a prey to the enemy. A sense of sin and present evil, and his prevailing corruptions, compel him to pray, in fear and trembling, “Gather not my soul with sinners.” Reader, if you have prayed this prayer, and if your character be rightly described in the Psalm from which it is taken, you need not be afraid that you shall be gathered with sinners. Have you the two virtues which David had-the outward walking in integrity, and the inward trusting in the Lord? Are you resting upon Christ’s sacrifice, and can you compass the altar of God with humble hope? If so, rest assured, with the wicked you never shall be gathered, for that calamity is impossible. The gathering at the judgment is like to like. “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” If, then, thou art like God’s people, thou shalt be with God’s people. You cannot be gathered with the wicked, for you are too dearly bought. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, you are his for ever, and where he is, there must his people be. You are loved too much to be cast away with reprobates. Shall one dear to Christ perish? Impossible! Hell cannot hold thee! Heaven claims thee! Trust in thy Surety and fear not!
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.” – Psa_112:7
Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them, what do you more than other men? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved his faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear: but you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess?
Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals hardly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?
Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
LIVING IN THE FLOW OF GOD’S BLESSINGS
When they were slaves in Egypt, the Israelites had to pump water from the Nile River to irrigate their crops and put food on the table. Can you imagine slaving every day on an old foot pump just to get by? But then things changed for the better. God told them, “Go in and take over the land…flowing with milk and honey…not like the land of Egypt…where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot” (vv 8-10 NIV). There’s a lesson here. You can reach a place in your walk with God where you get “off the pump and into the flow”; where you stop “sweating it,” because God’s goodness flows into every area of your life. But this promise is conditional–it’s for those who obey God: “Observe therefore all the commandments I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land” (v. 8 NIV). Obedience is like having the right access code. It enables you to make withdrawals on God’s blessing because you are walking in His will. We all want to live in the flow of God’s blessing, right? Yet too few of us do. Who are these “blessed” people? (1) Those who act on God’s instructions. (2) Those who confront the giants of fear in their life. (3) Those that refuse to be swayed by the “wilderness mentality” of others. (4) Those who have the faith to say, “The Lord…will lead us into that land…[He] will give it to us…do not be afraid (Nu 14:8-9 NIV). And you can be one of those people.
I often share things I come across in my reading, and see on other people’s blogs that I find noteworthy and that touch me. It’s one way in which I share my heart, and what I feel that the Lord is revealing to me. Now for confession time. Sometimes I share what others do because I have a hard time sharing me. It’s hard to look at myself honestly, to see myself in the light of truth; so often because what I see looking back at me I don’t like. After 49 years, you’d think I’d be more comfortable with who I am, but I still struggle with looking at that person in the mirror and liking what I see there. It’s always been far easier for me to love other people than it has been to love myself. I can give to other people, but allowing other people to give to me is terribly hard.
It’s a hard thing to admit. Can I tell you it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone could love me, even God, and I have a hard time dealing with it. Allowing myself to receive love has been a life-long process. I tend to try to hide in plain sight. One thing I’ve learned over the years is if you try to hide by hiding someone always finds you, but if you just stand in the middle of the room and smile more often than not people do seldom more than show a polite interest in you then leave you alone. From that I’ve learned something else. You can never really tell who’s suffering. You can tell when someone is in physical pain, but you can’t always see suffering.
Having experienced both, I can say that the physical pain is often easier to bear, and easier to deal with in some ways. You can take drugs legal and otherwise to lessen pain-the physical kind anyway-but suffering isn’t always that easy to alleviate. It might help to just go ahead and define “suffering” for the sake of this writing as in the emotional sense because that’s what I’m talking about. Emotional pain. In this regard, I know I’m just one of many, and in a lot of ways I don’t feel that my, quote “suffering” in any way compares to that of some other people I’ve seen and known. Not that we’re comparing because in truth “suffering” is “suffering” no matter who does it, or what the cause of it may be. I’ve known people who make a game of it. Who try to manipulate it, and use it for their own gain, but nobody has a monopoly on it, and those who think they do often don’t even really know the first thing about it. If you’ve ever heard the term, “suffering in silence” you know it didn’t come about from talking about it.
It’s a fact that no one of us ever escapes this life unscathed. We all have our scars. The worst ones are the ones nobody sees, and often they hurt the worst. Often the people who carry such scars are the ones we don’t see. It’s not the drunk, the drug addict, the welfare recipient, that are the ones truly carrying the invisible scars-though they may be-but rather it’s the middle or high school student found hanging or over-dosed that nobody saw coming, the young wife and mother found lying in her bed with a bottle of pills beside her, or the senior husband in the smoke-filled car. Too often it’s the ones we didn’t see coming that suffered the most.
It says something about our world and the people that live in it that we’re so quick to judge them. You and I have both heard the varied explanations and terms used in referring to those who have chosen to end their suffering themselves, and maybe even used those explanations and terms ourselves. How callous and ignorant are we to think that they’re condemned for all eternity because of a bad decision. It’s that kind of thinking and response on the part of people that gave rise to “suffering in silence” in the first place.
Some of us have had the misfortune of having some really bad, ugly, awful things happen to us in our lives, and we’ve suffered because of them, but there’s a truth that most of us don’t realize, and spend the better part of our lives trying to ignore, and it’s the fact that this is a world of suffering. None of us escape it, are immune from it, and the harsh reality is that we’ve all taken our turn at the wheel at both ends of the car.
I’ve said all the above to say this, that there is an answer to suffering, but it lies in understanding what suffering is and it’s role in the world we live in. We spend our lives listening to a world that says that there is no sense, no rhyme or reason, to why there’s suffering. That there can be no God or a God not worth loving and serving who allows suffering. Nothing is more untrue and false than this, and is the ultimate deception of the devil. Who of us, myself, included, would be who I am, and who I am, becoming without having suffered? To feel unloved, to experience pain, to doubt oneself, to question one’s role and relationship to the world and the people in one’s life, are these not all experiences that set us in search of truth, of love? And if we take our search seriously, if we look for it with all our hearts, is there any doubt to it’s destination. We don’t travel the path of life (and suffer along the way) to come to a what….but rather to who…. You can take it from here….
We live in a world ridden with anxiety; people who are anxious, filled with fear, worry, and doubt, suspicious of everyone and everything, and quick to defend or take action against any perceived wrong, any questioning of our beliefs. All searching, looking, wanting that some ONE thing that we hide in our heart of hearts thinking that if we have it then we’ll be satisfied. We look for it in people, in possessions, in power, in money, in business, in education, in every conceivable nook and cranny in the world. We flip over every card in the deck, buy lottery tickets for the power ball, fill casinos to the brim, bet on every game, horse race, and athletic event in hopes of hitting it big, and then when we do – if we do – it’s on to the next thing.
Some of us – all of us – have been successful in our lives, on some level, perhaps at just one thing, at one time, but we’ve all experienced success. Some of us have been successful at a great many things in a multitude of areas, and yet we still want more; are still anxious; uneasy, fearful, afraid, unsure, only to ready to believe that it can all vanish in a millisecond. We live with that nagging, shadowy voice in the back of our minds that says “this isn’t enough.” “Better work harder,” or some such thing.
Like the gerbil on the wheel, we keep running through the routines of our lives scarcely taking notice of the people and things around us, and then when we do stop (though we don’t really) it’s never a complete stop – just a slowing down – a switching of gears, and we call it relaxing, taking time off, but it’s really just taking away time from something or someone else. We don’t dare stop, not intentionally at least, because to stop – to stop completely – creates a vacuum, an empty space, a place in which, just maybe, another voice can be heard, a very faint, very far off, voice that says wait. A voice that very softly asks us in that rare undefined moment “Why are you doing this?” That with each beat of our hearts says, “Is this all there is,” and saturates each breath we take with the rhythmic “why can’t I be satisfied?”
We live with the “I wants,” “I have to have’s,” and the “I can’t live without’s.” Then when we feel the pain (and there’s always the pain – though we deny, hide, avoid, and disavow it – it’s undeniably there) we do everything in our power, use every means at our disposal, to try to kill it, to get rid of it, and yet it’s always there. Entertainment, sports, illicit drugs, and alcohol are the great narcotics we use to deaden , dull, and desensitize our hearts and minds to it, and to the voice, the very gentle, very soft, very forceful voice that keeps repeating the questions – the ones we can find no satisfactory answer to – that haunt us in the most importune moments.
We live in a state, a country, a world of anxiety. We worry about worrying. We live in, with, because, and in spite of it. Yet we don’t do any of them well. Why anxiety? Why this unease, this disquieting spirit, within us? Perhaps the answer lives in the silence of those very rare moments, in the solitude of reflective thought, in the quiet contemplation of creation, in that lone voice that speaks to us all at one time or another. Perhaps, as gravity holds us to ground, as an anchor steadies a ship among waves, as a compass guides on an unknown path, the answer lies in the connections. I’ve often wondered and thought of anxiety as a disconnect for isn’t that in reality what it is? Can any musical instrument play beautiful music when it’s out of tune?
We look at anxiety as a bad thing, but as in so many things, definition is determined by design. It is said that anxiety is the handmaid of creation, that all art, in part, stems from it, and I can see where that might be true. Yet, I also believe, that anxiety serves as a herald, that it rides on our hearts and minds as Paul Revere rode through the darkness of night warning and giving notice to those who would listen that something was amiss and not right.
As any electrician knows the power goes out when there’s a disconnect, and I believe that’s what anxiety is to the human being. It’s a failure to connect. As a christian, I know that my power to live comes from my connection to Christ, and it’s in my relationship with Him that I find and am connected to the source of my strength.
Here’s some food for thought:
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained.
Arthur Somers Roche.
An average person’s anxiety is focused on :
40% — things that will never happen
30% — things about the past that can’t be changed
12% — things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% — about health, which gets worse with stress
8% — about real problems that will be faced
100% of the above can be alleviated and resolved through prayer.
There was a time when I used to wonder what it took to make a good marriage, and while I was wondering about that, I was also giving some thought as to whether I had what it took to be half of that twosome that’s required for it. I hadn’t had much success with the first one, and the second was a disaster, so as you can imagine I had absolutely no confidence in any ability on my part to make another one work, much less last forever. If you knew anything about my life you’d understand why, but that’s another subject.
By the time, I met Tracey, I’d had a number of years in which I’d been alone, and surprisingly living life with a modest degree of success, so when I met her I was feeling a little better about myself. At least, I was holding down a job, meeting my responsibilities, and even had a few friends, so life by my standards was pretty good. I was fragile though, keeping it together, but it wouldn’t have taken much to break me. Still, I was lonely, and no matter how much I’d tried to kill it, that dream of wanting a wife and family still lurked around my heart like a ghost staying at home.
I didn’t meet Tracey in the usual way, at least not usual for me. I met her online in a christian chatroom. She had an early picture of Barbara Mandrell as her avatar, and stupid me at the time didn’t even realize it. She even said it wasn’t her in her tagline, and I still didn’t get it until later. Much later.:) Feel free to think whatever thought you want to about that. I’ve probably thought the same thing about myself. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I proved most women right in their opinions toward men and their intelligence, but there it is. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I was so smitten with that picture of Barbara, and the very funny and sarcastic things this woman behind the picture was saying that I never thought of anything else.
It turned out that meeting Tracey that way was about as perfect a way to meet the woman who would become my wife as could be. For one thing she lived in North Carolina, and I lived in Oklahoma, so at least I couldn’t screw up our relationship in person. When I think of all the hours we talked in that chatroom it blows my mind. For at least 3 months (and probably much longer) I think all I did was work, sleep, eat, and live in that chatroom. Finally, I had the perfect relationship. I could share my life with a great woman, and for once I wouldn’t be close enough to her to mess it up.
I don’t know how long we went on like that (never could keep track of time), but she was all I thought about. Such an amazing personality, fantastic wit, great looking (I was seeing Barbara 🙂 and just so wonderful to me that I couldn’t stand not to see her, and spend as much time with her as possible. That ghost lurking around in my heart was clanging so loud in there all I could seem to hear were bells. We were talking one night as we usually did laughing and cutting up, and I was just typing away. Suddenly, it was on the screen; I can’t give you any of the details because (honestly) I can’t remember, and 12 years later I’m still trying to figure out how it happened, but the words, “Will You Marry Me?” were on the screen, and so was the answer! Talk about shock and awe, part of the shock for me was that I knew I meant it, but just couldn’t believe I’d done it. Like a tornado ripping through an Oklahoma wheat field, I was suddenly back on the same kind of path that had perviously ripped through my life before and left everything around me flat. To put it bluntly, I was scared out of my mind.
While my fingers were hovering over the keyboard, she’d already put together a plan to come out to Oklahoma, and she’d be there the following Monday (I think it was Monday). I have to tell you I had about a thousand things go through my mind as I sat in front of the computer seeing all her excitement spill out across the screen. I’d like to say that the thought of telling her not to come didn’t cross my mind, but I’d be lying. Still, as I sat there, fingers hovering over the keys, my mind flooded with thoughts of past failures, and all the harm I’d caused in past relationships; I just couldn’t tell her not to come. Ever wondered what the best decision is that you’ve ever made? I can put my finger right on it. You’ll have to read the next one to find out more.:)