Saturday, August 31, 2013

Overwhelmed...

The Lord has been teaching me more about walking with Him lately. I shared earlier this month what He showed me about my striving, and on two recent Sundays in a row, He challenged me one step farther.
 ... 
One Sunday, we were singing a song-- one we and thousands of other churches around the world have sung hundreds of times. He challenged me over the last words:
“Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.” ... 
He asked me if I really believe that. Even when I'm facing things that are difficult and painful.
Paul said, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8) ... 

What about me?

When I'm in a time of trial, or when I'm hurting over something someone has done to me and I find myself crying bitter tears or inwardly screaming in anger because I'm not being treated “right”... do I believe, in those moments, that what God has for me is still worth more than having that person treat me right? Do I believe that it outweighs the difficult things?

If there was a balance scale in front of me, with God's promises and grace and strength and “the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23) on one side of it, could I ever pile enough mess and trouble and pain and frustration on the other side to outweigh the greatness of all He has given me?

You see, I've found myself falling into thinking lately, “I can't handle much more of this. If this doesn't quit...” And there the Lord catches me. If this doesn't quit... what? He reminds me that there's nothing strange about the fact that I can't handle it. That's the whole reason He sent a Savior.

He asks me whether I think His grace and strength has limits that circumstances are about to hit.

That's when I realize how foolish I'm being and how very little I'm trusting in Him. I realize that circumstances only seem overwhelming because I'm not relying on Him and resting in Him.

Of course life is going to throw more at me than I can handle. But there never will be more than He can handle. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But fear not, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) I'm never, ever going to get to see just how much He can handle for me and how much He has overcome unless He lets circumstances pass my own abilities and unless He teaches me to “cease striving.” He says we will, “Know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)

Just this weekend while we were on vacation, I had the opportunity to listen to a wonderful message at the church we were visiting. I loved the passage in Jeremiah 17 that the message was based on, because it was further confirmation of what the Lord was impressing on me.
7 “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

The one who trust in the Lord will have deep roots in Him. And when those difficult times come... when the heat comes and nothing else in life is nourishing and encouraging us... when others say, “I don't know how much more of this I can handle,” ...we will not fear for our welfare.

But not only will we not fear, do you see what this passage dares to say we will do? We won't hunker down and hold tight to what we have and who we are so we'll make it through. We won't have to conserve resources.

We will never fail to bear fruit! Even in the heat and drought!

I am challenged to stand in circumstances that overwhelm me, and to remind myself of these promises. I am challenged to believe them in difficult times. To believe that He is more than enough to sustain me. To believe that He is so sufficient that I can bear fruit even then. To cease striving and to know that He is more than enough.

He showed me the reality of this, too, for when He spoke these things to me, and I realized the truth of them, His peace overwhelmed me instead of circumstances overwhelming me. Nothing changed (immediately, at least) in the circumstances... the change was inside me, as He strength overcame my weakness, and His peace overwhelmed my frustration.

We need to quit listening to those lies that “I can't handle much more,” and instead rest in His promises. Then we will experience the marvelous miracles of provision and sufficiency that these verses promise. We'll have all that He is surround us, and we'll watch His promised faithfulness overwhelm the circumstances that are overwhelming us.


Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

If you're reading this, and these promises seem sooo far out of reach, know that all you've got to do is reach for Him. And keep reaching. And surrender. Sometimes surrender is so hard... but when we finally know that nothing is working without Him taking control, then it becomes easy. Just reach for Him, and keep reaching, and keep waiting as He works on your heart in His own beautiful timing until He can start revealing Himself in glorious ways beyond your comprehension.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Cease striving...

Monday this week was one of those very Mondayest of Mondays.  Normally Monday has a slightly higher-than-normal workload, so I generally avoid scheduling any appointments or doing any errands, or leaving anything that has to be done that day.

Well... I didn't manage it this time.  And not only did I have a higher-than-the-normal-higher workload, I also had wound up having to leave the house four times. (I work out of my home.)

All day long, I was either staring at the ever-increasing volume of reports that needed to be checked on, or I was out but knowing what was waiting for me at home.  Repeatedly, I doubled my efforts to get that number down to zero just once.  But nope. By 10pm at night, I was exhausted, 300 emails had come in from my team and the other managers I work with, 300 reports had been dealt with, and there was still 30+ waiting.  And I never wanted to leave the house again.

So Tuesday morning, I opened my Bible at 6:30 am, praying that I wouldn't have two such days in a row. I landed on Psalm 46, which is one of my favorites. I almost didn't read it because, as one of my favorites, didn't that mean I'd already discovered all there was to find in it?

Nope.

46 God is our refuge and strength,
[b]A very present help in [c]trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the [d]sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. [e]Selah.
That part just made me smile.  My world wasn't exactly changing and quaking, but if God can help me in trouble like that, then of course He could help me with one measly little Tuesday. 


There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
I found myself asking God what this really means.  It's pretty-sound poetry, of course... but isn't there a meaning in every word?

I didn't get the full answer... but I did realize this: What are the dwelling places of the Most High?

Answer: Us. Those who are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Those who are filled with "the fullness of Him who fills all in all."

And this river makes us glad. 


God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her [f]when morning dawns.
So it's us He's helping when morning dawns!


The [g]nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He [h]raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
[i]Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
I read all of that, and I realized that I had some things that needed to be made desolate... specifically some technical issues with the August reports that were making everything more difficult.  The prospect of facing an entire month's worth of issues was making me feel tired, just thinking about it. 

But my God is capable of obliterating those issues, isn't He? He could make the whole realm of "technical issues" desolate. I asked him to do exactly that.


10 [j]Cease striving and know that I am God;
I've read those words many, many times.  But all of a sudden, I realized that I had been striving to bring down that mountain of emails all day long. It was still the same size at 10pm as it had been at 6:30am. And my striving had exhausted me.

So I asked God to show me how to do my job without striving.

And then I closed my Bible and went to work.

And He... the God of the universe... the One melts the earth with His voice... the One who makes wars to cease... the One who is my refuge and very-present Help... led me.  He did take care of the technical issue. And midway through the day, my inbox reached that marvelous zero-waiting status.

I was not worn out.

But I was glad. For I had seen His strength and His works in my little corner of Tuesday.
I will be exalted among the [k]nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Friday, August 02, 2013

To wait or not to wait...

I found a little snippet in Psalms this morning, and I'd like to share it.

There's an old saying which goes, "The Lord helps those who help themselves."

I have the feeling that lots of people have lots of different interpretations of what it means. Personally, I agree with the idea that it's speaking against laziness... if it can be taken to mean that.

But I was reading Psalm 147 this morning, and look at what I found:
The Lord favors those who fear Him
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

What does it mean to "wait for His lovingkindness"?

To me, it means the same thing as when my daughter says, "Mommy, can I have some cookies?"  And I say, "Yes, I'll get them for you."  Or maybe I say, "I'm not sure. Let me think about it."

Sometimes she waits patiently. Sometimes I test her patience and willingness to wait (not always for good reasons, either) and she ends up having to wait an hour or more.

She is waiting on my lovingkindness.

But then, if I don't get up and get them as quickly as she thinks I could or should, sometimes she will get up and go get them herself.

I'm afraid that we do this with God a lot.  We reach a point where we're no longer willing to wait on His lovingkindness.  We want the thing we're praying for more than we want to see Him provide it.  So we "help ourselves" and do what Sarah and Abraham did when they decided to have a son through Hagar, the servant girl.

I think we'll see all sorts of glories we can only dream of if we learn this willingness to wait on His lovingkindness.  After all... this verse says that the Lord favors those who learn this!


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