A few days ago I experienced something painful in my heart. I prayed that God would send me someone to help me regain perspective. I set off on a walk. Maybe I would meet this person, and maybe they would stop me. But, I wouldn’t take the initiative, I would let God do it.
I had barely started out when a virtual stranger stopped me. She asked me how I was.
I was taken aback, and didn’t want to share. But I had prayed, and God had done his part. I had better do mine. I told her what was going on. “I’ve been there too,” she said. “It isn’t your fault…”
God does answer our prayers! But, we too have to do our part.
Have you ever been caught in a darkness so deep, you couldn’t see your hands in front of your face, even when you held them right up to your nose? Maybe you decided to sit still and wait things out.
But, imagine, your child starts crying. Deep darkness or not, you feel your way forward, crashing into furniture, calling out comforting words. It takes a desperation to actually walk, without sight, without light. The Bible says, “Let him who walks in the dark and has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (Isaiah 50:10)
Are you walking in darkness? I am. Let’s follow the unseen God within our hearts.
“You can trust me,” someone said. “I’ve done this before. Just stand where you are, and I’ll stand an arm length away. I’ll pretend to punch you, but my fist will never touch you. It’s all about getting the distance right.”
I trusted the person as they positioned themself and measured the space between us. I trusted them as they did a test run. I trusted them as they threw the punch. WHAM! I saw stars!! Blood spurted from my nose.
“I’m so sorry!” the person cried. “It’s always worked before.” But as I blew my nose, I started to laugh. Talk about being gullible!
This happened when I was 28, but it taught me something important. GOD doesn’t get his calculations wrong. It says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:20)
A group of us scattered inside a maze, the kind where the hedges are two meters high. A friend and I got lost. Then I heard my husband’s voice. “Derek, did you make it?” I called.
“Yes!” came the reply. “Where are you?”
I happened to be carrying a long umbrella. “Here!” I called, and raised it high.
Derek laughed. “I can see everything. I’ll guide you.” He gave instructions, watching the tip of my umbrella as it bobbed along. “Left. Right. Not that right! The next one…”
Life is like that. We get so lost and mixed up. Then we hear God’s voice. “I see everything!” he says. “Listen. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” (from Hebrews 4:13; Psalm 32:8)
Now, that is living by faith!
I wish it hadn’t happened, but this thing called fear was planted inside me as a child. Even now it tries to grab a hold of me. It tries to take over.
I can tell you that fear is a prison. It tears away from us the courage to fight back. It makes us powerless. But knowledge of fear, and how it works, doesn’t mean it goes away.
There is only one way I have found to overcome fear. I make a choice. I choose to look at God, not the one who causes fear. I choose to care what God thinks of me, not the opinions of others. I choose to be what God wants me to be, not what others demand.
When I do that, fear disappears.
Sometimes life seems to throw us more than we can cope with. Sometimes these troubles come at once… the washing machine breaking, the fridge, the car, the printer, the telephone, my boots… emotional griefs… death, rejection, and exhaustion… My tears flowed unhindered. I was truly in a deep, dark valley.
Then I got a paper cut and spilled lemon juice on it. I started to laugh. The solution was so simple, I rinsed my finger in water. When life stings, I immerse myself in God, his Word. I drink his peace and perspective. “As we pass through the Valley of Weeping, we make it a place of springs.” (Psalm 84:6)
Sometime I feel like that thief on the cross. “Jesus! Get me out of this mess! I’ve been hung out to dry! It wasn’t my fault, really.”
Jesus looks over from his cross. “You might not have noticed, but I am with you.”
“No!” I cry. “I don’t want you to stay with me. I want you to save me.”
Jesus tries to shift himself so that he can breathe. “You might not have noticed… I am!“
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you… For I am the Lord… your Savior… Do not be afraid.” (Isaiah 43:2-5)
Sometimes it seems like God isn’t there, and we have to cross the river alone. But he puts those stepping stones in the right places. He is with us, even when we can’t see him.
These past few months I have been writing the final draft of my memoir. The publisher likes it, but I have run into an external block. Could that be enough to stop my book?
Fear, hurt, and tears set in. How could this be happening? I ran to God in agony. But God didn’t fall into a panic with me. He threw his arms around me instead. He said, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, then you will be successful wherever you go…” (Joshua 1:7)
I can choose what to do in opposition… panic or trust. Dear God, help me trust.
Never? Yes! “The one who trusts will never be dismayed.” (Isaiah 28:16) God is quoted again in the Bible, but it is slightly altered. “The one who trusts in the Lord will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6) Shame shows our sense of moral inadequacy, of feeling that we have royally failed. Dismay shows our sense of emotional inadequacy, of feeling overwhelmed by things happening outside our control. We might have messed up, or life might have messed us up, yet when we trust in God, when we know that He is in control, not us… His indisputable NEVER takes hold.
In the midst of being forced to work for my father I felted utterly dismayed. I couldn’t change it. I also felt shame at not having the strength to fight him. God never judged me for my seeming failures. NEVER. He held my hand and led me out.