Tag Archives: trust

Who can you trust in the fire?

When I see people struggling, hurting, suffering, I want to help them. I am a fixer. I want to fix and make things better. It seems to be a “thing” in my family—a need I am pretty sure I inherited from my daddy, who is Mr. Fix-It!

trust His heartOn the other hand, when I am struggling, I find myself wanting someone who will listen to me, encourage me and want to help me. I have a select few friends and family members I will reach out to in those difficult times. Sometimes those who love me and know me well, will recognize that something isn’t quite right and will offer their support unasked.

Think about Job for a moment.

Job, of Old Testament times, the blameless and holy man, who suffered unspeakable pain and loss at the hands of the Accuser. Job, who had done nothing in his life to deserve such atrocities, lost everything—his home, his family, his property. And then, he was left with his body covered in horrible boils. And yet, Job remained faithful to God. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (Job 13:15 | NIV)

Enter Job’s friends.

Job’s friends came to his aid. Three guys showed up to sit with Job and they began to talk to him. Now, some things they said were not wrong, just misguided. In fact, in The Fire of Delayed Answers, author Bob Sorge says that “Eliphaz and his friends spoke godly truth. They laid forth many biblical principles that are supported throughout the rest of Scripture. The problem was they had the right words for the wrong situation.”

Job’s friends did not know the whole story. They were offering advice based on what they could see going on in front of them. They were unaware of the spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. They also did not know that Job did not need to hear any scriptural platitudes to ease his suffering because Job, even though he was suffering beyond anything I can begin to imagine, was keenly aware of the fact that what was happening to him was not due to any sin on his part, but it was because God had chosen to test him in this way. Remarkably, Job recognized God’s desire to refine him.

Job had to be careful, though.

Even though he knew in his heart the true reason behind all that was happening, he still had his friends chirping in his ears. Of course, they were only trying to help. What if Job had been distracted those guys? Perhaps he would have missed the whole point of what God was trying to do.

We have to be careful too.

In the midst of our trials, we have to be able to filter out the advice we may be getting—no matter how helpful and godly it may seem to be. We have to be careful of what voices we listen to as we walk through the fire. They may be the voices of those who love us very much. But they may distract us from the One Voice. The only voice that matters—the voice of God.

How do we do that?

I have to remind myself, that in times of struggle, I need to reach for God first and not the phone. Open His instruction book. Seek the counsel of God Himself. Be still and know and trust and listen for His voice. Then I will know His voice and I will be better equipped to filter through the helpful, or perhaps misguided, offerings of others. I can seek godly counsel, but filter that based on His Word and on what I know to be true about the heart of God for me.

Likewise, I need to be cautious in my desire to help others. Before I jump in and make the same mistake Job’s friends made, I need to, as Mr. Sorge suggests, “stop first and ask the Lord how [I] can pray according to His heart.” Then I can help as the Lord leads.

“I desire greatly to bring the mind of the Lord to needy situations now rather than simply pooling from the reservoir of my own experiential wisdom.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers

I don’t want to be like Job’s friends who rushed in spouting off words at people without thinking it through and praying about it.

I want to be like Job, who trusted in God’s design for his sufferings and who remained steadfast and believed he would hear God even when he felt that God was silent. Even though he could not hear God’s voice, Job knew God’s heart and trusted in His ultimate plan.

And so can we.

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than  my daily bread.                    

Job 23:8-12 | NIV

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I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen  and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!

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Not Just a Rainbow

Florida rainbow...sadly, not the rainbow referred to in this post.

As I was driving in the car a few weeks ago, I saw a rainbow. Not just any old run of the mill rainbow, but a full on entire rainbow. From one side of the sky to the other. Brilliant colors, each clearly distinguishable in a ROY G. BIV kinda way. It was pretty fantastic!

I don’t know about you, but I always get excited about seeing a rainbow! I love the majesty of God’s creation! And my kids will tell you that whenever I see  a rainbow, or a red-tailed hawk, or a brilliant sunset, or a big fat full moon glowing up in the night sky, or whatever, I will exclaim, “Look!! Look!! A rainbow (or whatever thing it may be)!! Y’all come out here and look at this! It’s beautiful! Isn’t it beautiful??”

(In fact, the other day, Emma was making fun of me because I was exclaiming over a cute little baby anole lizard. Whatevs. I know I’m a goob. I simply can’t help myself.)

But for the first time in all my rainbow-loving years, on that particular day, as I was admiring that fantastic rainbow, this occurred to me: I realized that you can only see rainbows from far away.

Silly me. Of course, you can only see rainbows from far away—everyone knows that.

But bear with me here, okay? Because sometimes I need the obvious things repeated. I’m special that way. <wink> And, in this case, I believe it was one of those quiet little things that God shows us, just because He loves us and is saying to us, “Trust Me.”

So, you see the rainbow from afar and it is glorious! As you begin to approach the rainbow, you can’t see it as well. And when you are right under a rainbow, you can’t see it at all.

It’s all about perspective.

It made me think about how when you are looking at your circumstances from a distance, things appear one way. When you have walked a little further into those circumstances, they may look different. Then, when you are looking at a situation entirely after the fact—only then can you see the beauty or the value of it.

I think we can all recall such situations.

I remember when I was the mother of a 3 year old and a three month old and we were about to move across the country from North Carolina, where all our family was, to Texas, where we knew no one.

From a distance, it was hard for me to see that any good could come out of that. But it was happening—that much was clear. I always try to see a silver lining, though, and was grateful for my husband’s new job.

In the midst of the “wilderness”, as I call our Texas experience (no offense, Texas peeps!!), there were many difficult struggles—the horrendous, oppressive and relentless heat; the loneliness; the mothering of toddlers, one of whom we were just learning had autism. There was so much I didn’t understand. But there were also blessings—a wonderful church home; great neighbors; sisters in Christ who lifted me up and mentored me; closeness to my husband; a deeper dependence on the Lord than I had ever experienced up to that point in my life.

But on the other side of that two year time in Texas, I could see clearly that the reason God had placed us there, in that seemingly God forsaken place, during that season of time, (besides the obvious driving me to my knees!) was to see to it that Jacob was in a preschool class with a precious teacher whose son was very much like Jacob and who could gently say to us, in love, “hey, did you ever notice…”—even though it was hard for her to say, and hard for us to hear. It was so clear that God placed in our path people who could help us deal with our son’s challenges, direct us toward a diagnosis and help start us on our way.

Clearly, that was the beauty. The rainbow. And it is so easy to see now. In the moment, though? Not so much.

In the midst of our personal storms, we aren’t often able to see the value or the beauty of that storm in our lives. Life can be messy, and sometimes, things will get worse before they get better. Sometimes we are so overcome with our fear, anxiety, or stress, that we can only see the storm raging around us, much like Peter as he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the stormy seas. And then Peter suddenly found himself taking a swim! (Matthew 14:24-33 NLT) The beauty, the gift, is only most clear after that storm is over—when you look at it with some perspective and some distance. And when you let God say to you, “See? I had you covered all along! You only needed to trust Me.”

Friends, in the midst of those most trying and desperate of storms, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and off of our emotions and the circumstances, or else we will surely drown. Because when we are focused on those other things, we will not be able to see His hand reaching out to us to pull us out of the raging waters. Trust that the storm will end and trust that there will be beauty at the end of it. Trust in the promise of the ultimate beauty of eternity.

The rainbow has come to mean different things to different people. To me, the rainbow is not just a rainbow—some pretty thing to look at—or some symbol adopted by a group of people—it is a reminder to trust in the Lord and know that He keeps His promises. (Genesis 9:8-17 NLT) It reminds me that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV) That we can have peace in the midst of the storms. (Isaiah 26:3 NLT) And that He will carry us through the storms of our lives and give us beautiful reminders of His great love for us.

Look for the beauty, even when there doesn’t appear to be any. Look for the rainbows and trust in the Lord’s plans and purposes. And look for His hand. You can trust that it is there.

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True Confessions, or Worry 101

I haven’t written in ages. Why?

I have been thinking about that—about why I have not written. I want to. I feel like it would be personally mentally beneficial.  I’ve always said I think of my blog as free therapy. But I just haven’t done it. I didn’t even post anything during April—Autism Awareness Month. Oh, the shame!

I could say I’ve been busy. I could say I’ve been uninspired. I could say that I haven’t felt very funny. And all those things would be true statements.

But I think, if I am honest, the simple truth is that I have felt overwhelmed with life and that I just could not think about one. more. thing. I am a worrier. I never thought I would say that about myself, but it is true.

Worries include, but are not limited to: the weighty issues of life and raising kids and financial responsibility and home keeping and home schooling and worries about Jacob’s future and decisions we’ve made in the past and Emma going to high school next fall and is Clyn going to get laid off, and should I get a paying job and what about all the needy folks out there in the world? Should we make Jacob take the SAT or the ACT? Is he going to be ready to go to college after he graduates next year and how will we pay for college anyway? How much longer can we expect our ‘95 Toyota Camry with 240,000 miles on it to keep going? And how will we fit another car payment into the budget when it dies? Oh, and, how is this laundry going to get done? On and on and on with the never ending, paralyzing, worry!

Those are some of the things that keep me awake at night. Trust me, insomnia is a friend to no man. It just gives you more time to worry. It feels like all I have done the last six months is Worry. Worry. Worry. And worry just perpetuates more worry. Sometimes it feels like I am losing my mind. And I just don’t know what to do with it all. So, I just check out and do nothing with it, except to make a feeble attempt at balling it up and tossing it heavenward.

These are the very things I don’t want to write about. Partly, because I don’t like to seem whiney or ungrateful and I really don’t like to be a “downer”.

I recognize that we are blessed beyond measure. I realize that I just need to put my big girl panties on, take some action, and DEAL with some of the stuff. In the scheme of things, I am aware that my concerns are little compared to what some families are dealing with and so I keep it to myself, stuff it down, put on my happy face and just try to fake it till I make it. I give it all to God and then promptly take it away from Him on a daily, no, on an hourly, basis. And then I feel guilty for not trusting Him. I am often reminded of the scripture in Mark 9:24 (NIV) where a worried father says to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”  This is how I feel so often!

It’s kinda like my mama, and probably your mama, used to say “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything to say at all.” I don’t feel like dumping all my worries out here is “saying something nice.” And so, I don’t write at all.

Here it is, people. The Ugly Truth. There is an insecure, frightened, anxious girl on the inside of me. (One, I think, who lives inside most of us, if we are honest.) And yet, even as I admit my worries and insecurities, I still feel compelled to cover it up and say– oh, no, really, it’s all good. And smile while I’m saying it. I feel like such a phony. How crazy is that??

I read a poem recently by Paul Laurence Dunbar (thanks to homeschooling 11th grade English) that really struck a chord in me.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Why do we wear the mask? Why isn’t it okay to be totally transparent? To be vulnerable?

For me, I don’t want to seem weak or too needy. I want to seem in control. I don’t like to ask for help. I want to show others that my faith is strong and that I trust God to care for me, my family and those I love.

But I am weak. I am needy. I do need help. I often feel out of control and like my life is running me. I don’t have all the answers.

And, since I am being honest here, I have to say that I don’t like for people to see that in me. But I am pretty sure, even though I try really hard to cover it up, that I am not fooling anybody. And I’m just plain tired of pretending.

I do know, in spite of my craziness, that God is in control. I do know to cast my cares on Him because He cares for me. I do know all the right answers about anxiousness and letting go of all that stuff. But the act of walking that out daily is a challenge for me; making the head to heart connection is sometimes hard.

What to do, then?

Two words come to mind: Press On.

Yes, people. I am pressing on and hanging in. I desire to worry less and live more. Pray more, trust God more, and acknowledge Him more. Reach out more and be more vulnerable. Try to take action on the things I can and let God handle the rest and then, RELAX.

At least, that is the plan.

I mean, really, what is the worst thing that can happen?

“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3 NIV

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25 NIV

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

“’Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’” Matthew 6:25-34 NIV

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