Sometimes I think I was far wiser in high school as a baby Christian than I am now. I look back on journals and Bible study notes and think, 'Wow. I need to get back to the basics.' And in the midst of life filled with choices and travel options, deadlines and dates on my calendar, I am convinced that now, more than ever, I DO need to get back to basics - the basics of complete trust and faith in my Lord.
Why is it that when we grow up our child like faith can be so hard to maintain? Why is it we let ourselves get distracted by the "cares of this world" and forget to continue walking, hand in hand with the Lord, our eyes upon His face? What is it we forget to do?
We forget, I think, to just trust, and simply have faith in His faithfulness. A long time ago, someone told me that when it feels like God is not "there" it is not Him that has moved, but us. And that is SO true. Because He doesn't move! He is always faithful and ever present whether we realize it or not. And that is when we need to get back to the basics of faith and trust in the only one who is worthy of it.
Why was it "so much easier" when I was in high school? Probably because I took for granted the fact that God was good and He had a plan and He would use me and all things would turn out for my good and His glory. That is the beauty of early faith - but that understanding should not be restricted to those days! That sense of perfect peace, trust, and faith in my Savior should only grow the more I do!
I have seen the Lord do incredible things, lead in amazing ways, and take me all around the world and back again. Yet little things cause me to pull my hand out of His to take ahold of a situation for myself. Little things draw my eyes away from His face to try and work out a solution for myself. And that is when I am reminded to go back to the basics. To place my hand back into His. Fix my eyes steadfastly upon His face. And walk with Him. With the faith, hope, trust, and love of a child. Nothing has changed from those high school days to present. He is still all that I knew Him to be then - and He always will be.
As a missionary who has lived in a number of places over the years, one thing has often become difficult to identify - a place to call home. Because where is home? Is it with one's parents at a childhood residence? What about the college town where one spent so many formative years? Overseas where years of ministry have been established? Or in the town of one's "home" church? I am sure military personnel identify with this concept as do retired missionaries, missionary kids, and military "brats." For some of us, it is tough to find a place to call home.
This concept is a hard one, at times. Though I well know that my citizenship does not rest in the confines of this planet, I want "home." I want to put down roots and flourish. I want to know my town and neighbors and yearly happenings and festivals in which I can take part. I want a place to call my own. But the raw, hard truth of it all is the fact that as much as I want those good and normal things, I don't have them. And neither did the greatest missionary who ever lived.
Sure, Jesus grew up in his home town and probably knew a lot of people. But he also spent a lot of his adult years, when one usually "settles down," in itinerant ministry, visiting towns and cities, lodging under whatever roof held a kind enough soul to take him in. He constantly travelled with a bunch of disciples who looked to Him for leadership and friendship and almost endlessly spoke to groups of people who also looked to Him for leadership and friendship. There was no "settle down" for Him, nor was there a "home."
In some ways, I think the concept of not having a "home" was easier when I was overseas. Because, of course it wasn't home. I was overseas! Now that I am back, the desire for permanency, some bit of regularity, and a sense of "home" calls. After all, I am "home" aren't I? But where is that nebulous place which becomes "mine?" A place to hang my hat, as it were. At the point of writing this, I really don't know, and as hard as that is, it has to be okay. After all, Jesus told His disciples that following Him would be all-consuming. When one man pledged to follow Him, Jesus said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Well, I don't have a "hole," and I certainly do not have a "nest," but I can be thankful that He has provided me with many places where to lay my head!
How many times has one of God's children cried out, "I don't understand, Father!" only to be greeted in silence? The deafening, I-know-You-hear-me-but-I-still-don't-have-an-answer silence. And the cry gets repeated. "I don't understand! Why is this or that happening, what am I supposed to do about the other thing? How am I supposed to approach that situation or circumstance?" Still... silence. The child of God gets up off their knees with prayer and questions ever on the mind and heart and then the Bible is spied out of the corner of their eye.
That precious Book of old gets opened and suddenly, the silence is broken. First, there comes an admonition to "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths."
The child pauses. "I do trust You, Lord. I don't understand this, but I do trust You. In my heart of hearts I know You have this situation in Your hands and in Your control."
The Book is studied further and the child comes upon a beautiful promise that "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."
"But still, Lord!" the child protests, "Why is this happening? And where is Your guiding?"
"Remember," the Lord answers back, "my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."
Page after page is read, prayed through, and breathed in. God's absolute holiness, righteousness, sovereignty, grace, mercy, love, compassion, omniscience and goodness is reaffirmed in the mind and heart of His child. Though the trial still continues and the questions abound, there is assurance in the heart and mind of this one which loves The Master. There has been a renewed understanding that God's guiding hand is ever active in bringing about His glory and the good of His children, that God can be trusted fully and that questions become opportunities to trust Him further.
The silence has been broken and the child sings out: "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name!"
Many I know are going through one of life's storms. Whether a sick child, personal trial, job insecurity or loss, every storm seems to come whirling into our lives, demanding full attention. It comes blustering in, acting as if it owns us, proclaiming to the world that we are in a strait. But the Gospel declares something different. It declares that we are to hand those storms and trials to the One who is sovereign over them, the One who has ultimate control, the One who will take those unwieldy and uncertain circumstances and from them create something beautiful for our good and His glory.
A friend of mine from college has a blog in which she provides an alternating fun and insightful look into living life with our Savior. She has a real gift in writing poetry and has graciously given me permission to share one of her poems with you today. Her words blessed me tremendously and I pray they will do the same for you. As you face those unwieldy storms of life, remember to cling to the One who will bring you through them.
Give Him the Storm
Give Him the storm of your prodigal will
Lose not your way on the steep of the hill
Give Him your failing and faltering feet
Take of His guidance and follow the Street
Give Him the storm of your thoughts in the wind
Fret not for the thundering battle within
Give Him your weary and uncertain plan
Take of His strength and then cling to His hand
Give Him the storm of your questions and cares
Sink not away into suff’ring and snares
Give Him the sorrowing sighs of your soul
Take of His joy and by it be made whole
Give Him the storm of your anger and tears
Dread not the time though it linger for years
Give Him the flood of your frustrated cries
Take of His patience and worry not why
Give Him the storm of your violent unrest
Faint not for the lightning and downpour of tests
Give Him the strain of your weakened resolve
Take of His Words and His Wisdom recall
Give Him the storm of your anguish and grief
Cast not away all your hope for relief
Give Him the depth of your darkest despair
Take of His grace and be able to bear
He holds the storms of the earth and the seas
He raises those who have sunk to their knees
He is the One who cannot be brought down
Take of His courage and trust in His crown
Elizabeth Howell (8.March.2011)
You can read more of her writing HERE.