In some ways I think my generation has seen more suffering per our few short years to date than any other generation in the same amount of time. Just within the past two weeks I have heard about husbands dying of heat attacks, children who have cancer, missionaries coming down with weird diseases, and pastors imprisoned for their faith. Then there were the violent attacks of murder and hate at a mosque, beach resort and factory. It just doesn't stop. The spiritual battle rages fiercely and one by one it seems like the enemy is targeting and taking out servant after servant after servant of the LORD. It looks and feels so bleak. We are told that this life is a spiritual battle and casualties appear to be mounting up to the heavens.
If there was no hope beyond this point, I would find a pole and run up my white flag of surrender. But this is not all there is! This is not where it ends! And what glorious hope we have! Light will break through and God will win and every casualty will be made worth it. The Gospel will triumph, those bound will be set free, and we, too, will be freed from this world of sin and darkness. Our tears will be dried and our hearts eternally comforted.
While here on earth, fighting this battle, we are promised that we will never be left alone. We are promised that our LORD and King will be near us. He will uphold us as we live humbly before Him. He will guide us and direct every one of our steps. He will keep us in the way as we walk where He wants us to go. This life is not all there is; it is a battle and we must continue on. For what would life be if not a fight for the Gospel? And what should be our longing if not for our eternal home? And what is the place in which we live if not a battle ground upon which we search for a glimpse of our King as we seek to please Him? This life is a battle and we must continue on.
I am ever and always endeavouring to seek the LORD'S will in all I do. This started pretty early on. What high school? Pray about it. College? Pray about it. What ministry to join? Which college mission trip? What church to attend? All questions received copious amounts of prayer and for good reason! Biblical example shows time and again when the LORD's direction is sought, plans go smoothly and things go well. When it is not sought, however, plans usually go awry and people get into trouble. I try to vigilantly follow the example of seeking the LORD'S will in all that I do. Sometimes, however, I get distracted from that focus and then I end up having to go fight wars.
You see, Joshua, Moses' right hand man, watched Moses' ministry for a majority of his adult life. He saw Moses quite literally speak with the LORD and ask council of Him. Joshua did a pretty good job of that most of the time himself. But there was that one time when ambassadors from "afar" came to make peace with Joshua and effecively did so. Joshua was pretty happy with the outcome until he realized they were the next door neighbors whose land he was supposed to take. While he was mentally kicking himself, we, the readers, get told one tiny little detail that caused the whole issue. He didn't ask council of the Lord.
I've always cringed when reading that little yet powerful verse and thought, "Don't ever do that." Then came the day when I did that very thing. I committed to something and I didn't take the time to stop and ask whether or not it was something I should do. By the time I, like Joshua, realized my mistake I was already committed.
Now for Joshua, since he pledged to protect those neighbors of his, fulfilling his commitment meant going to war in order to protect them. I thankfully only had to cut out a chunk of time and use a fair amount of gas. The principle holds true, however. If a decision has been made, you still have to fulfill that commitment. In other words, learn your lesson then go fight your war.
I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.
- Mary Gardiner Brainard
I think the difficulty with this is remembering to keep in mind the fact that God is with us in the dark. Walking in the light is lulling and easy, causing it to at least appear more appealing. But therein lies the danger and is possibly why, so often, we are called to walk in the dark.
The light has a tendency of falsely removing our dependency upon the LORD. When things go well, we are lulled into thinking that we have it all under control. The darkness, the unknowns of life, however, show us in glaring contrast that we can truly do nothing on our own.
Walking in the darkness is not what anyone really "wants." No one wants the pain of illness and unanswered questions, the trial of job loss or heartache. But is it not typically when the world goes awry that we sink to our knees in recognition of our dependence upon the LORD? It is in the darkness of life's trials that we find we must cling to the cross and place our hope fully in Him. So, though I would rather the light, so long as God is with me, I will walk through the dark.
Often times, as I read through scripture, the LORD allows some line or piece to stick out and strike me in a way it never before has. In this way, verses which can become "too familiar" or "overused" remain fresh, new, and exciting. Take, for instance, "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10. In our insanely fast-paced culture, the typical "dwelling point" of this verse is on being still and slowing down to spend time with our LORD. A few days ago, however, I took a different tack.
Be still and know that He is GOD. Ponder over that for a minute - He is GOD! He, the one who knows me intimately, the one who loves me greatly. He, the one who knit me together in my mother's womb, the one who holds my very life together, who keeps my heart beating and my lungs breathing in oxygen. He who died for me - is God!
He IS. Current, present, this very moment active, judging, ruling, and sovereignly reigning. Involved, loving, caring, providing, saving, comforting, healing, rescuing, listening, answering, rejoicing, working. All this, He is. And He is God. Those three little letters leave me utterly awestruck. I find myself without words yet trying to use them to express my amazement. The One speaking to me, the One listening to me, the One who IS, this very moment, is God!
Be still oh Christian and bow down on bended knee, for the One whose audience you have is GOD! Tremble fearful heart and bow in humble dread, for the One who speaks to you is GOD! Hear Him, Oh soul, and make His will your own, for your Sovereign, Lord, and King is GOD!
"God never violates the trust we put in Him." - Neva Coyle
I think you could say I've been pondering over this quoted fact a lot lately. I know God is trustworthy. I know God is good and righteous and holy and perfect and sovereign. And I have to preach these things to myself and choose to believe them. Because while I "know" all of these things, I also "know" that the world is an absolute mess. And it's not just a few things here and there - it's EVERYWHERE.
Earthquakes, drought, disease, marriages destroyed, human trafficking, morals shoved into the mud, wrong being made to be "right" and what is right being made to be wrong. It feels as if the earth will collapse or implode or crumble into small little bits. No wonder the Lord is going to roll it all up as a scroll! I can understand why He'd want to do so!
Then there are all of His children who are crying out. Crying out for justice, for peace, for help, for healing. Lives that have been torn apart or smashed in two. Lives that are desperate for "normal," desperate for the good times of yester year when illness was not plaguing them or their families, when their marriage was intact, when their children still loved Jesus.
When it comes to knee-jerk "fight or flight" reactions, I'd prefer to run away from all of this. But that is not an option. Working while it is still day is the command. Pressing on toward the high calling is the goal. And choosing to trust in a trustworthy God is an absolute must. Sometimes I think if we were just given a glimpse into the "whys" of events, we would be better able to "trust." But that's just it, isn't it? We often don't know why and we are still commanded to trust. We are still admonished to place our faith and hope in the One true God who quite literally holds the world and each member of it in His hands. Our finite minds cannot possibly understand what our infinite God is doing but this we can preach and claim and trust: God can be trusted because He is trustworthy.