Flinching at God

We all know what it is like to physically flinch. After 911, I flinched when I saw the first airplane in the sky after the attach. I flinched for a few months at turning cars after my mom and I had a bad car accident on an out-of-state trip in a rental car. And, I will forever flinch if I think you are throwing a bug or lizard at me (childhood scars). But, until recently, I never thought about flinching at God.

I look back at the last several years and can remember a list of events that were painful. I think about my dad suffering from and fighting for his life against cancer. I think about some really empty times in my marriage. Money problems. Professional anxiety. I am not talking about our day-to-day pressure. I mean the very hard stuff. The kind that happens to you, rather than something in the news or something far away.

There is no doubt in my mind that God has brought me through each and every dark place. I mean that – – the dark places where, if you don’t quickly realize, it’s you and God, you’ll sink. You can make a move to cling to Him, trust Him and hold His hand through varieties of earthly hell. Or, you can make a move to sink without Him. My doubt and emptiness has often been big, but God has always been bigger. My problems have appeared without resolution or hopeless, but God has never left things that way. My sorrow has taken on forms of depression, but God always delivered me.

One would think that with all the hand holding and carrying God has done for me; with all the deliverance; with all the spiritual victory; that I would not flinch at God. As the new year approached with all of the unknown ahead, I sought God for His plan for 2014. And, before I could get the plan fully down on paper, I started to flinch. Many thoughts crossed my heart. There is the chance that I will write this God directed plan and it could fail. I would hate that kind of failure. Flinch. There is the chance that God will bring me to accomplish this beautiful plan, but what if it can’t be accomplished without pain. Big flinch. Are we going to do a repeat of last year God? Because I will definitely flinch if we replicate February through May of 2013. And, frankly, some of the summer stunk too.

The truth is that I would do February through May of last year eight times over just turn learn the lessons He taught me over that time line. The truth is that it’s Satan that encourages the spiritual flinch. Our God is calling us to wherever He leads. The unknown is good when it is in His hands. I am over my flinching for now. I like idea of going where He goes, whatever the cost.

Being Still

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

 

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10a

For me, this is one of the simplest yet most profound scriptures in the Bible. In a world where we are inundated with so much “noise” in our lives—texting, Instant Messaging, FB msgs, FaceTime, emails, voicemails, tweets…it is hard to be still anymore. It is hard to still the noise in our heads, the chaotic thoughts, worries, fears in our mind and know that despite the chaos in our own lives, our God is there, as He has always been…The same God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob…He is all powerful, fully able to provide everything and anything we need.

I remember when 911 happened. In one morning, life as we Americans knew it changed so dramatically. In one instant, the cocoon of safety we had believed surrounded us evaporated like the morning fog. When the first tower was hit, we all thought it was some freak accident. But when the second tower was hit and then the Pentagon, we knew.  The news of that morning revealed one crushing blow after another, and we knew we were being attacked at the very core of our country. As we watched those World Trade towers crumble like dust to the ground, we momentarily had to remind ourselves that we were watching the news and not some science fiction movie.

But I also remember something else that people talked about over and over again in the coming weeks and months. Where is God? How could He have allowed this to happen? Why us, God?

Be still and know that I am God.

The peace we experience in our lives is not a result of a worry-free or peaceful life. Peace is initially fighting through our disappointment when things and life are not going our way and getting back to that point where we trust God again and give him the benefit of the doubt.  It’s asking how do we fit in His plan.

Be still and know that I am God.

The peace we experience during turbulent times comes from the knowledge that God, despite all appearances, is always in control, and although His ways are not our ways, it is in hindsight, His best for us.

Being still doesn’t mean being passive and waiting for your answer to arrive served on a silver platter. Being still means knowing you’ve done your part and then waiting on God to do the rest. But therein lies one of our fundamental challenges as believers…waiting on God’s timing.

Often as we wait, doubt creeps in…perhaps God has forgotten us…or maybe He is not going to do anything anyway…our thoughts and fears can often run away from us and lead us into disbelief.

Be still and know that I am God.

What personal “911s” have you endured in your own life? Not all of them have to be catastrophes or epic in scope. But all of us experience our own life questioning moments.

Perhaps like me, it’s a company layoff…or for some, it’s a marriage that is on the brink of divorce…or a sickness…

Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, take a moment today…even if only at the stop light on your commute to work…to know and experience God in the quietness of your soul.

Be still, my friend…Allow Him a moment to speak to you, if only to remind you of His love for you and that He has a plan for your life.

Our God was, is, and always will be the true, only, living God.

Revel in that knowledge. Remind yourself, if God is for you…who can stand against you?

Be still…

 

When Guilt, Pain and Stress Come Knocking…

By JMathis

There is guilt in my parenting. (“Mommy, how come I’m the last one to be picked up from school?”)

There is pain in my marriage. (“Why would he bring that up when he knows how much it hurts me?”)

There is stress at my workplace. (“For once, I would love to walk into a Monday where I don’t have a gnawing pit in my stomach from the night before.”)

When I was young and full of ambitions and dreams, there was never even the slightest inkling of guilt, pain or stress in my future.

Yet, there they are, faithful to the end–in good times and bad, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health: guilt, pain and stress.

What’s the point of being a Christian if all that follows me is guilt, pain and stress? What is the purpose of taking up His cross when I never seem to get rid of this guilt, pain and stress? Why is guilt, pain and stress the defining cornerstone of so many days of my existence here on earth?

Because I’m forgetting. And, Lord, forgive me for always forgetting, but I find again that I am forgetting.

Forgetting who I am.

Forgetting whose I am.

I look to the Word for answers, and I come face-to-face with Paul.

Ahh, Paul. Have I ever told you how much Paul annoys me? Not quite my nemesis, but definitely someone I don’t want crashing my dinner party.

Give me my Abraham, David and Peter—my fallen heroes who are human, just like me. But Paul, Lord? He’s always so sanctimonious and self-righteous, Lord! Why Paul, Lord?

Really, Lord, really?

Yes, really.

Because all that seemed to follow him was guilt, pain and stress.

Guilt over the murder of thousands of Christians before his conversion:

For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.” 1 Corinthians 15:9

Pain over the fact that the church he first built now insulted him and questioned his authority:

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you”. 2 Corinthians 2:4

Stress over constant persecution, imprisonment and torture:

“…We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; we are  perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10.

All that followed Paul was guilt, pain and stress.

But the difference between him and me is that he never forgot.

Never forgot who he was.

Never forgot whose he was.

When you forget your New Covenant that you entered into with Christ:

1)      You forget how to walk through life boldly and confidently. (“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12)

2)      You forget how to experience intimacy with your Creator. (“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

3)      You forget that life is not about jumping from difficulty to difficulty, but being changed more and more into His likeness. (“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Isn’t it time you stopped forgetting, and started remembering?

Isn’t it time to live life passionately, intimately and continuously refreshed?

I’m ready. Are you?

Questions:

When was the last time you experienced any of guilt, pain or stress?

Do you ever feel that life is about moving from one hardship to the next?

When was the last time you walked through life boldly and confidently?

When was the last time you experienced intimacy with your Creator?

When was the last time you felt transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit?

Challenge:

This week, write down a scripture on a notecard that renews your spirit. Turn to it each time you are chased down by guilt, pain or stress. Meditate on the scripture when the darkness tries to overtake you, and believe in faith that your situation is being transformed–that your life is being changed for the better.