Tag Archives: Lord

Just Say Thank You

When I was a teen, I observed an event on several occasions that brought me a tinge of embarrassment.  My mother and my grandmother, my mother’s mother, whenever they would eat at a restaurant together, would regularly fight over the check.  I witnessed these epic battles several times, and I still cringe when I think about them.  These women were my primary role models.  Parts of me were afraid of them, all of me respected them, except in these moments.

My mother and grandmother are not alive to defend themselves, and I have no doubt they would try if they could.  They were both strong women of high moral character and normally very dignified in their behavior.  My family is better for them having been a part of it, and I spend much of my life living up to their memories.  I always wanted them to be proud of me, and I know that I made them proud.  They were loving women with great fortitude who saw their families through very difficult times.  They both suffered from debilitating, lifelong illnesses–my mother from rheumatoid arthritis and my grandmother from type one diabetes–and lived lives of grace and faith in spite of the toll disease ravaged on their bodies.  One of my greatest sorrows is that my girls had precious little opportunity to know who they were.  My younger daughter was only two years old when my grandmother passed, and she was five when my mother passed.

The stubbornness which buoyed my mother and grandmother through heartache and physical suffering also contributed to the battles over the checks.  Each could match the other in determination and focus.  Most of the time these battles ended with one grabbing the check from the waitress and the other letting out a huff of disapproval.  My mother could also add an eloquent eye roll.  What I learned from these skirmishes was to say, “Thank you.”  Every time someone picks up a check for my meal, I think of my mother and grandmother and the battles of the checks.  After the cringe, the memory brings me a smile.  And, I just say, “Thank you.”

I wonder how many times when God blesses me does He wish I would say, “thank you,” instead of all of the other things I come out with.  Sometimes, I think I deserve the blessing He bestows and pat myself on the back for a job well done.  Ingratitude is never pretty and puts much too much distance between my heart and His.  From time to time, I overlook His blessings completely because I’m not paying attention.  Occasionally, I don’t recognize a blessing because it doesn’t look like I think it should.  Amazingly, at times, I will fight with Him for the check.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”  1 Timothy 4:5, 6

Now and then, God bestows a blessing, the answer to a long held prayer, to which He has been saying, “not yet.”  I am overwhelmed.  I don’t believe it because it comes in a package I did not imagine.  I wonder what the catch is, why it is so much more than I asked for, so different from what I thought it would be.  “Why now?” I ask myself.  I feel the burden of it, a steward’s responsibility, and I want to say, “no, thank you.”  I don’t trust God to know me well enough to know the best timing and appropriate quality of His blessings for me.  I look to either side of me and start to reach for something, anything, that feels like I deserve it or looks like I think it should.  Mediocrity.  Imperfection.  Triviality.  Surely I don’t deserve the blessings that belong to the child of a King!

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28, 29

But, I am the child of a King!  A gracious and glorious King who loves me.  I am a joint heir with the Savior of all humanity, entitled to every blessing in Heaven, even though I have not earned them.  If I don’t know how to handle a blessing, I have only to look to Him for guidance and strength.  If it doesn’t look like the blessing I was expecting, His package is much better for me.  If the burden of the responsibility of the gift is heavy, He will help me carry it.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”  Ephesians 1:3

Every blessing from God comes with some kind of responsibility.  Every holy gift is to be treasured and used for His glory.  Every godly endowment is to be nurtured and grown and shared for the benefit of His reputation.  Every good thing from God is to be accepted and opened with a gratitude that never fades.  Refusing a blessing from God or settling for anything less than what He deems I deserve is like spitting in His face, an affront to His great and glorious generosity.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  James 1:16, 17

On this day of thanksgiving, I try to remember as many blessings as I can and thank God for each one.  I remember the times I almost did not accept a gift God provided, and I am deeply thankful He gave me the wisdom to walk past my fears into His gracious blessings.  My life would be much less full, much less happy, much less abounding in love if I had given in to my fears and trepidations.

I accept His gifts and, with all my heart, just say, “Thank You!”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  Psalm 118:1

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Puzzle Piece

I don’t like waiting for anything, but I seem to do a lot of it.  Waiting is the nature of this life, I suppose.  We wait to grow up so that we can be independent.  We wait for the birth of children.  We wait for cherished holidays, for beloved relatives to arrive, for the appointed time to open gifts.  We wait in line to check out at the grocery store, wait endlessly for an amusement park ride, wait our turn to graduate, all for an expected payoff for our patience.  The world waited centuries for a Savior.

We wait for prayers to be answered, nightmares to end, dreams to be realized.  We wait for medical treatments to work, for test results, for heartache to go away.  I once waited to relocate to a more desirable locale, much longer than I ever expected or wanted.  Many years ago I gave God permission to work His will through the details of my life and He took me seriously.  It has been quite the adventure, and it has been a lot of waiting.

Now, I am waiting again for big changes in my life.  I believe I am ready for them; I know I welcome the idea of changes.  Many days I find myself tempted to twiddle my thumbs and drum my fingers, actually catch myself doing them, because I am impatient with the waiting.  I am ready for life to move forward in a big way.  God gave me the gift of analysis, to see a situation and devise solutions.  I have a solution to my current situation plainly mapped out in my head, steps one through ten neatly spelled out.  Deep inside me, though, I know God says it isn’t His time yet.  His time.  Isn’t it MY life?

The great temptation for me is to take matters into my own hands rather than waiting on God to work circumstances and people into the places He wants them before I make my changes.  I feel the pull to rely on my own logic, to cut God out of the process of deciding what changes to make and how to make them.  I question if God truly cares about the details of my life, if He really is working all of the mess and confusion of my life into something that is good for the long term.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

God causes.  All things.  To work together for good.  It is one of the many wonders of God that He sees all of time all at once as one big picture of good.  I am but one small puzzle piece He shapes so that I will fit in His plan for eternal blessing.  If I choose to shape myself, I do not fit anywhere in His limitless mosaic.  Some pieces in the puzzle need more shaping than others, but all are precious to Him.  Each and every piece is a treasure to Him.  With my permission, He works on me like a craftsman, honing intricate edges and fluid curves.  He fashions the events of my life so that they put the right facet in just the right place on me.  So that I will fit.  He wants me to fit.  I want to fit.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”  Isaiah 64:8

I learned a long time ago to take Mr. Rogers’ advice to heart and “find something to do while I am waiting.”  So, during each and every interlude of waiting I find productive things to do.  Things which honor God.  Things which bless those around me.  And I seek God more earnestly than ever before, begging for His guidance, still asking for His moving of me to the next place, to show me plainly how and when and where and why.  He eventually provides the when and where.  He doesn’t always provide the how and why.  Silly me!

Looking back, I see that sometimes the periods of waiting have been times of healing and rest.  They last longer than I want them to, but they are important to my well-being.  Occasionally, the time of waiting is an episode of profound growth when I learn new-to-me truths and flesh out an unknown-to-me about God.  Such times are filled with wrestling with God, figuring out how to align my will to His, letting go of my idea of what should come next and adopting His idea.  Once in a while, the waiting is not about me but about someone else God is working on to bring to the place of blessing for both of us.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27: 13, 14

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.  My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.”  Psalm 130:5,6

“Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.”  Isaiah 26:8

“Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”  Isaiah 40:31

“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.”  Micah 7:7

The first century Christians anxiously waited for Jesus’ return.  (Romans 8:25, 1 Corinthians 4:5, Philippians 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:10)  Do I wait eagerly for the Lord to return?  Is it more important to me to be ready for His return than it is to be ready for the next big change in my life?  I prepare for the next chapter of my life by doing what I need to do to hear God’s instruction and leading.  Am I listening for the trumpet call that will announce the arrival of the Son of God? (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

So I wait in promised hope of a blessing greater than I can imagine–the next step in my adventure with God in this life.  And I wait for my Savior to return, to take me Home with the rest of His beloved.  Waiting for God is never a wrong move.

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.'”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him,  It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the Lord.”  Lamentations 3:25, 26

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

First Love

“When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.’  So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”  Hosea 1:2, 3

God tells the prophet Hosea to make a prostitute his wife.  He is showing Hosea in a very personal way the heartache He is suffering because of Israel’s chronic betrayal.  God has been warning Israel for years that they are testing His patience, that there will be a day of reckoning when He will strike them down.  Yet, they continue to worship Baal and Asherah in addition to the true God.  They build shrines to these gods and incorporate ‘sacred’ prostitution into their religious practice.

Israel makes a mockery of the first of the commandments God gives to them at Sinai:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before Me.”  Exodus 20:2, 3

They prostitute themselves to other spiritual loves.  Eventually Israel comes to consider the Baals more beneficial to them than God Almighty.  God makes it clear from the very beginning that worshiping any other god will have repercussions.  He is a jealous God and does not tolerate their hearts wandering to any other god.

“…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  Exodus 20:5b, 6

Israel’s mistake is to stop pursuing God as their first love.  In doing so, they lose their knowledge of Him, lose the connection they have to Him.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”   Hosea 4:6

Israel doesn’t seem to know how destitute their plight is:

“The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.”  Hosea 4:7

Hosea gains firsthand a glimpse into the heart of our grieving God.  Gomer’s betrayal leads Hosea into deep heartache that mirrors the heartache of the Creator.  Israel, His chosen love who would bring into the world the Messiah, His Son, no longer pursues Him, chooses to pursue false gods who have never been and never will be their savior and true love.  How do they not understand what they are doing?  They break the heart of God.

“‘I will punish her for the days of the Baals When she used to offer sacrifices to them And adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry, And follow her lovers, so that she forgot me,’ declares the Lord.”  Hosea 2:13

Do I betray my God, my only Savior and Redeemer?  How?  With what gods do I prostitute myself?  The god of pleasure or the god of success?  The god of recreation or the god of power?  The god of money?  The god of influence?  What in my life matters more to me than Him?  Do I matter more to me than He does?

When I ask myself these questions I feel myself recoiling.  “Of course I don’t prostitute myself to other spiritual loves!”   Now I ask the questions a bit differently.  Who would I rather spend time with, the God who made me or the gods who make me feel good?  Who do I trust, the God who redeems me or the gods who give me what I want today?  To whom do I surrender allegiance, the God who is perfect in His love and faithfulness toward me or the gods who exalt me among my peers?

In my shame, I start to understand how I break the heart of my loving God.  Most of my time is taken up by activities that enrich me in some way.  My life is tied more to this world than to my home with God.  When I have the opportunity to meditate, I spend more energy thinking about, worrying about, the affairs of this world than I do on the One who provides what endures for eternity.  Too many times, His Spirit is prompting me to pray before I choose to do it on my own.  When will I understand choosing anything or anyone before choosing Him is like slapping my mate in his face with ridicule and contempt?  When will I realize that trusting anyone or anything except the God who loves me with a passion that lasts through eternity is like stomping on the heart of my beloved after he reveals the depth of his love for me?

I don’t want to lose my first love.  I know what it feels like to lose a love.  My heart cannot afford to lose any more.  I don’t want to be like the Ephesians, stuck in my ‘rightness’ but far away from the heart of God (Revelation 2:1-5).  God makes it clear that He does not tolerate sharing the throne of my heart with anyone or anything else.  Do I take His jealously seriously?

Jesus teaches the first commandment is to love God with all that we are, heart, mind and soul (Matthew 22:37, 38).  No equivocation here.  Heart.  Mind.  Soul.  All.  I must pursue Him, and Him only, with all that is within me.

Just like Hosea buys back Gomer after she had become another man’s property, God buys back Israel and all of mankind through His Son.  God’s love of man is relentless and unending.  He is faithful beyond reason.  He is unspeakably generous.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquitites, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”  Psalm 103:1-5

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Change

As a child and young adult, I enjoyed change.  Each day was new and sometimes exciting, bringing both good changes and bad.  I liked the challenge of learning new things and the thrill of new experiences.  Feeling destabilized faded in the face of meeting changes with my ability to analyze and assimilate them into my life.  My family moved three times while I was growing up.  Each move involved climate and cultural and social changes that felt difficult but not unconquerable.  As a child, I thrilled at the anticipation of moving to the next grade, thrived on learning new concepts and passing the tests to demonstrate my mastery of them.  Finally starting high school was a high point in my adolescence.  Going to college was a fabulous new adventure.  Getting married, the triumphant culmination of many dreams.

Somewhere along the way, I lost the thrill of life changes.  In my heart, challenges started representing losses instead of exciting voyages.  Relocating became frustrating and tiresome.  Learning new things became an unwelcome chore.   I found myself emotionally recoiling from change, anxious to protect what was mine and maintain the status quo.  Realizing the years were piling on faster than I wanted them to made me want to slow everything down and keep life stable and predictable, unchanging.

And now, I find myself in a season of change–unplanned changes I did not anticipate brought into my life by tragic loss.  To avoid this season would mean certain stagnation, getting stuck in my current frame of mind and heart, so change is the path I prefer.  Personal, financial, mental, emotional and social changes stare me in the face.  Many of the changes are blessings, new responsibilities which give me a sense of security, newly found footing that feels solid.  Some of the changes require me to expend a tremendous amount of energy to accomplish them.  Nearly all of the changes necessitate that I feel motivated to achieve them,  an emotion that is too often illusive.  For the first time in a long time, the choices are mine alone.  I now have options, but they materialize with no clear path as to which road is right or best for me.  I feel myself going with my ‘gut’ more often than I am comfortable with, relying on instincts honed by experiences I am not confident qualify me to make good choices.  Anxiety is a frequent and unwelcome companion.

Change in my life moves me to reach out for something solid, something unerringly reliable.  Change moves me to pray to God, my heavenly Father, the One who is always the same.  To seek not only His help, but His leading, His desire for me, His choices for this season in my life.  Not only His preference, but also His will for what comes next for me.

To pray before seeking any other activity to fix my dilemma is new to me.  I am a problem-solver, one who analyzes, assesses and chooses a solution.  I am fairly successful at this, consider it a gift I can use confidently.  I nearly always ask for God’s blessing, for His encouragement, in my life choices.  Now it is different.  I am different, changed by upheaval I was unable to prevent or stop.  Now life is upside down and inside out.  It is nonsensical and illustrates to me how little I know and how little I control.  I am unsure when or where to raise my sail, in what direction to move the rudder.  A boat on choppy seas, and all I feel like doing is curling up in a ball and wishing it would all go away.

So I pray.  I talk to the One who knows my ending before I know where to begin.  I seek the counsel and encouragement of the One who charts my path through all the turmoil of my human existence.  I learn to trust the One who loves me in ways I neither understand nor am able to emulate.

My prayers are no longer wish lists to satisfy me.  They are now recitations of gratitude for His care of me, for His provision of my needs and wants and comforts, for His protection of me from the Evil One, for His leading and strength and love.  I ask Him to continue His loving care of me.  I ask Him for His wisdom so that I make choices which not only please Him but choices that bring Him praise and glory.  I ask Him to lead me in righteous paths so that in no situation am I too far away from Him.  I ask Him never to let me let go of His hand.

With each prayer, He rebuilds my confidence, not in my abilities, but in His desire and  His ability to lead me into the best life for me, a life that keeps me close to Him, loving and serving in the ways He wants me to love and serve.  With each prayer, my anxiety subsides and I start to know that I am secure in what the future, which remains a mystery, holds for me.  The fear abates; the heartache at what might have been, what is forever lost, recedes from importance.  Life starts to make sense again.

“Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.  The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.”  Psalm 28:6, 7

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Faith or Fear?

I don’t think I have any true phobias.  I hate snakes but growing up in Texas can do that to a person.  I don’t like bugs but that may be due to my being a ‘bug magnet,’ and I strongly dislike them flying in my face.  I have issues with heights sometimes and would never do a Wallenda-type stunt, but I would love to experience a zip line.  I have a limit to how long I can be in a large crowd before I need to retreat and regroup, but that is because I am, by nature, an introvert.

Most of what I am truly afraid of involves losses from which I cannot protect myself:  death, economic upheaval, broken relationships, and lost time are the key ones.   Events that are beyond my control.  I live in a broken world where bad things happen, sometimes senselessly, even to really good people.  I can’t control what other people do.  I have no influence over how the financial markets operate or the events that mold them.  Sometimes, time passes unused or is spent waiting, waiting, seemingly wasted.  I find myself making choices trying to avoid these kinds of losses.  I am afraid of encountering them because it hurts me when I do.

In my “Friend of God” post from August 28th, I list five Hebrew words for faith.  They are usually translated “believe,” “trust,” “refuge,” “hope,” and “wait.”  Reading this list I see a picture of how to live in faith, not in fear.

Believe God is who He says He is.  The Creator of the universe, my Savior, the only Victor over evil, the Comforter of my soul, Father, King , the I AM.  Believe it enough to lean on Him when times are good and when times are not good.  Believe that He will be there to lean on.  Israel, delivered by God from slavery in Egypt, sustained in the wilderness by God, still did not believe Him enough to lean on Him.

“In spite of all this they still sinned And did not believe in His wonderful works.”        Psalm 78:32

Trust God will do what He says He will do.  This is about knowing God well enough to understand He is faithful to me.  Knowing God is essential to walking with Him.  When I try to walk with someone whom I do not know, it is usually a trying experience.  I have no basis for anticipating their next move.  I don’t know how fast they will go, if they will defer to me or take the lead.  If I am walking with a friend, I have experience enough with them to anticipate how they will handle a variety of situations and obstacles that arise on our path.  I know how to adjust my speed or my position to accommodate them.   If I have enough experience with God, if I have a well-founded knowledge of Him from His word and prayer and meditation, I know what He expects of our relationship.  I know He will take the lead.  I know how to watch Him to make sure I can follow Him closely.  I know He will be true to Himself.  If my knowledge of God is too limited, I will wrestle with Him for the lead position, stepping on His toes or tripping myself.

“Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have not strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude.  O Lord, you are our God; let no man prevail against You.'”  2 Chronicles 14:11

–Use God as my refuge.  This is the point on the faith continuum where I begin to see how to deal with fear, to see God as a refuge from what frightens me.  Seek Him out as my safe place from evil.  Use Him as a shield, my Protector from spiritual harm, when I choose to face my fear.  Remember that His promise never to leave me is always true.

“…for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What will man do to me?'”  Hebrews 13:5b,6

I have been at several places of choosing in my life where there didn’t seem to be a wrong answer or a bad choice.  The choices usually consisted of two potential paths, although once there were three options.  One possible path commonly appeared comfortable, familiar, ordinary.  It was full of budding experiences that have proven positive in the past and it felt safe.  But there was no apparent potential for Godly change beyond what was ordinary and harmless.  The other was full of unknowns, but it held a promise of spiritual growth and greater eternal blessing.  I know that God can and will use whichever I choose to grow me spiritually.  Am I cheating myself, though, if I forget that He is always with me and is my refuge, if I give in to my fear, and thus choose the more apparently secure path?

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.  On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him;  God is a refuge for us.”  Psalm 62:5-8

–Stand firm on the hope God provides.  The healing salve of hope that enables the warrior to stay in the battle.  This life is not the end!  The Gospel story does not end at the crucifixion.  Jesus is resurrected!  HE IS ALIVE!  Nor does my story end at death or heartache or destitution.  God applies hope to my tragedy, gives it meaning and purpose, uses it to heal the spiritual wounds I sustain.  I can stand, face my fear, engage it head-on, knowing He provides the unwavering and certain hope that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God… .  (Romans 8:28b)

–Always wait on Him to lead me.  I often prefer to be out in front, taking the lead, taking charge.  I see life from a lot of different angles; I like to analyze a situation to the nth detail, weigh the possibilities and make plans to accomplish what I determine is the best course.  But God calls me to wait.  To wait on Him, His timing, His path, to accomplish His goals.  Wait and listen to Him, wait and watch what He is doing around me, wait and get out of His way.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14

There is courage to be found in waiting for the Lord, knowing He will not lead me down the wrong path.  He may lead me on a difficult path, but as the shepherd who leads his flock through the dangerous mountain valleys, it is not without purpose.  He is leading me to the luscious mountain meadows where I will eat my fill of His goodness.  To get to the mountaintop with Him, I must follow Him through the valley of the shadow of death and face my fear.  By waiting on Him I am assured He will be with me, ready to protect me from any danger.

Faith or fear?  I aim to choose faith.  When my family and I moved to New England, it was an act of faith.  We had never lived or visited here, knew the numbers of faithful Christians were small, knew no one.  It was the riskiest of the choices we faced–spiritually and financially.  But God led us here.  My husband and I knew, without any doubt, deep in our spirits, this is where God wanted us to be.   It has not been an easy road and we faced many fearful situations, but I know it was the road God intended for us.  My children are faithful Christians today because they grew up in an environment where they had to own and defend their faith or lose it.   At the end of my husband’s life, he was a leader in God’s church because he saw how much he was needed.  He had been one who would usually sit back and let others more qualified than he (in his mind) take the lead; here, there were very few more qualified than he.  The riskier choice, the more fearful choice, was the path to deeper faith and a closer walk with God because God led us to it and through it.

“And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.  Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’   And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’  And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.  And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid?  Do you still have no faith?'”  Mark 4:37-40

All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.