Thursday, May 19, 2011
Please forgive me.
I know some of you read this, look forward to this, hope that today...or someday...I will post again, because my posts encourage you, and strengthen you to walk through whatever that day throws at you.
Today I want to reaffirm to you that if you are one of the people I am blessed to call a friend, that I pray for you: daily, weekly, monthly. I used to think, perfectionist that I am, that I had to do it all at once, sit in a closet somewhere, ignore the children screaming outside and JUST GET THROUGH THE LIST!!! Perhaps you too, have experienced that line of thinking..and how futile (not to mention stressful) it is.
I realized that I need to do the same thing with prayer that I do every day with my worship---it needs to be a constant thing. It needs to happen just like teaching happens with my children, woven into a huge tapestry as I do things throughout my day.
But that was not what I meant to write about. Go ahead...laugh. :)
Have you ever played the wooden game Jenga??? When Annalise was about 1st or 2nd grade, this game was her favorite. There was just something spine tingling, and sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-exciting about being able to pull out one piece at a time, anxiously watching the stack for the first shift in its foundation, testing each piece to see how free it was before you carefully eased it out, or that strangling moment when you see your opponent pull out the last piece that could possibly keep things together, and know no matter what piece you choose, you are going to lose??? Its an addicting game, not only for a first grader but for an adult.
I have found myself thinking about that game an awful lot lately.
Not only is it a fun game,but it is also a decisive one. There is always a winner, and always a loser, and it ALWAYS ends in a spectacular fashion. Still however, I think the thing that keeps flitting through my mind, is that once it is over, you can always put it back in the box, and at a different time, start all over with a whole tower, new opponents, and new moves.
Even in your most anxious moments during that game, there is always the certainty that it is a game, and while you will do your best, there will be another chance to win, if you lose.
And with that picture in your mind, I wanted to write to you about falling prey to fear.
We live in some seriously uncertain times, if you go by the circumstances around us. If you want to think back to some break-neck Jenga games you have had in your life, there are a lot of pieces missing out of the tower and we are thinking in our heads of the next three moves we would make if given the chance.
Stressful moments....moments we are white-knuckled through, waiting, hoping, praying that we will get our turn over and on to the next person before the tower crashes, or better yet, hoping we can stick a few of those pieces back in to stabilize things a little more and keep the tower from crashing at all. Because a lot of those circumstances are scary, and not the kind of pieces you really would want to pull out in the first place, right?
I dont need to name all of them, because I am sure just reminding you of the word "uncertain" brings a few things to mind.
I am writing this as a plea, and an encouragement to remind you where your stability and your trust should come from.
Though the things around us---the situation of our nation financially, the natural disasters that have happened all over the world and here at home, to name a few---seem as if life is suddenly spiraling out of control, there is NO NEED to be afraid. None.
Because nothing happens that is not allowed by the hand of an almighty God who loves us, who sent His son to die for us, who is crying out to the world He created: "I AM HERE and I DESIRE that none should perish".
All things happen for a reason. All those pieces are being removed according to a plan that already has a set ending.
All things lead to that ending---to help people make the choice to follow the Lord, or to choose to go their own way. And your choice is what will determine where your faith and your trust are placed.
Trust in yourself, and yes, you are right, you will have the ability to make your destiny, that is, within the circumstances that you yourself are able to control.
But there are always things that are NOT in your control. And never will be.
Because control is simply an illusion.
The Bible is clear, these things that we see around us are nothing but the beginning of birth pains, and things are just going to keep going in this way until the final pieces are all that is left.
As you see things begin to teeter, and then topple...when things that you have always counted as just the way things are begin to suddenly not be what they have been...what will you place your trust and your faith in then?
I am in pain thinking of the country that I love tonight.
I love being an American. I love so many things about our country--its founding, its principles, its freedoms. I am one that sits and reads through the Constitution and marvels at its simplicity and its strength, admiring the minds and resolutions that created it. I could read the history of our country, its founding, struggles, painful memories, a million times over, and sigh contentedly when the end of the book comes.
And yet, tonight, I am also reminded that I am also a citizen of another country, by my choice, and one that when all is said and done, will be the one that I will uphold until my death here on Earth.
I am saddened by the turn things are taking around us, the misery, raw pain, and de-lineation of this earthly country from the values, friends, and absolutes that we have held to for a very long time. I shake my head in sadness as I watch the fear, confusion, anger, and anxiety begin to eat at the heart of the people I know and love. I struggle daily with those same feelings, laying them again and again at the feet of the only One who can help me.
But I also know in my heart for things to happen as the Bible, God's word, says, these things must take place. I am not a scholar who looks for hidden meaning beneath the black words I read daily on the smooth pages of my favorite book. I don't try to attribute meaning where it MIGHT be, but look for where it is, and for many many years, it has bothered me that with the setting of the stage, the end stage you might say, there is no mention of this amazing country. There may be a million reasons why. Perhaps the focus is not meant to be on WHO the players are, but what happens.
But I don't believe it. I think we are not a part of the picture. End of story. And I have to trust and rest that God holds this beloved country of mine in His hand and is just going to remove us from the tower so things can go on to the final showdown. My opinion, take it, or leave it...as you choose.
I have to rest on that I have nothing to fear, for No man can hinder his Hand, no country can change His end plan. The struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness.....the struggle is for our souls.
And what we see happening will continue to happen until all people on earth are given that chance to make their choice, and to walk in it.
It breaks my heart, but it is true. I desperately desire that none of those I love should see death without accepting the hand of Christ as Lord.
If you trust in the Lord with all your heart tonight, let the circumstances rest. Step away from the newscasts shouting about this or that. Put your burdens before Him and accept that yoke that rests so much lighter on your shoulders, understanding that we MAY NOT understand, but that our Shepherd, who leads us, will do all He needs to do and protects us. That it doesn't matter what happens tonight or tomorrow, but that the thing that really matters--our citizenship is Heaven---is already decided. We, as His people, are not the ones playing this high stakes game, but one of the pieces that He will take out before it all comes crashing down. We need to trust that the One who made this world, and us, knows just how far to take things without putting us through the wrath He has designed for His opponent.
And if you don't believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, I beg you, spend some time thinking about it. Seriously contemplate it. Be aware of what is going on around you, and look for answers, don't just shrug it off and continue to walk blindly through each day. Take a moment and read what the Bible has to say about the end times and what is going to happen on earth here as things wind down. It will only take a little of your time, and if I am wrong, I absolutely will apologize for wasting your time...and my life. But if I am right, you are sooner or later going to be on one heck of a roller coaster ride as that tower comes crashing down, wondering where the absolutes of this world are, and what is to come. If you think what you are seeing today is alarming, it is a child's game compared to what is to come.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, be as Jesus says: Wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove", and look for those opportunities to share Who your strength and stability comes from. They are abundant these days.
"Do not be anxious about anything...."