Fear of the Future

In these days of ISIS, uncertain financial situations and Ebola it is easy, for me to get ahead of myself.

A spectrum of promises.

A spectrum of promises.

There are many evidences of followers of Jesus being persecuted, not only overseas, but our freedoms are eroding here. It’s not new.

One can easily become immobilized by fear. Following any of the real or perceived threats to their ugly conclusions is frightful. For people like me with vivid imaginations, it is a trap.

I was praying with a close friend this morning.  I found myself in tears overwhelmed by how many things one can be afraid of and my need to depend on Abba.

As I prayed, I asked Abba to “position me” so I can see myself, my situations and world events from the vantage point of my loving creator… and I began to experience the fear melting away.

I was looking in the wrong place.

God promises to care for his own. “He who calls in faithful and he will bring it to pass.” 1 Thes. 5:24

God does not call us then abandon us. Jesus said,: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Heb. 13:5

His designs for us are good, not evil! Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord,….”

So, why do we feel alone so often? Why do we suffer? Why do we fear? Let me attempt to back into this.

Our “challenging” circumstances are real. They are NOT fun nor are they from God, however, he does allow them. They are consequences of your choices, of others choices and ultimately, the choices of the original humans who exercised their free will, choosing to be like God in stead of letting God be God. We all share the DNA of both God and the original couple who exercised their will to disobey God’s one and only prohibition.

Whether or not you believe in a literal Adam and Eve, if we are honest, we all exercise our will for what we want over what is for our good or the greater good from time to time. We all know we are not prefect! The world is corrupt and we have to live in it until we die or Christ returns.

Fear finds and entry when, either consciously or not, something in us realizes we are in over our heads and we can not control other people or circumstances. ISIS, Ebola and much more are all “above my pay grade.”

That’s God’s pay grade! He actually does retain control whether we understand it or not.

Do I have a part to play? YES!

I begin by letting go. I acknowledge that anything outside my personal domain of influence and control is not mine. And that God is ultimately the one in control of everything, not me.

Then I can pray. Let me rephrase that. Then I must pray. Matt 6:10 Jesus taught us to pray “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If we take time to genuinely think about what he teaches in the “Lord’s Prayer” it is a command to pray, not an option.

What is God’s will? We need to read and study the word of God to find out God’s will for each situation.

That is why this photo struck me. A rainbow is a promise, a covenant sign God made declaring he will never again destroy the earth by flood. When this refracted light fell across the pages of my bible the other day I remembered God’s faithfulness to uphold all of his promises.

If I persist trying to “work above my pay grade” I will be a nervous wreck because he has not called me or equipped me for it.

I can rest in the promises of God, with the rainbow as a sign of his faithfulness.

I can and must pray for God’s will to be known, and accomplished on earth.

I do all this focused on God and my relationship with him, that is my “pay grade.” If I am not in sync with God, I can not pray in a way that will bring out the fruit of my life that God desires.

This morning when I let go of the fear while I was praying with my friend, I was flooded with the love of God and his peace that passes all understanding. He really is good, and he really is GOD.

What are you afraid of? Is it within your God ordained “pay grade?” If it is, read the word and listen as God brings scripture to mind to help equip you to deal with it. If it is not in your “pay grade” let go! Tell God you choose to trust him to show you the way through. Sometimes it feels a little like jumping off a very tall cliff without a parachute, but trust me… It’s worth it!

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Where Do You Find Beauty?

One thing I have asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

Summer in Ipswich, MA

Summer in Ipswich, MA

to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 12:4)

Seeking shelter from the summer sun in Magnolia, MA

Seeking shelter from the summer sun in Magnolia, MA

When life gets ugly I try to take time to look for the beauty. It is always there…somewhere.

It might be in the sky. My mom taught me a long time ago to always look up. Physically lift my head. The tops of buildings are often the prettiest parts of them. Clouds and trees can be majestic, awe-inspiring.

DSC_0307

Fungus on Michigan’s upper peninsula. Life and death mingle.

Beauty is found in many simple places, like a smile on the face of a friend or stranger.

There is beauty in a unique shape or color of fungus in the drab and rotting leaves. Even in the dead and rotting leaves new life grows.

Beauty speaks of hope. There is always hope. Sometimes they are harder to find than others…but if we look for them we can see them.

Where do you find beauty? Do you have a favorite place to just be, somewhere you can more easily find beauty? Or is it a sound? Perhaps you find it in a taste, touch or smell? Please take a moment to find some beauty today. Please share. I love to hear from you!

One Day At A Time

Sometimes it all comes at once! Rain, Sun, sand, rocks, wet & dry.DSC_0391One of the perks of being with my mom these days is the view! I like to get up for the sunrise every morning. This was the first time I felt like I could get to the beach and take pictures even before my morning coffee!

The day I took this, the ocean was calm, but as you can see the storm was not far off shore. There are rocks at low tide this year. Many of them jagged enough to make you not want to walk into the water without protection. And there is sand. Soft and inviting.

In this photo you can see the sun to the right and the active rain to the left. Near the top you can see the open sky. The sky over my head was pretty much like that, clear.

As I played with my camera and the light on the water and the rocks, it began to rain on me. Not a down pour, but enough that I had to hide my camera under my T-shirt as I made my way back inside. I looked up to find only a few wispy clouds, not “rain” clouds.

It’s all a bit like my life these days. I think I know whats going on but really I don’t. I have my things going on, but we all have circumstances we face  that make us second guess, and wonder “What in the world is going on!?!”

We are not in control….

In that one photo I find the sovereignty of God and the paradoxes of life all present. I see the sun, clouds, clear sky, rain, rocks, sand, smooth water and waves. I thought I was in a dry place, but turns out I was wrong.

I can react to my circumstances or I can respond. I see a fine difference between these words.

React: “to behave or change in a particular way when something happens, is said, etc.”

Respond: To make a reply; answer.”

I see the main difference being change as part of reacting, while response is more about an answer that does not necessarily require change.

For me, reacting is more sudden and jolting like being knocked over by an unexpected wave. Reacting to me seems more of a reflex than a choice. Change is nearly always less agreeable than responding.

Responding, is keeping my feet firmly planted in the truth of God and His word. When I remember that my Creator is loving, that I am not in control, and this really is OK, then I find myself f in a position to respond. I can answer, not out of fear, but from calm assurance that somehow it’ll be OK.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

I don’t have to be tossed all over the place by the whim of seemingly capricious circumstances, reacting without an anchor. God really does know about it and he really does love each of us. It is possible to take one day, or if need be, one moment at a time.

When the rain began to fall I could choose to mutter unpleasant things under my breath and scramble to protect my camera, or to respond. I put it under my t-Shirt and meandered back in the rain, enjoying the smell and the gentleness of it.

What do you really believe when your circumstances change? How can you respond more often than react?

 

Life Is Not Fair.

A Giant Burl on a Giant Redwood Tree

A Giant Burl on a Giant Redwood Tree

I know we all know life is not fair, but who really talks about it outside the private conversations with a friend or someone paid to keep their mouth shut such as a pastor, lawyer or therapist? I mean, most of us try to hold it together and not say what we really think for fear of being seen as not spiritual, or faithless. Besides, it’s a fearful thing to let those fears out, to feel exposed.

But isn’t that the attitude that leads us to isolation and hopelessness? Isolation and hopelessness in turn causes many to “go over the edge” and begin to self medicate, hurting ourselves and others.

So how do we look at the unfairness in life? How do we cope?

Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can go through the yuck in life without a personal relationship with God our creator and His son Jesus Christ.

As I have mentioned the last couple weeks, my mom is in Hospice. Instead of passing to heaven as she so eagerly desires, she has improved a bit. Not a lot, but enough to leave the hospice ward in the hospital and to come home to be cared for here by hospice. She is sometimes lucid, but not for long. As her best friend since kindergarten described it, her thinking is “a little fuzzy around the edges.”

It’s just not fair!

My mom is an amazingly generous, kind, gracious and intelligent woman! How can she be stuck in a hospital bed with thinking “a little fuzzy around the edges” to put it nicely.

Where is God in this?

For me, I have enough personal history with God and life’s unfair happenings, that I can force myself to step back a bit and take a breath. There I begin to see the cycle of life and the sovereignty of God and His love gently wafting around us.

I still don’t like it and I still don’t understand it. She has stated emphatically, no, vehemently for years that she never wanted to be stuck like this.

So what do I do?

Honestly, I have to take that step back, or a couple of steps. Too close and it just hurts. It’s confusing. If I only focus on the unfair that is in my face, my view of life and God becomes distorted.

What can I do? I love to DO….

I get to love her. This woman who changed my diapers and sacrificed so much for me all my life, needs me here with her. I do not serve her out of an obligation founded on guilt or any phantom emotion. I get to serve her because our personal history and the love of Christ fill my heart with compassion. I can honor both God and my mother by drawing on His supernatural resources to give and serve and be with my mom.

I can genuinely say I am grateful to have these days, that now are turning to weeks. If she had died at home alone, I’d have missed this time to honor, serve and speak my love to her so clearly. It seems so unfair to suffer at the end of life.  And I suffer too as I watch her.

Yet I can choose to look for good and for God, or risk living in bitterness.

I have tasted bitterness … and I don’t want that.

In the unfair moments of your life, can you step back and breathe? Can you ask God to show you at least one good thing? Thank him for it? Don’t stop! It will keep you alive to God and give you the opportunity to learn amazing things about yourself and your creator.

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

2014-09-28 07.05.20

Sunrise over the Atlantic

 Lamentations 3

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

My mom is in hospice, thus the late post this morning.

She is excited beyond words to go to heaven! She is comfortable, still often talkative.

We are all waiting…we more patiently then she!=}