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On the antithetical as the obvious answer…

blog--2014-04--How-can-we-trust-JesusMy quest to give up worry for Lent began its crash dive last week. In a particular situation, I set aside the compulsion to worry and instead trusted. Trusted that I would be prepared, trusted that I would be relaxed, and trusted that if the situation was to result in the ending that I desired, it would come about. I trusted.

And then I didn’t anymore. When pieces of information emerged, I became discouraged. And for me, discouragement lives as the wide open door to welcoming worry to the party. In the timing of things, I sit, still not knowing the result of the situation. I wait for the phone to ring. I have done all that I can do. There is, quite literally, nothing I can do about it besides pray.

I like action. I like moving. I like executing a plan and seeing the work move something forward. And in this week where my trust has taken a break, where discouragement sets out an appetizer platter and open bar for worry to kick up its heels, I struggled. And I mean stttrrruuugggllleeeedddd.

As I emerge from that struggle and re-embrace the trust of earlier days, I realize something incredibly antithetical to the human way of thinking about this process of trust. Here is the key to trust:

I need more sleep.

In the days where I trusted, I slept 9 hours a night. Rested and refreshed, I was much more able to identify the early signs of worry and beat it back with a stick. I had the energy to keep my heart and mind scanning for weakness, and perseverance to pray up that weakness into strength and protection. When I stopped sleeping well, I stopped trusting well.

John Ortberg, in his book “Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them,” writes that the key to him being able to love people more was to get more rest. A paraphrased quote that I particularly enjoy is that sometimes the most godly thing you can do is take a nap.

Right?!? How can we trust Him, something we do not naturally do or else He wouldn’t command it so often, if we don’t have energy to do it? How can we battle the temptations of the day if we are dragging through the day? In committing to following Jesus more closely, I must admit what has become obvious: I must rest.

Chronological Bible: September 25, Wiser than the enemy…

Read:

  • Psalm 119

 “Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.” –Psalm 119:98, ESV

If you have ever watched a mystery show or crime drama, you know that the way to catch a killer is to be a step ahead, to know a bit more, to think a bit differently. The same is true in the spiritual warfare we live in every day. Whether you recognize it or not, there is a war going on for the souls and lives of people every moment. It is not just a heaven or hell question; it is also a battle to put in ruin the lives of those who are already eternally sealed for heaven. The enemy wants to make your life miserable. He wants you to question your faith and your God. He longs for you to forget the miraculous birth of the Messiah and Jesus’ sacrificial death that tore apart the power of death. The enemy wants you to feel ruined, even in your redeemed state.

Though the psalmist was likely discussing his physical enemy, of which he seemed to have many, we can apply these truths to our everyday lives as well. If your enemy is also in the physical world, I can tell you from experience, that following God’s commands will make you wiser, will protect your honor, and will bring you out the other side with more spiritual strength than you thought possible. Ultimately though, even in our physical battles, the deeper issue is a spiritual one. Will you trust the commands of the Lord? No matter the situation? If you answer that question affirmatively, and you behave on that decision daily, you will find the spiritual battles will be fought differently. For you will be wiser than your enemy. The devil’s downfall was disbelieving God. Make him regret trying to mess with you by following God’s commands.

Chronological Bible: February 26, Love begets honor…

1374423_16692807Read:

  • Deuteronomy 15:1-17:20

As the “shalls” and “shall nots” ring clear through this reading, the undertone to the musical bell is this: love the Lord. When I love someone, abstaining from something that dishonors or annoys them is not oppressive, but an act of love. When I love someone, honoring them and giving them attention sings freely from the soul.

Loving God completely results in the same harmonies filling your life. Where melody of “shalls” meets the harmonies of “shall nots,” the symphony of following His commands fills the space and speaks of His glory.

Put away your shall and shall not checklists. Focus on loving God. The rest will come.

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Psalm 78: Listening now…

“Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.” –verses 1-3

“Give ear…incline your ears…” A powerful way to start a psalm, followed then by the circuitous route the people took to end up where they would give ear and listen. I see a similar pattern in areas of my life, and I pray I learn from the Israelites’ and my own experiences.

Whatever He is trying to teach you, listen now. You will listen eventually, do whatever you need to do to be able to listen now.

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Image by Abdulhamid AlFadhly