The Rest Of The Story

My body.  My choice.  My rights.  My way.  The whole world is looking out for their own selves to the detriment of kindness and respect for one another.  Everywhere we look the attitude is me, me, and more of me.  Selfishness has taken over.  In the meantime, mental illness is on the rise, broken and dysfunctional families have become the norm, and outright hatred for others who don’t believe as we do is rampant.  Violence is reported on every news channel.  People go missing, parents are murdering their children, children are lacking respect for their parents and authority figures.  What in the world is happening all around us?  Has our arch enemy won?  Is evil really going to triumph over all?   

It is so easy to become disheartened when we focus on the world around us.  Our joy can be zapped away if we keep our eyesight on this current darkness.  We can spiral down into a pit of lost hope.  Is there a way to maintain joy and peace in the midst of our present chaos?  Oh, yes!

It’s all a matter of our focal point.  It’s a matter of knowing the rest of the story.  Jesus regularly warned His disciples that in this world there would be tribulations, but He went on to say, we can be of good cheer because He has overcome the world.  He also assured them that He would give His peace.  How does that work?

Lately I have been dwelling on the Old Testament verse, Isaiah 26:3 which reads, “You (the Lord Himself)  will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”  You see, when troubles swirl around us, it’s human nature to dwell on those problems.  We try to think of ways to solve them.  We want to be rid of them so we think and think and think.  That’s human nature.  The thing is, as Christians we have something available to us that is far better than our human nature.  It’s a supernatural nature.  It’s the nature of Jesus Christ, and it’s available to us.  How do we acquire this supernatural nature?

When we receive Jesus Christ into our lives, the Holy Spirit comes to reside within.  Therefore, we have available to us, His own peace and courage and wisdom and joy.  We can function in that peace by what we meditate upon.  If we have troubles and fix our thoughts on those things that disturb us, then naturally turmoil will reign in our hearts.  If, on the other hand, we fix our thoughts on the One who is able to do above all we can even imagine, then supernaturally, Holy joy and peace will sit on the throne of our hearts.  

To maintain such spiritual focus takes practice.  Begin now.  Ask the Lord to keep thoughts of all that’s possible in Him, to settle in your being and rule your minds.  Peace will come.   

One Thing After Another

Do you remember those periods of time when nothing goes right?  You walk in one direction and the sky of all things possible produces storm clouds that pour torrents of dashed dreams on your parade. You make a turn and fall into a ravine of calamity.  You climb up the side of, keep on trying, only to have the cliff edge crumble as you dig your fingers into the ledge of last hope.  Ever taken that trip?  It’s literally — one thing after another — time and time again.  It’s emotionally debilitating and spiritually exhausting.

What can we do when — one thing after another — follows us wherever we go?  What did Moses do when God told him to lead the Hebrew nation out of bondage?  He was doing exactly as instructed, when all of a sudden, he looks back to sees the army of Pharaoh getting close.  That must have been a scary moment; but wait, what happened?  God parted the waters so all the Hebrews could escape.  Oh, what joy, but then?  Moses had to listen to one complaint after another from the people he was leading to safety.  In the wilderness Moses faced one calamity after another.  What did Moses do?  He stayed focused. He just kept moving forward with his heart bent toward God.

In the New Testament we have stories of Paul.  He listened to God, made the decision to follow him, and what happened?  He was falsely arrested, imprisoned, and beaten, but God gave him the strength needed and he pressed on.  What happened next?  He was shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, and finally ended up under house arrest.  He endured — one thing after another.  What did Paul do?  He stayed focused.  He just kept moving forward with his heart bent toward God.

You and I have our own stories of — one thing after another.  It’s not fun.  We don’t want it.  What can we do?  Stay focused.  Just keep moving forward with our hearts bent towards God.  What good will that do?  The promise from God is as follows in Isaiah 26:3:  “He will keep your mind in perfect peace, all who trust in Him, all who keep their thoughts fixed on Him.”  Stay focused.  You will get through.  You will not drown in sorrow.  You will not stay fallen in the pit of depression.  The Light of the Lord always shines in the darkness.  Stay focused.