It Was In Her Pocket

Yesterday my mother couldn’t find her watch.  She remembered putting it on her bedside table before going to bed the night before.  Now she couldn’t find it.  I joined in the search.  We retraced her steps.  We looked in the bathroom, on the little table by the chair in the den where she most often sits.  No watch was to be found.

She wanted this watch, needed this watch, but it was gone.  Oh wait, no!  At last she found it!  It was in her pocket!  Haven’t we all done this, spending minutes or even hours looking for something we think we’ve lost, only to discover it was near us all the time.

We do the same thing in our spiritual worlds.  We go through some difficulty, a sorrow, feelings of failure, inability to cope with demands of life, despondency.  We want peace, need peace, but it’s gone.  Oh wait, no!  It’s with us always; so near, and yet it seems lost to us.  We look and look but we just can’t find it.

Like my mother and I looking for her watch, you and I can so easily search in all the wrong places, too.  We convince ourselves that peace is lost to us forever, when in reality, it’s so near.  It’s ours for the taking.

We are told that in Matthew 11:28 when Jesus says, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  We can be our own worst enemy when we believe that we have lost peace and can’t find it, when really, it’s always within our reach because Jesus is always there, waiting, longing to give us all that we need.  We only need to go to Him and take the peace He always offers.   He will give us rest.

 

When It’s Time To Run!

My mother and I did some grocery shopping this week.  I was pushing the cart up one aisle and down the other.  Several others were busy with their own shopping.  I noticed a young mother with a very little one strapped into a baby seat.  Her toddler was walking alongside, his chubby fingers holding on tight to the wire frame of the cart.  We met them often in our goings up and down the aisles.

Turning into another aisle, there was the young mother coming in our direction; but something didn’t look right.  I stared at the picture of mother and baby.  Where was the toddler?  I kept staring, my gaze traveling up and down the aisle, hoping to spy the toddler nearby.  I saw nothing.  I could feel my forehead furrowing into a frown as my heart began to beat with anxious  thoughts.  Just then, around the far end of the aisle, there came the little one — running toward his mother!  He ran halfway up the aisle to where his mother was selecting some canned goods.  That half aisle must have seemed like a marathon to his  eighteen inch legs.  When he arrived at his mother’s cart, his hand reached up to grab hold of its wire frame.  As he was running, I took note of the fear on his face.  Understandably, he had been frightened when he realized that his mother was no where to be seen.  However, as soon as he stood near his mother once again, those chubby fingers clinging once more to the cart, his countenance turned from fear to peace — just like that — in an instant.

Have you experienced times in your life when circumstances made you feel alone?  Perhaps you felt that you had lost your way.  You didn’t know in which direction to go.  Fear began to take hold.

When those moments come (and they happen to us all) take the example of the little boy in the grocery store and run!  Run to the One who knows you better than you know yourself.  Run to the One who knows the direction in which you should go.  Run to the One who gives you peace in place of fear.  Run to the One in whom you can trust.  Run to the One who never fails.  Run to the One whose word is faithful and true.  Turn your gaze from anything else in the aisle of trepidation, and gaze instead into the face of the One who is always there to take your hand.  As God says in Isaiah 41:10:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  

 

When Escape Seems Impossible

In last week’s blog I wrote about Daniel in the lion’s den.  His treatment was unjust.  Daniel was an old man at the time and armed only with the unseen weapon of prayer.  You know the story; Daniel was miraculously kept safe from the lion’s paws.

There are many followers of God throughout the ages who have experienced miracles of deliverance.  However, what about those who have been thrown to the lions and were indeed torn to shreds?  What about Christians who have been burned alive because of their faith?  What about Christians around the world, even today, who are beaten to death, falsely imprisoned, stoned, and beheaded?  There were seemingly no miracles for them.

What about you and me? Perhaps we are not threatened with death, but troubles of this world can make daily living a painful existence.  Why doesn’t God give everyone a miracle of escape, just like He did for Daniel?

I want to encourage you, fellow travelers, when it seems that God is not providing an escape, it only appears that way because of what we see with our eyes rather than what we see with our hearts.  It is a common mistake of Christians to remain focused upon difficulties they are dealing with in their physical worlds.  One can become so fixed on the troubles seen with human eyes and felt with broken hearts, that they fail to see beyond into the unseen world of the spiritual.  You see, while miracles sometimes take place in our physical world to deliver us, they always take place in our spiritual world, where our cries of the heart communes in earnest with Almighty God, thus summoning His assistance.

Daniel looked beyond the physical trial of the lions; he cried for help into the spiritual realm, and there he found all he needed.  You see, even if the lions had devoured him, Daniel would still have been delivered. God Himself would have given him everything he needed to endure with peace.  In his heart, Daniel had already escaped his trial.  He abandoned the fear of his physical world the moment he entered into the spiritual dwelling place of God.  Where God resides there is no more pain, fear fades into peace, and troubles of this world cannot enter.

In times of personal trouble, I often remind myself of the old hymn writers.  Their lives encourage me to press on just as they did.  They knew how to focus upon God in the spiritual realm, leaving the troubles of this world in proper perspective. Here are a few of my favorites:

Thomas Dorsey wrote, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” after his wife and son died during the son’s birth.

William Cowper wrote, “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood,” in the midst of frequent bouts with deep depression.  He attempted suicide more than once.

Major Daniel Whittle wrote, “Showers of Blessings,” after losing his leg in a Civil War battle.

Catherine Hankey wrote, “I Love To Tell The Story,” while bedridden from serious illness.

Annie Johnson Flint wrote, “He Giveth More Grace,” while suffering crippling arthritis.

George Matheson wrote “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go,” while remaining blind for all of his life.

None of the above were defeated in their physical circumstances because they were able to look beyond into the spiritual realm.  There they found their help and deliverance.

The Psalmist, David, said it best in Psalm 61: 2-3, “From the ends of the earth,  I cry to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed.  Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.”

Remember, for the Christian, there is no such thing as — no means of escape.  In the inner places of your heart, He always delivers us.

It Was The Dog Who Reminded Me

I have often shared things that I have been reminded of through our cats.  Today I want to share something that came to mind through our dog, Bud. Bud is big and black, a great defender, (he once got a would-be intruder down and held him by the neck on the ground) loving to his family.

Like most pets, Bud loves the company of his human family.  He wilts when we leave the house and wiggles in delight at our return.  The other day I was sitting in a chair typing on my laptop.  I glanced down at the floor and there was Bud, just staring at me.  His brown eyes were bright, his mouth parted, revealing his set of jagged teeth, tongue hanging out.  “Are you smiling at me, Bud?”  I reached down to pat him on the head, and then returned to my work.  After several moments I glanced down again.  He was still staring, just seeming to soak up the joy of my presence.  This touched me very much.  I set my laptop aside and gave Bud a tummy rub; a love of his.

It was then that I began to think of how it is when I come to God, when I think upon Him for no other reason than to enjoy His presence.  Is God as pleased when I rest in Him as I am of Bud when he wants nothing but to bask in my presence?  Oh, yes!  I Samuel 12:22 tells us, “It has pleased the Lord to make you His very own people.”  Why did He make us His own?  Why did He adopt us, making us His very own children?  He loves us with a passion.

Think of someone you love deeply.  Don’t you love the moments when you can be in each other’s presence?  Isn’t there a joy that leaps in your heart when you walk in the door and there is the someone you love, smiling, eyes shining, happy in the fact that you just came into view?  I realize that not all family relationships are a joy.  I’m not referring to those today.  I’m referring to those in whose presence you joy.  It could be a family member or a dear friend.  The point is, there is joy just in being together.

Never forget how much your heavenly Father adores your presence when you simply come to be with Him, to bask in the beauty of His presence.  There’s a bonus, too, when we develop the habit of being aware of God and living in the beauty of His presence: it keeps our thoughts focused on truth, on the One who is whatever we need when we need it.

When the things of life come crashing down around us, the habit of basking in God’s presence will keep us near to the One who is our help in times of trouble, who is our defender in the presence of enemies, who is our comforter in times of hurt, who is our guide when we need direction.

The things of this world cannot give us perfect wisdom and guidance, lasting peace and courage, quiet joy in the midst of emotional pain.    We are also reminded of that very thing in I Samuel 12: 21,  “Don’t go focusing upon things of this world that cannot help or rescue you — they are useless.”  Things of earth may give temporary peace, but lasting peace and perfect peace comes only through the One who loves us so very much.  What a beautiful reason to want to simply come into His presence just to enjoy Him for being Him.