In or Out of the Box?

scan13colorIt is for freedom that Christ has set us free…So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. Galatians 5:1a & John 8:36

 Sheba has a dog-crate in which she’s often lived for extended periods of time—it’s a place where she is safe, but it’s also a place where her movement is limited. She’s in a box and she reacts in two different ways. Usually she’s content—in fact, she seems to love it, either sleeping peacefully or lazily watching the world go by in front of her. At other times she rebels and wants out; and she makes sure everyone knows it by her continual barking, as well as pawing at the sides of the crate; but regardless of how much she whines, she can only get out if we open the door. Once she’s out, the better-behaved she is, the more freedom she generally has. As an older lady with much better manners than she had as a puppy, Sheba spends very little time in her box—she is usually free to roam around the house as she pleases.

Perhaps we’re very much the same—but the boxes we live in are of our own making—they’re places where we think we’re safe—places with emotional or attitudinal walls that we’ve erected to keep other people out. Like Sheba we may be very content most of the time—sitting back, relaxing and just watching the world go by. But while our boxes may be quite comfortable, they’re also limiting for there’s no challenge; no potential for growth. So there comes a time when we get restless because our needs seem to be unmet, or our hopes and dreams don’t seem to be coming true. But we feel trapped—we can’t get out of our boxes—and there seems to be no way to open the door to freedom.

But our Master can unlock the doors to our self-imposed limitations. God can break down those walls—the barriers that prevent us from being all that we can be, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17b)

If we allow him to open the doors and we step out in faith, we can explore, grow, learn and mature. Pretty soon our boxes are no longer necessary. In fact, we may find that they’ve become too small and we no longer fit inside!

Is All Hope Gone?

IMG_1526He’s up well before dawn, already glued to his display of computer monitors.  Hour after hour after hour, he watches; analyzing every dip or gain on his screens; debating with himself the best course of action; celebrating or mourning his bottom line.  His whole life depends on how well he can play the game—the new home, the Lexus in the driveway, the kids’ private schools—all potentially gone in an instant.  He recalls the stories his dad told him of Black Tuesday, that terrible day in 1929 when the stock market crashed and people were literally jumping out of windows to their death.  What if it happens again?  What if he loses everything?

She stares intently into the mirror.  Is that little line a new wrinkle?  Better make an appointment for some more Botox.  Sure is a good thing she’s got great hair—oh, but wait; is that a strand of gray?  Breakfast is on the run with the latest high nutrition/low-calorie energy drink in hand, and she’s off to the gym to run and climb and lift and push and pull.  By the time she’s finished, every muscle in her body will have had a workout, and every ounce of fat will have been burned away.  Her career depends on looking great, no matter how hard the advancing years are pressing in; and she so stressed out by it all that somewhere in the week she really must make some time to see her therapist.

And so goes life for many people; perhaps in ways not as obvious as the illustrations above, but still jam-packed with worry and stress about jobs, family, education, health, the economy, world affairs.  Gone are the legendary ‘good old days’ when life was beautiful all the time.  Hope has disappeared, and the future looks bleak.  Just turn on the news if you think otherwise.  Right?

Wrong!!!

Hopelessness, discouragement, depression, fear; all of them are nothing less than smokescreens designed to keep mankind from seeing the truth that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  God’s light, and His words of love prove it better than anything I could ever say…

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. Psalm 20:7-8

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”   Lamentations 3:22-24

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. Psalm 16:8-9

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Psalm 46:1-3

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

I Had a Dream of the Triumphant Church

 

1235894_229713213849201_712210528_n

Echoing in my mind as I awoke a few days ago were the words made famous by Martin Luther King, “I had a dream;” and for the night that had just transpired, that was one of the biggest understatements imaginable. It had been an amazing experience as one dream segment flowed into another, and then another—waking often for a brief moment, only to quickly fall back to sleep for a continuation of the sequence. When morning finally arrived I knew I needed to write as much of it down as possible, but already the scenes were quickly fading.

In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction. Job 33:15-16

Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. Psalm 73:20

What remained was the sure and certain knowledge that I had just witnessed the glory of the LORD being released among His people in a way that we perhaps have never seen since the first Pentecost; since that day when Jesus’ followers who had obediently waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit finally received Him.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

Failing to recall all of the specifics, yet still reeling from the weighty presence of God throughout the night, I wrote the little that I could recall in my journal; and yet I knew that in one of my waking moments a familiar song had been resounding in my spirit, a song I knew I wouldn’t forget; but I did. So I asked the LORD to remind me if it was important and, to be quite honest, I didn’t really expect Him to do it. But i immediately remembered the Gaither’s incredible song, The Church Triumphant. Please, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtCV_ysZC04 to listen and be blessed by the song, and join with me to rejoice that God’s Church is indeed alive and well.

In recent times, many of us have focused much attention on terrible circumstances—the terrible state of the world, the terrible state of the economy, the terrible state of our families or relationships, the terrible state of the modern-day church that has so compromised itself with the world. And indeed, the terrible truth of Romans 2:18-34 is everywhere we look.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

I would now contend that it’s time for the Church to change its focus. The evil all around us is only going to increase until the Day of the Lord, but we needn’t allow that to distract us from our triumphant Jesus. As a picture is blurred when the focus is off, so is the vision of the Church; and all we need is a simple adjustment to turn our gaze upon the One who has already overcome all evil at the cross. Romans 1:16-17 remains just as relevant today as the succeeding verses that were just quoted…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Remember those faithful disciples who went into that upper room and waited for the coming of the Spirit? Many of us have much in common with them! We have been waiting for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit for years and years and years. We have waited and waited, standing in faith on the promises of God. What if our wait is just about over? I absolutely believe it is!  I’ve have held onto that promise for such a long time it seems; but now, after that night of glory-filled dreams in which the church was exploding for righteousness at every turn, I’m certain that the Church, God’s Church, is very definitely alive and well; and the triumphant power of Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit is even now being poured out upon the world.

Let this day of Pentecost be a day that history will look back at as the turning point, as the day when the Holy Spirit began to blow anew throughout creation to revolutionize the Bride of Christ as she prepares for the arrival of her Bridegroom.

To Be or Not to Be…

IMG_4584
Happy Birthday to the Standing In Faith discussion group on LinkedIn, for today we are 2 years old.  Not only that, but we welcome our 700th member, which, I must confess, completely astounds me.  I’ve pondered all day what to write in celebration of the occasion, but just couldn’t come up with anything good.  I finally decided to do what I should have done in the first place and ask the Lord (Duhhh!!!).  The easiest way to relate His answer is to simply copy the conversation from my journal….

I sit here pondering what I should write on my blog so I ask the Lord and immediately hear, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” What’s that all about Lord? What does Shakespeare have to do with this?  To be or not to be what? 

Mine.

Yeah but… I need more information.  And I hear a song…

The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin, the light of the world is Jesus.

And???

Write about it.

What shall I say?

Send the light, the blessed gospel light, let it shine from shore to shore. (another song)

Lord, if you give me the words to write and I post it on my blog/group, it will go from shore to shore because you’ve grown the group internationally. 

And that was it.  I kept asking Him to embellish the message but there was no response, so I started researching the phrases to figure out how to do it myself.  I guess I’m slow, but I finally got it!  His message is so simple.  Mankind must make a decision, to be or not to be His; and though the whole world is lost in the darkness of sin, the light of the world is Jesus.  It’s a message that doesn’t need embellishment.

That simple message is what the Standing In Faith Group is all about, and my prayer is that He will shed His light around the world as we go forward into our third year.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)  For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1: 1-18 (ESV)

He’s Kidding…Isn’t He?

ID-10083939    Television, Internet, newspapers—any media; take your pick, and it will be full of bad news—violence, dissention, hurricanes, fires, deception, scandals, unemployment, and more.  So, while only God himself knows exactly where we are in terms of the end times, we’re certainly far enough along for people to be overcome with negative emotions—disgust, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, worry, fear.  But, as He explained what end times would look like to the disciples, Jesus said that these things should not be frightening .

 “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:4-12)

    He must have been kidding!!! Could knowledge of such a dire future be comforting?  Yes, because it comes with His promise.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:13-14)

    These days it can be hard to trust others because, somewhere along the way, deception and manipulation seem to have become acceptable behavior in order to achieve a goal.  Some might ask how we can trust what Jesus said?  How do we know that He was any different than our leaders today; that He was telling the truth?  What’s His track record?  Are we really supposed to believe that we don’t need to worry?  That doesn’t seem logical, or even possible! 

    Evidence that God’s word is true is overwhelming, and many volumes have been written documenting fulfilled prophecies and promises.  So let’s narrow it down and get specific regarding His track record with people who were told not to fear.  Is there proof that He came through for them—that He kept His word?

    Abram was already 75 years old when God told him to pack up, leave his home, and go to another country; all based on His promise that, “I will make of you a great nation.”  Years passed—difficult years—years of famine, fear, family friction, battle—years in which no heir of whom a great nation would come had been born.

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

    Even more difficult and disappointing years passed before Isaac finally came along; and Abram, renamed Abraham, was 100 years old.  Yet, through all of the trials, he steadfastly chose to believe God and to continue on in faith.

    Isaac had grown up and married when there was another famine, and God showed up to restate the promise he’d made to Abraham.

And the Lord appeared to him and said, “… I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.  I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:2-5)

And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Genesis 26:24)

    Eventually Isaac’s son, Jacob, had his own encounter with God.

Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.  I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.” (Genesis 46:2-4)

    Fast forward to Joshua, just after Moses’ death.  Here he was, 80 years old and taking over the leadership of the Children of Israel, with years of battle ahead in order to seize the land of Canaan.  Talk about someone who could’ve been frightened!  There were giants in that land, and 40 years earlier all of the Israelites except Joshua and Caleb had been so scared that they’d refused to go forward, and ended up wandering around the desert until they all died and a younger-and-braver generation grew up.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-10)

[After Joshua’s death] the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them.  Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them.  They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so.  Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge.  For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. (Judges 2:16-18)

    And along came Gideon.  One day an angel showed up with the news that God was calling him to undertake the thankless task of leading this unrighteous bunch.

Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.”  But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” (Judges 6:22-23)

    And how about some prophets?  Jeremiah and Ezekiel were both commissioned by God to warn His hard-hearted people that they were headed for destruction—not a fun job, to say the least.

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; or to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:7-9)

And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 2:6)

    Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Joshua; Gideon; Jeremiah and Ezekiel; all were told by God to not be afraid in the face of tremendous trials.  Oh, but they were Bible heroes—they were special—right?  No, they were ordinary men, and the only thing that made them that made them any different than others is that they made a choice to believe that God’s would be faithful to His promises.  They all chose faith over fear.  They all understood the truth of words that had not yet even been written by Paul the Apostle…

… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5: 3-5)

    Still, they lived so long ago in Old Testament times—surely it’s different now.  No, not unless we choose to ignore Jesus, who repeatedly encouraged His followers, “Why are you so afraid?”  “Take courage.”  “Don’t be afraid.”  “Why did you doubt, you of little faith?”   “Do you still have no faith?  It is I—don’t be afraid.”

    So here we are, living in difficult, disheartening and even frightening times; and like those Old Testament believers, we have a choice.  We can choose to dwell in the mire of fear, or we can exercise our faith in God, for He can be trusted to keep His promises.

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

A Thankless Task?

123835-20130225How nice it is to be appreciated—to have someone recognize you for a job well done, to receive an unexpected friendship card, to be noticed and complimented.  Such moments make us feel good about ourselves and give our self-image a boost.  But all too often we encounter situations in which we do the absolute best we can and nobody even seems to notice, much less care.  And what of those times when we are called by the Lord to perform a seemingly thankless task?  How do we react?  Are we more likely to run like Jonah did, or to obey?  Perhaps in those times, challenging as they may seem, we should give thanks because things could definitely be worse.  Consider the words of Jeremiah, a young man obviously not too sure of himself.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  Then I said, “Ah, Lord God!  Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”  But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.   Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1: 4-8)

A heavy responsibility for a young man, but that was just the beginning—it did get worse—much worse!  Faithful Jeremiah began speaking God’s harsh words of judgment against the nations of Israel and Judah as the Lord directed him, but did anyone listen?  Did his audience applaud him for enlightening them with the truth?  Not hardly!  Instead, the word of the Lord came again, this time with a message most of us would definitely not be eager to hear…

So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you.  You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.  And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.  Cut off your hair and cast it away; raise a lamentation on the bare heights, for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.  (Jeremiah 7:27-29)

And lament he did, as he cried out in prayer for his people and declared,

My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me.  (Jeremiah 8:18)

Yet things deteriorated even further as even his family betrayed him.

For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you. (Jeremiah 12:6)

Well, surely that’s about as bad as it could get, right?  After all this man was honoring God, following His every command regardless of the cost.  Wasn’t about time for some positive feedback or reward?  Nope!  The downhill slide continued.

The word of the Lord came to me: “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.  For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bore them and the fathers who fathered them in this land: They shall die of deadly diseases.  They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried.  They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground.  They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth.   “For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy, declares the Lord(Jeremiah 16:1-5)

Any chance we’re still feeling unappreciated?  Maybe while we’re still moaning and groaning and feeling sorry for ourselves, we should take go ahead and take a look at a few of the other Old Testament prophets.  How about Ezekiel?  He had such amazing visions and wrote an incredible prophetic book.  Wouldn’t it be great to be so gifted?  But perhaps we’d better look a little closer because God warned him right up front that he would be required to preach to an unrepentant crowd.  Is this the kind of commission we’d desire?

And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.  For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel—not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand.  Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you.  But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.  Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads.  Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead.  Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”  (Ezekiel 3:4-9)

And things went down hill from there for him too!  Even as Ezekiel faithfully served God; delivering His message to an unbelieving people, he was often called upon to act out prophecies of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in uncomfortable and undoubtedly embarrassing ways.  And then he was required, as a prophetic witness, to stand in his faith to a degree that is unimaginable to us today.

The word of the Lord came to me:  “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down.   Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead.  Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.”  So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died.  And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.  (Ezekiel 24:15-18)

Well, maybe Jeremiah and Ezekiel were exceptions—maybe God’s other biblical heroes were honored, appreciated, and commended for their actions.  If they were, it was posthumously!  How would any one of us like to duplicate Isaiah’s ministry and walk around naked for 3 years?  I have to wonder which was worse, the sunburn or the frostbite—assuming, of course, that the indignity and embarrassment could be set aside.

At that time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot.  Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt.  (Isaiah 20:2-4)

Or Moses, who not only had to put up with Pharaoh’s hard heart but then had to wander around a desert for forty years with the constantly complaining and ungrateful Children of Israel.

Or Hosea, who was told to marry a prostitute; to love her, have children with her, and repeatedly forgive and take her back when she repeatedly ran off with other men.

Yep!  Next time I’m feeling slighted I think I’d better count my blessings, willingly forgoing the approval of man in favor of the approval of God.  Ultimately, the most important words of praise I hunger for are,

          “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”  (Matthew 25:21)

Is God Big Enough?

The first week of nursing school and we were a little scared, excited, and hopeful—all at the same time.  Several of my new friends and I gathered around some seniors who would soon graduate and enter the workforce as registered nurses; hanging on every word, listening in awe as they spoke of diseases and treatments that were far beyond our comprehension.  Yet, even as we sat spellbound, longing for such wisdom, they began talking about how unprepared they felt to leave the safety net of our school and enter the world of nursing on their own.  But how could these smart, efficient women doubt themselves?  They seemed so knowledgeable and competent to our untrained minds.

Fast forward just a few short years, as my roommate and I were getting ready to go to our own graduation ceremony, sitting on our beds with those brilliant white caps in our hands—caps that for the first time ever were adorned with the black velvet stripe signifying that we were no longer just students but graduates of the LA County School of Nursing.  Our conversation mirrored that of those other seniors—we felt so unprepared; we didn’t know enough; we weren’t experienced enough; and what if we made a mistake that harmed someone?  Yes, we were excited, but at the same time overwhelmed—the responsibility just seemed too huge to contemplate.

Recently I came across my photo of a giant chair that is displayed in front of a home furnishings store somewhere in New England.  It reminded me of those old nursing school doubts, as well as the many challenges since, when life’s issues seemed beyond me; because as big as that chair is, I know that it’s still way too small for God.  He is sufficient to handle all that concerns me, as well as all that concerns everyone else in the world, without even lifting a finger.  Nothing is too big for Him.

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.  But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”  Mark 4:37-41

Yes, who can this be?  If He can calm an angry sea with a gentle command, surely He can calm the storms that threaten to wreak havoc in my life.  Surely He is big enough.  His name is Jesus.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.  Psalm 55:22a