To worry is one antithesis of trusting God. Another is independence: self reliance, self-confidence, and all the other “self” centered words. I know that. Prayer is always a good answer to everything, and it’s usually closely followed by renewed trust in and obedience to a powerful, good and loving God. So why do I so quickly forget what I intellectually know to be true?
Whether I’m concerned for one of my adult children, my parents, a friend, or anything else, sometimes my emotional state is about like my Jack Russell, Bandit in a Thunderstorm IMG_3414 (click on the link for a real time video taken as I’m writing this blog), rather than God’s peace.
A few nights back, I had an uneasy feeling that caused me to uncharacteristically recharge my dying phone and remain fully dressed after dinner. Often when I have these gut feelings, nothing happens; this time it was justified. I got the late-night phone call that all fried pastrami slices dread… a family member needed to go to the ER (all is well now).
I rushed out the door and started the drive to get to them. I remained calm and drove at a reasonable speed (we didn’t need another accident). I left a note for Rob and called another family member to alert them as to what was happening. I was in control.
Finally, 2/3 of the way there (a 40 minute drive), it hit me. I hadn’t even thought of prayer or even Jesus. It wasn’t rebellion, but rather forgetfulness. In the heat of the moment, my well-worn tendency to act in my own strength jut took over.
I began to pray as I drove. My next thought was one of self condemnation. Why am I so slow to truly live from what I believe in my mind? Why is the path from my head to my heart so damn difficult for God’s Truth to travel in a way that sticks and becomes my new norm? Yep, profanity slips through at times too. My heart (what I truly believe, not just understand intellectually) has historically been way behind my head as far as knowledge of who God is, what He’s done for me, and all His promises. I desperately want the two to be congruent.
I know better than so much of the way I live my life. It makes me sad, and frustrated with myself. I live from my heart… where the authentic me comes out. In reading my last blog, and looking at my life for the last 12 days, I would have to say, “Live as I say/ write, not as I do.” I know what it means to trust God, to hold Him as the number one priority of my life. At times, I have lived it. But I am struggling in my current set of circumstances. My prayer life is still being squeezed out — I’m giving God a scant glance and a quick acknowledgement, not the devotion and adoration He deserves. I’m making life too much about me and my circumstances, and not enough about Him. I’m too busy, even with worthy things.
This mid-life, sandwich generation thing is proving to be harder than I ever knew it would be. In my stress and fatigue I am neglecting and forgetting God. Lord, I don’t want to be anything like the Pharisees! I want less of me and more of You!
Matthew 24:2-3 says “ The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.”
And even worse, Matthew 7: 21-23 has always been a sobering verse to me. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
But Lord, you have saved me, and it is you who has changed my heart and given me a new life! Still I live in this flesh. Why do I forget? Why do I continue to sin, when I desperately want to live in You?
Dr. Ray Pritchard has this to say, “Struggle with sin is the common experience of Christians everywhere. James 3:2 says, “We all stumble in many ways.” Romans 7:23 speaks of a “war” going on inside the believer, and Romans 8:13 commands us to “put to death” the deeds of the flesh. Galatians 5:17 tells us that the flesh and the Spirit are continually at war with each other. Christians traditionally have spoken of three great enemies they face: the world, the flesh and the devil. The world is “out there” and all around us. The “flesh” is inside and loves to answer the call of the world. And it seems like the devil is everywhere, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).
No wonder the Bible says that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And that’s why Paul told Timothy to “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). ” http://www.crosswalk.com
“Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”
My struggle with sin will continue — with ebbs and flows, good times and worse ones — until I die. So will yours. It’s a painful struggle, but take heart! The angst and the pain are some of the best indicators that we are truly God’s children — adopted and loved. If I cease to worry about my sin, if I don’t recognize my independence and give control back to God, if I stop feeling righteous guilt, which leads to asking for His forgiveness and my repentance — then I will need to really worry.
Dear God, thank You for Your assurance that You will continue to discipline and transform me, as I daily surrender — because You love me. As Paul says in Phillippians 1:6 (MSG) “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”
Matthew 7:24-27 continues “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
You are my foundation, Lord. I will trust Your work in me and Your timing. I believe You! I trust You! Help my unbelief and my lack of trust. Fill me with Gratitude to YOU. Help me give you my first fruits of time and attention. Teach me to always be dependent on You and You alone.