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Written by Barbara Robbins

The past months have been a time of learning to lean on the Lord in trust and obedience. To walk in difficult circumstances and not lose hope requires knowing how to soar over those circumstances, even as an eagle soars high above the earth. We need to learn to use our wings. An eagle has two wings, which when stretched out during flight create an updraft, providing lift to maintain flight. The two wings God calls us to spread to be lifted above difficult circumstances are trust and obedience. When both of these wings are extended, we are still aware of the situation, but we are no longer sinking in the mire of it. We are "mounting up with wings as eagles (Isaiah 40:31)."

When things are going well and God is blessing, trust is easy. But when circumstances become alarming and we struggle to understand what is going on, trusting God is a growing process. Around the end of August, we started seeing some major physical deterioration in our severely handicapped son David (whom I introduced to you in our last newsletter). For two months, we have watched all the progress he made over the past year gradually slip away. Doctors see signs of major deterioration in both the neurological and respiratory systems, and the outlook for the future (in the natural) looks pretty bleak. At the same time, services to assist with his needs and to pay for his supplies are being cut, with more and more responsibility for his very complex care falling on our shoulders. It has been a discouraging several months.

Early in September, God started speaking to us that it was a time to learn to trust and obey. Trusting God in hard circumstances requires an understanding of His nature. We must believe that God is a good God! He is a compassionate God! And these facts don't change just because we are going through distressing times. Psalm 27: 13, 14 says, "I had fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Trusting in God's goodness renews and refreshes us so we can keep walking and not faint. Memorizing Scripture renews our minds to think like God thinks. Meditating on Scripture brings our emotions in line when they are acting like naughty children, determined to go their own way. By making a choice to bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, we are doing as it says in Psalm 34: 8. We are "tasting and seeing that the Lord is good."

One of the most precious times I've had with the Lord recently was when I was reading in Isaiah 49. As I came to verses 15 and 16, God really touched my heart:

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will never forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."

It is almost inconceivable to me as a mother that I could forget David, the child I bore, and have no compassion toward him when I see him suffering. When he is hurting, my heart aches within me. Yet this Scripture says that the possibility of God being unmindful of us and failing to show us (as His children) compassion is even more inconceivable. And to make sure we understand how precious we are to Him, He holds out His nail-scarred hands and says, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." I know I can certainly trust Him, and confidently extend that wing.

The second "wing" God calls us to extend during trying times is obedience. Two factors in the Christian life lead to obedience. First, God says if we love Him we will obey Him. As we come to know Him as a good and compassionate God, we want to obey Him. If we obey Him, our love for Him grows. So choosing to obey, and then doing it over and over again, results in an increasing love for God, and that in turn results in more obedience. But a second factor is sometimes needed to keep us in a walk of obedience, and that is the fear of the Lord. The balancing truth to God's goodness and compassion is His unsearchable greatness and holiness and His awesome power and glory. The more we understand about these attributes, the greater we will fear and reverence God.

Leviticus 10:3 says, "By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified." Irreverence cannot survive in the presence of a holy God. The Lord never comes where He is not reverenced, and without the presence of the Lord we will never have the ability to soar above our circumstances. "Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear." (I Peter 1:17)

One of the Scriptures God used recently to speak to me about obedience is Psalm 32: 9, which says, "Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding, but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you." God doesn't want to use outward restraints to direct our lives. His desire is for us to be quick to respond to His voice. He wants to be able to say, "This is the way; walk in it (Isaiah 30: 21)," and have us obey without hesitation or argument.

Philippians 2: 12, 13 says "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." We live by grace, but grace does not give us the liberty to disobey when we don't want to do what God is telling us to do. Grace is not an excuse to sin; it is an empowerment not to sin. Grace gives us the desire to obey and the power to follow through on that desire.

James 1: 22 states that when we hear God's word and do not obey it, we deceive ourselves. The more we disobey, the more deceived we become. Our hearts become hardened and it becomes easier to sin. We even get to the point where we don't believe we are disobedient, because our spiritual eyes are blinded. The fear of the Lord keeps us from starting down this road. If we have already started down this road, it can turn us around and get us back on the "highway of holiness." Our love for and fear of God help us use our second wing of obedience.

As we walk through this difficult time with our son, and as other circumstances press us down, we are learning to extend our wings of trust and obedience. At this time, we are often like young eaglets, just learning to fly and sometimes falling back to the earth. But we are getting stronger. Our prayer is that in whatever situation you are facing, you too will learn how to extend your wings of trust and obedience so you can soar above the circumstances.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles [which for Paul who wrote this included frequent imprisonments, receiving thirty-nine lashes five times, being beaten with rods three times, and being shipwrecked three times] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
II Corinthians 4: 16 - 18 (NIV)

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