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
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
"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
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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