Found this gem from 10 years ago.
Magnify the Lord of your life, rather than the problems of your life.
Gossip the Gospel
2 Timothy 3:10-17
That was from 10 years ago! I remember noting it down from a sermon I was listening to, but can’t seem to remember who I was listening to and hence cannot give that preacher credit. (Sorry!)
What strikes me is that even after 10 years, I am still learning to focus on God rather than my problems. In fact, just last week I was talking about how I need to focus on the God of solutions than the problems of my circumstances. I’d heard a message 10 years ago that would have saved me a whole lot of trouble over the coming years, if only I remembered it.
But that’s the thing, I forget. I hear something, it helps me in my current situation and then that sermon is gone. Forgotten as circumstances change. Then I go through something similar. And somehow, that lesson has engraved itself on my heart. So I may not know where it came from, but they manifest themselves as words of wisdom. Like I didn’t know where that discussion came from last week, but those words were from a sermon I’d heard a decade ago. And then today, I found this note scribbled in a corner of my book. And I realized that this is where I’d heard it. Isn’t it amazing?
It may seem impossible to remember the hundreds of sermons you’ve heard over the years. But rest assured that the ones you’ve really learned from, will still be engraved on your heart and will be made accessible when you truly need it.
I love Psalms! I love how they go from “O Lord where are you? Why aren’t you delivering me from my enemies?” “Don’t let me fall and die” to “But you know what, I trust you Lord. I know you’re doing something to get me out of it. Just do it fast, okay?”
It feels so real. Like our daily conversations with God. Whenever I face something, my prayers are panicky and desperate. After a while when the situation hasn’t changed but the Lord has shown me that He is with me, my prayers change to, “I may not understand Your ways, but I trust in You.” Have you ever felt like that?
After I’ve prayed that prayer, then very slowly things start to make sense. The delays have an explanation. The obstacles have a purpose. The hindrances have an end goal. It is as though the Lord was waiting for me to trust in Him to make things clear to me. I mean, of course I will never get the whole picture. But pieces of it. Trust. That is all He asks. A trust that blindly allows Him to lead, guide and direct. Even when circumstances dictate failure, a trust that knows that there is an end to this suffering. A trust that is, what’s the word for it? FAITH. That’s the word.
Everything you’re going through will require one thing from you. Faith. Faith that He holds the whole world in His hands. Faith that He can turn things for your good. Faith that He is in control, no matter what you’re going through. It may not seem like He’s doing anything, but trust Him, He is. Nothing is impossible for God (It is impossible for Him to be doing nothing. Get it?). He is working on a way out. He is making things clear. He has a plan. Just trust in Him who created you. It won’t exactly be smooth sailing, but at least you know He is with you through it all.
Have you ever faced something where you thought the whole world is against you? Well, I have. A few times in my life. Not in a paranoid way. Just in a way that no one around me was on my side, even though I was actually the victim.
So a few years ago, a colleague friend of mine and I broke up due to whatever disagreements led us to that point. But she was still my colleague so we did interact professionally. In my head, I thought we were handling it really well. Until I began to notice everyone around me. Apparently, she’d gone around and told the entire office fabricated stories about me. Every time one of them told me what she’d telling them, my heart broke. I remember going home and weeping in the shower. “But she was my friend!” I’d argue with myself. Then the saner side of me would just scoff and show evidence of her being very non-friend-like. It was a really difficult time for me considering that I had worked very hard to get to that place at work and now people were doubting my capabilities and believing lies about me. Every time I burned with anger and wanted to retaliate, the Lord just told me to “Be still”. I didn’t understand it. But I did reluctantly obey at that point. (Also I am a huge wuss and hate screaming matches) A few months from those awful two months, (without me doing anything) she messed up big time which had my seniors check her work thoroughly and found more things she had messed up in. Needless to say, … Actually wait, I DO need to say. My boss and seniors and all my co-workers changed their behavior toward me. My coordinator even came up to me and lauded me for my professionalism even when everyone in the office wasn’t being exactly that with me. This may seem small when I say it now, but it was a huge victory in my opinion and I just cannot thank God enough for it.
The Lord knew what was coming. Maybe if I had reacted then, I would have made things worse for myself. Maybe they’d still have not changed their opinion about me even after they’d changed their opinion about her. Either way, I am eternally grateful to the Lord for intervening every time I wanted to take matters into my own hands. The Lord certainly does mean it when he says “The vengeance is the Lord’s”. Now whenever I am in an unfair situation where I seem cornered with no way out, I remember this incident. I will never forget the time that God took matters into His hands so I wouldn’t have to take them in mine.
Last week, I watched Nick Spencer burn himself at the stake (figuratively, of course) when he made Captain America out to be Hydra all along. Literally, no one was happy with that development. And that somehow got me thinking.
Not every plot twist is good. Not every opportunity is welcome. Not every solution is right. Not every decision is a wise one. Not every thought is from God. There are times when people say to you, but you could have done this or that OR you must do this now. And it all seems logical at the moment. But if the Lord has told you to plant yourself there and wait for Him, no storm or wind can make you move unless you want to.
We watch superhero films and shows where they defy science and logic completely. How much more can the Lord defy our logic and our understanding of science? Our job is to trust and obey. That is all He asks of us. And it may seem illogical or things won’t make sense at first. But I’ve learned (and am still learning) that the best step I can take is the one directed by God. No matter how vague and cryptic the step may seem.
No one could love me like You do. No one could and no one would. Your heart bleeds with love for me. Your eyes they search my very soul. Your hands they reach out to me. Especially when I don’t deserve it the most.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve apologized and You took me back. But they don’t outweigh the times I’ve forgotten to apologize altogether. You still love me like You do. I keep running away from You, and getting myself into trouble. And You keep welcoming me back, when I find my way back to You. I find innovative ways of hurting and disappointing You, and You in all Your majestic love cast Your pain aside and tend to my wounds. My actions provoke Your righteous anger, but all You do is heal my broken heart.
How, do You do that? Love me like You do? No one could do that, no matter how much they may think they do. Every time You fix me up, I go and get myself broken again. And all You do is mend me with patience that I cannot comprehend. But that isn’t the only thing I can’t fathom. Why? Why do you love me like You do? And how can I ever repay You for all You’ve done for me?
Have you ever felt like you’re praying but your prayers just bounce off the roof and fall back? I’ve been there, multiple times. I pray and cry out to the Lord and all I hear in response is the sound of crickets in the distance. That last bit is probably in my head, you never know. But you know what I mean? When you feel so desperate to hear from the Lord and all you get is silence? When your heart longs for encouragement and you look around and there is nothing encouraging?
It is at times like these that I find it really easy to focus on the situation. Like I can do something about it without divine intervention. Oh, Lord isn’t answering, maybe I should go at it myself. Bad call. Of course I shouldn’t “go at it myself”. I mean, when have I ever succeeded at anything by myself? Without the Lord, I would never have accomplished anything (without messing up quite a bit). Then suddenly, the problem grows in my perception like a mountain and I feel overwhelmed and undersized. I realize I can’t “go at it myself” because this is far bigger a problem than I can handle. But God still isn’t answering, what should I do?!
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I learned very recently the solution to this sort of a situation. The Bible calls God by many names and phrases, one of those being “He who lives within you”. You’ve probably guessed the next bit already. If God is “He who lives within me”, then I must shift my focus from my surrounding and stop looking for answers around me. What I should be doing is take a deep breath and listen to my inner voice. The voice that is God’s and is within me. When I did that, I not only found peace that I wasn’t alone in this, but also found the solution or the steps to a solution.
God is a complex God. We will never be able to understand why we go through certain things and why we feel abandoned. But all I know is that God “never leaves nor forsakes” me. And all I need to do is trust Him, believe that He is Who He says He is and He will do all He says He will. Even in the silence, trust Him.
Have you ever felt like you needed victory over a situation? Difficult boss, passive aggressive coworker. A difficult neighbor or family member. A lost child. Desperate financial situation. Uncertain future. Have you felt caught up in a war that you didn’t exactly ask to be in, but find yourself in the center looking for a way to win?
Psalm 9 talks about a God of victories. Whatever the problem, whatever the situation, He is a God that that can overcome anything. The wicked are against you? No problem, the God of victories will fight by your side. Nations are against you? No problemo, the God of Angel Armies is fighting by your side.
But what’s more is that He isn’t a God who just fights those battles with you. He is a God who tends to the post-war situations as well. Shelter and refuge for those who need it, never abandoning them. The hope of the poor, the comfort for the widows and children.
So if you’re in a situation of helplessness, know that the God who is with you not only fights the battles but sees you through later on as well. So he will not just help you while you’re going through stuff, but will hold your hand through the consequences as well. The God of beginning and the End. He will surely see you through to the end.