“Grow strong in you weakness. Some of my children I’ve gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate a lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust me, to lean on Me, rather than on your understanding. Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when. My preference is for you to to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grown strong in your weakness.” ~Sarah Young, Jesus Calling.
I don’t think I have ever been a particularly cowardly person. As a matter of fact, I’ve done a whole lot of things that have required more courage than I thought I could muster. Each time I’ve had to reach down deep and search for the courage to do something major, it has become one of the highlights of my life. When I’m not sure I can actually do something and then I find the will within me to conquer, I feel elated.
For example, I was barely 16 years old when I started college. I had been away on a missions trip to Guatemala until the day before classes started, so I missed Welcome Week and the campus tour and Freshman Orientation. I walked onto the campus with my schedule in my hand and didn’t even know where my first hour classroom was located. I just started asking people for directions. I opened the door and saw 300 chairs arranged in theater style. I chose a row at eye level with the speaker on the stage and took the center seat. Courage.
At home with my collection of college class syllabi spread out in front of me, I spent the next two hours meticulously writing each assignment into my Day Timer Calendar, then backing up a few days or weeks to write a reminder about starting each project. When I had the due dates for all 6 classes written neatly in my calendar, I cried. I felt totally overwhelmed at what I was about to do. I didn’t know if I had what it would take to do college at age 16. I would need every ounce of courage I could find.
Fast forward many, many years. The day finally came where we said all our tearful good-byes and walked through the security check point with carry on baggage and two children. We were leaving for the mission field. In the next few weeks we would need courage almost hourly. We landed in a foreign country without knowing a word of Spanish. The next day we put our kids on a school bus with 5 other missionary kids and off they went to a school that we had never seen in a city where I couldn’t even locate my own apartment in a country where I didn’t speak the language. “Dear Jesus give me courage!” I prayed. As we walked the mile from our apartment to our language school, I felt like I would never be able to learn this route. I was sure I would get lost here. I needed courage.
And here I am again, staring into the deep, dark well of fear and wondering if I could dredge up some courage again. I have been hired as the vice principal at our school here in Costa Rica. My emotions are swinging wildly between the excitement of all my ideas and the deer-in-the-headlights shock of what I’ve just stepped into. I prayed for this, and now I’m terrified. Once again, I am digging deep for courage. I go to Jesus and ask for courage.
A friend and fellow teacher sent me a very encouraging note the other day. See that word “encouraging”? What do you see in the middle of it? COURAGE. Encouragement gives courage. How many times did the Lord tell Joshua and the untrained soldiers of Israel, “Be strong and courageous. Take heart and do not fear.” The battle is the Lord’s. I have nothing to fear. I take courage in the fact that Jesus is my source, a well that will never run dry. I can ask him for courage and he is glad that I have come to him with empty hands for he is ready to fill them up. I am more than a conquerer in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes we just need a good, “I told you so!” When the disciples asked about The End, Jesus told them this.
Watch out that you are not deceived. For many charlatans will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and “The time is near.” Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away. This is just part of normal history. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. At times you’ll think the very sky is falling!
But before all this, they will arrest you, hunt you down, drag you into court, and persecute you. They will deliver you into the hands of your enemies and throw you in prison. It will go from bad to worse. Everyone will be at your throat because of me.
You will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that will reduce your accusers to stammers and stutters.
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But every detail of your life- even down to the hairs of your head- are in my care and control. By standing firm, hang in there, don’t lose faith and you will gain life.
It will seem like all hell has broken lose. There will be sign in the sun, moon and stars. Everyone will be in shear panic. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift us your heads because your redemption is drawing near. Hold your head up high because help is on the way!
Be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation become dull with parties, shopping, and the anxieties of life. Otherwise that day will take you completely by surprise. It will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that is coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:8-36 a combination of the Message Version and NIV)
*****It looks like a mess around here, and it is. But hold on to your seats because the ride is going to get bumpier before it’s over. Just hang in there. Jesus already told us that it’s going to get ugly which means he’s got this under control- nothing surprises him. It’s part of his plan. Why? Because if you don’t think you need a Savior yet, just wait- you’ll want one real soon! So don’t be afraid, dear Christians. The pilot of our airplane is Jesus and he’s just put on the “fasten seatbelt” light. Turbulence is coming, but our pilot can handle it and bring you home safe and sound.
Every morning when my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I breathe these words before my feet roll out of bed, “Lord give me strength for today.” I wake up in pain and there’s nothing I can do about it. So it’s best to forget about it and get on with my day. But I ask for help from my Father God. He slowly infuses me with the energy and strength I need to make it through today. He has taught me to be thankful for my weaknesses because they force me to rely on Him more.
He has promised to help me when I call on Him. And He’s glad to do it! He is drawn to weakness because it is the white canvas on which He paints His beautiful pictures of mercy, grace and bounty. With Jesus, I have enough. With Jesus, I can do today. Tomorrow I will ask for more, but today He will give me enough of what I need right now.
A friend of a friend posted this on FB the other day. I liked it because it is how I view my walk with the Lord. I grow weary as my little legs pump twice as hard as His long strides. I ask him to hold me.
The other day I was watching a friend’s little 2 year old daughter. We went for a walk down to a nearby swing set so we could play. As we walked down the street, this little gal’s chubby fingers clasped my hand as she took two steps for every one step I took. She trotted along like this for sometime, chattering on about “swing” and “mommy” and “mammie and papa” and “birdies”.
She was tired. She was weary. The sun was shining, she had exerted all the energy her little legs could muster.
Her question was simple.
“Do you want me to pick you up?” I asked her.
I picked her up and began to carry her on to our destination.
Today Jesus will do that for me. I am tired, I am weary. The sun is shining, I have exerted all the energy my little heart can muster.
My need is simple.
And He picks me up and carries me to our destination.
“. . . in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.” Deut 1:31
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Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/asam/432194779/”>ArloMagicMan</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Kids/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>
The scriptures say that when David had completed all that God planned for him, he died and joined his ancestors. Sometimes we are surprised when death comes to someone young, or someone who appears to be doing everything right. But the Bible makes it clear that there is a time for each of us to die. It is not a random thing, nor is it preventable. The Bible says we die when we complete the mission that God has made us to do, whatever that may be.
This should be an amazingly liberating idea for a Christian. You can basically do that whole Matrix thing around bullets if it’s not your time to die! This should essentially set you free of all kinds of fears that might have held you back before. But sometimes there is actually a purpose to the WAY and TIME that we die.
Lately, a friend of mine has been posting updates about another missionary who is dying of cancer in a “closed country”. Stewart and Bev* have worked for 20 something years in this hard place, and not one person has been saved. They spent years traveling into the interior of this country, ministering among the lost, yet no one has responded to the message of Salvation. They just plodded along faithfully, loving people and hoping that the message was coming through loud and clear. Then Stewart was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
As they prayed together, the family felt that the Lord was telling them to “live out this death in the eyes of your neighbors.” So they began to make preparations for Stewart to die in that country. When they heard that Stewart was dying, the people in the interior where they had ministered all those years asked the family if they would move in with the tribe and allow Stewart to be buried where they live. The family was deeply touched by this, but it would be impossible without government permission for a foreigner to be buried in the land.
That same day, a lawyer for the tribe came to the house to consult with the husband and wife. “Let me take care of everything. And is there anything else you need?” He asked. They needed to transfer the title of their vehicle into Bev’s name so that the government would not seize their property once Stewart died. The lawyer agreed to handle that paperwork as well.
Within a few days, the family received permission to move to the interior, buy a burial plot, and for Bev to keep the car. All their concerns had been handled with minimal stress on their part. Now they could focus on dying well, as God had commanded them. Even as he grew weaker and weaker, Stewart continued to receive visitors. They would sit at his bedside, sometimes talking, sometimes crying. They marveled at Bev’s peace and strength in the face of her husband’s failing health. They began to ask Bev about the source of her peace. The door creaked open.
Women who had been cautious about the foreigners brought food and sat with them in their grief. One woman confided to Bev that her husband had passed away that year, and she was so angry and scared. She asked Bev how she could be so calm and strong. Bev shared her source of strength and offered peace to the woman. The door swung wider still.
The family contacted the grown children and asked them to come home to say good-bye. The children left college to return to the mission field. The village people surrounded them with love, like members of their own family. The children are comforted as well as being a comfort to others. Stewart is living out his death in front of the community.
Precious is the death of the Saints in the eyes of the Lord. This is a homecoming with a purpose. No one knows the kind of impact that Stewart’s death will have in this closed, barren mission field. But there is a purpose, and there will be a harvest of souls. A peaceful and strong Christian is powerful in death.
*Names have been changed because the country is a Muslim country, closed to missionaries.
Ever since I had cancer, I have had to accept that I have a new “normal” level of energy. I used to be able to work hard for very long periods of time, and I was proud of my strength. Now I wake up every day at 5am, and the first words in my mind are a prayer asking God for the strength to make it though today.
I just don’t have the stamina that I used to have. I fight against my own inclinations to be angry about that. I quit asking WHY long ago. It’s pointless to ask that. No one ever gets the answer they want. It makes me sad to think that the older I get I can expect my strength to continue to wane. That’s natural.
So today I’m going to share a few clips from the devotional book that I’m reading in the mornings for my “quicky devos”. I do a longer Bible reading at night when I have quiet time to myself. In the mornings I am reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Here are a few sound-bites that have ministered to me:
Bring to Me your weakness, and receive My Peace. Accept yourself and your circumstances just as they are, remembering that I am sovereign over everything. Do not wear yourself out with analyzing and planning. Instead, let thankfulness and trust be your guides through this day; they will keep you close to Me…
Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey had been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life. Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be. You will get through today one step, one moment at a time…
Thank Me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again. Some of the greatest works in My kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells. Instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances. Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living close to Me… My strength and power show themselves most effective in weakness.
Thank you Jesus for being in control of every circumstance of my life. Even though it’s hard for me to do this because I’m still learning how, I thank you for my weakness. I don’t understand it, but I trust you. This is what you’ve given me, and I thank you. Glorify yourself in my weakness.
Having a rough day? Be encouraged… THE LORD IS WITH YOU!
“Learn to appreciate difficult days. Be stimulated by the challenges you encounter along your way. As you journey through rough terrain with Me, gain confidence from your knowledge that together we can handle anything. This knowledge is comprised of three parts: your relationship with Me, promises in the Bible, and past experiences of coping successfully during hard times.
“Look back on your life, and see how I have helped you through difficult days. If you are tempted to think, ‘ Yes, but that was then, and this is now,’ remember who I am! Although you and your circumstances may change dramatically, I remain the same throughout time and eternity. This is the basis of your confidence. In My Presence you live and move and have your being.”
~Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, November 8.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. I am holding you by your right hand- I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I am here to help you.’” Isaiah 41:10, 13