Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Bold, strong and courageous: attributes that haven’t described me lately. I’ve felt like a disappointment and a problem on so many levels, even when I don’t have the power to change circumstances. When it rains it pours, and it’s been hailing, too.
I haven’t been able to “fix” anything by my own devices or efforts. This is another example of how the whole “believe in yourself” mantra, sponsored by the Disney channel, doesn’t cut it.
We may think we aren’t buying into that message, the idol of self-sufficiency, until we start breaking, pieces of ourselves falling to the ground for all to see.
During these drained, exposed moments, where it seems like we can’t do anything right and we don’t know whether to cry or laugh like a maniac, God is there, waiting to fill us up again with peace and strength. Unfortunately, we are so good at digging ourselves into a hole and looking down at our problems, it takes awhile to finally look up for hope and help.
It’s all too easy to cross the line and become arrogant and bitter when we’re bold on our own. It’s inevitable that we’ll crack when we rely on our own strength to carry every hardship stacked one on top of another. And when we’re isolating ourselves from God’s power, fears will overtake us.
Whenever we’re going through difficult seasons and disappointment, as Christians, our first response in words may be to say, “Trust in God” or “Rely on God,” but putting it into practice takes a lot more faith. It requires an action on our part. We must make the decision. We must ask for the faith that is required, and we need to be persistent.
Truly trusting God means giving Him the outcome. It means giving our hopes, our dreams, our lives to His purposes and plans. It means giving up control over what we really had no control over in the first place. And it means realizing even an iota of our worth in His eyes, even when we feel completely undeserving, inadequate and alone.
There can be a sense of misplaced fear in giving God absolute control. We know He’ll take us outside of our comfort zone. We know our course will probably change somewhere along the road, and the unfamiliarity of His path may scare us because we know He won’t always give us directions ahead of time. He’ll give them to us when we need them.
We often foolishly wish God would use the old Burger King slogan as the approach toward our lives: “Have it your way.” For many idiotic reasons, we want to depend upon ourselves. The unpredictability of life and our own sinful natures should be adequate enough teachers in showing us how stupid that is, and yet we continue trying to find our own way in the fog.
With white knuckles, we grip on to our perceptions of how life should go, what we should be, and how others should act, and when tragedy, disease, or some other devastation strikes, we get angry. It seems unfair. It seems cruel. It seems out of control.
A grand majority of the time, we don’t want to learn the lessons He knows we need to be taught through trials and the realization of our own limitations and needs. We may want the refined qualities He’s instilling in us, the finished products, but we don’t want to go through the processes it takes to get them. Ironically, we want to become a patient person without having to wait; we want to be a loving person without having to love those who don’t seem to deserve it; and we want to be Christ-like without having to face any opposition.
The thing about giving every aspect of our lives to Jesus is that He won’t disappoint. We will disappoint others and ourselves, and others will disappoint us, but God does not. He is always working toward the ultimate good, even when He’s allowing us to go through pain. After all, our ultimate good means we’re becoming more like Him.
He is not a tame God, by any means. He is mysterious, and He doesn’t have to explain anything. But He is also our Father, the lover of our souls, our merciful, gracious and loving Lord. He is our protector and healer, and He is the source of pure boldness, goodness, courage and might.
When we depend on God for power, provision and direction and expect great things from Him, the pressure begins to lift and new life is breathed into our souls, purifying our motives, hearts and minds. Our situations may not immediately change, but He helps us carry the burden and gives us the renewed strength we need.
He is the one who turns death into life, broken dreams into new purpose, and bleak circumstances into cause for celebration. When we remind ourselves of this, it’s a lot easier to say, “Have it your way, Lord.”
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.