Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Island of "What If?"

Islands seem so romantic.  The gentle sea breezes and the soothing sound of the waves crashing on shore.  The breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. The peace-no hustle and bustle of the mainland. 
And yet, an island can also hold us captive.  If we have no way of getting off, we might not be in a 5’x5’ cell but we’re prisoners just the same.  Stuck, going round and round but never accomplishing anything. When the storms come, we’re sitting ducks with no place to run. Isolated and alone.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to an Island.  It wasn’t the kind with gentle breezes and the soothing sound of waves.  Oh no, this Island was one of my own making.  It was the Island of “What If?”  Have you ever been there?  What if I don’t get that job?  What if my children grow up to be drug addicts and alcoholics?  What if I’m forgotten?  What if it’s cancer?  What if they don’t like me?  What if I fail?  What if God fails me?  Round and round we go on the Island of “What If’?”  Held captive, not in a 5’x5’ cell but a prisoner just the same. 
When we allow the “What If’s” to rule our lives, we run round and round never accomplishing anything.  We’re stuck and we wonder why.  (Yep, I've been there.)
“What If’s?” allow fear to run rampant in our lives and keep us from trusting the One who holds us in the palm of His hand. (Our lives are in His hands and He keeps our feet from stumbling.  Psalm 66.9) 
“What If’s?” isolate us. 
“What If’s?” keep the focus on us. 
What If’s?” hinder us from knowing our God.  (But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!  Jeremiah 9.24)
“What If’s?” hold us captive and hamper us from embracing the beautiful plan God has for us.  (“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29.11)
But there is HOPE!  We no longer have to live on the Island of “What If?”; this Island of shifting sand and endless anxiety!  God wants to lift us up out of this muck and mire and place our feet on solid ground.  (I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire and He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40.1-2)
Today is the day to leave the Island of “What If?”!   Call out to Him, put Your hand in the hand of the One who loves you (. . . Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from Me you can do nothing.  John 15.5) and experience FREEDOM, it’s what Jesus gave his life for!  


Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Personal Psalm

I thought a fitting way for me to follow up my previous blog is to share with you a practice I recently learned that has been a wonderful addition to my time spent with God in the chair. 

While I was copying down the Psalms, I found a study (She Reads Truth) that encouraged me to write out my own Psalms to God.  I absolutely love the practice!

The idea is to take the first couple of words from a Psalm and then finish it with your own thoughts. 
I encourage you to try it out.  It’s a beautiful way to express your thoughts to God. 

Here’s one of my attempts at penning my own Psalm to God.
Lord I seek . . .
               Wisdom as I continue to pursue this new path you are leading me on.
               As I meet with individuals and point them to you.
               As I interact with cherished family members.

Rescue and deliver me . . .
For You are a great God, your power is Sovereign.  You know all things even the things I have yet to think.  You are not limited by time and space or by the behavior and choices of others or of me.  You are good all the time and Your ways are perfect.

For you have . . .
               Proven Your faithfulness to me time and time again. 
Shown me that Your timing is perfect.
Given me faith to trust even when I can’t see.

Deliver me . . .
From doubts that I am not up for the task that you are calling me to and that in some way you will hang me out on a limb and not come through for me.
From my fears of inadequacy and self-doubt.
From worrying about what others might think.

Forgive me . . .
               For letting my fears become bigger than You.
               For doubting Your plan.
               For being self-centered.
               For not living in Awe of You and for choosing to live in Awe of what You have created.
               For making You little.
               For questioning Your ways.
               For doubting You are good. 

Nevertheless . . .
               I will trust You. 
               I will step out in faith.
               I will walk to the end of the limb.
               I will be bold and confident in Your Word
               I will choose to give my anxiety to You.
               I will not worry. 

You are . . .
               My Rock that will not be shaken no matter what may come my way.
               My Fortress where I can take refuge and live unafraid.
               My Redeemer who has bought me back and I no longer have to live as a fearful slave.
               My Steadfast Hope that remains strong and true and doesn’t disappoint.
               My Light as I journey through the darkness of this world.
               My Lover and I rest within the safety of Your arms. 

Save me . . .
From myself!  My heart is dark, my sin subtle. 
I’m blind to my own failings and short-comings. 
I’m self-focused and self-absorbed. 
I love Your ways and then go my own way. 
I’m forgetful of Your grace. 
I hold onto things I need to let go of and let go of things I should be holding onto. 

For You rescued . . .
               The Israelites from their enemies.
               Peter from jail and set him free.
               Time and time again you have rescued Your children. 

But I will . . .
               Rest in Your perfect ways.  Knowing . . .  it is Your time,
Your plan and Your will I want most of all!
               Wait for You.
               Remain steadfast in You, refusing to run ahead or lag behind. 

I will proclaim . . .
               Your good deeds in my life!
               Your miraculous ways.
               Your faithful character.
               Your abiding love.
                              "O love that will not let me go
                              I rest my weary soul in Thee." 

I will sing praise because . . .
               You are good ALL THE TIME. 
               You are my Creator.
               You hear my cries.
               You love me with an everlasting love.
               You rejoice over me with singing.   

As long as I have breath I will praise YOU!