"I'm exhausted!" My husband and I have exclaimed this many times lately! Anyone who has ever gone through the tiring process of moving, getting a house ready to put on the market, downsizing, trying to sell stuff that has accumulated over the years, etc., knows what I'm talking about.
Perhaps it is because of my own state of mind that a phrase in a verse I was reading this morning really caught my attention: "exhausted yet pursuing" (Judges 8:4). It was in reference to Gideon and his men in pursuit of the kings of Midian. Twice they asked others for help, food to help them keep up their strength, but did not receive it. Yet they continue to pursue, tired, hungry, and exhausted. Because of their perseverance, they were successful and won a great victory.
This reminded me of another instance when King David and his men were pursuing the Amalekites in order to retrieve their families that had been taken captive. There were some soldiers that were just too exhausted to go on, and David allowed them to stay and watch over the baggage. (1 Samuel 30:8-25) They were fairly rewarded with the spoils of war because of their faithfulness. They could not go on, but they did not desert.
That brings me to a third example of exhaustion displayed by Esau when he returned from hunting. He was so self-absorbed that all he could think of was his exhaustion, to the point of selling his birthright. (Genesis 25:29-34)
I would like to use these three examples today to encourage someone to not give up! You may be tired, exhausted both physically and spiritually, but keep the faith! Even if you reach a point where you feel like you can't go on, be faithful in what you can do. Take the time for restoration and refreshing, but don't be a deserter from God's army. God rewards faithfulness! Don't sell out and lose all that God has promised to those who endure to the end.
Are you feeling exhausted today? Go to God, the source of our strength! He reminds us in Isaiah, that even young people get exhausted at times. If we will spend time in His presence, He will renew our strength and allow us to rise up once again, and our spirits can soar!
Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
This morning I walked into the empty bedroom that had just recently been vacated by my oldest son, who had moved into it after it had been vacated by my youngest son. My husband and I are now, for the first time in twenty-six years, rattling around in a house void of children. As I looked around the empty room, I realized I had two choices: I could either be sad by focusing on the past and how much I missed them both, or I could rejoice and be thankful for the many blessings they brought into my life. I remembered the many prayers offered up to God for them, gratefully realizing how many of those prayers have been answered already and believing God to continually answer ongoing prayers.
Which way we are looking each day of our lives will determine our future. Are we looking back and continually living in the past, or is our focus on what God is doing in our lives today and what He will continue to do in our future? The past is unchangeable, but the future is abundant with possibilities, hope, and expectancy! Who knows what the future holds? As faith-filled children of God we know that, whatever happens, it can only be for our eventual good.
Thinking along these lines, I liken it to the many mornings I awake with my face three feet from the wall, seeing only the beautiful quilt hanging there. I am lying there on the edge of the bed, hardly moving from the position in which I fell asleep the night before. The scene is beautiful, but not really fulfilling. As I turn over, I realize my husband has left for the gym and I have the entire bed to myself. I luxuriously scoot over to the middle of the bed, stretch out, and expand my view. I lie there thinking of how this relates to many Christians.
While some may be in the Kingdom of God, barely, all they do is focus on what they have left behind and envy those that possess the ‘beauty’ of this present world. What they need to do is turn and behold the expanse, excitement, riches, beauty, and adventure the Kingdom of God holds for them. Stretch out, not in a king-size, but a ‘kingdom-sized’ bed of rest in the Holy Ghost! What God has in store for us is beyond what we could imagine!
So today I would like to encourage you to stretch out, spread your wings and fly into the many freedoms that are available to you in the boundless Kingdom of God! Freedom to love extravagantly, give generously, live abundantly, forgive graciously, to enjoy the blessings God bestows upon us each day, and to embrace His mercies which are new every morning!
1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
How does one hear the voice of God? How do I know if I am in God’s will? I don’t know where to go from here! What is God trying to do in my life? Am I to go or stay? Is there really a call of God on my life, or is it just my own dreams and desires?
I am sure all Christians have asked many, or all, of these questions at some point. We so desperately want to be in God’s will and to be obedient to whatever He wants us to do for Him in this world that we live in. We don’t want to waste the precious years of our lives going around in circles, or just spinning our wheels and going nowhere, doing nothing. But still we have questions, doubts, and unfulfilled dreams.
I do not even pretend to have the answers to these questions, but I do have some experience in walking by faith. I remember a few lines from a Carmen song: “Your desire is the confirmation the destination is there. God wouldn't put it in your spirit if it wasn't going nowhere. So set your sights on the promises and don't you be scared. 'Cause your desire is the confirmation the destination is there.”
If you have dreams and desires that are in accord with God’s Word, then you are on the right track. Continue to walk on in faith, doing what you know is right daily, and trust God’s timing and His ability to get you where He wants you. The saying, ‘you can’t steer a parked car,’ is true. As long as we are doing all we know to do, God will do the steering. He can get us to where He wants us easily.
Also, be reassured that everyone that says, ‘God told me,’ didn’t necessarily hear an audible voice speaking to them. It may have come as a forceful thought out of nowhere that seemed audible. Or it could have come as a nudge or feeling as God’s Spirit tugged them in a certain direction in life. God uses many ways of ‘speaking’ to us. Often times He speaks to us directly through His Word. Sometimes He uses those in ministry to speak into our lives. Other times He uses circumstances that are beyond our control to speak to us and get us where He wants us.
In the earlier years of my ministry, God used a friend of mine who had just graduated from Bible School to talk me into going with her to help some Home Missionaries start a new church in a city about 120 miles from my hometown. It was a step of faith, but God was faithful and there is a thriving church in that city today. There have been many other ‘steps/leaps of faith’ since then, and God has always been faithful!
Let me encourage you today to prepare yourself to be used of God. Spend time in His presence and in His Word. Be faithful in worship and look for opportunities every day to be Jesus in this world. Your mission field may be closer than you realize!
Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
I woke up this morning to the news that a friend of mine since childhood, who was my age, had died suddenly. I was shocked, to say the least, and considered my own mortality. It seems in recent days I have heard from friends and family a bombardment of crises, deaths, difficult decisions, car accidents, cancer diagnoses, hospitalizations, job situations, sickness/health problems, church situations, financial needs, overwhelming stress, etc. As a country, we are experiencing natural disasters like we have never seen before. Sometimes it seems like I am holding my breath, wondering what will happen next.
I was thinking of all this when suddenly I realized I was humming this song:
In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
Even though my mind was considering the difficulties, my spirit knew the answer! I must be anchored in something greater than myself, my family, my career, my government, or anything else that can be moved, shaken, broken apart, or destroyed. I have learned since childhood that the only unmovable, unchanging, unfailing, constant anchor in my life is God. If I do not want to be left drifting helplessly, with no hope in sight, then I must be sure, very sure, that He is my anchor, my only anchor.
People, relationships, businesses, governments, even churches, may fail us at some time or other, because they consist of imperfect humanity. Many times, the failures are unintentional, but the hopeless, broken feelings are still there. It is in times like these, especially, that we need an anchor! We need something sure and steadfast in which to be anchored!
In times like these . . . I have an anchor!
Psalm 43:5 (ESV)
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Honestly, it’s been a rough month or so. It seems like I have been on a bad roller coaster ride. It started off exciting! I was in Maine, enjoying vacation time, visiting with friends and relatives, attending church camp meetings; life was wonderful! Then the drop … the phone call I never wanted to receive. My brother calling with bad news: “I have been diagnosed with cancer and probably only have six months to live.” Further tests revealed that the cancer was more wide-spread than they first thought: brain, lungs, and hip. Ups and downs of treatments, tests, hospitalization, nursing home, and then home on hospice, all within a few weeks. Interspersed with all this there were days of laughter and reminiscing. Then another phone call, another plunge, “He’s taken a turn for the worse,” so now it’s down to days. Finally, “He’s gone!” How was that even possible, to happen so quickly?
Following those five, short weeks were tense trips to the ER visiting other family members, happily welcoming my youngest son and his wife back home from a missions trip, sharing disappointments and difficult decisions about the future with family, enjoying a great unexpected weekend getaway . . . yeah, ups and downs on life’s roller coaster!
Life can be like that sometimes. Sickness, death, disappointments, struggles, and fears. Yes, there may have been some good moments in the midst, but human nature seems to focus on the bad, the negative, the senselessness of it all.
I have found that I must be intentional about focusing on the positive, so as not to be easily overwhelmed by the negative. But how does one do that? I certainly cannot do that by looking at the world around me. The newscasters do not seek to spread good, uplifting, or encouraging stories. It’s just one disastrous, tragic event after another. It’s certainly not by surfing the internet or social media drama. So where does one look?
We can only look to the source of all hope, Jesus Christ! Paul the Apostle wrote that if in this life only we have hope, we would be most miserable. How true! Our hope must be in the only One who can give us hope, not only in this life, but for eternity!
In looking to God’s Word today for that hope and uplifting, I focus on two verses found in the book of Psalms. The first verse is Psalm 27:14 – “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” The second one has a similar message, Psalm 31:24 – “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”
I especially like the Message version of these two verses: “Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God,” and “Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up. Expect God to get here soon.”
I glean from these two verses the following truths:
In what are you placing your hope today? From whom do you receive strength and the courage to face tomorrow? Jesus has never failed me when I’ve turned to Him with complete trust. Please, let me encourage you today to take hope in the Lord!