My son is very inquisitive. He is always asking why or how. In most cases, the answer is above his ability to understand. I try to tell him to let it go, but sometimes he just keeps at it. So I tell him. His nose scrunched up, his eyes squint and he looks confused in those moments. Then he starts asking more questions trying to understand. I’ll just keep going down the rabbit hole with him until he gives up or I can think of an easy explanation that he can understand so we can move on.
I’m not so sure that we are so different when it comes to God. When things happen in our lives, we ask God why or how. What I’ve found is so many times the answer is beyond our ability to understand. It’s tough for us to let it go too. I’m a person that needs to know the why behind things before I do them. If I don’t know the why, I don’t understand the importance or urgency that needs to be behind what I’ve been asked to do.
When God asks me to go somewhere or do something, that’s usually my first question. For me, it doesn’t come from a lack of faith or disobedience. I just like to know why before I do something. With that in mind, Proverbs 20:24 speaks to me in regards to when God asks me to do something or go somewhere. It says, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT)
If we believe God truly directs our steps, then we need to trust His reasons that are beyond our ability to understand. How much time and energy do we waste while we question God? I know He’s patient, it I bet sometimes He just wishes we’d simply obey and trust that He sees the bigger picture and is working out things for our good even though we can’t see it or understand it at the moment. We need to let go of trying to understand everything and just obey.
I grew up in the woods. We had trails for miles back there. We had also built forts all over the place too because we were always playing war games. We had named the forts instead of the trails because there were fewer of them. If my friend told me to meet him at such and such fort, I knew which trails to take to get there the quickest. I probably could have done it blindfolded because we were back there so much. I never questioned where I was or what trail to take to get where I was going. We could get to any fort from anywhere back there.
Fast forward to today, and life is full of trails or roads to take. I’m not so sure anymore which one is the right one. Taking the wrong turn can have much different consequences than it did back then. I don’t want to mess up so I analyze all the possible outcomes before I take step in any direction. My fears create a paralysis through analysis situation quite often. Instead of choosing a path at a fork in the road, often I’ll camp there instead of moving forward.
David must have felt the same way at times. I know he was an outdoorsman from growing up as a shepherd. He fought lions and bears, and led his sheep to green pastures throughout the territory. He wasn’t scared of anything until he became king. His decisions all of a sudden had great consequences and he fell into the paralysis through analysis too. His cure came in Psalm 25:4. He prayed, “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow” (NLT). He trusted God to help him make the right decisions.
You and I can do that too. God will show us the right path to take. Even if we take the wrong one, verse 8 says, “The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.” He has a way to get us back to where we need to be. We just have to trust Him enough to keep going when we come to those forks in the road. He’s big enough to correct our mistakes and get us where we need to go if we are willing to keep moving. If you’ve been camping because you’re not sure which way to go, take a step of faith and trust God to show you the right path.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Rain is something we need, but don’t really want. We’ve given it a negative connotation too. It started when we were children singing the song, “Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day.” Rain disrupts the times of sunshine and happiness that we feel. When it’s rainy outside, we say it’s gloomy. We think of the gray clouds and associate them with depression. Rain changes our path, our timing and our plans. It messes things up for us so we resist it. We forget that rain is a necessary part of life. We forget all the good that it does.
I’ve got several friends right now who are experiencing rain in their lives. Several friends have had loved ones pass away unexpectedly. I’ve got a couple of friends who can’t seem to find a job. I’ve got a few friends whose lives have been turned upside down because of choices their spouse made. For them, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It feels like their lives are being flooded with only negative things. As I’ve thought about all their situations, Matthew 5:45 came to mind. It says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”
I’ve read or heard that scripture my whole life. I was always under the impression that it meant that bad things happen to Christians and non Christians alike because I associated rain with bad times. When I read it in context and then in several versions and interpretations of the original Greek, the Message Bible stood out. It said, “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless.” The times of rain in our lives are meant to nourish us. Just like our yards, lakes and crops need rain for nourishment, so do our lives.
When bad things happen, it usually pushes us closer go God. We spend more time in prayer. We take the time to talk to God and to read His Word to try to find answers. Days of sunshine rarely push us to spend time with God, but rain does. When we go a long time without rain or without spending time with a God, we go through a drought and that isn’t healthy. If you’re going through times of rain in your life right now, don’t pray for it to go away. Instead thank God for the nourishment and for the shelter He provides
In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they defeated several strongholds easily. He begged God for help and asked others to pray with him. It sounds a lot like any one of us when we are facing something that seems impossible to beat. Fear is our first response, then we beg God for help. I believe what follows in this story is something we can all learn from in these moments in life.
The first thing that happened was King Jehoshaphat got like minded people together, fasted and prayed. We are not to fight these battles alone. Fear’s goal is to intimidate you and to push you into seclusion. Don’t let it! There is strength in numbers and in fasting. Get a group of people around you who can fight on their knees and touch God for you. This first step is critical if you’re going to win an impossible battle.
In verses 15-17, God answered those praying. The Word of the Lord came back saying, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (NLT). Things only seem impossible when God is not in the equation. The battles we face are not our own, but they are God’s. We don’t have to be afraid or discouraged at the sheer impossibility of anything that comes our way because God goes before us.
As the army of Israel approached the battlefield, Jehoshaphat spoke in verse 20 and reminded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets and you will succeed.” Faith will help us to stand firm when standing is all we can do. We can trust in God, and in His Word, to get the courage to keep standing in the face of impossibilities. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to continue to trust God and His Word so we can see the victory.
Finally, the king appointed singers to praise God and he sent them out in front. At the very moment they began to sing, the Lord gave victory. We need to be able to praise God in advance of victory. We need to honor Him when all else seems to be going wrong. Praise is powerful. It activates our faith and moves our God. If you can’t find it in you to praise, play praise music until you do. Victory is dependent on God, not us. We can praise Him for that. Our impossible battles are no match for a God who says all things are possible.
I jokingly refer to Egypt as the land of a thousand car horns because Egyptians use the horn instead of a blinker. I once tried to count how many honks I heard in a ten second span, and couldn’t do it. There were times when I just wanted some peace and quiet. To get away from the noise, I would rent a sail boat and have them take me to the middle of the Nile. It was my little quiet place where I could stop and think as I watched the sun set behind the pyramids.
Where is your quiet place? We may not love in the land of a thousand horns, but we live in a noisy world. There are so many distractions in our lives that it’s hard to find that place of serenity. It’s that place where our phone isn’t buzzing, kids aren’t vying for your attention, social media doesn’t exist, and no one bothers you. We all need that space in this world or we’ll go crazy!
In Psalm 27, David found it. He wrote, “When besieged, I’m calm as a baby. When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool. I’m asking GOD for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic” (MSG). David found his quiet place in spending time with God.
Each of us needs to set aside time in our day to spend time with God. We need it to keep our perspective so we can remain calm and cool no matter what’s happening in our lives. That quiet place reminds us that God is in control and that He’s got you. Resting in His presence quiets the fears and doubts of the unknown our lives. His Word gives us the hope and encouragement we need. If you’re there right now, take some time to find that quiet place in Him. You’ll be glad you did.
Everyone of us has had some dark valleys that we’ve walked through. There are those days, months, and years where we just wish we could see a ray of hope. We want to know that we are not alone. That God has a plan. That He hasn’t forgotten us. We want to know that this time won’t last forever. In those times, it’s critical that our faith over rides our feelings. Our feelings interpret circumstances, but our faith dictates them.
I remember walking through a long, dark valley. God spoke to me and said, “I see you where you are. I have not left you or forgotten you. I’m walking with you through this. I am not in front of you or behind you. I’m right beside you.” Those words boosted my faith over my feelings. They reminded me that even when I can’t see or feel God, that He is with me no matter what. When my prayers feel like they’re falling on deaf ears, He hears them because He’s a whisper away. He’s walking with us in the darkness.
In Psalm 23:4, David gave us some words to remember this truth. He wrote, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT). In the valley, our feelings produce fear, but our faith produces peace and reassurance that God has not left us. We don’t have to fear or fret in the valley. God is walking right beside us each step of the way. He has not forgotten us. Trust your faith over your feelings.
Sometimes at night, I’ll send my son to his room to get his pajamas. He’ll get to the stairs and say, “Are you watching me?” After he turns on the light, he goes up the stairs. He asks again then turns on the hallway light. I watch him as he walks across the balcony and gets to his room, but that when he stops. He peers into the dark room and asks, “Can you come with me?” I get frustrated and tell him to turn on the light, but his fear keeps him outside the door. I remind him that I’m watching him, but he wants me to come turn it on before he enters.
It can be a nightly thing sometimes. I try to explain to him that his fear is in his head and that he can just walk in. I remind him that there are other times when I’m going up the stairs behind him, and he runs into the dark room hiding in the darkness. It proves he has the ability to go in the dark room, but that doesn’t stop him from panicking during times when he’s just as secure. To silly from my perspective and also frustrating that he doesn’t get it.
I think that’s how Jesus felt when he was sleeping on a boat they were all on. A violent storm arose and the disciples panicked. They went to Jesus, woke Him up, and said, “Lord save us, we are going to die!” (AMP) Isn’t that how it usually goes. We let our fear of whatever cause us to panicky to the point we think we’re going to die, and we flip out. It’s often as silly and frustrating to God as my son’s irrational fear of taking two steps into his room to turn on the light.
In Matthew 8:26, Jesus woke up and said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” I wonder how many times Jesus says that to us when we are in a panic, banging on Heaven’s doors with prayer. What often seems so big, daunting, and scary to us is so little to Him, and He wonders why we don’t trust Him more. Has He failed you before? Has He left you? No. He’s still in the boat with you. Have faith that whatever has you panicking right nows under His control. He’s watching you and won’t let you down. Have faith that He will be true to His promise to never leave you nor forsake you. Even if things don’t go the way you want, they go according to His plan and purpose got you. He sees the bigger picture.