I’ve got a friend who doesn’t like to go to the doctor. He says, “Every time I go, they find something wrong.” Isn’t that the point? If there’s something wrong, wouldn’t you want to know about it? For some people, if the problem isn’t exposed, it doesn’t exist. So if they don’t go to doctor and have the tests run, they aren’t really sick. That’s the wrong way to think about things. If you have a sickness and there’s a cure, wouldn’t you want that sickness exposed so the disease doesn’t run its course?
To some of you, what I just described sounds crazy. Others of you can identify with it. Whichever side you’re on, the truth is that many of us think the way my friend does when it comes to sin in our lives. We don’t want to shed light on it or expose it, much less have a test run to prove it exists in our body. If there’s something wrong spiritually with you, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Wouldn’t you want to get it cured?
David fell into the group that wanted to go to the doctor often and have tests run to make sure nothing was wrong. In Psalm 26:2 he prayed, “Examine me, GOD, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I’m fit inside and out” (MSG). He wasn’t afraid to have God shine His light into every dark corner of his life. He knew that sin likes to lay hidden in our lives unexposed. It tells us to pretend we are perfect and nothing is wrong. The truth is that all of us are infected with sin, and the way we rid ourselves of it is to expose it to the light of God’s Word.
If we truly want to live the lives God has called us to, we can’t be afraid to go to The Doctor and have Him test our lives. God will not condemn us for having Him expose our sins. Instead, He will be faithful to forgive us and to lead us down His paths. We can’t be afraid that He will find something wrong with us or what others will think. There’s a cure for the sin that’s holding us back and it’s free. Jesus already paid the price for our sin and has written out the prescription. Ask God today to examine you so you can be fit inside and out.
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.
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.
Recently I was changing out the ignition coils on my car. I brought my son out to watch as I worked on it. He watched me intently as I used the ratchet to remove the engine cover. As I began to work on the next level, he grabbed a screw driver and began sticking it in the engine area. I asked him to stop, but he kept sticking it in places. I told him, “This is my work. Your work is to watch.” He replied, “But I can do it.” I explained that he could mess something up if he didn’t stop, and it could be expensive. He wasn’t happy about it and walked away.
I don’t know if there’s a more accurate picture of how we are with God at times. He tries to do a work in our lives, but we want to do it. We jump in the middle of it and start messing with what He’s doing. He tells us to stand back because this is His work, but we insist that we can do it. Instead of seeing God do an incredible work, we often mess up what He’s trying to accomplish. Abraham getting his wife’s servant pregnant is a prime example.
I know we mean well, but there are things God does, and there are things we do. He usually invites us to participate with Him, but there are times when we just need to stand back and watch Him work. In Psalm 19:13 David prayed, “Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work” (MSG). David understood the temptation we all face in wanting to do God’s work for Him, so he prayed this brilliant prayer.
Are you arguing with God right now over what’s His responsibility and what’s yours? We all do it from time to time. Let me encourage you to pray what David prayed, and then take your hand back from God’s work. He can do exceedingly above and beyond anything we could ever do. Part of faith is trusting Him to do His work while we do ours. It’s not our responsibility to try to do His work. Like Abraham, we need to learn to trust that God knows what He’s doing and He will fulfill His promises even though we can’t see how.
A friend of mine recently called me to invite my wife and I to go somewhere with him. I said, “Sure! We’d love to.” He paused for a moment, then nervously asked, “Are you going to check with your wife first to make sure she doesn’t have any plans for y’all?” It was a good question with much wisdom behind it. I was about to make plans without checking with her first, much like many of us make life changing plans without asking God.
A friend of mine recently asked on Facebook, “Where in Scripture does God, or any of His prophets, tell us to follow our dreams?” Many people attempted to put verses from the Bible in there, but none could give one. His point was that we’ve become people who teach our kids to follow their dreams and to become anything they want, but we haven’t taught them to ask God what plans and dreams He has for their life.
There’s a saying that’s been changed through the ages, but the current one says, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Too many times, we are making plans and telling God our plans without consulting Him first. Proverbs 16:1 says, “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word” (MSG). So many of my plans in life have changed because God’s plan overruled my plan. Thank God too because His plan is much better.
If the plans you’ve made for your life are falling through, don’t despair. Pray and seek God for what His plans are for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord” (NLT). God knows the plans He has for each one of us. It’s time we stopped what we were doing and asked for His plans. Until then, our plans will continue to fail. Trust me. I’ve been there and have had to start over a few times. It’s better when we ask for His plans. They’re more elaborate than ours.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were pouring your heart out to someone and then noticed they weren’t listening? I’ve learned from experience that it’s pretty hurtful and rude. I’ve been accused of not listening on more than one occasion. I even went to a training once to teach me how to be an active listener. They taught me that I need to make eye contact, lean in to the conversation, nod my head and make some noises to suggest that I agree. It turns out that it takes a lot of work to listen.
What I’ve found out is that when people think you’re not listening to them, they quit telling you things. They quit having deep discussions, and sometimes they quit talking to you all together. Imagine if you had those feelings toward God. There are times where we are in a deep struggle, and we’re pouring out our heart to Him, but it feels like He’s not listening. Our prayers seem to fall flat and never get past the ceiling. It happens to all of us.
David was one who constantly cried out to God for help and told Him everything on his mind. In Psalm 116:2 he reminds us, “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT) He found out that God is an active listener who leans into our prayers to listen. He gives us His undivided attention when we cry out to Him. We no longer have to worry that He isn’t listening or doesn’t hear us.
When you pour out your heart to God, He’s actively listening to you. He doesn’t get distracted or zone out. Even if it doesn’t feel your prayers are going past the ceiling, God is there in the room with you. As the Psalmist wrote, He bends down to hear you. He leans into the space where you are so you can feel His presence and know He’s there hearing every word. Where man fails to pay attention, God never does. You can pray as long as you have breath knowing that God hears every word and intent of the heart.