If you like baseball, then you probably watched the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was one of the greatest series in the history of baseball. The two best teams this year went back and forth in the games and in the series. As a lifelong Astros fan, it was stressful to watch. At times, I was ready to throw in the towel. Some nights I couldn’t sleep because this series was so intense. The Astros ended up winning the series in game 7.
Last night, I was able to go to the world premier of the documentary that chronicles the series. It went game by game showing highlights and the drama that unfolded throughout the series. The crowd in the auditorium cheered each time we scored. It was an incredible experience. At one point, I heard the person behind me say, “I wish it had felt like this during the series. We’re only like this because we know how this is going to end.”
It reminded me of you and I in this life. We live through some stressful times and real life drama plays out in front of us every day. Some days we don’t want to watch. Others, we are so keyed up about things that we can’t sleep. Life can be very difficult to get through at times, but I have great news. (Spoiler Alert!) Revelation 20:10 says, “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (NLT).
We win! We know how this is all going to end. Those who follow Christ will be victorious when all this is over. Will the drama still all unfold? Yes, but now you know that it’ll all be worth it. I know this won’t take away the pain or all the stress of what you’re facing, but if you keep in mind the final outcome, you can have hope to get through it. You can trust God with whatever you’re going through because in the end, we win.
Do you know any workaholics? You know, people who constantly work. Their hours are 9-5, but they stay up late working constantly. It’s a badge of honor to them to be the first person to the office each day, and the last one to leave. Many of them live very stressful lives. They worry that they won’t complete their job on time. They stress about income. They’re so busy making a living that they forget to make a life. Many end up sacrificing family for work.
Psalm 127:2 says, “It is useless to work so hard for a living, getting up early and going to bed late. For the Lord provides for those he loves, while they are asleep” (GNT). In our fast paced world, where technology has allowed us to work 24/7 from anywhere on the globe, becoming a workaholic is easier than ever. But God says that being a workaholic is useless. In fact, it becomes a question of the heart.
The biggest question is: do you trust God to be your provider? So many times when we make a habit out of working non-stop, we do it because we forget who our source is. Because we go to work and work rewards us with a paycheck, we begin to think we are our own source or our job is. If we believe God is our source, it relieves the pressure of having to become a workaholic so we can provide for ourselves.
I believe in hard work, and I believe that if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat. But I also believe that God is my provider. If I trust Him with my finances, and I give Him His part of my income as recognition of being my provider, then I don’t have to stress about where the next job comes from and I don’t have to stress and work constantly. I’ve learned that God is not a well that can run dry. He is a never ending river who supplies all of my needs according to His riches (Phil 4:19). Become a member of workaholics anonymous and trust God to be your provider.
A friend of mine was in a wreck recently. As he went through an intersection, an On coming car didn’t stop. They broadsided his truck, pushed it about 15 feet into the median and caused him to roll over. As he got his bearings, he checked on his girls in the back seat. They were dangling in their car seat because the truck same to a stop on the passenger side. He got out of his seatbelt, dropped to the bottom, got his girls out of their seats and out of the truck through the back window.
After telling me all of this, he said, “The body of the truck did what it was supposed to do. It protected my family.” Before the first truck in that line was ever rolled out of Detroit, Ford tested the body style over and over in crash tests. They made adjustments to the design so that it could withstand a heavy impact like that. They thoroughly tested it so that the public could buy it with confidence that if they ever were in a wreck, it would hold up and protect like it did.
Psalm 119:140 says, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much” (NLT). God’s Word is filled with His promises to you and I. Those promises have been put to the test for generations all over the world. They have withstood the test of time and every situation, and that have proven to be true and reliable. When God says something, you can rely on it more than anything else in this world.
I did a Google search of “God’s promises,” and page after page listed thousands of promises found in God’s Word. Every one of them is something you can rely on. If you’re willing to step out in faith and put them to the test, you will find what billions of others have found out – they are true. Most of what God promises require you to step out in faith and activate it. You have to believe that they work before you see the result. That’s what faith is. Whatever you’re facing today, trust in God’s promise to you and not what your eyes and mind are telling you.
If you are like me, worry has a tendency to creep in from time to time. I look at the future, and my mind begins to play scenario after scenario of what might happen. Usually, it’s always the worst case scenarios. I begin to stress and then get worried to the point that it keeps me up and dominates my thoughts. My worry comes from not knowing what the future holds. I like to plan and prepare, and when I can’t do that, stress takes over.
Worry also comes from a lack of trust in God. When I get overly anxious, it means that I don’t trust God with my future. Sometimes we are good at giving Him our past and our present, but struggle to give Him our future. God knows what your future holds, and He’s even planned it out. He is not going to be surprised by what happens in your life or how each situation will unfold. That’s why we’ve got to learn to trust Him when it comes to our future.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). It’s not God’s responsibility to relieve you of your worry. It’s your responsibility to trust Him with your future, and to give it to Him. It’s quite a release to hand the burden of the unknown off to Him. I can tell you that I’d rather give up my stress than my sleep. I found a way to do that by learning to trust God with the unknown.
Releasing the burden of the unknown takes you praying, “God, i don’t know what the future holds, but you do. I’m going to trust that your plan for my life is better than my plan. I give you my future. I release it to you. I don’t want to carry this burden anymore. Please take it and help me to trust you more.” When I prayed that prayer and meant it, my worry left. When it tried to come back, I told it to talk to God because my future was in His hands. Doing that repeatedly, until it was ingrained in my mind, is how I was released from the worry and stress of the burden of the unknown.
Several years ago, I used to have my classes take each other on trust walks. I would bring half the group to the front of the class, blindfold them, and then bring up the other half. The half that could see had to come stand in front of someone and then take them on a five minute walk through the building and the guide them back. The catch was that they couldn’t touch the other person. They had to do it all through voice directions while being around the rest of the group.
Trusting God often feels like that exercise. We often feel like we can’t see anything, we don’t know where we are going, and there are a lot of competing voices around. God asks us to trust Him, and to walk by faith instead of by sight. It can be very difficult at time to take those steps and to walk into the unknown when we can’t see. If we will trust Him, He will lead us into the life we were created for, and we will find peace. We just have to be willing to put the blindfold on.
Here are some Bible verses on trusting God.
1. You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3 GNT
2. Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
3. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalms 37:5 NLT
4. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
Jeremiah 17:7 ESV
5. Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 GNT
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.
On a recent flight, the pilot said there was turbulence ahead and that he was going to try a different altitude. We lowered several thousand feet and hit turbulence there. He lowered some more and we hit turbulence there too. He went up some and we started hitting turbulence there. On our whole flight, he was readjusting trying to miss the turbulence, but he was unsuccessful. No matter what we did, we kept hitting these bumps in our path. He finally came over the intercom and said, “As you can see, we are not going to have a smooth flight today. I’ve tried everything and we’re still finding these pockets. We won’t be able to go as fast as we wanted.”
The pilot, like many of us, tried to avoid disturbances in his path. He tried different things to get around them and couldn’t. Our first instinct when there’s a disturbance or turbulence in our path is to try to find a way around it, but is that really God’s desire for us? Are we to avoid problems and things that slow us down? I don’t think so. I dislike them as much as anyone, but I’ve learned they serve a purpose. I may not always see the purpose right away, but I’ve found that God uses them to shape who we are and to change our course. The path God has for us isn’t an easy one.
Jesus was preaching in Matthew 7:14 when He was talking about the path you and I should be on. He said, “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (NLT). The Amplified version said it is “contracted by pressure”. That doesn’t sound like we are going to be able to avoid the bumps and have a smooth ride into Heaven. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus was pretty open to us about what life will bring as Christians. He said we would struggle, suffer and have tribulation, and also that He would not leave us in those times.
My nephew likes to say, “No pressure, no diamond.” He’s learning at an early age that pressure can be a good thing. It’s what brings out the best in us. God uses pressure pockets in our life to develop qualities that won’t develop any other way. He has us change altitude and course so we can be put into the path of someone who needs our help. There is a purpose and a plan for the turbulence in your life. To avoid it is to avoid what God wants to do in you and through you.
Because I said so. I have never liked that phrase. Has anyone ever given that to you as an answer when you wanted to know why? I got it all the time as a kid, and it drive me nuts. I’m a person who needs to know why, and that doesn’t give me sufficient information. I probably got a lot of spankings over it too. Eventually I learned to obey my parents without understand why, even if I didn’t like it.
As an adult, not much has changed I still like to know why. When God asks me to do something I don’t understand or if something happens that I don’t like, I still want to know why. I don’t always get an answer though. I guess that’s better than, “Because I said so,” but at least I don’t get whipped for asking. God is big enough to handle my questions, my frustrations over not understanding and my emotional outbursts.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 says, “Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life” (NLT). It’s taken me a while to learn to accept not always knowing why. On those times where I don’t understand, I let my trust lie in the fact that God is good and sees a bigger picture than I ever could.
We may not always get the answers we seek from God. When He’s silent, I try to recall all the times in my life when I didn’t understand His plan. When I look back, I can see that He’s always had a plan, and that what He does in my life is bigger than me. If I’ve surrendered my life to Him, then I’ve given Him permission to use it in any way that He sees fit. That includes good things and bad things that I don’t understand. I’m still learning to accept the way He does things, even if He says, “Because I said so.”