Did you know that just being afraid of something is not considered a phobia? The fear must altar your behavior in some way to be considered a phobia. The same is true of anxiety. Many times we may be anxious, but when it causes us to change what we’re doing, we are considered to have anxiety. It shows up in different ways. Many times, we try to altar the situation ourselves, but that can make things worse. We don’t make the best decision when we are worried. I know that for me, it causes me to run through scenarios trying to find the right way to fix it. I lose sleep and can’t concentrate on things throughout my day. In turn, it affects every area of my life until I’m so desperate that I force the issue.
You’ve no doubt heard the Psalm that tells us to be still and know that He is God. What you may not know is that the Hebrew words for be still mean to let hang down; to be relaxed, especially the hands. It can also mean to not make an effort or exertion. Meaning take your hands off the situation and let God handle it. The Passion Translation takes that into account and writes that verse this way, “Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). So many times anxiety has altered our minds to the point that we lose sight of God in our situation. God wants to remind us that He sees us, and knows what we’re going through.
It’s tough to take our hands off the situation. It’s better to ask God for wisdom in how to handle it though. Ask God to give you peace in your mind and clarity of thought as well. Surrender your anxiety to Him, recognize He is in control and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Our behavior change in a situation should not be out of anxiety, but rather out of thoughtful prayer after we’ve handed it over to God. If you want to see God in what’s going on, be still, put your hands down and relax. Breathe. Pray. Listen. Begin to thank God for all He’s done, and all He’s going to do. Your life is in His hands and He is in charge of the outcome. Trust that He will do what’s best and grow you through it. God is at work and it’s for your good.
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I’m the type of person who lives by the motto, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” It’s not easy to be a delegator when you think that way, nor is it comfortable to hand off the reigns completely to something I’m in charge of. When someone comes in to something I’m doing, and they’re more capable than I am, i have a choice to make. I can either hold people back and limit their success or i can let go and give it to someone who can accomplish so much more than I can. It seems like an easy decision unless you’re a control freak and pride is guiding you.
Now, let’s change the scenario. Instead of leading others and deciding whether or not to hand off the reigns, think about your life. Since you were little, you’ve been taught to make decisions and to live with the consequences. You’ve become conditioned to make decisions regarding your life to avoid pain. While you may have become wiser along the way, do you know and understand God’s full plan for your life? If you don’t know why you have to go through difficulties or where God wants you to go next, doesn’t it make sense to give Him control of your life?
In Psalm 37:5, King David wrote, “Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust him along the way you’ll find he pulled it off perfectly!” (TPT) The way to give God control of your life is to surrender to His plan. Let Him know that you trust Him with your life because He sees the bigger picture. Then you seek His counsel when it comes to making decisions and follow where He leads whether you understand or not. Faith is about taking the next step before you see where you’re going to put your foot. Giving God the right to direct your life is about putting pride in its place and trusting the One who has the greatest plan for your life. When you’re ready to experience all that God has for you, surrender your future to His will.
Here are two other devotions I’ve written on how to find God’s will in your decision making process:
“Making Guided Decisions”
“A Prayer to Help With Decisions”
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Years ago, Tracy Lawrence sang a song called, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”. The chorus said, “You find out who your friends are, Someone’s going to drop everything, Run out and crank up their car, Hit the gas, get there fast, Never stop to think, “What’s in it for me”, Or “‘It’s way too far”, They just show up, With their big ol’ heart, You find out who your friends are.” It’s a good reminder of the people in your life that you can count on for just about anything. God is One in whom we can count on in times of need.
King David had some incredible insight into who God is. He was a man after God’s heart, but he was also a man who lived a life of faith and trust. His psalms hit home with us because he was constantly in situations that required great faith and he wrote out his prayers. His desperation often matches our own and he gives words to prayers we need to pray in those moments. He found God to be a true friend who would never turn us away in our time of need. In Psalm 9:10, he wrote, “May everyone who knows your mercy keep putting their trust in you, for they can count on you for help no matter what. O Lord, you will never, no never, neglect those who come to you” (TPT)
You and I can go to God in our time of need and He will not neglect our need. I can tell you that He doesn’t answer each prayer the way I want Him to, but then again I don’t give my child everything he asks for either. Just like I look at the whole picture and make a decision for him, God does that with us. He meets our needs and never turns us away when we go to Him. His plan for our lives is greater than you or I can even imagine. For us to fulfill that plan, we’ve got to learn to trust Him the way David did. It’s not an easy path and things won’t always go your way, but if you keep trusting in Him, you’ll find that you can always count on Him no matter what.
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The night I proposed to my wife, I had planned it all out and timed it as well. When she opened the card I gave her, it contained a clue to where we were going to have dinner. Once she figured that out, we headed that way. During dinner, I slipped the next clue to the waitress to give to her. On and on it went as we drove back and forth across town. She didn’t know where I was going with the clues or what would happen next. At each place, she only got a clue to her next destination. Finally, after she followed all the clues, we ended up at the spot where I wanted to propose.
Following God’s plan for our lives can feel a lot like that. It seems all we get are clues that don’t really tell us where we’re going. They only tell us enough to have to step out in faith and rake the next step. Many times we aren’t even sure if that’s the right place God is leading us. It can feel frustrating sometimes not knowing for sure what your next step is or even the end game of where He’s taking you. We know He has a plan for each of us, but walking by faith and trusting Him is often difficult.
Moses felt your frustration too. In Exodus 33:13 he expressed what many of us feel when he said, “If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility” (MSG). Like us, he wanted to know more of God’s plan. I love God’s response in verse 14, and I believe it’s for us too. God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” You and I don’t need to know the end game, but we can rest in knowing that God’s presence is with us as we go. God will walk with you step by step until He completes what He began in you.
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We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I’m a fan of the shortest distance when it comes to getting somewhere. I can be seen walking across the grass instead of using the sidewalks. I don’t like it when the sidewalks go way out of the way to get me where I’m going. The fact is, I wasn’t there when they were deciding on where they were going to be put, so I don’t know the reason behind why they were laid out that way. Usually an architect or an engineer has a purpose behind why they do things and we should trust their judgment.
I like to think of God as the architect of my life. Psalms 37:23 tells us that our steps are ordered by the Lord. To me, that means that God has laid out the sidewalk in my life of where He wants me to go. Just like in life, I sometimes look at the path He’s laid out and wonder, “Why am I going all the way over here when my destination is over there?” I’m tempted to get off the path and to cut through the grass. I’ve learned that God, the architect of our lives, has a purpose behind everything He does. We are to trust Him, and the path He lays out, even when it doesn’t make sense.
When the Israelites left Egypt, Exodus 13:17-18 says, “God did not take them by the road that goes up the coast to Philistia, although it was the shortest way… Instead, he led them in a roundabout way through the desert toward the Red Sea” (GNT). God knew they weren’t ready to fight the Philistines so He took them the long way. God know what you’re ready for and what you’re not ready for. The path He’s taking you on may be the long way around, but trust where He’s leading you, even if you don’t understand why. God has a plan for you and your life. Trust in His plan and follow the steps He orders for you no matter what.
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As Christians, one of the hardest things for any of us to do is to walk by faith and not by sight. I’ve read that 90% of all information we send to the brain is visual. So it’s only natural for our brain to trust what we see instead of what we don’t. I loved the scene from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where he has to take a leap of faith off the cliff. He looks down and sees a huge drop that will kill him, but he steps off anyway. He drops about a foot and a hidden ledge catches him. More often than not, that’s how God Call’s us to live.
Abraham in the Bible is a person who believed what God said. His eyes were sending information to his brain that was contrary to what God was telling him. No one could get pregnant at Sarah’s age. In fact, Sarah laughed when she heard that she was going to conceive. It was impossible from their perspective, but they didn’t let that keep them from acting in faith. Less than a year later, Isaac was born. He was a constant reminder to them that God is able to do what He promises no matter what our eyes tell us.
Romans 4:18 says, “Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it” (TPT). Abraham was human just like us, but he chose which information to believe. I don’t know what impossibility hopeless odds you’re looking at today, but if God promised something other than what you see, choose to believe His Word. You may have to be like the man who told Jesus in Mark 9, “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.” Learning To look through faith’s eyes is never easy, but it is the only way for believers. Trust God more than what you see.
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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.
I was visiting someone who was working on a LEGO project with his kids. They had hundreds of LEGO pieces neatly arranged on their table and a step by step guide. I watched as they looked at each step, found the pieces, decided where they went, put them on there and moved on to the next step. Each step took a while because you had to find the right pieces in the right color and then look at a cartoon drawing of where they went to help them place them.
After watching them build for about twenty minutes, I began to get curious. What were they building? I couldn’t tell from where they were in the project. They showed me the picture on the box so I could see the final outcome. I looked at it and where they were, and quickly realized this was going to take days to build. It was not your average LEGO building project. It was going to take multiple steps to get through it along with time and dedication. It reminded me of the spiritual discipline it takes to walk by faith.
For many of us, God has put a dream in our heart, or has given us a promise of where He wants to take us. In essence, He’s shown us the picture on the box. We then have a series of steps to go through in order to achieve that picture. Each step takes time. First we have to get the courage to take the next step. Then we have to find the pieces of that step and find where they go. Once we get them in place, it can be a while before God shows us the next step. When He does, the process starts over.
After a while of following the steps God has laid out for us, we can begin to see what He is doing and how those parts fit into the overall picture. In the beginning though, it’s tough to see how any of it relates to what God is doing, but these are the foundational pieces. If we don’t get these in the right place, the rest will not work. It takes spiritual discipline to follow the steps God gives us. That discipline produces the patience and endurance needed to get us where we’re going because it’s easy to want to quit along the way.
If you’re looking at your life and wondering what God is doing, ask to see the box. Let God remind you of the final outcome. To make something incredible, it requires a lot of small steps and intricate details. Don’t get so lost in the steps He has given you that you lose sight of what He wants to do in and with your life. Also don’t worry about the next step until you’ve completed this step. God will reveal each step in His time, not yours. Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their life.” God knows the details of each step of your life. Trust Him and follow where He leads.