Monday, September 26, 2016

CAN'T I JUST STAY IN BED?


I have been sick, folks.

For a week.

With some stupid runny nose, clogged sinuses, sore throat, dry cough, headache, no energy, huge BLAH thing.

I don't know how you *do* sick.

Some people are like grumpy old bears, and just want to be left alone.

Me?

I turn into a toddler, wanting constant attention and company, and special things to eat.

I've been known to whine.


Being sick isn't fun, is it?

We've all had times when we just get knocked out by the "latest bug" touring the human population we're exposed to.

I guess it's my turn.

I’d like to write about how wonderfully God made our bodies.

How He created them to instantly come to our defenses.  (This is the reason for multiple symptoms – it's our body's way of warding off the "bad guys.")

And that is true.

But, the thing that bothers me the most about being sick is how it affects me emotionally.

I get discouraged really easily.

And sad, and fearful, and overwhelmed.

I become a *bed potato*(a close cousin of a couch potato).

Yes, when we get sick, bed rest is a good idea.  It allows our immune system to gear up for the fight.

But after a while, bed rest can become bed stuck


No, I am still not feeling well.

But I also know that I'm sliding into that place where I just want to roll over and never get up.

*That place…*

The place where I realize that a local flock of blue jays have nested in the knot of hair that has evolved on the top of my head – (when did I last brush it out??)

The place where I realize that my mouth aroma might closely resemble "morning mouth" – at 7 o'clock in the evening – on the second or third day.

The place where I realize that I have been putting deodorant on the outside of my shirt – instead of changing clothes, or, for pete's sake, taking a shower!

The place where my face without makeup is beyond frightening – (hey, who needs a Halloween mask?  I'm just practicing…)

Yup.

That place.

The place where "The Hub"s" encouraging words to maybe get up and walk around a little bit is greeted with my moaning…

"Can't I just stay in bed?"


If you can get past feeling awful, being sick is kinda cool.  It gives you a built-in excuse to do nothing for a few days.  To just ignore life, and put *all that important stuff* on hold.

Bills, phone calls, housework, grocery shopping, etc – POOF!

Back in the day, it also bought me a free ticket to stay home from school or work.

Nope, whatever it is, I can't do itI'm SICK.

The problem is that I get discouraged, and then I am tempted to crawl under the covers and forget life.

Don't you have days when you wake up and just want to say:

"Can't I just stay in bed?"


Life is tough.

Facing it is tougher.

And I am convinced that the enemy of our souls does everything in his power to keep us *out of the game.*

He loves when we figuratively crawl under the covers.

Because, you see, a bunch of spiritual *bed potatoes* are no threat.

And this is his missionto make God's followers weak and ineffectual.

To make us spiritually sick.

It is this realization that made me force myself out of bed this morning, to actually face the day.

The germs are still fighting, and I'm still fighting back – and yes, I'm still feeling lousy.

But, I cannot give up.

You see, I heard the Lord calling me this morning, and I answered:

"Can't I just stay in bed?"

His gentle reply?

"No, I've got things for you to do."


That's the mission, the challenge – to face life.  

To pursue God and His purposes at all costs, even when we don't feel like it.  

To walk when we want to crumble.  

To rise when we stumble.

Because, like that familiar saying, I want the enemy of my soul to mutter:

"Uh oh, she's up."




Have you been *spiritually sick* lately?  Are you ready to get up?!






We are pressed on every side by troubles,
but we are not crushed.
We are perplexed,

but not driven to despair.
We are hunted down,

but never abandoned by God.
We get knocked down,

but we are not destroyed.
Through suffering,

our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus
so that the life of Jesus

may also be seen in our bodies.

(2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NLT)




"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all." (Psalm 34:19, ESV)

"…for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…" 
(Proverbs 24:16, NIV)

"You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up…" (Psalm 71:20, NLT)

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.  You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me." (Psalm 138:17, NIV)

"'LORD, help!' they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He sent out his word and healed them…" (Psalm 107:19-20, NLT)

"'I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,' says the LORD." (Jeremiah 30:17, NLT)

"'For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.'" (Jeremiah 31:25, ESV)

"O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health." 
(Psalm 30:2, NLT)

"Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." (Psalm 55:22, NLT)

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:24, NLT)

"Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light." (Micah 7:8, NIV)

"'…I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.'" (Exodus 23:22, NIV)

"When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid.  The LORD your God…is with you! When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops. He will say to them, 'Listen to me…Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today!  Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them.  For the LORD your God is going with you!  He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!'" (Deuteronomy 20:1-4, NLT)



Linked with:

SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MODEST MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, LIVING PROVERBS, MOMENTS OF HOPE, GLIMPSES LINKUP,



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, September 19, 2016

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN


Yes, they do.

Unexpected, unannounced, uninvited.

Just like last week…

So, I was down visiting family again.  "The Hub" was with all of us for a few days, but then journeyed home.

I was spending a very nice evening with my youngest son, when my phone starting ringing.  I looked at the number, and not recognizing it, I did not answer.  (I've been getting a LOT of unsolicited telemarketing calls lately…GRRR!)

Fast forward 2½ hours…

At a lull in the evening, I glanced at my phone and saw that the unknown number had left a voice mail.

Hmmm, that's unusual.

So, I checked the voice mail.

That's when I heard a very familiar voice speaking:

"Hi, it's me.  Don't freak out, but I'm at the hospital…"

Yes, it was "The Hub."

I did my best not to freak out, but the word *hospital* did drive my adrenaline into overdrive!

As I listened to the rest of his message, I found out what had happened.

"The Hub" has been doing some wonderful woodwork on Manzanita branches.  

He chooses the dead and fallen branches, and brings them home.  Then he begins the time-consuming work of sanding them until they are smooth as glass.  After the sanding is done, he applies tung oil to them, and rubs them until they have a low gloss.

Oh, what beauty is restored!

Lately, he's been making chimes out of them, by adding *icicles* of stained glass.  Or he makes candleholders out of the larger branches.

This is where the trouble started.

Because, in order to make candleholders, you have to drill out little *wells* to hold the glass votives.

And that drilling requires a 2" drill bit.  (That's TWO inches round, folks...)

You do see where this is going, don't you?!

Yup.

The drill bit caught, and then skipped out of the hole.

And sliced open two of "The Hub's" fingers.

O.U.C.H.


It was over two hours before I finally heard from him again.  (You see, he had called me using someone else's phone, and told me not to call back).

I knew he was "OK" because he was chuckling.  But still…tough guy that he is, I knew the cuts had to be bad for him to decide he needed to go to the hospital.

Finally, at about 10:20 PM, he called me.

Around 4:00 PM, the accident happened.  He said that he immediately put his hand behind his back, because he knew it was bad.  One look confirmed that he needed help.

He first went to a local clinic here in town.

There was no one there except the receptionist.  And even if the staff had been there, she informed my husband that there wasn't anyone there who could stitch him up.

From there, he went to our local fire department.

They didn't have anyone to stitch him up either.  But they did help disinfect the wound and wrapped it up.  (Which was a whole lot better than the bloody towel "The Hub" was sporting at the time!).

And, since the wound was on his right hand, and his Jeep has a stick shift, he couldn't drive himself to the hospital – which was an hour away.

So, he got a personal ambulance ride to the hospital.

After getting x-rays to confirm that he hadn't done any damage to the bone (he hadn't), and getting stitched up (14 total on two fingers), he realized that he didn't have a way to get home.

So, he got a personal taxi ride back up the mountain.

(Which cost $150...yikes!)

Fortunately, he wasn't in any pain, and has only needed antibiotics as a precaution.

(For the record, I try not to think about the scarcity of medical help up here on the mountain.  And I try not to freak out that the nearest hospital is over an hour away.  Thankfully, our fire department and the local EMT's are wonderful – which was proven in this little escapade!)


When I returned home a few days later, I got my first look at his fingers.

It was brutal.

I won't go into details, and I have not included a photo of the damage (you're welcome), but let me just say this – "The Hub" is VERY lucky that he didn't lose one of the fingers, it was that deep and that bad.

He's healing well.

And I have nicknamed him "Dr. Frankenstein."  (That's Franken–"steen," in honor of Gene Wilder!)


Accidents happen.

It's just one of the hazards of living in a broken world.

And sometimes, one might be tempted to live in fear of all the bad things that could happen when we venture out the front door (not to mention all the things that could happen inside of our own houses!).

I know I am tempted to live in fear.

Some people think that things just "happen" – willy-nilly – in a world gone mad.

They speak of coincidence, or chance, or luck.

Some people think things are pre-determined, and we have no choice or will in anything.

They speak of fate, or kismet, or destiny.

What should we believe as followers of Jesus?

I begin with Scripture, and specifically this:

"Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (Psalm 139:16, NLT)


I don't know about you, but this verse puzzles me in some ways.

I know that God lives outside of time, and is completely and perfectly omniscient.

Therefore, every moment of my life was known to Him before I was even born.

But then, we are also taught about the concept of free will.

Therefore, are my days "chosen" by God, or do I do the choosing?

Sometimes, in my mind, the truth of God's sovereignty butts up against the idea of free will and vice versa.

I have met people, and have done it myself, who attribute everything that happens to either the devil or the Lord.

Did the enemy cause my husband's accident?  Did the Lord?  

And some people say that many things happen just because of the inherent danger of living in a sinful world.

Was my husband's accident just one of those things?

I don't know the answers.

And when I don't know the answers, I rely on these verses (which are my life verses):

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)


And this:

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
(Romans 8:28, NASB)


So, here's my conclusion…

We live in a sinful worldfull of disaster, disease, and death.

And yet, God is in perfect control.

And nothing happens outside of His knowledge, His permission, and His ultimate purposes.

My free will and His sovereignty somehow both exist.

And I can exercise my will to dovetail into Hiscontinuing to yield and surrender my wishes to His plans.

Things will happen in this life, and we may not ever know "where" they originated, nor "why" they occurred.

But this is what matters to me…


God knew about it ahead of time – He is never surprised.

God is in control, even when I don't understand what's going on.

God's ultimate purposes and plans will be accomplished.

God can and will work all things for good.

God is with me, every step of the way.


And when all is said and done, that's all I really need to know!




Have you ever had an *accident* – what did God teach you from it?







Sticks and stones
may break my bones,
But drill bits
will always hurt me! 




"You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book." (Psalm 56:8, NLT)

"Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day." (2 Samuel 16:12, NASB)


"You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways." (Psalm 139:3, NASB)


"Doesn't he see everything I do and every step I take?" (Job 31:4, NLT)

"For God watches how people live; he sees everything they do." 
(Job 34:21, NLT)

"For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths." (Proverbs 5:21, NIV)

"The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (2 Chronicles 16:9, NLT)

"I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course." (Jeremiah 10:23, NLT)

"We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." 
(Proverbs 16:9, NLT)

"The LORD directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives." (Psalm 37:23, NLT)

"The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?" (Proverbs 20:24, NLT)

"…O LORD, you are our Father.  We are the clay, and you are the potter.  We all are formed by your hand." (Isaiah 64:8, NLT)

"Acknowledge that the LORD is God!  He made us, and we are his." 
(Psalm 100:3, NLT)

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

"…the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." (Psalm 33:11, NIV)

"'For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'…" (Isaiah 46:9-10, NASB)

"Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (Ephesians 1:11, NLT)

"Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." 
(Psalm 119:89, NIV)



Linked with:

MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYSMODEST MONDAY, MOTIVATION MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, LIVING PROVERBS, MOMENTS OF HOPE, GLIMPSES LINKUP, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE LINKUP, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, SMALL WONDER, WISE WOMAN, CHRISTIAN BLOGGER COMMUNITY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, FROM MESSES TO MESSAGES, TELL HIS STORY, GRACE MOMENTS, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, SHINE BLOG HOP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, COZY READING SPOT, NO RULES WEEKEND BLOG PARTY, 100 HAPPY DAYS, FUNTASTIC FRIDAY, BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT PARTY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH 'N FRIENDS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, FRIDAY FEATURE PARTY, TGI SATURDAYS, WEEKEND WIND DOWN PARTY, WORD OF GOD SPEAK, SMALL VICTORIES SUNDAY, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, September 12, 2016

PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY


So, my sister has been spending time cleaning out some of my mom's drawers.

It's rather amazing what she's accumulated in her 83+ years – and also amazing what she's been able to stuff into drawers!!

Once in a while, my sister comes across a real treasure.

A forgotten piece of jewelry.

A childhood token.

Money.

But the best treasure of all?

Old photographs!

Photos of my mother as a child, me and my siblings as children, and our kids in their childhood.

Precious memories.


As I was looking through some photos that my sister put aside for me, I got to thinking.

Isn't it strange how we can't remember anything from our early years?  Those memories don't belong to us, but rather to our parents and the people who loved us.

Here's an example…

I remember several years ago taking a day trip with my parents.

I drove us to a beach town where my dad had grown up for a portion of his boyhood.  He had so many fond memories there.

We drove around to houses he stayed in, and he told us story after story about people that had lived in the neighborhood – including the man who would shine a huge spotlight into the surf so they could swim until ten o'clock at night!

The general store was still there, and relatively unchanged in 70+ years – the place where he used to buy his candy.

It was a precious time watching his face light up with memories of such good times.

On our way back home, my parents asked me if we could take a quick side trip to the place where they brought me home from the hospital.

Well, sure!

We found it, and just as we were parking our car at the curb, the current tenants drove into the driveway.

Mom and I decided we were going to ask them if we could poke our heads inside.

Dad was mortified, and tried (in vain) to get us to change our minds.

(We left him in the car…ahem!)

So, we walked up the small driveway and approached the people as they were getting out of their car.

They looked at us askance, clearly not wanting to be bothered.

But we persisted.

As I told them why we were there, they smiled and invited us in.

Linked arm in arm, my mother and I entered the little house where I spent my first days of life.

Mom sighed, "It hasn't changed at all."

Then she started pointing things out to me…

"That's the window where we'd put your cradle in the afternoon."

"Here's the kitchen where I washed and prepared your bottles."

"See the sidewalk across the street?  That's where I would walk you in the stroller."


You know, it was a special moment, but kinda eerie.

It was weird to think that I'd actually been in this place, but had absolutely no recollection of it.

And yet, when I looked into the face of my mother, awash with the glow of HER memories of that time with me, I understood something.

Those first few years of our lives do indeed belong to someone else.

Just as the memories I have of my sons in the very beginnings of their lives will always be held in my heart instead of their minds.

I don't know, I thought it was kinda special.

We profusely thanked the people as we walked out.

But then I turned to my mom and said:

"Mom, isn't this the place where Dad backed into the carport on his first day back at work after I was born?"

She grinned.

"Yes, it is."

I grinned.

We wandered down the driveway, and I got to see the infamous carport that has played such a starring role in one of my favorite stories about me being born.

I love that my father, Mr. Have-It-All-Together, was actually kinda thrown by my arrival!!

Good times.

My earliest memory is when I was about 3 years old.

It’s kinda sketchy, but I've verified it with my mom, and I do have the basic details accurate.  My real memories start at about age 4 or 5 – highlights that must have stuck with me because of their meaning.

It's been fun looking at the photos – and sometimes they spur those early memories.

Photographic memory.

Yes.


As I was lying down to sleep last night, I was thinking about those photos, the memories they represent, and the accumulation of moments that a person's life actually is.

Some of it (much of it) is lost to me now.

My memory is pretty good, but even so, it can't contain everything.

But God can – and He does.

I was stilled by that thought.

My entire life – every moment is firmly implanted in the forefront of His omniscient mind.

He knew all of it before I was born, before the creation of the world.

And He never, ever forgets a thing – never forgets me.

How comforting that thought is to me!

There have been times when I'm watching TV, or attending a huge sporting event, or spending the day at an amusement park – any time I see a crowd of people – and I am overwhelmed by the thought that God knows about every single person's entire life.

Every moment of their history.

All the things that have happened to them.

All the hurts, the joys, the laughter and the tears – their every thought and every feeling.

And He loves each of them.

Just like He loves each of us – as if we were the only person in the whole world.

His love is universal, but also incredibly singular and individually-focused.

I'll never understand it fully.

But I do know this…

He knows me better than I know myself, for He remembers.

The good, the bad, the ugly – my moments are His memories.


I love that the One who created me is the same One who carries me.

From birth to death to eternity – always in His arms.

Never out of His thoughts, ever close to His heart.


And that brings me a comfort and peace that I must always remember…



What's your earliest memory?







Me - First Grade

And yes, I remember this dress!
I loved it!! 




"'I am the LORD, and I do not change.'" (Malachi 3:6, NLT)

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17, ESV)

"…you are always the same; you will live forever." (Psalm 102:27, NLT)

"Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages)." (Hebrews 13:8, AMP)

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." 
(Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God. 'I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One.'" (Revelation 1:8, NLT)

"…the one who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, he…never slumbers or sleeps.  The LORD himself watches over you!…The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever." (From Psalm 121:3-5, 7-8, NLT)

"You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!" 
(Psalm 139:16-18, NLT)

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…" (Jeremiah 1:5, NASB)

"But whoever loves God is known by God." (1 Corinthians 8:3, NIV)

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." 
(Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV)

"'Can a mother forget [her] baby…and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!'" (Isaiah 49:15, NIV)

"'I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age.  I made you, and I will care for you.  I will carry you along and save you.'" (Isaiah 46:4, NLT)

"'…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5, NIV)



Linked with:

SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MODEST MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, LIVING PROVERBS, MOM-TO-MOM MONDAYS, MOMENTS OF HOPE, GLIMPSES LINKUP, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, UNITE LINKUP, WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, WISE WOMAN, TELL HIS STORY, CHRISTIAN BLOGGER COMMUNITY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, FROM MESSES TO MESSAGES, LOFT LINKUP, GRACE MOMENTS, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, SHINE BLOG HOP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, COZY READING SPOT, NO RULES WEEKEND BLOG PARTY, 100 HAPPY DAYS, FUNTASTIC FRIDAY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, EVERYDAY TESTIMONY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH 'N FRIENDS, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, FRIDAY FEATURE PARTY, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, TGI SATURDAYS, WORD OF GOD SPEAK, WEEKEND WIND DOWN PARTY, SMALL VICTORIES SUNDAY, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, September 5, 2016

"GIMME THE REMOTE!"


I have two sons.

For the most part, they got along pretty well when they were younger (they still do!).

But, like any siblings, they also fought.  

Sometimes (rarely) they got into physical fights – mostly wrestling, which seems to be a "boy thing."  And sometimes it was verbal sparring.  And though I always stopped name-calling, I secretly had to admire their "creativity" in what they'd come up with!

But most of what they fought over was silly…

Like the TV remote control.

Oh, the arguments about what to watch on TV!

And then the ensuing wrangling for the remote.  

Sometimes they'd hide it from each other, or toss it across the room and run after it.  Sometimes the remote was stuffed into articles of clothing, or thrown into a dirty hamper, where only the brave dared to tread.  Sometimes the battle for the remote became secondary to the wrangling…

I'm not sure they ever realized the fact that if things got too heated, the remote was taken away by "She Who Controlled The Television" and the TV got turned off.

Then they'd argue over whose fault that was!!

*Sidenote: "The Hub" and I avoid these petty quarrels – it's called two televisions, two remotes, and two rooms.  

I can't say that I blame them entirely – there is something enticing about controlling the remote control.

Think about it – it's kind of a metaphor for life.

All those buttons…


GUIDE – who wouldn't want a button that showed you all the possible situations in life, and you could pick and choose what you wanted to participate in (or not!) – and you could also observe future events!

INFO – oh yes, wouldn't it be great to get further information on those situations and circumstances?!  Like when they're going to *air* and how long they're going to last?!  And if they're a rerun or not?

PREVIOUS – this button would allow you to go back to a pleasant or enjoyable episode in your life if you didn't like what the current *channel* was playing.

RECORD – oh, I love this one!  You could defer situations until later when you felt more capable of dealing with them.  Or, you could experience the same wonderful events over and over again.  (You could also *delete* the ones that weren't so enjoyable – make them disappear, like they never, ever happened).

CHANNEL – yup, multiple opportunities to *channel surf* and find just what you're looking for.

VOLUME – wouldn't it be nice to turn down the volume of unpleasantness, and turn up the volume on joy?!

MUTE – this almost needs no explanation – for either people or life in general?!

EXIT – and if everything just felt totally out of control, you could always exit all the noise and hubbub (a more effective tool than the mute button).


My personal favorite?

MENU.

This button gives a sense of total control over all the other ones, and would allow me to completely tailor-make my life to just the way it suited me.  

HA!

But there is one button on the remote that might just be more important than all of the others…

INPUT.

This is the button that determines where the power comes from, and how it is formatted.  And if it isn't adjusted properly, all you ever see is a blank screen or static.

Hmmm.

There's a lesson in that.


I am usually quite critical of *control freaks* – those type-A personalities who always strive to micro-manage everything and everybody in their lives.  In my opinion, they are domineering and full of pride.

However, it has taken me quite a good many years to realize that my quieter, subtler insecure worrying and fretting about everything is nothing more than *closet* control.

I have just begun reading a book, called "You Are What You Think," written by David Stoop.  I like it, especially because Dr. Stoop is a wonderful Christian man.

In the first chapters, he discusses two ways people have of dealing with a world that feels *out of control* – either by being over controlling or feeling overwhelmed.

There it is.

If the type-A's deal with life by being over controlling, then I have certainly spent most of my life feeling overwhelmed.

In truth, my reaction is just the other side of the control record – our words might be different, but I am playing the same tune as those people I have criticized.

For you see, both reflect a few basic mis-beliefs about the world:

1) The world is out of control
2) We have the capability to control things if we try
3) Controlling life will bring us happiness and peace

This the wrong input, and therefore, my remote control is sadly malfunctioning.

If I read the headlines, or watch any sort of television news program, I am going to be convinced that indeed, the world is out of control.  And it is a scary and unsure place, with much to be afraid of.

And therefore, I will be inclined to be consumed by fear.

Which I am, a great deal of the time.

However, I have had a rather startling insight into this whole issue of fear.

Might I share it with you?


The other day I was reading a blog post about temptation.

I got to thinking about the things that have tempted me in the past, and how I've come through those times – sometimes succumbing, mostly resisting.

But at the end of my reading, I sorta patted myself on the back for not really giving in to any current temptations.

And then, the most astonishing thing happened.

The Holy Spirit said a remarkable thing to me:

"Fear is your temptation."

What???

I spoke back to Him:

"How can You say that?  Fear is certainly my faith struggle, an enemy stronghold to overcome.  But how on earth is it a temptation?"

He spoke again:

"It is a temptation.  Because what is fear but a temptation to take control?"

Whoa.

This conversation happened a few days ago, and I am still pondering the implications.

In a staggering realization, I have begun to see that the Spirit spoke strong Truth to me in that moment.

Yes, my worries are all centered on the things that I CANNOT control.  

And I am tempted to insert myself into the equationdesperately and anxiously working to fix, manipulate, finagle, change, engineer, wheedle, influence, maneuverCONTROL – everything and everyone.

When confronted with my woeful inability to do that, I default to my familiar position – I cave in to feeling overwhelmed.

Then I try to control God by playing on His sympathies for me.

"Lord, please change _____________ because it's making me feel so nervous."

Again, there's nothing inherently wrong with bringing the Lord my cares and concerns, and there's nothing wrong in admitting my fears and anxieties.

He wants me to come to Him with it all, fears included.

However, if my prayers are grounded in MY desires, and MY plans, and MY timing I will be disappointed if God doesn't "perform."

Yes, fear is a temptation to control.


I was explaining this in a conversation with my cousin the other day, and another rather wonderful insight came to mind (thank You again, Holy Spirit!)

I told her something along these lines:

"You know, we're not the only ones to experience this.  Think about it.  How did the devil tempt Jesus?  He tempted Him to take control of His own circumstances, and to try to change them."

I said it without thinking, and then I started thinking.

It's so true.

In the only Biblical account of Jesus being tempted (though I know there were many, many other times), we can see how Satan tempted Jesus to take control:


1. Take control of your physical needs

"And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry." (Matthew 4:2, AMP)

Jesus was hungry.

Did the devil tempt Him with fear that He would starve?

He told Jesus to turn the stones into bread, thus ensuring that He could eat.

Jesus replied:

"'It has been written, man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'" 
(vs. 4)

My translation: "No, God will take care of My physical needs.  He will provide for Me."


2. Take control of your well-being and life

Jesus was human, susceptible to the limits of the human body.

Did the enemy tempt Him with the fear of physical injury or even death?

He told Jesus to throw Himself off of a high place in the temple, and have the angels save Him.

Jesus replied:

"'On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God.'" (vs. 7)

My translation: "No, God does not have to prove that He watches over Me.  Therefore, I will not test Him."


3. Take control of your purpose

Jesus was human, yes, but He was also the Son of God.

Satan must have had an inkling of what Jesus' mission was supposed to be.

Did the enemy tempt Him with the fear that He would never see His own Kingdom?

Did he tempt Him to take an earthly kingdom in hand at this moment, instead of waiting for God's will?

He told Jesus he would give Him the world, all its kingdoms, and their glory and power, if He would worship him.

Jesus replied:

"'Begone, Satan!  For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.'" (vs. 10) 

My translation: "Leave Me.  I will worship only God, and gladly give up all other glory and power, to fulfill His purpose for Me."


You know what's most interesting to me?

Jesus is the ONLY person in the world who has ever actually had the ability and the authority to truly take control of anything.

He could make stones into bread.

He could command the angels to rescue Him.

He could rule the kingdoms of the world.

And yet, in a most incredible display of humility and love, He set His authority aside, He put His ability to control these circumstances momentarily into the background, and chose instead to trust God, His Father.

I am quite sure that the devil did not leave Him alone after that.

And perhaps more than any other time, I have a feeling that the enemy's taunts and temptations were strongest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Never before in His earthly walk was Jesus as fear-full as when He agonized in the Garden.

Did Satan come with the same temptations?

To take control of His physical body, to protect it from pain and suffering?

To take control of His very life, and prevent His death by calling on the angels to rescue Him?

To take control of His purpose, to take control of an earthly kingdom, and bypass the reason for the Cross?

Was fear a temptation for our Savior?

I believe we'll never fully understand what was said to Him by the enemy in the Garden.  We'll never fully understand the depth of angst and suffering He felt.  We'll never fully understand how powerful fear worked in His thoughts and emotions.

Jesus, our High Priest, understands our temptations – even the temptation to fear, and the ensuing temptation to take control.

And yet, though He struggled, He overcame.


We can, too.

By replacing three mis-beliefs with resounding Truth:

1) The world is firmly in God's control
2) We have no capability to control our lives, but God has ordained every day before the creation of the world
3) Trusting God will bring us joy and peace


Yes, to the best of my ability, and in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, I will resist the temptation to fear, and refuse to attempt to take control of my own life.

I will stand firm in my conviction that God is on His throne.

Steady and resolute.

Omniscient and omnipotent.

Sovereign.


And I will join with my Savior, Jesus, in uttering this prayer:

"'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.'" (Luke 22:42, ESV)


Yes, I will bring Him my fears in prayer, but I will yield my will to His ways and His timing.

I will not frantically attempt to wield control in my life.

I will hand Him the remote control.


And yes, I will trust Him.



Are you a *control freak*?  In what areas are you most tempted to fear?





God will not permit any troubles
to come upon us,
unless He has a specific plan by which
great blessing can come
out of the difficulty.

(Peter Marshall)




If we knew what God knows, we would never complain,
Nor would we be bitter over sorrow or pain.
God reigns in His wisdom up in Heaven, above!
If we knew what God knows, we would rest in His love!

If we knew what God knows, saw the things that He sees,
If we had the insight to explore His decrees,
If God gave permission, our own lives to arrange,
If we knew what God knows, we would not make a change!

If we knew what God knows, as He rules from above,
How God takes our trial to affect those we love,
If we saw His purpose, then our hearts would be still,
If we knew what God knows, we would not fear His will!

If we knew what God knows, how our spirits would sing;
Our prayer would be only a great Thank-offering.
We'd find Him sufficient; we would rest in His Grace;
If we knew what God knows, we would seek the Lord's Face!

(Author Unknown)




"This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.'" (Isaiah 66:1, NLT)

"I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left." (1 Kings 22:19, NIV)

"Come, everyone!  Clap your hands!  Shout to God with joyful praise!  For the Lord Most High is awesome.  He is the great King of all the earth.  He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet." 
(Psalm 47:1-3, NLT)

"God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne." (Psalm 47:8, ESV)

"Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!  Tell all the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'" (1 Chronicles 16:31, NLT)

"The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all." (Psalm 103:9, ESV)

"Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial.  You yourself are from the everlasting past." (Psalm 93:2, NLT)

"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." (Psalm 45:6, NIV)

"The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right.  The foundations of law and order have collapsed.  What can the righteous do?  But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven." (Psalm 11:2-4, NLT)

"Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven.  There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands." (Hebrews 8:1, NLT)

"Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence." (Ephesians 3:12, NLT)

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." 
(Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

"For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens." (Job 28:24, ESV)

"In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help.  From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." 
(Psalm 18:6, ESV)

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." 
(Psalm 94:19, NIV)


"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
My enemies turn back;
they stumble and perish before you.
For you have upheld my right and my cause,
sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,
you have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished.
The Lord reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."

(Psalm 9:1-10, NIV)



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