7.10.2013

Do you run - or stand firm?

When I walked into church two weeks ago I was barely in control of my emotions.  The Lord had me in a place of unrest and needing to depend solely on Him, and I was trying to be obedient.  But while I was searching the Scriptures and praying continually, I was also looking for that perfect "someone" to make it all come clear - so I could find peace.  There is such a fine balance of relying on the Lord for our everything and seeking the wise counsel of others.  The Lord uses His Word, the church, and His people to speak to us ... and we always need to be alert and ready to listen when He does!

I sat quietly in my seat waiting for the service to begin, knowing it would take but a small nudge to break down the cement wall I had so diligently placed around my emotions.  And sure enough, the opening song was enough - and everything I had been holding in for days, weeks even, came pouring out through tears.  And it felt good to have that release.  But the storm was still raging inside.  I was looking for answers.  Tangibles.  Something I could cling to.

So imagine my surprise when our pastor revealed the sermon topic for the day:
Tempted to run - Strengthened to stand.

It was one of those Sundays when I felt like I was the ONLY person in the sanctuary.  Every word penetrated my heart.  Every verse emblazoned itself on my mind.  I could not take notes fast enough. And I kept saying to the Lord, "Really?  Could it be this easy?  Are You going to answer my every question in a sermon?  Resolve my problems?  Quiet my heart?  THANK YOU!"

Well, kind of.

I did not walk out of church with a new life and zero trials or conflicts.  But I did leave with a new resolve:  I am not a runner, but I need more strength!  The right kind of strength, to stand firm in times of conflict and trial.  I do stand, but I am wobbly, and often looking for a way of escape.  This cannot be!

Here are my notes and thoughts from the sermon that changed me.  It is hard to tell which are mine and which are Pastor's because every word he spoke echoed what my heart and mind were screaming at me ... Trust the Lord!  Seek Him!  Rely on His strength!  Do not lean on your own understanding! Just TRUST!

And so - I am.
                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Give ear to my prayer, O God,
And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily.
My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.
So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.
I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest."
Psalm 55

* David wants to run because it is easier than facing hard times.
He is in agony, trying circumstances, an emotional wreck, dealing with difficult people, criticism, attacks, and he has lost focus.  I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily. My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.  I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

* Running is not an option!
A temporary escape/retreat is okay for a time to refocus, refresh and rest - and then REENGAGE with life!
As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.

* Prayer is the correct response in trying times - lifting our thoughts back toward God so they are not focused on our circumstances.

There.is.no.panic.in.heaven.  God is not surprised by trials.  We can trust Him to do His work.

Do not be anxious - PRAY!  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6,7

When no one else is listening - when no one is defending you - you have the Lord!!!!

* David was in constant prayer - three times a day DEDICATED to prayer!  A discipline of prayer.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

* Believe in God's sufficiency.

He SHALL sustain you. (definition: strengthen and uphold)

Notice!!  God does not promise to REMOVE the burden - but to carry it for us!
He replaces our weakness with His strength.
                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lord, You know I am not a runner.  But there are times I feel like David did, and I wish I could!  Make me stronger, Lord.  Show me the benefit, the beauty, and the joy of standing firm - secure - and strengthened - in YOU.  It is, after all, what I really want.  I just don't always know how to get there.

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