Monday, August 31, 2009

Stirred, but not Shaken

"None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." - Romans 8:37-39, The Message

Because I was the product of a teenage pregnancy, I had the wonderful privilege of knowing all of my grandparents and four of my great-grandparents. Two of my grandparents are still living!

My last great-grandparent, my maternal great-grandmother, passed away at the age of 98 in 1997. I was thirty four years old when she died. Since my family lived near her for most of my life, I spent a lot of time with her, and grew to love her. She had lived through two different centuries and was a very colorful character. She was the oldest of thirteen children, and was raised on a farm in West Tennessee. Three of the things that I remember most about her were: a) she loved Jesus b) she was a wonderful cook, and c) she often would share some funny sayings with a truth attached. More than once she made me giggle and think, all at the same time.

One of my all-time favorite quotes from her was, "The more you stir manure, the more it stinks!" The Enemy takes a lot of joy in stirring things up and making things really stink, doesn't he? Take a look around you... It doesn't take much to find out that people are hurting around us. It could be that you are the one facing challenges right now. And if you aren't at the moment, chances are that if you are breathing, you've either had your share already, or you will face them soon enough.

So....What do we do when everything is at stake? What do we do when everything that is precious to us seems to be coming to an end or is being or has been taken from us?

What should our attitudes be when we're up against the wall and it doesn't look like -- on the surface at least-- that there's a way out?

How do we react as Christ-followers to our own troubles or to the hardships that come to those whom we know and love?

I think that as Believers, we have to start with one premise: God is looking out for His kingdom's interests in everything He does. One of the biggest fallacies I think that believers fall for is that we think that God has only our interests at stake. I really believe that is why we often set our own agendas and then ask God to bless them! We tend to believe God is some kind of a glorified genie in a bottle, and if we rub the bottle the right way, or say the magic words, that He'll pop out and make everything right. Just the way we want it to be. Just like magic.

That, my friend, smells of smoke from the pit of hell! It never has been and never will be about us, when God is accomplishing kingdom purposes. It will ALWAYS be about God. And, my dear friends, James 1:2 tells us that we will suffer various trials.

So, I think it's safe to say that:

Every triumph,
Every trial,
Every victory,
Every defeat,
Every success,
Every failure,
Every loss,
Every gain,
Every joy,
Every sorrow....

Whatever it is that God throws across your plate is all about accomplishing God's purposes in your life. I think it's also safe to say that the life of a Christ follower isn't always about rainbows and puppy dogs... Sometimes it includes sailing on some pretty rough seas.

The second thing that we have to remember is that when we belong to Jesus, He NEVER leaves us or forsakes us. (Hebrews 13:5) It's easy to feel as if God is with us on the good days, and to feel like He is walking with us when all is right with the world. We need to remember that He is going to walk as closely with us through the fiery trials that we face, just as He walks closely with us on the good days. He hasn't left us!

Lastly, I think we need to remember to trust in God for whatever the outcome of our days, whether they be good days or bad days. If we are already trusting God on the good days, and He has shown His love and protection for us there, it seems to me that we should also trust Him completely for the times when the road gets a bit bumpy. If He has proven Himself trustworthy during the good days, doesn't it make sense that He will also be trustworthy in the bad times as well?

He is unchangeable, so from where He sits, tomorrow will be no different from yesterday or today. (Hebrews 13:8)

He is still God.
He is still Faithful.
He is still True.
He is still the Creator of the Universe.
He is still the Ancient of Days.
He is still the Great Physician.
He is still the Lover of your Soul.
He is still the Ancient of Days.
He is still the Bridegroom of the Church.
He is still the Father to the fatherless.
He is still the Husband to the Widow.
He is still the Author of Salvation.
He is still The Way, The Truth and The Life.
He is still the Vinedresser.
He is still the Great Shepherd.
He is still the Mighty Fortress.
He is still your shield in the midst of a storm.
He is still the Rock of Ages.
He is still the Creator of the Universe.
He is still the Resurrection and the Life.
He is still the Gate.
He is still Lion of Judah.
He is still the Prince of Peace.
He is still Wonderful.
He is still Counselor.
He is still the Almighty God.
He is still the King of All Kings.
He is still the Lord of All Lords.
He still LIVES in YOU.

And He is still head-over-heels crazy in love with you!

Nothing will change that.


Did you get that???


Not one blessed thing will change His love for you.

And He will never, ever leave you.

Not ever.

Not in a bazillion-trillion years.

You can bank on it.

So... when your back's against the wall, remember Who is in charge. Leave your days -- whatever they may be, along with the outcome, to God. Because with Him, you have Hope. And Hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:5)

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