It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light – Aristotle Onassis
The past few weeks have been some of the most interesting times of recent memory. I departed the US on a high with enough fire in the belly to believe I could boil an ocean. As I travelled abroad, although the oceans stayed below 212 degrees, I set every beach ablaze I encountered. I took every opportunity I had to spread the good news in capital cities and remote villages. However, over the days my body and mind grew tired even though I thought my faith was strong.
You see, through it all I maintained a mindset that the things that were coming at me were bricks not bullets and therefore would not hurt me. My armor plates of faith and courage were on. Nothing could penetrate; not the intensity or diversity of my work, the miles travelled, the short adjustment periods, the domestic issues, the death of a matriarch, or the health concerns. Brick…by…brick, each issue fell in front of me. Each one lay beside another across the road, then stacking one on top of another building a thick barrier that I mistook as a thin sheet. Without regard for what it really was or appeared to be, the best way to survive an ambush is to continue driving through it. So I floored it, gaining speed in hopes that momentum would carry me through if all else failed. The acceleration quickly slowed and eventually I came to a rest. I was so intent on making it through that I crashed into the backstop on the other side of what I thought was the finish line. When I returned state side, I realized I had hit a wall. My only prayer in the moment was from Psalms 16 1 Protect me, God, for the only safety I know is found in the moments I seek You. 2 I told You, Eternal One, “You are my Lord, for the only good I know in this world is found in You alone.”
Feeling tried and extremely overwhelmed, the bricks just continued to pile up. The wall grew higher and higher. Day after day, my heart grew more and more heavy and weary. With every step I took, I prayed “be with me Lord!” Yet with each passing moment, I felt more and more alone. Last night, I finally buckled under the pressure, fell to my knees, and in full surrender I cried out. God then held me close and said, “This is the way you stand the tallest and the strongest – when you are most dependent on me! Yes I built you to be resilient and gave you a spirit of courage but it is wholly contingent upon the two of us walking in lock step. The moment you begin to operate independent of me, you lose your armor and you don’t even realize when it is slipping off. I am with you and always have been. Look back and see the single set of footprints. You are the only one who was somehow lulled into thinking they were yours. Listen! With great championships comes great adversity. But my people stand tall. Now dry your eyes and straighten up your posture. Look in My word to locate your faith and let’s go together to find your courage because evil is powerless only when the good are unafraid. Remember your name and remember that I have never reneged, not even once. We can solve these things together if you are willing to look to Me first.” Suddenly my heart broke out into song, You stood before creation, eternity in your hand. You spoke the earth into motion, my soul now to stand. So what could I say and what could I do? But offer this heart, Oh God, completely to you. So I’ll walk upon salvation, Your spirit alive in me. This life to declare Your promise, my soul now to stand. I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned in awe of the one who gave it all. I’ll stand my soul Lord to you surrendered. All I am is yours. Hillsong United – The Stand
At that point, the wall came tumbling down. I drifted off to sleep in thanksgiving. Psalms 16 continues with 3 The beauty of faith-filled people encompasses me. They are true, and my heart is thrilled beyond measure. 4 All the while the despair of many, who abandoned Your goodness for the empty promises of false gods, increases day by day. I refuse to pour out blood offerings, to utter their names from my lips. 5 You, Eternal One, are my sustenance and my life-giving cup. In that cup, You hold my future and my eternal riches. 6 My home is surrounded in beauty; You have gifted me with abundance and a rich legacy. 7 I will bless the Eternal, whose wise teaching orchestrates my days and centers my mind at night. 8 He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand. 9 This is a good life—my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy, and my body is at rest. Who could want for more? 10 You will not abandon me to experience death and the grave or leave me to rot alone. 11 Instead, You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment. The Voice
The first thought on my mind this morning was this: The anguish I had felt all week long was finally relieved. Whatever I will face moving forward is with Him on my side. Imagine the possibilities if we were willing to live our lives with the constant knowledge that we have the full faith and backing of our God. The possibilities would be endless. We would openly and willingly tame the tiger of racism, close hunger’s hippo-size jaws of death, eradicate the venom of domestic violence, etc. There would be no fear in the alley after dusk because we would know the truth – that what is in the dark also appears in the light. Love would fill our hearts, houses and homeland. Our focus would forever be on His promises and not our problems because we would understand the He is bigger than any hurdle we could ever encounter. Oh what an awesome God we serve who loves and cares for the sheep He shepherds no matter how often or far they wander!
Dear God, as I walk through this day called today, may I align my sights on You to keep Your perspective as the way I see things. I am grateful for the energy and strength You have given me, but may I be constantly reminded of their source. Thank You for returning my spirit of courage to me, as we both know I had lost my way. I know these current battles will be tough but I also know You are with me and will always remain by my side, carrying me when I don’t have the strength to continue on. You alone have the solutions, oh mighty God, and will resolve the issues in Your time. Thank You for the rain and the joy that follows. Amen
Bring me joy, bring me peace. Bring the chance to be free. Bring me anything that brings You glory. And I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain. But if that’s what it takes to praise You, Jesus bring the rain. MercyMe – Bring the Rain. Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity and innovation. You can have comfort or courage but you can’t have both. – Brene Brown