Turbulence

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When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2

This morning I was reading from the end of Jeremiah, where Jeremiah is warning the Israelites not to run off to Egypt. They instead are told to remain in Israel to be taken into captivity by Babylon. In other words it is better to go into captivity with God than to seek refuge anywhere without God.

This is a hard lesson to grasp, but so very important.

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is
than a fatted ox and hatred with it. Proverbs 15:16-17

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10

I find that this day is better because God is with me. This blessing is not found in anything else (not in vacation trips, not in winning the lottery, not in great acclaim, not in anything I can imagine). As I meditate upon this fact it changes my perspective for whatever I’m doing. I begin to worship taking a deep breath of the joy in this moment, for my joy is God being with me.

Whitewater Prayers

Icicle Creek

Bouncing water like bouncing prayers

Sometimes my prayers feel like this whitewater––my mind bouncing from one thing to another. Very small prayers that don’t go very high. Fortunately, prayer is not about my ability, but upon God’s.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

The Steep Edge of Life

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On the edge with Mountain Penstemon

These Mountain Penstemon cling to a steep edge along the Icicle Creek, living life in a precarious place. Sometimes my life feels like these wildflowers––I am just barely hanging on. Psalm 33 is given to us for such times.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,  Psalm 33:17-18

Great wealth cannot save.
Great intelligence cannot save.
Great beauty cannot save.
Great power cannot save.
Instead put your hope in Jesus, the unfailing love of God, whose sacrifice brings us unassailable deliverance from our worst fears.

Dancing with God

Cedar branches touching the stream

Dancing in the water

This scene only came to my attention when I stopped…and sat…and waited. Initially I was bored and saw nothing. Finally, I asked God to open my eyes and allow me to see. Slowly I began to sense the deeper rhythms of the stream. I heard the churning of the water against the rocks, then the call of birds overhead, followed by a chattering squirrel upset by my presence. Breathing in I noticed the fragrance of cedar boughs, and finally became entranced by the branches playing in the fast moving water perpetually dancing before the Lord. The joy in that moment returns even now, looking upon this scene I give thanks.

Prayer is like that. It is only when I stop and wait that I begin to perceive what God has for me. To read and meditate upon the Bible letting the Holy Spirit slowly direct my thoughts. It becomes wonderful dance of me with my creator. Unfortunately, as the day progresses my mind gets sidetracked, fretting about so many things. I must restart the process again, waiting on the Lord trying to catch His rhythm. Thankfully God never tires of waiting for me.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Psalm 37:7-9

Ever feel like you’re all washed up?

Icicle Creek

The water is tumbling down

A prayer for when I fall. Note that none of it is me all of it is God.

Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees:
Then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding…
Direct me in your path…
Turn my heart toward you…
Direct my eyes away from worthless things…
Fulfill your promises to me…
Take away my disgrace…
Preserve my life in your righteousness.

Thank you Lord for all you do for me.
Taken from Psalm 119:33-40

Surviving an Accident: Learning to Live Again

How do you deal with sorrow and guilt that comes from being the cause of an accident. It is not an intentional act that requires confession and forgiveness, it’s just an accident. An unfortunate mistake in judgement, like spilling a glass of milk at a meal, or pulling out from the gas pump with the hose still stuck into the car. These are minor examples, but what if it is a major accident that results in someone being injured or killed. These accidents are life changing and extremely hard to get past. Frequently, they lead to isolation and depression from all the psychological pounding. It is analogous to a log caught in the rocks hammered by turbulent whitewater.

A log trapped in whitewater

A log trapped in whitewater

My mind swirls with relentless self-recriminations that I cannot switch off. The condemnation I feel begins to build to high levels. Friends with good intentions throw verses at me like: “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,” or they talk about it being God’s will or purpose. But these words only seem to make me feel more isolated and upset, no one understands, I feel alone. The worst battering comes from the inner voices constantly berating me: “how could you be so stupid” or “you should be stronger … where is your faith.” With all this, the burden of guilt only seems to grow, not slacken. I begin to wonder if life is worth living.

Learning to Live

First, I must understand there is no easy answer or quick remedy. Second, I have have to learn to breath again, taking one breath at a time. This involves forcing myself to breathe in truth in the form of a memorized verse (e.g. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” – Psalm 27:10) Then I exhale a prayer for help. Inhale truth, exhale prayer, over and over until the truth starts to sink in. I constantly remind myself “don’t panic,” for the waves will keep coming. During this process false accusations will bounce around in my head, stuff like: “you’re a failure,” or “you deserve to die.” I can only refute these lies with truth from God’s Word.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including terrible accidents) will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Lastly, commit your way unto God, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov. 3:5)