“But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!” Psalm 22:19
His ten digits gripped the edge of the pool in a relentless hold. He slowly inched around the perimeter. Right hand. Right foot. Left hand. Left foot. My arms encircled his little body as he made his first lap around the oval water track. With each round, my arms got further away from him until I was near him, but not guarding him.
“You got me, mommy?” He asked.
“I got you. Don’t worry. Keep going. You’re doing great.” I reassured him.
Moving to Florida brought with it a mandate for my boys to learn to swim. A wide variety of bodies of water, from backyard pools to the Gulf of Mexico, are in abundance in this muggy swamp land of a state.
Swimming is a progressive skill to learn. Getting over the fear of being in the water is first. Then you start bobbing, getting used to going under while blowing air out of your lungs, while still hanging onto the sides of the pool. Each skill scaffolds the next until you have enough proficiency to leave the safety of the pool wall to the vulnerability of the open water.
As my boys progressed through the chain of swimming skills, I was never far away. When the skill was new I was next to them. As they became more proficient, I was near enough that if they needed me I would be there to help.
Psalm 22:19 paints a similar picture of the writer and his relationship with God. “But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!”
God doesn’t toss us into the pool of life and expect us to know how to swim. He helps us acquire the skills we need to face whatever situations are in our future. David learned to trust God when he was a shepherd guarding sheep. His encounters with a bear and lion emboldened his faith to fight enemies bigger and stronger than he was. A trait he would need leading the nation of Israel. Moses gained leadership skills and an education living in pharaoh’s palace. Skills that God would use to establish the religious and leadership structure of the refugee nation.
We may not understand the purpose of the current circumstances we face, but we can trust that God is using those situations to scaffold our faith skills so we are ready to swim in the tougher unknown open waters of life knowing that He is always near to help in our time of need.
My boys didn’t know why they bobbed and crawled along the pool’s edge. They just listened to the instructor and did as they were told trusting that they were safe in the water because the lifeguard and mom were nearby.
What faith skill is God teaching you today? Look back over the past year, what skills did God scaffold in your life to prepare you to face your challenges of today? Thank Him for His watchful care and instruction.
Great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to the fruit of his deeds. Jeremiah 32:19
“Dang, Captain Gibbens you’re like a mom. You see and hear everything.” Yep. I try. In educational circles, there is a nebulous thing called “with-it-ness.” It is one of those things you know when you see it, but it’s hard to define and even harder to teach. You pretty much have it, or you don’t.
With-it-ness is that uncanny sixth sense moms and teachers tend to possess that allow them to catch culprits of minor crimes before they are committed, in spite of having their backs turned to the misconduct emerging out of their line of sight. With-it-ness requires being tuned into what is going on around you, as well as to what is “not” going on nearby.
In our house when our boys were little, the sounds of silence usually meant something naughty was happening in an unseen corner of the house. In the classroom, the subtle shifts in expressions, body language and sound levels, signal that something is up. With-it-ness requires relentless vigilance. Every mom and teacher can testify to the fact that momentary distractions often result in momentous disasters.
According to Jeremiah 32:19, God possesses picture-perfect with-it-ness. He is constantly vigilant. He is never distracted. He is never caught off guard. He is aware of everything, everywhere, at all times. Not only does He see everything, He is able to do something about it. “Great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to the fruit of his deeds.”
I don’t know about you, but knowing God is vigilantly watching over me and mine, takes a load off my shoulders. His with-it-ness far exceeds mine. Not only is He more aware of what is going on, He is better able to handle it, and because of that, I can entrust myself and my loved one to his supervision and care. I can rest knowing that God has it under control and that nothing will sneak by Him unaware.
His watchful protection allows me to say like Jeremiah, “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heaven and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
On days when I am distracted by the worries and stresses of my life, I can rest assured that God is watching over me and He has it under control.
What unseen worry do you need to surrender to God’s with-it-ness today?
Thank God today for his watchful protection over you and your loved ones.
God, the Lord, is my salvation; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:19
Even Though, Yet I will….
So often the message of scripture is lost on me because I just can’t relate to the analogies. In Habakkuk 3:17-19 the writer lists all the things that bring stress and anxiety to the daily life of a Hebrew. Personally, I really don’t care if the fig tree blossoms or not because I don’t have one in my yard. I don’t keep sheep, nor do I grow my own grapes or olives. A quick trip to the grocery store solves all my food shortage issues. I understand the gist of the list, but I just don’t relate.
Therefore, because I don’t totally relate to the Hebrew list of anxieties, the impact of the second part of the message is missed. I don’t feel the full impact of the “yet I will” statements because I don’t get the though statements.
Now if the passage read:
Your house is in foreclosure.
Your marriage has ended.
Your job has been terminated.
Your car won’t start.
You child is in rebellion.
Your health is failing.
Your month is longer than your money.
Your sleep is lacking.
Yet I will-
Rejoice in the Lord.
Take joy in the God of my salvation.
The picture is clearer now.
Challenges. Stresses. Anxieties. We all face them. We have headaches over them. We lose sleep over them. We become consumed by them. Every day the worries we carry in the pit of our stomachs chew us up a little bit more on the inside. We lose weight. We gain weight. We cry. We yell. We snap. We struggle. We want joy and peace, but end up frustrated and scared. The harder we try to keep it all together, the worse it gets.
But, there is a different way. Look at what the author says, though all this bad stuff happens in life, yet I will… Yet I will, what? Rejoice that I have cancer? Gotten divorced? Am in debt? No. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
We don’t have to be glad about our circumstances. We just have to be glad in the Lord and the fact that He gives us strength. He lifts us up. It’s not the absence of anxiety that gives us peace; it is the presence of God.
So, let’s shift our thinking from how hard the struggle is to how strong our Savior is.
Today, my friends when you are faced with a “though”, respond with a “yet I will.”
This God-his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. 2 Samuel 22: 31-33
I slammed the door, flung myself across the mod green floral bedspread, and buried my face deep in the folds of my daisy dotted pillow. I yanked the sides up tightly around my ears and screamed. The downy daisies muffled the tribal cries of my angry, hurt heart. As the screams subsided, the flowery cotton pillow case began to fill with the moisture of my tears. The world was unfair and my only place of refuge was the floral meadow of cotton and polyester covering my twin bed.
I don’t remember what made me so angry that day, but I do know that throughout my childhood my bedroom was my refuge. I would flee to the shelter of my bed whenever I could no longer handle the pressures of my ten- year- old life.
In college, my refuge became a small closet- like prayer room located on the second floor of my dorm. It was in this small space that the God of the universe became my God. As the world pelted me with pebbles of pain and discouragement, I sought protection in my little second- floor stronghold. As I took shelter in this space of solitude, I began to encounter the presence of God as I engaged in conversation with Him about the hurts of my heart. Soon that little room transformed into a gateway that led to a greater refuge-God himself. You see, it wasn’t the room that shielded me from the pebbles of pain, it was God and seeking solace in that space taught me to surrender my fears and hurts to him through honest heartfelt prayer which allowed him to become my rock and salvation.
My college encounters echoed David words in 2 Samuel 22:1-3, “The Lord is my rock and fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me…”
I no longer have a little prayer room for a refuge. I am forced to find my shelter from life’s storms in other places. Sometimes, I seek refuge in the Lord in the shower, the car, on a walk, or, yes, even my bed. We all need a place where we can go to be alone with our Savior (it really doesn’t matter where that is) to safely hide out for a while until the world stops throwing rocks at us.
Where is your place of refuge? What hurts do you need to share with God today, so he can become your source of strength and protection?
Seek solace in the shade of his shield of love today.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.