Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where Are You Lord?




Have you ever had that feeling that you’re all alone? I once watched a very sad movie about two guys who found themselves lost in a desert with no means to make it through. A series of decisions had put them in this predicament that would ultimately cost the life of one. The movie begins with two friends driving along an isolated road through the desert. For some unexplained reason, they decide to go on a hike with no provisions. They finally reach a point where they decide to turn around and head back to their car but by this time, they’ve lost perspective and direction. They are lost but refuse to admit it.

One seems certain in the direction and the other seems skeptical. They separate going off in different directions but ultimately find each other again. By now, hunger, fatigue and physical stress have taken its toll. Both can barely walk another step but sheer will seems to propel one, while the other is ready to give up and die. It’s one of the saddest movies I’ve ever watched because there is very little dialog; just images that convey the emotions felt.

Life seems that way at times. We make decisions that at the time seem innocent, but later on we find ourselves in a place that offers no shelter or sympathy. We reach a point where we decide that we’ve gone too far to turn back but we have no idea where we’re headed. We’re lost but either we don’t realize it or we refuse to admit it.

Recently, I was in that kind of desert; not physically, but certainly spiritually and intellectually.

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God.1

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.2

I cried out in prayer, and yet, I could not sense the presence of God. It made me feel alone, forgotten and questioning.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?3

I found myself asking God, Where are you Lord? Why don’t you answer me? I don’t know my way; I’m leery of taking another step unless you give me direction. I’m glad the Lord knows me and allows me to express my doubts and fears. As a man, it is an area I’ve struggled with. Trust, it’s a word that sounds so simple but when my mind and my experience stand in opposition to it, I find myself in the desert; waging war with myself.

I begin to imagine things that aren’t real; things good and bad. I searched the scriptures for direction, for help and for relief. I began to read the third chapter of Ecclesiastes which discussed the timing of everything in life. Even in the midst of disorder and chaos, there is an order, structure, symphony and melody to all of life’s events. I asked myself, What is the timing of this present experience? What is it that I’m not seeing?

To a man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.4

…casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.5

Suddenly, it finally hit me where I was; my questions had been answered. The simplicity of God’s truth so often blows me away; especially when I’m looking for some cool oasis, filled with all kinds of food, desserts and cold, clear water. God keeps it simple for me, because I couldn’t handle it any other way. Technologists strive to establish a Standard Repeatable Process (STR) which is a sequence of procedures that are performed manually or using automation. It is the principle which drives the assembly line approach to manufacturing.

The bible says,

Casting the whole of your care---all of your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all---on Him; for He cares for you affectionately, and cares about you watchfully.6

But when faced with adversity, worry, doubt and fear, the human mind says, cast my cares on me. It is a process which we have experientially repeated numerous times throughout our life; so much so that it is involuntary. We don’t even think about it!

God doesn’t want me internalizing my doubts, fears, anxieties and worries; He wants me to voluntarily hand them all to Him, every time. This requires a change of habit and a change in thought process. Three keys to changing the process would be:
  1. Focus on God and not on the problem.
  2. Trust God is working the situation out in my best interest.
  3. Remember how God has proven Himself before.
Focus:
By looking to God for the answer, I am training myself to measure the problem against God. Regardless as to how immense my problem may seem to be, it can never measure up to the infinite size, strength and ability of Almighty God. The bible says,

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,7

This takes discipline but over time the thought will become part of a new way of thinking. Looking to Jesus serves as a spiritually healthy reminder whenever I face a problem.

Trust:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…8

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it,9

God is concerned about each of us. So much so that He wants to guide us throughout the course of our life. Supplying us with peace and contentment; living above our fears.

Remember:
God is not forgetful but oftentimes, we are. That is why it is so imperative that we remember how God has demonstrated Himself to us before. What if I don’t have any memories? I can use the memories of others (those I personally know or those in the bible). What God has done for others, he will do for me.

Remember the days of old…10

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,11

Focus, trust and remember. These are the keys to casting my doubts, fears, anxieties and worries to God rather than casting them internally to myself. Understanding that I can’t handle them, nor can I change the course of my circumstances helps me realize that I need the Greater One.

Footnotes:
  1. Psalms 42:1, NASB
  2. Psalms 63:1, NIV
  3. Psalms 22:1, NIV
  4. Proverbs 16:1-3, NIV
  5. 1 Peter 5:7, NASB
  6. 1 Peter 5:7, Amplified
  7. Hebrews 12:2, NASB
  8. Romans 8:28, NASB
  9. Psalms 37:5, NASB
  10. Deuteronomy 32:7, NASB
  11. 1 Chronicles 16:11-12, NASB
References:
  1. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Bible), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  3. The Layman's Parallel New Testament, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan


18 comments:

UnderHisCovering said...

Wow! This is wonderful and inspirational, I work with many people who are in a spiritual desert and I will be sharing the wisdom God shed on you. Thank you for sharing.

Pat said...

Wonderful post,even though I did not read the whole post.I got enough to know what you're feeling.It's amazing how God uses things and different situations to help us.And those dry desert places is where God gets down with us!!! Looking back at the times I had I can see a lot clearer now,and it's all being used to make us more like Jesus!!! I think a lot about Job also in trying times,what he must have felt in all he went through!!! But God "never" gave up on him and he want give up on us,"Ever"!!! "Hallelujah"
Love ya

christy rose said...

You are right! It does seem that we are on the same lines of thought. I liked this post. It was very enlightening.

Carolyn said...

Very good post! I had been down a similar road myself and found myself to be on a new level of searching God...scary road. But my conclusion was the same too....focusing and trusting and remembering. Critical to be disciplined to doing these three very important activities and making them habits of your heart.

Blessings!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

I agree, a very good post! Thank you for sharing and the scripture verses are wonderful!

Blessings,
Sandi

Whidbey Woman said...

Happy Spiritual Sunday! I appreciate you sharing this with us this weekend. Many of us have experienced the deserts of our life... whether that be loneliness, grief,heartache, disease, or any other crisis.
It can be a lonely, scary, needy place. But God waits for us there. We just need to reach out and receive Him.

micey said...

excellent post!

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Happy Spiritual Sunday My Friend...
Oh what a wonderful share today. I have to tell you I had God bumps on this one, yes I did.

I think we have all been in this desert at one time or another, and in that desert we have been shown many mirages from the devil himself who tries to trick us into going into the desert deeper. He loves us to be lost in our direction of Faith.

God has shown us the way most of the time, however we just can't believe that is what he really wants us to do, and the devil keeps us digging and circling (just like a buzzard circles when we fall in that desert) waiting to carry us off piece by piece. Daring us to question our faith.

It is at that point in my life that I take out my compass for direction. (My Bible).

Yes my friend we have all been there. I love this share. You have made me think really deep tonight. I thank you for that. A beautiful, touching post tonight.

God Bless you my friend, Sherry

Susan said...

Good post. It's the eternal battle that we all face.....flesh vs. Spirit and so often the flesh wins. Thinking WE can do it. We cannot. BUT He not only can but does. What a mighty God we serve.

sarah said...

this is so encouraging...thanks MTJ. Have a great weekend....you're the best. Sarah

Joan said...

Another inspiring post, MTJ. So many times in my life, I've had to come to the "end of me". It is then that God takes over (not that He wasn't acting all along, but I wasn't focusing on Him.)

Blessings,
Joan

Donnie said...

What an inspiring message. thank you for sharing.

MTJ said...

Michelle: I hope that this post will help in your ministry.

Pat: That is the most remarkable aspect of my relationship to Christ, the truth that He has never given up on me.

Christy Rose: I pray all is well with you and family.

Carolyn: I agree. Practicing these helps me in my daily walk with Christ.

Sandi: Thanks so much for visiting. Blessings and peace.

Whidbey Woman: "God waits for us there" That is such a marvelous truth to comprehend. Thank you for sharing it. I pray all is well with both you and Ron.

Micey: Blessings and peace.

Sherry: I'm learning that truth: Seeking direction from the Lord give me real guidance.

Susan: True words...What a mighty God we serve!

Sarah: How was your recent speaking engagement? Perhaps one day I'll get the opportunity to hear you. Blessings and peace.

Joan: I like that phrase, "the end of me". I'm seeing that limitation in my life and the infinite extension of God's grace.

Donnie: Blessings and peace. Thank you for stopping by.

Charlotte said...

Being lost is one of the scariest and saddest things in the world. How wonderful God knows exactly where we are and He is the only one who can truly help us in many situations. Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

The more I study his word the less I feel like I'm alone.Thank-you for such a powerful post today.
God Bless,
Ginger

Lands Family Led by the Lord said...

All I can say is I am so inspired by your writings. I pray for insights into HIS words like that.
Your post is powerful and touches my heart. Thank you...


In Christ,
Virginia

Bridget Chumbley said...

Wonderful thoughts and scripture. Thanks so much for this great lesson.

caryjo said...

Deserts come and go... right now I seem to be crossing one -- a big one, a dry, arid, rocky one-- but the blessing is that I can see the green healthy slopes of mountains ahead.

Thanks for sharing such good, deep thoughts.