Posts Tagged With: trust

The “What If” Game IS A Dangerous Game To Play

 

Saturday was a busy day. It was raining when we headed out to watch my oldest son compete in the conference Scholar Bowl tournament at a nearby school. In early afternoon, as his team finished and we left the school, it had begun to lightly snow. But we were on our way to another school so he could participate in a basketball tournament. As soon as this tournament was over, my husband left to take him to a third school where the high school varsity teams were playing (he keeps stats for the girls and boys team) while my younger son and I headed home.

By this time, it had been snowing for several hours. Snow was beginning to pile up. Road crews were out working but they just couldn’t keep up – it was coming too hard and too fast.

My son and I walked in our home and I fell on the couch, exhausted from the day but mainly from the drive home. It was stressful. My road had not been touched yet and I was slipping and sliding everywhere and my youngest son was in the backseat. What if I had slid off the road? He could have been hurt or even killed.

I’m so glad that my husband is such a good driver and is so careful that I don’t have to worry about him.

Then my phone rang.

It was my husband and he had slid off the road.

Another family that we knew stopped, picked our son up and took him onto the ball game.

But my husband was still stuck on the side of the road and needed help. I called a friend who lived nearby. He willingly and happily went to help my husband. Our friend was able to pull him out but within half a mile my husband slid off two more times. Finally, the friend just brought him home.

This evening we went to get our truck. It’s a small Ford Ranger without 4 wheel drive. Not much good in the snow. It took us nearly twenty minutes to get it out of the driveway he had left it in.

While driving back home, I couldn’t help but to notice the sides of the road. It was lined with steep drop-offs. Yet my husband and son slid onto level ground.

But what if they had slid off here instead?

What if the truck would have rolled?

What if it had crushed the cab with my husband and son inside?

What if… What if… What if…

Tonight as my son and husband went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection that He had given to them. I thank Him for always taking care of my family when I cannot. And I just wanted to watch them sleep and hold them close, having been reminded of what a treasure they truly are.

But when it is my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game.

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

You can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though the weather was bad and my husband and son slid off the road, God still looked after my family. As much as I love them, God loves them more. Even as precious as they are to me, they are more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He allowed our truck to slide off in a relatively safe place. He did not allow our truck to roll or the cab to be crushed. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

 

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My Husband Is Not My Everything

It was fifteen years ago today that I married my husband. And after fifteen years, I can honestly say that he does not complete me. He is not my better half. Nor is he my soul mate. He is not my everything.

It is true that he is a part of me. How could you spend fifteen years living under the same roof with someone and they not be a part of you? Of course he is! But he is not the completion of me.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it is unwise and actually unfair to put someone on such a pedestal that you have made them into your everything.  It is good to love. In fact, Jesus commands us to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). But remember that His love is a pure, unselfish, sinless love. And how much did He love us? Enough to get beaten and tortured until He no longer looked human and then die a horrific death on the cross. And still, we are not His everything.

If we elevate someone to such a height that we believe they are our everything, we must question ourselves if we are making idols out of them. If there is anything that we put above God Himself, then we have created an idol. Be honest and take a look at your life. Where do you spend your time and your money? Because chances are, there you will find your heart also. I will admit that I struggle with not making idols out of my husband, my two sons, my family, friends, and even sometimes my cat. Times when I do this, I must repent. I also must ask forgiveness from them.

And I don’t want to be his everything either. I can only imagine how disappointed he would be if he held me up that high. I’m not perfect. Far from it! I want to be a source of his love and grace, not disappointment and frustration.

No one person can stand under the weight of being another person’s everything. That is a lot of pressure! No one should have to carry the weight of my love, glory, or reputation – my everything.

So, you may be wondering, if he does not complete me or is not my everything, then who is? I think you can tell it is not my children. So who? That is the place that belongs to God. As my Creator it is His job to complete me, not my husband’s. And even if the Lord should take my husband to his final home today, God will still complete me. He will still be sovereign. He is still ruling and in control. I can still trust and rest in that assurance. He has all the strength that I need. He will take care and provide for me.

Let’s take another look at the purest example we have, Christ. His eyes were always on God the Father, seeking to obey Him and live for Him in all things. This was shown clearly in the Garden of Gethsemane, as Christ contemplated the road that His Father had asked Him to walk in order to complete His earthlyministry as Savior of the world .“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

God gives us countless blessings in this life, and they are to be enjoyed and appreciated. But they are all avenues by which we see His total provision for us and give us cause to praise Him, not substitutes as the recipients of our deepest affections. I love my husband dearly. I consider him a gift from the Lord. I will strive to honor him, serve him, and care for our children, but not before Christ. And he doesn’t want me to. Neither do our children. True, they do want my time and to be a source of my affection. But to be my everything…  Well, they’re relieved I when I treasure Christ instead of them, freeing them from being the center of my world. So, so very thankful for our Creator, Christ, and His perfectly obedient life!

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When I am weak…

 

A couple days ago someone called to ask if I’d mind to help volunteer with a community event. I said I’d be happy to. Today was the event and boy, oh boy was it hectic! There was something that I was confused about so I went into another room to ask someone for clarification.

I walked in and saw a super sweet lady that I’ve known for a few years and decided to ask her. My question was a simple yes or no question. But she looked at me, narrowed her eyes, and proceeded to tear me up one side and down the other. When she was done, I said, “Ok” and went back to my room as quickly as I could. I worked very hard to fight back tears that I could feel welling up in my eyes. I began to feel sick at my stomach.

It ruined my whole day.

The thing is that I’m not even sure what I did wrong. I have gone over and over this in my mind and I don’t know what I said that was offensive or could have been taken the wrong way. Maybe she was just having a bad day. But if she was, was that really my fault? Why did she feel the need to take it out on me? What did I do to her?

When I came home, I walked through the door and saw my computer sitting on my desk (the one I use to write these blog posts), a couple different Bibles laying next to it, my commentary, and several books that I use as resources. “What a joke!” I thought. “You, who write these ‘Christian’ blogs, and this is how weak you are. You should not be advising anyone about anything. Leave that to the strong Christians. Someone says one hateful thing to you and you crumple like a withered leaf.”

“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” I say to myself. (2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we must be diligent to train our minds to not allow them to go to those dark places).

I walked into my room, fell onto my knees, and cried out to my Daddy. Because sometimes that is what you need you do. I poured out my heart and soul to Him and cried a river. It took more than an hour. But that’s okay. I’ve never had God tell me that He has to go. I’ve never had Him tell me He needs to move on to something more important.

That’s because this is His job. And He loves it because He delights in me (2 Samuel 22:20).

And one of the most comforting things about God is that no matter how alone I feel, I am never really alone. My Daddy is still with me. No, He doesn’t physically put His arm around me or wipe my tears away, but He has given me something else – His Word.

When I take the time to open it up and read what it has to say, I am amazed at how encouraging it can be.

While certainly God has standards, that fact cannot be ignored, He is also incredibly kind, gentle, and way more forgiving than either you or I could possibly ever be. And in times when I feel like my heart just got stomped on, He is incredibly comforting.

He also brings verses to mind. Verses that I’ve had memorized for many years. (By the way, this is one of the reasons I strongly believe in the importance of Scripture memory). He brings back verses like:

 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” –Deuteronomy 11:19-21

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” – Deuteronomy 30:6   (By the way, I am thankful that He gives us the promise that “God will…”.  It is not up to us!)

“…To love the Lord your God, and to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and to cling to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” –Joshua 22:5

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like You, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before You with all their heart.” –1 Kings 8:23

“… I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me.” –Ezra 7:28

“… But You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” – Nehemiah 9:17

“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.” –Psalms 69:13

“Give thanks to the God of gods, for His steadfast love endures forever.” –Psalms 136:2

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  –Philippians 4:8

And these are just a few. I could go on and on. But the point remains that He always supplies. When we need Him, He is there.  He has given us His Word, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit. They both are amazingly comforting.

When I finally leave my room, more than an hour after I entered, I somehow feel strengthened. And how? It certainly is not a strength I get from myself, but from the Lord. He gives me the courage and strength to call this woman. (Something we are commanded to do in Matthew 18:15-20. Not easy, but necessary.) With my hands trembling I dial her number but secretly hope she won’t answer. She does anyhow. And you know what? As soon as she hears my voice she begins apologizing. She explains about various events of the day and why her patience may have been so short. Still, she knows that is no excuse to treat another person that way. So what does she do? Repents and asks forgiveness from the Lord and me.

Wow, what a day! The Lord has reminded me that we are all human, “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He has also reminded me that “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19). I don’t think I will ever stop marveling at the Lord. I don’t think I will ever stop being amazed at how “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28).

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The “What If…” Game

In 2010 my family had the privilege of attending the Olympic Winter Games that were held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although I was seven months pregnant with our youngest son, it was still a wonderful time. I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime event. Many, many memories were made there that none of us will ever forget. I want to share one of them with you now.

My son, who was eight years old at the time, and I got to attend the Closing Ceremonies. My husband did not want to go and chose to stay behind at our bed and breakfast. The Closing Ceremonies were awesome and was the favorite event for both of us. But what happened afterwards was so awful, we can hardly think of the Closing Ceremonies without thinking of this…

BC Place, the arena where the event was being held, has a capacity of nearly sixty thousand people. All those people needed to leave the arena and all began to leave at once. It took more than an hour just to get from our seats to the doors. We needed to ride the Skytrain back to our bed and breakfast. But I knew everyone else would need to ride it too and it would be chaotic. So I decided my son and I might as well have supper and enjoy the atmosphere for a while before even trying to board the Skytrain.

We goofed around for an hour and a half before making our way to the Skytrain. Still, it was a mess trying to get on. However, because I was pregnant they considered me handicapped and we got to go to the front of the line. We were waiting on the platform, next to one another, with thousands people around us (and no, I’m not exaggerating). All were trying to push to get their chance to get to the front. I have never seen a mob like this before.

Finally, the train arrived. I could feel the pressure from the other people all around me. Fearing my son and I would be separated, I grabbed ahold of his hand as tightly as I possibly could. The doors opened and immediately the whole platform began pushing, everyone trying to crowd in. But in this, our hands got torn apart. I screamed his name. Nothing. I screamed his name again. Nothing. It was so loud he probably could not have heard me. The train began to pull away from the station. I was on the train, but where was he?

I looked out the window for him. But there were thousands of faces. There were too many for me to have time to pick him out. Where was he? My heart was beating like it had never beaten before. I began to hyperventilate. Again, I screamed his name as loud as I could. This time, I saw his arm sticking out of a crowd of people waving up and down to me. He could not see me either but heard my scream and wanted me to know he was okay. I grabbed ahold of his hand and pulled as hard as I could. And I pulled him out!

I have never been so frightened in my life, before or since. We held one another as tightly as we could all the way back. Both of us were crying. We were both terrified.  He hadn’t known where I was either. I did not let him out of my arms until we got back to our bed and breakfast. And even then, it was only to use the restroom. That night I slept beside him, holding him the whole time. I cried most of the night.

That night as he went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection He gave my son. I thanked Him for always taking care of my son when I could not. And I just wanted to watch him sleep and hold him close, having been reminded of what a treasure he truly is.

But when it was my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game. What if he had not made it on to the train? He did not have a cell phone. What would he have done? How would I have ever found him in that mob? What if someone would have taken him? What if I never saw him again? What might they do to him? If given a line-up, would I recognize someone who had been there that night? What if the authorities were slow to act losing precious time? What if authorities would not help me because I was a foreigner? What if… What if… What if…

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

If you are parent, you can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though we got separated, God still looked after my son. As much as I love my son, God loves him more. Even as precious as he is to me, he is more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He did not allow us to be separated more than a few moments. Nor did He allow my son to be kidnapped. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

Categories: Lord's sovereign will | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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