Recent events can overwhelm the spirit. Tragic accidents, persecution of Christians, earthquakes, riots, Supreme Court hearings, people pushing the boundaries in every direction… I can’t help but feel as though a tidal wave is on the horizon and we’re busy building sandcastles on the beach. What would God have me do? Fighting my own desires to be consumed by the mundane, distracted by media, or disengaged by hobbies, I’ve taken more time to read and pray.
Returning to a couple chapters in my Sunday School book “Joyous Journeys Around the Detours” by Juanita Purcell, I reconsidered the question “Why is confidence in God so important for the Christian?” To answer the question, we were referred to 2 Corinthians 5:7. “For we walk by faith, not by sight…”
I’ll admit I’ve been discouraged. On Tuesday, April 28th, mindful of the historic Supreme Court hearings that had taken place that day, I went to pick up my youngest son from elementary school. My older son was in tow and accompanied me as I stopped at a store on an errand. As he and I stood in line at the checkout, I could tell he was having trouble figuring out where to focus his eyes. I could empathize. We were right by the magazine rack. A lady in front of us picked up a magazine to read the “courageous” story of an athlete who is plastered all over the news lately. We focused our attention on the balloons near the ceiling. The wait in line seemed too long, and I fought back waves of anger over the filth of ungodly material that assaults the eyes and ears of our children, threatens the family and seeks to destroy the moral fabric of our country. At the school, I watched happy children leaving and was moved to tears by the thought of what they have to look forward to in this crazy world. How I wish that all of this were not the reality. Yet it is! God has placed us here in this time and place. Somehow we have to navigate through it.
“Why is confidence in God so important for the Christian?” The question lodged itself in my mind. Confidence in God is everything! Without it, what kind of joy can we find in today or what kind of hope for tomorrow? If we get so caught up in looking around at our world instead of looking up at a God Who rules over all, we are going to be discouraged. “For we walk by faith, not by sight…”
I picked up a biography acquired for the church library, “Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems” by Janet & Geoff Benge. Near the end, I found myself weeping. Amy had experienced the devastating loss of her dear friend who had made much of her ministry possible. His premature death, along with the death of another friend, left her in a daze. How would she cope? How could she go on? The women who worked with Amy were concerned for her. One of them said, “It is very difficult to see how this is for the best.” Amy replied “It is not difficult to see how this is for the best; it is impossible. But we are asked to walk not by sight, but by faith…” Isn’t it amazing how God speaks to us through His Word? God used His Word in my Sunday School book and in a biography within hours of each other to focus my eyes on that phrase. Amy was able to pick herself up and carry on with the work God had called her to do because of her unshakable faith. I recalled having been in this place before—the place where I’ve felt blindsided and a bit dazed, wondering how to continue. Yet I’ve been able to continue, and only by faith.
A friend offered some wisdom in a great quote by A.W. Tozer: “Keep your heart with all diligence; God will look after the universe.” I’m tempted to worry about so much, but God showed me He wants me to trust Him. He wants me to walk by faith, not by sight. Right now that involves continuing in the ministry He gave me despite the present chaos or future uncertainties. It involves loving my husband and family, and teaching my children His truth. It involves serving in my church and being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in being a “bright spot” in our community and in this very dark world. My study in God’s Word this week challenged me that when I am overwhelmed, disgusted, disappointed, and discouraged, I must focus my eyes on my Lord and Savior, the One to Whom every knee will one day bow. Isaiah 26:3-4 reminded me that a mind focused on God is at peace: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”
Next, God brought to mind a verse I learned in grade school. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The context gave more answers as to what God expects of me. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:8-17
The Lord challenged me to take a hard look at myself and to narrow my focus a bit in certain areas. I want to redeem the time He’s given me. I want to move forward with faith and courage in these uncertain days. I want to encourage others who may feel like me to do the same.
My husband’s sermon series and the songs we’ve been singing in our services have urged us to cultivate the soil of our hearts so that the seed of the Word of God can take root and grow. I believe God is using this time to jar Christians from complacency. This is not a day and age to be half-hearted, lukewarm, “sleepy” Christians. It is not a time to be enamored and entangled by entertainment; it is a time to be engaged in searching the Scriptures and seeking His face. It is not a time in which to be satisfied with temporal comforts; it is the time to stretch ourselves in service and invest in things of eternal value. This is not a time where our church should be empty, but revived! This world is not our home and the days are increasingly evil and threatening.
What would God would have you do?