#sundayscripture

When I was twenty years old, I experienced a situation that caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety. I tried everything in my power to solve the circumstances on my own. I manipulated and controlled things so they would turn out the way I wanted them to be. I was exhausted, hurt, and caught up in disbelief.

Eventually, I found myself at a dead end. Crushed by the weight of anxiety and false control, I was trapped and isolated. I longed for a way out, but didn’t know where the out was.

One day in a moment of desperation, and in need of something concrete, I took a meaningful object connected to the situation and marched out into the woods behind my house. With tears streaming down my cheeks and with as much force as I could gather, I threw the memento as far as I could into the trees as I yelled aloud (to God), “You take it!” The words were few, the implications many. I wanted help. I wanted him to take it-all of it! The whole thing! I couldn’t and didn’t want to deal with the situation on my own any longer!

It was the first cast, and the first crack in the control I had so desperately clung to. Over the next days and weeks, I casted more and more. As I did, God helped me face reality and my fears. I was letting go, and embracing something new. It was hard and hurtful. It was a process, and I knew I would be okay if I kept casting forward.

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Dead ends and desperation can lead to humility. Learning to let go of our will, walking in obedience even when it doesn’t make sense, and accepting consolation and grace, are beginning steps toward overcoming anxiety and taking strength in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Jesus wants us to cast- or throw- our anxieties and concerns on him. But this isn’t a game of catch. We shouldn’t wait for Jesus to throw our anxieties back to us. Nor is casting anxiety like a 50/50 custody arrangement in which we share the responsibility. We should not choose between the concerns we want God to be responsible for, and the ones we want to keep for ourselves.The Bible tell us to cast ALL anxieties on him.

Casting and releasing can be difficult though, and it often picks a fight with our will. Our humanity and lack of patience tempts us with the desire to take back cares back under our control. But Jesus wants to take our anxieties, hold them captive and work through them in his perfect power. In doing so, he restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. (1 Peter 5:10)

Turning to God, turning over our anxieties, and taking hold of his truths are daily disciplines. It is the only way to successfully cast away and not take back our cares. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can humble ourselves and trust that God cares for us and has a good plan for our lives.

In the right and proper time, God will set us high over our anxieties, and he may even give us a view of the larger picture of his plan. A plan that gives us hope and a future, a plan that often is very different than we thought. Until that time, keep casting, waiting, and practicing humility.

Happy Sunday! ❤


Lessons From a Gorse Bush

gorse3

I have sat down to write for days but everything I write seems meaningless compared to my lengthy prayer list.  A list filled with situations riddled with suffering, grief and pain. Intercessory prayers for people close to my heart who are experiencing the hard reality of life. Stark reminders that life is precious and difficult.

My heart is also heavy and broken for my fellow Americans. We share a human condition, a need for love and live within the borders of a country that claims liberty and justice for all. Yet unbelievable, indescribable crimes continue to be committed against innocent people. Sometimes there are no words, no easy answers. When the future seems scary and the state of our soul seems hopeless, when our hearts are perplexed, discouraged, and despaired, there is something we can do. We can respond and our response will define us.

There is a spiky, flowering evergreen bush native to the coastlines and wastelands of western Europe called a gorse plant. These plants are masters of adapting to their environment. They can withstand sun, drought and even fire. Fire which may initially burn the plant down but not destroy it. Their stalks quickly regenerate and the heat of fire can stimulate their hard seed pods to pop open and begin new life.

Like the gorse bush, we must fearlessly continue to thrive in the environment we have been rooted in. We do not stop growing or blossoming because our surroundings have become rocky, stormy or fiery. Our children, the next generation, are watching how we respond to difficulties. We are modeling (sometimes unknowingly) what to say, how to act, where to turn, and how to pray. With the Lord’s help, we must build in them a sense of confidence and courage in Christ. Confidence in no matter what is happening, God is still in control. We must cultivate a place where they can draw from, a place of fertile faith and new hope, so when the fires of uncertainty and tragedy come they might feel burned but never destroyed.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

The conifer leaves of the gorse bush are spiky and spiny. Over time, the leaves harden into long, sharp thorns. Yet out of these hardy stalks and pointy thorns comes life. In springtime, fuzzy little buds start to appear and eventually bloom into glorious yellow bursts. Their fragrant blossoms smell of sweet coconut attracting bees and animals to its thorny retreat. The plant becomes a safe haven for birds and animals who find protection among the spikes.

It can be hard to see good in terrible situations but I urge you to look beyond the spikes and spines to find small specks of yellow hope. Do not let times of uncertainty and suffering harden our hearts. Instead of getting caught up in disagreements, let’s find things we have in common. Trade arguments for prayers and disagreements for love.

You may have had to walk through a period of grief and suffering, I would encourage you to be brave and think back to how you felt during the process. Use memories and forgotten feelings as a catalyst of sympathy and empathy. Ask the Lord for a compassionate heart. Be a doer and a helper. Sometimes that may mean sitting in silence, holding the hand of a grieving person, and praying for them when they cannot find the words to pray for themselves. Be a safe haven for people. Invite them to come and see the true Hope. The One who knows more about selfless suffering than any person could ever experience and know. The only One who can bring true peace to our hearts.

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33  (ESV)

 

 

So, let our responses be sweet smelling among the tough, hard moments of life. Model, pray, love, and believe.  Be patient and do not lose hope. For our responses now will define us later and pave a way for the next generation.

 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  Romans 8:24-25 (ESV)