During the walk this morning, it was quite foggy. It was the kind of fog that when you walk forward, you cannot see a thing. Even so, I know what is supposed to be there. I’ve walked the same path every morning and evening for years. So I walked forward in trust.
The Bible speaks of many great people of faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the Hall of Faith as it is filled with many of these faithful followers of God. People like Abraham, who God commanded to leave all he knew and walk into the unknown. He said that He would should Abraham where to go. Now that’s faith. Things are different for us. Even though there is a lot of unknown, we have a lot more to go on than Abraham did. We have the Word of God. We have the Old and the New Testaments. We can read about the faithfulness of God. We can read about how God provided. We can read about how God protected His people.
We don’t always have the faith we should, because we are human. We have doubts. We have worries. It is in these moments we pray for God to help our unbelief. “I believe. Help my unbelief.” As the fog up ahead keeps you from knowing all that will come your way, walk with fog faith, clinging to the promises of God, trusting God at His Word, for He is the best promise keeper.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 [NIV]
Every morning, there is the usual routine. After our daily walk (weather permitting), the dogs sit inside the kitchen awaiting their food. Typically, I’ll grab their bowls and get them water, followed by their food. There are moments when I need to do something quickly before feeding them. They still stand in their places, patiently waiting for their food. They know that their master will feed them. They trust it is coming. In time, the food comes.
The Bible references many promises of God. In Matthew 6, we read about how God cares for the birds—He makes sure they are fed. This illustration is shared to show us the importance of leaning into God and not succumbing to anxiety. Too often, we allow fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to keep us from stepping into what God has ready for us. Rather than following His will and patiently trusting Him, we try to do things on our own and life becomes frazzled. We were never meant to do life alone on our strength.
Worry will get you nowhere. It cannot add a single hour to your life span. It cannot make the problem go away. It cannot change your circumstances. It cannot help in any way. Like my dogs stand patiently waiting to be fed, trusting in their master, we are to stand before our Master, trusting in Him. Even when nothing seems to go well—even when the circumstances look bad—cling to Him and His promises. Even when things are falling apart around you, stand firm in your faith. Wait obediently. He is faithful!
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 [ESV]
My dog Max often has intense dreams that get his paws moving. Early this morning, I woke up when I heard him whimpering. I did what I always do; I said, “It’s okay Max. It’s okay.” That is usually enough to calm him down. My voice. It is a voice he knows well – the voice of his master. It is a phrase I say to him a lot on our walks as I try to encourage him during his anxious, stressful moments.
This week, I am preparing a message about what Jesus said about anxiety and fear. After I told Max it would be “okay,” and he quickly calmed down, I considered how our Lord tells us in His Word that it will be “okay.” Sadly, we do not often take the time to listen to His voice or read His Word. Instead of resting in Him, instead of enjoying the peace only He offers, we allow ourselves to worry our days away.
I have seen anxiety rob friends and family of peace. I have seen the struggles of loved ones cause health problems, hospital visits, depression, and more. Worry, anxiety, fear—we all feel these things. Thankfully, we have a Father Who calls out to us. We have a Father Who still speaks to us. We have a Father Who embraces us, Who cares for us, Who knows our needs better than even we know them. He tells us to cast everything on Him. He promises He hears. He ensures His great purpose. Whatever you may be struggling with today, listen for His still small voice. Listen as He speaks to you. It’s going to be okay, my friends. Maybe it doesn’t look like it right now—but it will be okay.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 [NASB]
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]
During our morning walk there was quite a lot of water puddles to make our way around because of the crazy weather during the night. Being a Labrador, Max has no issue making his way through the puddles. I try to encourage him to walk around but sometimes he just walks right on through. With Marci it is a different story. She is a Shih Tzu. Some of the puddles we encountered this morning were like lakes to her.
As we made our way home, Max went ahead and Marci found herself right in front of a large puddle. She was frightened. She tried to run in the other direction but could not get far as she was attached to Max’s leash. I reached down to grab her and save her from the puddle. She did not know what was going on. She ran away from my hands because I think she feared we would start giving her a bath right there in the puddle. I tried to calm her. Finally I was able to get a good hold on her and I carried her over the puddle and placed her safely on dry ground.
We often reach puddles in our own lives. We are fearful to go through. We don’t know what direction to go and we can’t get very far no matter which way we turn. Sometimes we just need to walk up to the water’s edge in faith, understanding that God is right there. Our loving Father is always there. He reaches out and carries us across the turbulent waters in life. He holds us with His great strength. He guides us through the deepest waters and the darkest valleys. There is no safest place to be than in the hands of our Father. Stop squirming. Rest in Him. Let yourself be carried where He made you to be—to a place beyond our understanding. Step forward. It’s time.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 [NLT]
I have a medical condition that can make some days nearly unbearable. The pain and fatigue can cause me to not be so pleasant to be around. I try hard to keep myself in the Word and to fix my eyes on Christ, because it is very easy for me to get frustrated and act out in anger when I am not feeling very well.
God’s Word says that God Himself is slow to anger. The Bible says that we can be angry but that we should not sin because of our anger. We are not to react in anger when things are not flowing smoothly. The other morning my knee hurt, my back hurt. I was tired because the pain kept me up half the night. I was trying to work. The printer was not working properly. I reacted. I reacted in anger. I smacked the printer. I yelled. Doing that got me even more angry and frustrated. I wanted to take that printer and toss it across the back yard. Others likely heard me yelling at my printer and that wasn’t a great example.
Thankfully I calmed down. I recognized that I was going down a bad path and I took a break. I fixed my eyes on Jesus and turned on some worship music. I started to sing along. The lyrics reminded me of God’s Word. The lyrics reminded me of His promises. The anger started to disappear. My pain no longer seemed as intense. I was worshiping Him. I was feeling the peace that only He can give. Each day we are given many opportunities. We control our reactions to the circumstances and situations in our lives. We can choose anger, worry, fear, hate—or we can choose love, joy, compassion, courage, peace. We can choose to do it alone or we can choose Jesus.
“BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” – Ephesians 4:26-27 [NASB]
When I was younger, my dad taught me to carry things on my shoulders. In doing so, you are better using your body to carry the weight and less likely to get hurt. But as I became an adult, I began to pile things on my shoulders in other ways. I began to keep a hold of my problems and try to fix them myself.
Some of our problems cannot be solved alone. Some of our problems are problems because we try to do things alone. But there’s another way—another option for each one of us in life. We can give it to God. We can say, “God, I cannot do this alone. I can only do this with your help.” We can give it to Him and take a step back. We can trust Him and let go.
Piling your troubles on God’s shoulders is not giving up. Yes, you are giving up control and trusting Him with it; however, you were never in control in the first place. He was and is always in control. Even so, you are not giving up. You are giving in. Giving in to the fact that you cannot do life alone, giving in to Someone better, giving in for something more. Peace beyond understanding. Infinite power. Unconditional, everlasting love. You cannot handle this alone. He will help you out. Trust Him.
“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—
he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people
topple into ruin.”
-Psalm 55:22 [MSG]
The Psalmist described arriving at a safe house. He said God was a safe house, a sanctuary. He further said that when you arrive, you relax. You relax like you are at home. You feel safe. You feel peace. You are never sorry, NEVER SORRY that you knocked at His door, that you approached Him. You realize that “without (God), nothing makes sense” (Psalm 18:24 MSG). But with God you have all you need.
To be able to relax is a good feeling. Too often people are tense because of stressful situations or environments. People are worried about bills, dealing with family issues, trying to age slowly. People are always on guard, worried, looking over their shoulder. If you turn on the television or walk through any shopping center or mall, you will find many methods advertised for peace and relaxation. Drink this tea. Use this machine. Try this lotion. Get this organizer. Buy this home security system. But we can do all these things and more and yet still not relax.
The Psalmist understood that when you approach God, who already has His arms stretched towards you, it is then that you encounter the peace—the Prince of Peace. And when you encounter God and you accept Him into your life, you can kick off your shoes (no pun intended) and relax. I’m not saying life won’t be filled with trials and struggles, but that you’ll feel a peace you never felt before in life. As the Psalmist said, “You’re never sorry you knocked.”
“God’s a safe-house for the battered,
a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you’re never sorry you knocked.”
-Psalm 9:9-10 [MSG]