Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had a number of visits from Care Team members this week.  He's watched rugby and cricket.  He was quite emotional during a prayer time, and waved his left arm around.  He responded with lots of smiles to a friend's visit as she shared testimonies.  He seemed happy to get news of various situations.  I'm so grateful for the Care Team's love and care for Floyd.  Their kindness and service in spending time with Floyd is such a gift.

This week as I was reflecting on worrying, I had the picture come into my mind of a worm.  I've never liked worms.  They're all wiggly and squishy - and dirty!  

I think worrying can "worm" it's way into our minds.  One little thought of worry can dig its way into our thoughts.  Before we know it, we have a whole worm farm!

I've found it interesting that when I was so very weak, it was easier not to worry.  I didn't have the strength to worry.  As strength and energy have returned, it's easier to worry.  I have to make it a daily, conscious choice not to worry.....because there will always be things to worry about.

I grew up around someone who worried all the time.  That person worried about things that never happened.  It was a bit consuming!  I always said that I never wanted to be like that.  And yet those little worms can wiggle their way into my thoughts when I least expect it.

Worry is useless.  It doesn't get us anywhere in the situations we are facing, but it can greatly impact us.  It can bring stress to our mind and body.  Doctors warn that worry can affect us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Worry tends to happen when we take on a job that God didn't intend for us to have.  God wants us to cast our burdens on Him, and to let Him direct our paths.  Worry can affect our decisions and our judgements.  Instead of turning to God and seeking His counsel and wisdom, we can try to work things out on our own.

I've learned, I'm still learning, that when a "worry worm" pops up - I need to turn the worries into prayers.  God is always available to listen and help us.  Worry simply reflects our lack of faith or our lack of trust in Him to help us.

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries."  Matthew 6:34

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you."  1 Peter 5:7

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God's peace."  Philippians 4:6,7

"Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you."  Psalm 55:22

"Worry weighs a person down."  Proverbs 12:25

There are so many verses about not being anxious, not worrying, not being fearful.  He is Sovereign.  We can trust Him with every burden, every concern, every worry!

I think the response to worry that we need to have is found in this passage from Habakkuk 3:17-18:

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even thought the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!"

There is nothing - no worry, no care, no concern, no problem, no sickness, no disaster, no calamity - that should draw us away from trusting in our Mighty God!  We can always, always, always be joyful in Him and in His goodness.

There's another area of survival that I've been learning over these many months.  Choosing to trust and not worry helps us in learning to "live above our circumstances."  The only way to get through a long, hard trial is "one day at a time."  And to do that, to survive day by day, we have to learn to live above our circumstances.  

It sounds simple, but it takes consciously, continually trusting the Lord.  Without that, we get mired down in our trials.  We get discouraged, and ultimately we become defeated.  The enemy can have a heyday in our minds when this happens.

When Job was in the midst of his trials, he didn't lose his trust in God.  "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."  Job 1:21

He goes on later to say "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."  Job 13:15

Job went through some pretty rough trials, yet I think He learned to live above his circumstances because He understood who God was and he trusted Him completely.  His friends didn't!  But he did.

When we're going through a hard trial, understanding will fail us and let us down, but trust will keep us close to Him.  I would say that I rarely "understand" fully what the trial is all about.  In fact, I have a few questions I'd really like to ask the Lord someday!  But what helps me keep going is trusting Him, which in turn keeps me close to His heart.

When we face hard things and trials surround us we are tempted to find someone or something to blame.  We often complain.  We immediately try to find answers and solutions.  We can become angry that God "allowed" the trial.  We can start asking all the "why" questions.  None of these paths will actually help us.  They will only complicate the hard situation.

But there are a few "keys" that I've found to be helpful.  I'm sure there are actually many more, but these are ones that have been beneficial to me:

·      We need to immediately cast our burdens and cares on Him.  There is no benefit to be gained by holding on to them ourselves and trying to find our own solutions.  "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you."  1 Peter 5:7

·      We need to recognize (declare!!) that God is able to take care of us in the circumstances, in the trial, that we are walking through.  He is bigger than ANY problem we are facing.  Pray that out to Him.  Thank Him for His greatness, His power, and His love for you.  

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8,9

I love that verse!  It puts everything into perspective.

·      We need to seek His counsel.  It's wonderful to talk to friends.  It's helpful to get the input of others.  But most important is to go to God and seek His counsel for the trial we're walking through.  Sometimes the more we talk about a situation, the worse it becomes.  We need to spend time with God and seek His perspective, His heart, and His counsel.  

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."  Proverbs 3:5,6

·      Remember that circumstances, situations may change, but God doesn't!  He is the same yesterday, today, forever.  He is the Rock we can stand on.  He is our refuge in the stormy trials.  He is our place of safety and security.  

"For I am the Lord, I do not change, but remain faithful to My covenant with you."  Malachi 3:6

·      We need to trust, trust, TRUST!!!  Don't let anything shake our trust in Him.  We must trust Him with our whole heart.  We must stand against the lies of the enemy that would in any way make us think He's not trustworthy - or that it's God's fault that we are in the trial we're facing.

"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."  Psalm 9:10

·      We must keep worshipping and praising Him in the midst of the hard times.  Worship lifts the weight of heaviness that grips our hearts in the trial.  Worship helps keep our focus on Him.  Worship allows Him to pour truth, grace, peace, and strength into our hearts. 

"In every situation, no matter what the circumstances, be thankful and continually give thanks to God."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

There are so many wonderful, powerful verses that help us to live above the circumstances!  I can't share them all, but there are a few more that I must include:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7

"Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.  They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look up in triumph on their foes."  Psalm 112:6-8

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."  Isaiah 26:3

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!"   We can hang on to Jesus - He'll help us in living above our circumstances.  He won't let us fall.  He wants to help us.  He wants us to live victoriously in any and every circumstance.