What do I mean by saying “See beyond what you can see”? Did you start your new year off with a “theme word or phrase”? Everywhere I turn people have selected words related to vision for 2020 since 20/20 eyesight means you have perfect vision. But no-one seems more excited about the idea of 20/20 […]
Maybe you can think of a dozen reasons that fear shouldn’t hang out at your house, but I can tell you one great, big, huge, hairy reason it can’t stay at my house. Before I share this 1 reason you can’t let fear stay, let me tell you how I learned that lesson. I […]
It’s FUN! Really? People try to explain it to me, but I don’t get it. This whole fear factor element behind the way some folks celebrate Halloween.They defend their enjoyment with “It’s fun! It’s an adrenal rush!” My daughter echoed my sentiments when she shared the stark terror one little boy encountered at one […]
My garden is blooming in a rainbow of colors. Join me…I want to share with you what I saw and learned. Brown eyed Susans stand in rigid bouquets. Tiny white blooms cascade from the wheelbarrow that Wayne made me from leftover log siding. Yellow and fuchsia colored mums compete with pink and yellow roses are […]
It’s a National Treasure on display in the Museum of Natural History. Its name stirred my curiosity as much as the color and light dazzled my eyes. I imagined that this magnificent Hope Diamond had earned its inspiring name by bringing hope and light to the heart of some desperate person. So my curiosity took me […]
She only lived three blocks away. We lived at house number 308 and she lived at 415, straight down the dirt road, beside the church I had attended my whole life. I thought I was grown, but I was probably 7 years old. You can imagine how long ago that was. I bring that up […]
What? You don’t believe me? You heard me right! Call me a rebel! Laugh! Go ahead. But I’ve made up my mind! I’m just NOT gonna do it! I’ve failed too many times. OK. So I sorta am going to make a resolution. But I AM going to make one resolution…one focused resolve for […]
She sat behind the steering wheel of her car with her keys in one hand and her purse in the other. She pushed the door lock for what seemed the hundredth time and visually checked the other doors, before she leaned her head back onto the steering wheel where she sobbed. Deep sobs. Painful, fearful […]
My mom’s words were a warning, “I see you!” They still echo across the canyons of time. A stern warning that made me, as a sensitive little kid, stop what I was doing and want to run hide. Sometimes I did…hide …in the cluttered closet, behind the blankets and boxes and shoes or sometimes under […]
We had a gorgeous snow time in Michigan. Kayden was born on a snowy afternoon and it is still snowing. They closed schools for two days to celebrate Kayden’s birth. No, actually we celebrated and the school board protected kids from dangerous, icy roads. It was so cold, that the salt wouldn’t melt the […]
It was a dark foggy, moonless night in the mountains. The headlight beams of his Jeep bounced and jiggled as the tired traveler headed toward his log home. As soon as Jim topped the hill, he spotted a small rabbit in the extremities of his headlights as it shot across the road. Jim slowed his vehicle to be sure that he didn’t hit the rabbit.
The bunny crossed at a blurring speed, reached the edge of the road, then leaped high into the air to cross the ditch that twisted and turned parallel to the road. But in the instant it took the rabbit to leap and while the rabbit was still mid-air, an owl swooped down and snatched the rabbit away in his talons. Not a pretty picture if you like rabbits.
What is that makes a rabbit or a squirrel, for that matter, want to dart across the road just in front of your car? It’s a mystery to me, but it has happened more times than I can count. You’re driving along, minding your own business, when an adorable little creature darts out of nowhere, directly into your path. It makes me ask the proverbial question, “Why did the rabbit cross the road?” And Wayne answers, “Because he was chicken, silly!”
But look at this picture for a minute. The rabbit was safe beside the road. The grass was tall. The night was foggy. He was safe– until he moved. He was safe until he crossed the road. What drove him from his safe place to the owl’s dinner plate? The bright headlights must have frightened the small creature and drove him from his feeding place to a dinner plate. Fear drove the rabbit from a safe place into a dangerous place.
And what about you? Have you ever allowed fear or panic or stress to drive you from a safe place into a dangerous place. Panic will do that to you. Panic will make you do crazy things…crazy things. It will catapult you from a safe place into a disastrous place!
I’m not advocating moving into a fetal position or into a cowardice hiding place. That’s living in fear. If you’re living in fear, you’re already living in a disastrous place. And you need to take steps to get free from the fear that imprisons you.
God has a shelter for you. I’m not talking about a hide-a-way where the enemy cannot find you. His shelter is not a place of inactivity or immobility. It’s a place of strength, faith and confidence. It’s a bold place. A grace place. His shelter–His house–a place to live–God’s presence.
Psalms 91 describes it for us. Psalms 91:1 NLT Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare of the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. 4 He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, 6 nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 But you will see it with your eyes; you will see how the wicked are punished. 9 If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,
Did you see the description in verse 1; “rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This rest goes beyond reclining or resting in the shade of a tree. It reflects a state of emotional rest and confidence. Stepping out because you trust Him.
It’s like a son following close in his father’s shadow. When Jason, my son was little, he would play in his dad’s shadow. The shadow was so big, his tiny steps could hardly keep up and stay inside the shadow. In order to stay in his dad’s shadow he had to stay with his dad. No rabbit trails. No running off. No stopping to play in the mud. He had to stay with his dad.
Walking in His shadow is restful, but you are confident in Him. It is living, breathing, and walking in His strength. Luke 17:28 KJV “For in him we live, and move, and have our being ;” It is leaning into Him. Learning from Him, listening to Him.
Exodus 14:10 describes a scene where the people of God start to panic. Now panic will make you do crazy things…crazy things. After spectacular miracles and amazing favoritism sent by the hand of God, the Jewish people stood on the banks of the Red Sea. No bridge. No boat. Not even a detour was possible, because they watched as Pharaoh’s army marched closer and closer. NLT “As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic, and they cried out to the LORD for help” They cried out to God, but it you follow the next verse, their cries seem to be more panic filled complaints, because next they turned on Moses to vent their frustration and fear. Moses encouraged them with faith filled words. God had a plan.
And He still does. But finding the plan means embracing Him. Living and walking close enough to Him that you can hear His voice and follow where He is leading. Psalms 37:7 NLT “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”
Don’t let fear drive you from your safe place. Build your faith and confidence about who He is by feeding your Spirit. Let me repeat the instructions from Psalms 37:
- Be Still
- Don’t Worry
- Don’t Fret
The shortest route and his all too frequent business trips took Normand down the same road, past the same houses, past the same ponds and past the same trees. But one day Normand noticed a strange looking tree. He felt that there was a message in the tree, but he didn’t stop.
After a while of persistent reminders, Normand stopped long enough to take a picture, no doubt it was a strange sight. One that I probably would have never even noticed. Maybe he wouldn’t have either, but God had something to say to Normand.
If you look closely you’ll see that the tree had experienced a terrible storm. Maybe it was one of the hurricanes that had stomped through that area, leaving a trail of devastation. Maybe it was a really bad thunderstorm or a sudden twister, but regardless of what the storm was called it knocked that massive tree completely down. The tree thundered to the ground, tree limbs crashed and shattered and scattered and withered and died. Most of the roots were uprooted, exposed to dry and die in the hot, southern summer heat. Only one limb survived the crash, soon it began to show signs of death. First the leaves withered and dropped and then the limb completely died of malnutrition.
The massive trunk of the fallen tree was down, but it wasn’t dead. It had roots that went deep into the ground. Those roots were bringing nourishment to that fallen tree and it began to grow new branches. Branches and limbs that turned upward, reaching for the sun! Erect limbs, strong limbs, full and lush like the original tree. When I look at the tree, I don’t hardly even see the trunk that still lays prostrate on the ground. I see the beauty of a lush tree, sprawling branches that produce a haven for wild animals. A place where cows can escape the glaring sun and ruminated in its shade. It might have been taller if it hadn’t been knocked down by a storm, but the fact that it endured the storm and thrived afterward is a message that surpasses just being tall.
As Normand studied the picture, God gave him a precious message. Sometimes trouble comes that absolutely knocks you down to the ground. Sometimes storms so furious hit our lives that they would absolutely destroy us, except for one thing–there are some roots still in the ground. And for a believer those roots are rooted deep in the Word of God and the love of God. Those roots bring life and hope. Those roots bring nourishment and peace. Those roots bring encouragement and strength. And as that life flows into the trunk, the tree begins to grow. It’s so gradual no one, except the tree even notices. It’s even too slow to be captured on one of those time-lapse videos. It’s slow, but that tree is growing and it’s growing toward the sun.
I don’t know what has happened in your life. Maybe you’ve been knocked down so hard, that it knocked the breath out of you! Maybe it stripped you of all the beautiful things in life and you feel absolutely worthless. But that tree is a reminder, you may be down, but you’re not out– if you stay rooted in the soil of God’s Word and love! It may not be the same as before, but it can be even better. Normand passed hundreds of trees that day, but he only took a picture of one tree, one tree that not only survived the storm, but thrived after it. And so can you. You may be down, but honey, you’re not out! And you will grow again.
Maybe you’re thinking, even my roots where shattered in that storm…I don’t know if I can trust God.I don’t know if I even believe that stuff anymore. My precious friend, as lovingly as I know how to say this, STOP IT! Don’t go down that road. There’s quicksand in the paths of those thought patterns. We don’t understand the why, but I can tell you, never, never for one second has God deserted you. He is with you and He wants to help you in this dark time. If your roots have been shattered, then I want to tell you…grow some more. Get in the Bible. OK, I don’t mean literally try to get in the Bible, what I should have said is get the Bible in you! Read encouraging verses. Skip over the “begats” for awhile and eat some meat from the Scriptures. (I know, I know…even the begats have a purpose, but trust me here, sink your teeth in a promise that builds you.) Declare the truth of those verses over your life, numerous times each day. Declare them and pray them until you believe them. The Scriptures should do more than feed your intellect, they are food for your soul. They should nourish you, but this only takes place when you assimilate them through thinking about them and allowing them to change the way you think.
Thank you Normand for stopping, for listening and for taking a picture! And thank you God for using a tree to remind me that I will grow again, even after a terrible storm.
Daniel 4:26 nlt But the stump and the roots were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.
Isaiah 43:2 nlt When you go through deep waters and great trouble, 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.
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