It's Going To Be OK. Really.

A century ago, in his devotional for daily reading, Oswald Chambers wrote of the "undisturbedness" of God.  (See My Utmost for His Highest . . . August 26).  He wrote that God's peace, as offered by Jesus in John 14, "is a peace which comes from looking into His face and realizing His undisturbedness."

All parents know that their children's reaction to events such as their first fall from a tricycle depends largely on how Mom or Dad reacts.  All rescue personnel live by the rule to keep calm the injured, the victim, the rescued, etc.  Parents and EMTs often fake such calmness.  Inside - they're not quite as relaxed.

God, on the other hand, needs no acting skills.  He remains undisturbed.  Not because He doesn't care.  In fact, quite the opposite.  He cares and He can handle those events in your life that trouble you - even the ones you cause.

As the angels said to Mary and also to the shepherds, "do not be afraid!"

God does not fret.

Belay On?

"Belay on?"  Any wise climber asks that question before he or she grips rocks and locates toeholds.  A belayer is a climber's best friend - an actual lifeline holder. 

My youngest son recently joined a rock gym climbing club.  Before doing so, he and I went to the gym where he climbed while I belayed.  As he ascended the wall higher and higher, I provided more rope.  When he was ready to descend, I monitored his return to the ground.  I never let go of the rope. 

Any belayer worth his or her salt always keeps a solid grip. 

Climbers trust their belayers and really don't need to ask, "Belay on?" Yet they do because the response to the affirmative "Belay on!" provides rock-solid (pun intended) comfort. 

For me, the Word of God (Bible) is my "Belay on!" from God.  He assures me of what I have trusted for over 30 years - His love.  I don't really need to ask, "Belay on?" (as in, "God, have You got this?  Are You here for me?").  His word assures me over and over that He is in control.  He says loudly and clearly, "Belay on!"

Trust in the Lord

Designed to do so, a magazine column's title caught my eye.  I read the words printed in bold type -- "In trusts we trust" (Orman). 

We observe the repeated pattern.  We see it in Cain's faulty offering; in Achan's sin; in the greed of the kings of Israel and Judah; in Malachi's cry against robbing God; in Judas' thirty silver coins; in Ananias and Sapphira dropping dead in their doorways and in our own habits today.  We see the pattern of trusting in material possessions more so than God's provision.

A few years ago, as my family sat around our dining table sharing a meal and conversation, the topic of money arose - during which I observed that it would probably be really fun to have a whole lot of money.  To that, my youngest son replied, "You need a whole lot of God."  Out of the mouths of babes!  Whether by happenstance or design, my son summarized the words of Jesus.
19-21 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
22-23 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!
24 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both. 
Matthew 6:19-24 (The Message)

As one trusts the Lord, he or she learns to store treasures in the proper box, Two practices that you can embrace will help you store your treasures well:

1)  Discover Contentment.
Once we start on the cycle of "If only . . . ," there is no stopping.  We pray for a new job, but then imagine life would be much more pleasant if we got a promotion.  Two weeks after the promotion, we realize the new boss is a jerk and think how much better it would be if we had a new supervisor.  This obsessive rewriting of our desires and expectations can drive us crazy.  (Thomas Nov. 20)

Practice contentment!

2)  Trust in the Lord.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!

Proverbs 3:5-7 (The Message)

Jesus taught us to pray for daily bread.  Have you ever noticed that children ask for lunch in utter confidence that it will be provided.  They have no need to stash away today's sandwiches for fear none will be available tomorrow.  As far as they are concerned, there is an endless supply of sandwiches.  (Foster 40)

For further reading . . .
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1998.

Orman, Suze.  "In trusts we trust." The Costco Connection. (March 2013): 15.

Thomas Gary, "Seek Soul Satisfaction / The 'If Only' Cycle" Men of Integrity. Vol. 15, No. 6 (2012): Nov. 20, 2012.

What is Vital?

Take a few moments to write down ten things that give your life meaning.

If you lost a great (or a small) number of your list, how would you feel?  You will lose people precious to you and possessions you protect.  Your health will decline; many of your dreams will fail to come true.  All things considered, you do well to practice some soul-searching centering on this one question -- What is vital?

In perhaps one of the most disconcerting books in the Bible and, therefore, also one of the least read, we learn of Job's life experience.  Bottom line -- Job lost it all -- nearly.  Crops, herds, friends, wealth, health, sons, daughters, respect, and so forth -- to the point that his wife advised him to curse God and die!  (With a spouse like that, who needs enemies?)

Job's journey proved painful, to say the least.  The book of Job is composed of 42 chapters.  For the first 37 chapters, God never speaks to Job.  God lifts His hand of protection from His faithful servant and bothers not to inform him of the reason.  God remained silent.  That fact speaks with volume.  Job's testing, in addition to all the physical and financial suffering, included waiting for God to speak.  God forced Job to search for the truth while hearing the faulty advice and careless corrections of his friends.

Since, as in the case of Job, your life journey will require waiting, you do well to do so equipped with those things which are vital for your journey.  What is vital?

We find the answer to that question in the writings of the Apostle Paul.  To the believers in Corinth, Paul wrote . . .
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

Hold on to what is vital:

Got Chaos?

With wit and punch, Dorothy Sayers asked "Creed or Chaos?"  In her brief but nevertheless masterfully written work, Sayers challenged her readers to accept that if one holds no creed, one chooses chaos. 

Coming from a long tradition of being a non-creedal people (a tradition which holds that only the Bible's words should serve as a believer's theological guide) I, nevertheless, find the grounding words of The Apostles' Creed and The Nicene Creed helpful as summaries of the core teaching of the Church.  (By the "Church," I mean all Christ-following individuals who collectively are the Body of Christ.)

One who desires to follow Christ needs to embrace core teachings (Bible-based) that guide his or her life.  Sayers wrote . . .

The thing I am here to say to you is this: that it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine,steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it.  (page 31)
Chaos is defined as "complete disorder and confusion."  That state of being serves as a poor alternative to believing and living grounded in core-teaching.

Choose your creed. 
Stand by your creed. 
Choose creed over chaos. 

For further reading:
Sayers, Dorothy L. Creed or Chaos? New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949.