“This is the best of times, this is the worst of times.” Dickens, Tale of Two Cities
We are living in some very interesting times right now. In my lifetime I have not encountered anything like this – mandated to stay home, empty shelves, mass panic.
I did live in Guatemala for over 2 years and there were shortages. I lived without water and electricity for 6 weeks! Mind you, I was 5 months pregnant at the time so of course that makes it all the more emotional. We had some of the same emotions then as we do now. At first, it’s assessment. Then, you get to a place you just have to move on. Especially for those of us who know the Lord. You have to move past the unknown because you know that God holds the future in His very capable hands.
Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
This is part of a passage that God had given to me for this year. I had no idea how important it would be for right now. It has actually been read to me twice in the last 24 hours. Do you notice how the tide turns when we rejoice? I believe it because we get our minds off the circumstances and ourselves and onto our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our circumstances change pretty constantly, but God NEVER changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrew 13:7) I can trust God because He is constant. My world is so fluid and it changes at a rate that is incomprehensible at times, but I can trust the ANCHOR that my life is attached too.
Did you know that feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are? My sister’s father-in-law coined that phrase and I just heard it again and I have come to realize the truth of these words. Feelings are just feelings. Oh yes, they can be pretty strong at times. And whether on the good side or bad, they are a very integral part of our lives. It’s what we do with them that matters. If I am angry, then if I lash out and destroy someone with my words, I have sinned. Period. How about in my joy I am careless and break something? Maybe not a sin, but an apology is in order. So, it’s what we do with these strong emotions that sets apart someone who is growing and maturing in Christ.
I was taking part in a lecture series and heard a life coach use an analogy. “I notice…….I wonder.” It didn't really make a lot of sense until I noticed myself feeling frustrated. Let me show you how this works.
“I notice I get very upset and defensive when I am criticized. I wonder if, instead of reacting I walk away for a few moments to calm down, I would either respond quietly or, not respond at all?”
How do I know this works? Because I have been making this a new habit. I am quick to defend myself, and explain my actions. But God is calling me higher. By adding angry words to a situation it usually makes things worse and then a raging fire has started. So, in light of this current situation I could apply it like so:
“I notice that everyone is on panic-mode. I wonder if I keep still and quiet, I can not add any fuel to the fire?” Let me tell you, I am so glad that God has asked me to be QUIET since last week because it has kept me at peace. God has asked me to not add myself to the problem.
Whether that be at the store, in a group setting or at a scheduled doctor’s visit. I currently have some pretty sore feet. I noted in here about our trip to Europe last fall. I walked about 70 miles in two weeks. Me, the one who had a major affliction. Well, on February 6, my girls and I stole away to Disneyland for a quick day trip. Wow. It was so much fun crisscrossing the park and doing all the things that we love. Mint julep in New Orleans Square. Indiana Jones. Dole Whip (times 2)! Space Mountain, which is my absolute favorite roller coaster. And……we were able to go on the new Star Wars Rise of the Resistance. Yes, it was worth the all day wait. But, you don’t wait in line. You wait for your group, then go. Well, anyhoo, all the walking got my feet into trouble. Because I had not been walking very much at all during my affliction, my body had gotten used to sitting. I had tried working up to lots of walking, but it never got that far. In Europe and at Disneyland, I just did it. Well, I am paying for it now.
I have a broken toe, now healed over with scar tissue because I waited too long to go in, I have bursitis on the other foot, and now I have problems with my ankles. I think it is the talus bone. I had gone to the doctor right before this epidemic and was diagnosed with nerve pain. He set me up for PT. In talking with others, I was encouraged to call my chiropractor. After 3 cancelled appointments, he made a house call last night. He discovered that my talus and tibia were slightly out of whack (as in 1 mm!!). I had a couple of very hard landings in London where my breath was taken away on a normal step, and he believes that could have caused some movement. And, then lots of walking causing more problems. Yikes.
I realized that when one has an affliction, when one is healed, there could be some additional areas of problems.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5
I don’t know about you, but this is an area in need of a great overhaul in my life. Did you notice that this is couched here in the rejoice verses? There must be something that marries rejoicing with gentleness – maybe because you are a joyful person, you are gentle because the two exist together. Have you ever seen someone who is gentle in her demeanor, and then turn around and be completely depressed? Or angry? Come to think of it, I haven’t either. I think Paul was onto something when he put these two together.
The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5
Again, here we have something that seems to be unrelated to the subject at hand. Rejoice. Gentleness. Then…..the Lord is near. Why would Paul say it like this? I don’t know about you, but I ask these types of questions. Why would Paul put this here? In this section? In this passage? Something to meditate about.
Do not be anxious about anything. Philippians 4:6
Ok. Here’s the rub. It does not say, what we choose to be anxious about. Or something we have control over. Rather – ANYTHING. I am not to worry about anything. Boy, this is much easier to say than to do. In these very uncertain times God is stating that we are not to be anxious. In the Greek, the sentence reads: Be careful for nothing. Careful is merimnao in Greek and it means to be anxious about. Be troubled. I think the reason we are to not have a care for things IS because God is near. He can handle it. He knows exactly what is going on. He is at the helm of the ship. He is in the driver’s seat of this thing called life and He is directing our lives however He wants. His Sovereign will always comes to pass. Always.
Does God cause COVID-19? I am not going to say yes or no. There are many passages in Scripture that talk about plagues and such. But….Can God use this to point us to Him? YES YES YES. He is always in the business of getting our eyes off of self and onto Him. He desires that we walk in communion with Him fixing our gaze directly before us, onto His Son (Hebrews 12:1-2). And guess what? When we are ONLY looking at Him, not turning to the right or to the left, we have no cares. Because we are only gazing in His eyes. Simple as that.
But in everything by prayer and petition, WITH thanksgiving, present your requests to God (NLT: tell God what you need). Philippians 4:6
Talk with God. We are to run to Him with everything. Any need. Hurt. Petition. I have had my share of begging before the throne. Pleading for mercy. Pleading for healing. Asking for grace. I also ask for more faith. More of Him. We are called to be a people of prayer. It is not a spiritual gift. It is what we are called to do as Christians. Could you imagine having a child and NEVER talking with him? I mean never. Well, we can equate that with God. He wants us in communication with Him all the time. All throughout the day. Do we have to close our eyes when we pray? I hope not, because I would have been in a lot of accidents if we did. Yes, there are times when we are to go to our closets, and I think it is so we can minimize distractions, but there are times when we just want to talk and God just wants to listen. And, He wants to talk to us to throughout the day. He wants to shower us with His presence. It is not just about getting from Him, it is about receiving what He has for us. I believe there is a difference.
Back to the anchor that I mentioned above. I studied and taught on Acts back in 2017 and I was struck then by something that seems inconsequential, but is meaningful to me.
Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. Acts 27:29
I think it’s time to drop four anchors. Throw out our lifelines to God and hold on. This is the time that God was pointing to me back on July 10, 2017. That’s the date next to this verse. I even drew a picture of this. God is so good at leading us and it is at times like this that I am listening very intently to His voice, and what He says to me in His Word. I have put out my four anchors:
Letting my gentleness be known
Knowing of His nearness
Praying and telling God what I really need