This morning, I noticed this verse in the Bible app that Brittany Malone had highlighted, and it is so perfect for a season of challenge:
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT
It would seem a harsh command to tell people in the midst of heat and drought — that you must appear happy, healthy and positive outwardly “I need you to keep up appearances that all is well” — and that you must still meet all expectations, “I need you to do more with less”. And that is NOT what this is saying.
This isn’t about faking it until you make it. Because if we have no confidence, and we are already bothered and worried, how much worse does it make it to have to “put on a happy face” or “ignore it”?
And it is easy for us to have learned through interaction with people that they are not trustworthy and to notice the signs of problems that do not instill hope, confidence, or trust. The old “wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove” verse comes to mind as wonderful advice when traveling through this world and interacting with people. But this verse isn’t a “How-To” about dealing with people. It isn’t even a “How-To” about dealing with situations and circumstances.
This is about a trusting relationship with God. And there is no question that He is trustworthy and faithful — that is the very foundation of faith. If we do not believe that He is trustworthy and faithful, we might grumble and complain even when things are easy and comfortable and wilt when things get difficult. But if we trust Him, then we can have peace even when our eyes can’t see a way out of our circumstances. And that peace is what will be the source of our not being bothered or worried.
I wrote the above early morning before church, but didn’t finish my post because I needed to head out to help at church. And just a few hours later, Mark Pangel’s sermon at 4 Points Church today hit on this same topic, so I counted it as confirmation that this is something that I need to be especially mindful of right now. Sgain, not so that I can just “try to do better”, but so that I can evaluate myself to be sure that I’m still trusting in the Lord:
And in case one confirmation wasn’t enough for my hard head, I get out of church to a private message from Ken Mayfield from The Light FM:
Now, please realize that I’m not name dropping with Brittany, Mark or Ken. Because they are just the messengers — sparking inspiration from that fire of the Holy Spirit that burns in them. I’m pointing them out because God is at work in His church, and not just on TV, and not just on the radio, and not just on the internet, and not just in the building on Sunday mornings. This isn’t about me, or about them individually. This isn’t even about honoring them — which is good and we should strive to outdo one another in honoring each other. It is truly about sho much more than that.
Recently, I have found myself out of work unexpectedly, and we have been dealing with multiple family members who are sick, a death in the family, and considering what needs to be done to meet our obligations and to maintain stability during these challenging times. I’ve recently seen my “value” within my organization and my career field go from being a highly sought after and respected leader — to feeling like a “persona non grata”.
It is a very humbling experience for someone who has always strived to work hard, to over-achieve, to embody the core values of my organization, to advocate on behalf of customers, and to coach and support my teammates. But all of those things are about my reputation as an IT professional, and that isn’t the greatest value that I have to bring to my community. No amount of my own talent, skill or experience measures up to Christ who dwells in me. And this experience is reminding me of that.
I’m not going to grumble about how things did or didn’t go. I’m not going to be bothered or worried or vengeful — regardless of whether I was treated justly or wrongly — I am going to love, and offer help and encouragement and an outstretched hand. I’m not going to burn bridges or abandon relationships — I’m going to offer reconciliation, and I’m going to reassure folks that I still am here for them even if I’m no longer a part of the organization with them anymore. I’m not hoping to undermine anyone — I’m going to encourage people to give the other guy the benefit of the doubt, to genuinely listen for the “why” and not just react to the “what”, and to be “wise as a serpent, yet harmless as a dove”. Not because I want to somehow to show or prove that I’m the better man — but because even though that devil on my shoulder has whispered thoughts and ways I know that I could get vengeance and “not get caught”, Jesus owns me, He is my Lord, and I walk to the beat of His drum now. He truly is greater, and I’m trusting that His plan is better.
I know that there are things that I’ve done and justified in my mind as being “me being right” or being “the right thing” that I could argue and justify all day long as to their reasonableness — providing evidence to support “my position”. But what good does that even do? If two people disagree, the facts don’t matter nearly as much as which person speaking the listener trusts and believes — the lies folks swallow so easily from their own political side these days should be plenty evidence of that fact. So “being justified in our own minds” is quite useless. So if I’m willing to not really care “who was right” or “who was wrong” (making it about me or them) but just seek how God could get the glory in this situation — I can see how that faith brings a peace and a willingness to offer love and peace and reconciliation instead of fear, worry, or bitterness.
I don’t know what you are going through — but I know that it is easy to pick up a sword and cut off someone’s ear if you feel justified in doing so — but Jesus taught another way.
I say, “As for me and my house, we are going to trust the Lord.”
And I’ll say that time and time again, even knowing that I don’t “get it right” many times — especially when I feel like I could successfully “argue why I’m right”. We have to get past “I’m right and you’re wrong” to trusting the Lord, whether we have been treated fairly or unfairly. If we are facing a challenge, do we not trust that the Lord disciplines the ones that He loves? Do we not trust that we can walk upon the waters? Do we not trust that He protects and strengthens us?
Lord, forgive us for our foolish ignorance and pride and for making things about “us” and “them” rather than about you. Help us, Lord, to be filled with you, with the peace that bears the fruit of your Holy Spirit. This is the blessing we long for, for ourselves, and for your beloved children. Amen.