Tag Archives: fear

Snake on My Toe!

brown firewood
Photo by Paula on Pexels.com

The six cords of wood are now stacked in neat piles in our backyard right beside my clothesline. (I have the type of line that is looped around pulleys so you stand in one spot, hang the clothes, and pull the line for more space.) As I’m standing there, I hear the tarp atop the wood rustle. My mind instantly wonders what made the noise, and visions of the snakes we found there while moving the wood into our garage came into view. Then, I felt something on my flip-flop covered foot! SNAKE! Of course, I jumped and looked down to see the extra rope from my clothesline brushing across my foot.

Now, I really don’t mind snakes. To be honest, if I had looked down and seen a huge hairy spider on my toe, the jig would have been much more exotic! Fear can be paralyzing, literally paralyzing! For just a moment the fear of a snake coiling around my leg overtook my senses.

What do you fear?  What is your worst nightmare and has it come true? Oh, the agony and dread that situations—real-life situations—put us through! One of my favorite phrases that I often heard from my mom was this, “I don’t see how people get through life without God.”

Last evening, as we watched an episode of “Little House on the Prairie” I was amazed at what I heard. The Ingles’ son had just died (Yes, I realize that was an addition from the original books); he was only a few months old. And as they stood there in the doctor’s office, Charles holding Carolyn his arms, he began to quote Psalm 23. Wow! As he quoted it, even my heart became quiet!

“There is a place of quiet rest—
near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest—
near to the heart of God.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UnFNHWJ0tA

One of the most amazing verses in the Bible is, James 4:8:

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Do you see what this says?  It doesn’t say…

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh…

  • If He has time
  • If you deserve it
  • If He thinks you are serious
  • If you…

You fill in the blank! The only requirement—and it is a serious one—is to draw close to God. How do you do that? This post is long enough. Maybe I’ll study that one out for next time!

But remember, as a born-again child of God…

The worst can never happen because I will never be forsaken by God!
(Quote from Jennifer Marks :))

When your heart is breaking

 

ID-100234581Rip! Tear! Snap!  What was that? Oh, it was just my heart, breaking in two! What are you facing, dear reader? For me, it was saying goodbye to my son, daughter-by-choice, and three grandchildren: ages one, three, and five. It’s breaking my heart!

For eight years, my son and his family have lived close by. For seven of those years, he and his wife served beside us in our ministry. Now, they will be 1,200 miles way: yes, close enough to drive to, yes, we’ll see them again, but that’s not the point!  No more grandkid sleep-overs—watching the cousins play together, no more family gatherings for every holiday, (especially Memorial Day and July 4th which had become a family tradition). No more singing together in church as a family, no more just stopping in, no more… It’s done.

I can look at others in our small congregation who are facing HUGE trials which make me feel like a spoiled brat—and I am, or have been, but that doesn’t make the pain go away! I can quote one of my favorite lines from Ever After, where Cinderella’s stepmother says, “Just remember, things can always get worse.” It’s true!  What comfort!  At least, it makes me laugh, albeit a little too hysterically.

I’ve been really thinking a lot about Job lately—now that will put things into the right perspective! He lost everything. Do you realize that HE LOST EVERYTHING?!!!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:20,21

Now there’s a man with a proper focus!  He never shows a “poor me” attitude, he doesn’t blame God, he doesn’t blame the servants by saying something stupid like, “What were you doing over there near the Sabeans anyway!” He doesn’t bemoan his children’s actions: “I told them to build stronger houses, and what were they all doing together? Didn’t you see this coming?”  He didn’t even blame himself by saying, “I should have…”  He simply accepts it as from the Lord.  Some would call that weak.  I’d call it amazing grace, which we cannot work up. It MUST come from God.  When times are really tough, we can only anchor ourselves in the grace which we receive through our time in prayer and His Word, coming to our God with a yielded heart.

But that’s not all! When Satan smites Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown (2:6), there are no words this time.  I’m not sure if the scraping with pieces of broken clay pots and sitting in ashes were medicinal or acts of contrition—probably a little of both, but we see a man who gets no help from anyone. We often think ill of Job’s wife, but can we even imagine this woman’s overwhelming grief?  We don’t know the time lapse between Satan’s first and second attack, but we do know that the first attack was sudden, all at one time. In a matter of moments, everything is gone.  Was she there when the servants came running in with bad news, one right after another? Where they still digging through the rubble to find the bodies of her children? How long did she have to even try to digest the information before she awoke to find her husband writhing in pain?  And what would you have said?  I can’t condemn her! And once again, Job’s comment stops us short:

…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (2:10)

Where will you go for comfort? For healing?  What will you try to use to fill up the empty, aching hole in your heart? How are you going to react? Anger feels so good and bitterness tastes sweet when we allow Satan to whisper in our ear!

I have chosen to stay on my Rock, and here is my mantra:

Lord, I will trust You –

When I don’t understand

When my heart is breaking

When I am alone

When I am poor

When my character has been maligned

When I am tired

When I am empty

When I am discouraged

When I am depressed

When I am questioning EVERYTHING

When I am full of doubts

When my dreams are shattered, I will trust YOU!

And I will NOT stop praising and serving You!

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

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Blinded by Fear

It was a forty-year-old Moses who left Egypt and became a shepherd at the foot of Mt. Sinai.  For the next forty years, he herded sheep for Jethro, the Midianite priest who became his father-in-law.  (By the way, Midian was a son of Abraham and Keturah, the woman that Abraham married after Sarah died!  Amazing!)

For forty years he lived on the back side of the desert.  Did he ever think of his exotic life in the Egyptian palace as the son of Pharaoh?  He was an educated man, a man accustomed to wealth and ease, a conquering hero…and a broken man.  Life crashed in around him when he discovered his true identity and tried to put life into a new box—a box in which he did not fit!  His life was now simple, perhaps even complete: He had a wife and two sons and a job where he could be successful.

Then came the call of God. As you read Exodus three and follow the conversation between God and Moses, it becomes clear that Moses has not yet understood this God—the God of the Hebrew slaves which he left.  At the burning bush God outlines His plan, taking four verses to do so, and Moses humbly replies, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 4:11) The next verse is amazing!  God says:

Certainly I will be with thee;and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee:When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

 

God has just told Moses that he would be successful in this venture; he would return to this mountain and serve God there!  It was a done deal, but that’s not what Moses heard.  His ears were tuned into all the past fears that he had brought with him out of the land of Egypt!

When Moses once again questions God as to His name, and God calls himself I AM THAT I AM, God once again outlines His plan, this time taking eight verses to do so!  He tells Moses exactly what will happen:

  1. Go to the elders and tell them I will visit them and have seen their affliction
  2. I will bring them out to the Promised Land
  3. They WILL listen to you
  4. The king of Egypt will NOT listen
  5. I WILL smite Egypt
  6. He WILL let you go
  7. The people will spoil Egypt

Can you imagine if the Lord laid some venture on your heart, and as you prayed about it, God spoke to you and told you exactly what was going to happen?  Yes, there would be some bumpy spots, but in the end you would be successful.  That’s exactly what God did for Moses and yet he continues to plead incompetence, even after his rod became a snake and his hand was eaten away with leprosy.

Where is the turning point? In verse fourteen, God is angry with Moses!  But He doesn’t’ dismiss Moses; instead, he tells him that Aaron will be his voice.

We’ve all been there—faithless.  Moses does not have faith in God because he is crippled with fear:

  1. Lord, they won’t believe me: the fear of man is probably the most crippling fear that stops us from being all that God KNOWS that we can be! There are one hundred forty-five Bible verses that contain the words fear not!  Moses didn’t have those words, but he went on to write twenty-five of them! We have them all, written by our heroes:  Joshua, Samuel, David, Nehemiah, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel Joel, Amos, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Luke, John, Paul, Peter and John! Perhaps a study on the phrase fear not would refocus our view.
  2. But I can’t _____ : You fill in the blank. In Moses’ case, he felt he couldn’t speak well.  God then reminds him that He is the One who makes the dumb, deaf, seeing and blind.  God gives us all that we need to do the job that He expects us to do.  It may have been a fact that Moses had these difficulties, and isn’t that just like God to give us a job that requires our greatest inadequacies, to strengthen our trust in Him as well as bring Him all the glory?

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;

and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

And base things of the world, and things which are despised,

hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

1 Corinthians 1:27,28

 

  1. Send someone else: Moses feels so incompetent that he cannot hear all the promises of God. He finally asks God to send someone else.  We have no idea what Moses faced in Egypt.  We do know that Pharaoh wanted to kill him—that’s pretty serious!  Not many of us need to run for our lives!  To put it into today’s terms, Moses was suffering from a major victim mentality!

Perhaps the greatest blessing from this passage is this: Even though God knew that Moses would be successful, he gave Moses the comfort which he needed to get the job done—his brother!  God promises to never leave us or forsake us, even when we have run from Him.  He promises to equip us with His own power and strength; and like Moses, He often sends us exactly what we need to do the job.  Maybe it’s a friend or mentor; perhaps it’s the finances we need or the equipment necessary to finish the job.  Often those “packages of blessings” come in ways or forms that we don’t recognize or expect. They come wrapped in faith, and God’s fingerprints are all over them!

Remember, no matter the situation, God ALREADY KNOWS THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE OUTCOME!  Praise His Name!

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24