(This message was shared after sharing of several testings that were occurring at the time of this writing)
Perhaps you have experienced such times as these that I have been experiencing, or you might even be experiencing some difficult days right now. Maybe youve experienced times when you knew the LORD was impressing words and thoughts on your heart through prayer and Bible study and through circumstances you may have been undergoing. Wonderfully, these times have been punctuated by many similar events and related discussions, sermons, and readings. These are rich times indeed, for I am trusting the LORD for His timing and His thoughts.
It is in these times I have to make a decision to not look down at my circumstances and instead look only up into the face of the LORD. For looking down at the present circumstance produce an anxiety and fear that cripples and blinds. You have likely faced such times as these... times when all you can do is stand where you are because there is no other thing you can do? So, what do you do when you dont know what to do?
Many years ago, during a visit with a pastors wife friend of mine in our living room, I said to her over and over, "I dont know what to do, I just dont know what to do..." Knowing that she had a tendency, much like my own, to want to fix things, she instead spoke words to me that day that became words of comfort and wisdom. I knew I could trust her because she was not only further down the road than I was, but she had demonstrated a consistent faithful walk with the Lord Jesus. Her advice to me that day was the same advice I would give any woman today, and it was something like this: Generally, you dont need to know anything else but this: the LORD who loves you, died for you and lives for you knows all of your ways and has a very good plan for you. What you need to do is to stand still... stand still and wait on the LORD--- because the very LORD who loves you, died for you, and lives for you knows all of your ways and has a very good plan for you!
Well, as I sat there that day listening to her words, I knew she was speaking the truth to me. I knew I needed what she was telling me to hang on to, and that was: faith. I probably thought I had faith... perhaps I even told her I had faith that the LORD would carry us through those days. However, my very words questioning what to do condemned me. I needed faith to believe that the LORD who loves me, died for me and lives for me, knew all of my ways and had a very good plan for me. I did not know this... not really. I didnt know in whom I had believed. I didnt have abiding faith.
After she left, was a real time of brokenness for me and I am so glad for that time and for the many times since then that the LORD has brought me to the rivers edge where I had to lean on faith that He would part that sea and allow me to walk on dry land. I have been experiencing such a time recently... or, I should say, my husband and I are walking together through a time such as this. And you know what keeps coming back to us? That God... who is rich in mercy will never leave us, nor forsake us. He cannot lie, He will not fail, He has not failed us ever. Ever. And, if He has demonstrated a pattern of direction, provision and watchcare over us all these years *never failing*, why would He suddenly change His character now and shift His gaze? [I interject this here... even in the time since I wrote the above, the LORD has very distinctly taken care of one of the highest hurdles we were facing... and even now, we see His Hand gently guiding us along.]
Now... back during the time I shared with you that I was fearing a great testing of faith, I didnt have hope... I knew that God was all I had... but, you know what? I didnt know He was all I needed. I didnt know that His grace was sufficient for me. But it was and it is today. Jesus was all I had then, Hes all I have today, and He is enough. I have hope. I trust Him... I have faith He is enough... not simply because of what He has done, but because of Who He is.
Faith and fear... themes so common in the lives of women. We tend to fear so much, dont we? We tend to allow our minds to wander into the cave of worry. You may remember I have shared with you from time to time that faith and fear cannot co-exist... or another way I like to think of this is: faith and fear cannot be carried in the same bucket. When you want to carry fear, you dump out all the faith in your bucket... but when you want to carry faith, you must trust and dump out the fear in order to fill your bucket with faith because, again, you cannot carry both in the same bucket.
As I said over and over that day many years ago, "I dont know what to do, I just dont know what to do..." I was demonstrating the very opposite of what I needed. I was demonstrating gripping fear... when what I so longed for was faith. My faith was so small and wasnt rooted and grounded in the Word. It was circumstantial... it was weak and it was shaky. It was based on the known and the seen, not on the unknown, unseen. I didnt trust... I hadnt ever diligently sought to *know* Him...though I believe I had sought Him. I didnt really and truly know Him well enough to know He was all I had and surely not enough to know in my heart that He truly was all I needed.
Hebrews 11.6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
I needed to learn to trust in Him... and this only came by learning to know Him in His Word... and then I began to write down the ways in which He had demonstrated His love for me. First, I began to see His loving compassion from the foundation of the world and the ways He worked in and through individual lives throughout history. That was enough. Then I began to really see that He loved me so much He saved me. That was enough. Then, that He had a marvelous plan for me. That was enough. Then, how He was working all things together for my good. That was enough. Then I began to see how He loved me so much that He continually sent trials and testings in my life, our home, marriage, business, etc. That was enough. I was beginning to see that He was never negligent even though I was... never unfaithful, even though I was... never uncaring, even though I was... and so on. He was proving to me over and over that His Word is Truth.
Romans 10.17 "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
It was when I began to drink from the rich well of His Word, taking it in and eating it, as it were, and when I began to hide it in my heart that I began to get a taste and a glimpse of the joy set before me. Joyful in Him, because He was enough. I began to be thankful for different trials... even in the midst of them because I was seeing a pattern of loving tempering and strengthening. I dont mean to imply that I joyfully looked forward then or now to these trials... I simply mean that I began to develop an anticipation in trials that was beyond my comprehension. I was beginning a journey of trusting in God by faith on Him in Whom I had believed... and I finally began to see that He was enough and I could trust Him and I could learn to stand still and rest. I am even learning to be thankful in the midst of trials... thankful that He loves me so much He wants to do a new work and needs to do some deep pruning in order that the work will be fruitful. Colossians 2.7 has become a prayer of mine... and I pray it for you, too.
Colossians 2.7 "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."
Surely as daybreak follows the darkness, there have been numerous times of testing... times where I caught myself saying "Ohmy, what are we going to do?" In the moments following such thoughts or words, I have been conscious of making the choice to stand still and to wait on Him... knowing He has a very good plan and that He would complete the work. It was during such a time of testing several years ago that a verse in Exodus became very real to me... and it is one I have thought on frequently in times of testing... and it is this: "And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever." ---Ex. 14.13 I can almost hear audibly: "Fear ye not, stand still..." And when the enemy is encroaching around me, I stop and remember: "Fear ye not, stand still.... ye shall see them again no more for ever." I am coming to learn that these trials will soon be over and I will sing: "It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus... these trials will seem so small when we see Christ."
I am thankful today for some recent testings of my faith because I am anticipating that God is using these times to deepen my message and to make me a more fragrant offering back to Him. I have been nervous... but not to the point of dumping my bucket to exchange faith for fear. I have been anxious because it is my nature to want to fix things and to be in a hurry to do so...were I to have done what my inclinations were telling me to do, I would have chosen solutions that would have become greater problems than the current difficulties, and so I have been consciously choosing to stand still... even when a fearful thought enters my mind and anxiousness floods in... In these times God is seeming to calm the seas of uncertainty and is bathing us in that peace that passes understanding. You may experience these times in your life, too, these times or situations are such that there is not one thing you can do to change or alter them in any way. The only thing I can do, the only thing you can do, is to stand still and wait on Him. One of the blessings I am seeing in the standing still is this: He is blessing beyond our comprehension in ways that would have earlier in our walk would have gone unnoticed. Sometimes I cannot explain the blessings because they are not tangible, visible blessings, rather they are blessings of peace, trust, joy---these make up the blessing of faith. In trying to run ahead of Him, I miss the real work He is doing---that I would see were I to stand still. I liken this to stopping and smelling the fragrance of the roses instead of running by them so quickly that the entire bush is overlooked... let alone the beautiful scent enjoyed.
1Peter 1.7 "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"
Whats in your bucket today?
Dont be downcast... put your trust in God... He promised He would never leave you nor forsake you------trust Him today with whatever is burdening your heart. You may feel that the trial of your faith is as a fire... I pray that you will stand still and rest in Him. Trusting Him in faith today because He will be found faithful. He is enough. He does love you. Stand still and rest in Him.