God is here in these moments as I finish up the supper dishes, everyone gone out for the evening but me, here, with Him. Grateful. There is no audible presence. No proof of His nearness. Just His Word, His oath—I will never leave you nor forsake you… Tonight that is enough.
I walked this afternoon, the days now cool and gray, accented with the brilliance of changing leaves. The energy of rhythm and of the stirring lyrics sung in my ears put a spring in my steps. I smiled thinking of something Jim once said: "Imagine life with your own soundtrack." Yes, imagine it, just like in the movies. You know, that behind-the-scenes music that sets the tone for what's going to happen, whether romance (bring on the violins!) or suspense or drama. The music makes the mood.
I need a soundtrack some days. Like this morning. I woke early fretting like a silly mother hen, fretting because someone's got to do it if things are going to change, right?! What I needed was an inspiring soundtrack to stir my soul to rise and believe in things yet unseen…
Instead I woke dwelling on my insufficiency for all that came to mind! I prayed, but sleepily and doubtful, loathe to leave the comfort of warm covers, though needing far more to rouse body and soul to the truth of the matter: My grace is sufficient for you in your weakness…II Cor.12:9
But now at the other end of the day I am ready to write out some things I am sure of, my 'soundtrack' if you will, for foggy mornings when my head's all sleepy and my faith unsteady, mornings when I need the rhythm and music of truth ringing in my ears. Let these things sound in the background of my days:
#1 God is our Shepherd, faithful to shepherd every generation. (Ps.95,100)
This goes for me and my kids, whose success in life is my greatest obsession and easily rises to become idolatry. Each of us must bring our dreams, our fears, and our desires to Him and bow down. He's our Maker. If He leads through a wilderness where we cannot find a thing to drink, we have only to ask, not to whine, not to threaten, not to mutiny. He waits to hear our voice, to see our trust, to know what's in our hearts. This is our test, not His. It is not for us to demand that He prove His nearness: "Is the Lord among us or not?!" (Ex.17:7) We are to trust His heart and learn His ways of answering our every prayer—whether we see instant results or not. He is shepherding. Only by trusting will we find rest.
#2 God does as He pleases. The will of man is no obstacle to Him.
"Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?" (Lam.3:37-39)
Gone are the days when the solution is as simple as "she spanked them all soundly and sent them to bed". My charges are no longer living in my shoe. But they are not out of reach of the God who has chosen and called them for His glory. He will fulfill His purposes without the old woman's spanking spoon! Nebuchadnezzar learned these things the hard way. His sanity was restored only after he was willing to acknowledge that God's kingdom far outranked his own:
"He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'" Dan.4:35
I sometimes pray as if in a 'spoof' of the old hymn, Have Thine Own Way, Lord.* It's as though I've rewritten it to "I want my own way, Lord. I want my own way". No wonder I don't find peace when I'm through! I want what I want, and soon. Surely He does too? I want us all to live happily ever after. I want for my children the good things we have found. I want for them to be unscathed by the mistakes that we have made. Is this too much to ask? Can I assume God's thoughts are my thoughts on this? And then just pray my will be done as though I were the potter and He the clay? As though "power all power, surely is...[mine!]". I can easily forget that God does not exist to fulfill my dreams but that we exist for His glory, however He intends to bring that about. The Kingdom is His and the Glory and the Power. He is not thwarted by man.
#3 God is able to keep that which I've entrusted to Him (and He to me!) (II Tim.1:12)
He is in fact able to do exceeding abundantly above all that I ask or even think? His power is already at work. Must I see it to believe or will I choose to trust His Word? (Eph.1:19,20) Will I trust Him too with my dreams? His are far better and though they foil my best-timed scenarios, His have eternity in view!
#4 Only God is able to change a heart, to fill it with hope, to reveal an unseen inheritance, and to give courage and strength. But I can pray. (Eph.1:17-19)
These things are sure, my stirring soundtrack for mornings that dawn foggy… Can you hear the music?
I read an article this week titled: Four Essentials for Finishing Well.** The author summarized by commending these four keys to persevering. I pass them on to you in closing:
- a daily time of focused communion with God
- a daily appropriation of the gospel
- a daily presenting yourself as a living sacrifice, and
- a continual firm belief in the sovereignty and the goodness of God
And to these I say 'Amen!' , by the grace of God 'so be it' in my life. Bring on the soundtrack!
“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” Ps.95:1
"…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" II Tim.1:9
“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” II Tim.1:12
‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden you hearts…’ Ps.95:7
*Have Thine Own Way, Lord! by Adelaide Pollard, 1862-1934. Words available here.
**by Jerry Bridges, p.35, Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints. Eds. John Piper and Justin Taylor, Crossway Books, 2008.