Going Sideways – for Chris Cahalan

Yab_BBCr_atSlpGlch_072012_p6U.S. Geological Survey/photo by Art Bookstrom

Today’s piece is dedicated to my friend Chris Cahalan, who recently won his three year battle against pancreatic cancer.  While the outcome may look like a loss to most folks, those of us who knew him understand this is a major victory for him.  We know where our brother in Christ is right now, and Who he is with.  I am blessed to say I knew the man, and saw his tenacity – both in fight and faith.  He endeavored to be a man after God’s own heart.  And, by grace, I believe he was.  Chris will be – indeed, already is – greatly missed.

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27 [ESV]

I heard this yesterday at the funeral for my friend Chris, and it has burrowed into my mind.  The eulogizer said Chris told him the trick to studying the Bible is to go sideways.  In other words, when you’re building a firm foundation through studying God’s word, there will be times you’ll hit a boulder – a blockage keeping you from going deeper in your study.  When that happens, don’t stop there.  Don’t build on shallow ground.

Go sideways.

Dig around the blockage.

Then continue to dig deeper.

The idea of going sideways got me thinking.  This is such a wonderful metaphor for our lives in Christ.

Think about it.  We’re seeking the Lord.  We’re doing our best to follow Him.  We’re living life as best we can.  Perfectly?  No.  Not on this side of Heaven.

As we dig deeper, we hit a big rock.

Clank!

Not the solid rock on which we can build a sound foundation, but an obstruction.  Maybe it’s a personal tragedy, or job loss, or a health problem, or the fruit of our own foolishness.

How do we get around and through this problem in life?

GO SIDEWAYS

Jennie and I really like to watch Fixer Upper.  Yet we’re always astounded at the fact that, in pretty much every episode, Chip and Joanna are taken aback when they pull up a board and discover rotting pipes.  Or way-out-of-code firetrap electrical wiring.  Or termite-riddled shiplap.  (And, be honest: how many amongst us had heard of shiplap before Mr. and Mrs. Gaines arrived on HGTV?)

Our lives can take some wild turns.  Pull up a floorboard and, voilà, mold.  Termites. Or, look under the house and find unstable rock, a threat to our very foundation.

First, don’t panic. What we need to do is assess the size of the problem.  If we’re digging and hit a boulder, we need to go sideways to determine how big this rock really is.

Often problems appear far larger than they really are.  Because appearances can be deceiving, we need to have a realistic perception  of what we’re facing.  Not a negative, fearful, worrying view.  Just an honest assessment of what we’re looking at.

GO FOR THE BACKHOE?

I hate problems.  And, I will admit, I am prone to stewing, then jumping in unprepared to start “fixing”.

Excavation is not on my resume.  I cannot operate a backhoe.  Still, my first thought would be, “I need to rent a backhoe and get that rock outta here.”

If I start digging with a backhoe, I’m going to make a mess of things.  I’ll probably break the bucket in two without ever removing the rock.  Or forget to put out the stabilizer legs and end up pulling me and the digger back over tea kettle into the hole.

Clearly I need help.  I need to swallow my ego and ask someone who can operate a backhoe to help me.

However, some boulders are so big – problems so tough – no backhoe can dig out for us.

GO TO THE LORD

Take a moment and think about God.  He is not bound by flesh.  He is not tethered to time.  He is above all things for He created all things.  Every star, every planet, every universe.  Every blade of grass, every animal, every human.  Right down to the most infinitesimal quark, God designed, created, set in motion and continues to sustain all.

In heaven there is no sun, for God is the light.

On earth, there is no mountain too big, for God can move anything at will.

Ponder the Lord’s unlimited power and wisdom and love.

Selah.

Now compare His greatness to your boulder.  Do you think God can’t handle your situation?  Do you think He can’t save you?  Think again.

God will provide your clear sideways view – an honest assessment measured by His own plumb.

And, I can hear some of you saying (and you know who you are), “God doesn’t always remove the boulder.  What do we do then?”

We do what Paul did.  When the apostle was agonizing over the thorn in his side, he sought the Lord:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 [ESV]

We rely on God’s grace – His unmerited, unearnable, total gift of favor given to us through His love.  We trust God with the outcome, even if the outcome is not how we envisioned it.  We cling to God’s love and know He is wiser than any of us.  We understand that our thoughts are not His, our ways are not His (Isaiah 55:8).

And, despite popular American belief, we are not our own.  As children of God, saved through the shed blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are free.  Yet we are also slaves to God:

22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. – 1 Corinthians 7:22-24 [ESV]

In other words, we are where God has us.  He is in control.  He knows the number of our days, for He set them – according to His purpose, which is far higher than ours.

Here is my point: it is the Lord Who sets our foundation – Who is our foundation.  Whenever we hit a boulder, a blockage we can’t work through, we need to go to the Lord, get an assessment of the problem, and trust in Hs grace and wisdom and strength and love to see us through.  Even if we have to go sideways to do it.

Be Thankful! You’re Not a Giant Disembodied Eye Ball

20170818_201130 (2)

I woke up at 4:00 this morning thinking about a lot of things.  Not very pleasant things, mind you.

I got out of bed, went to my office and opened the window.  The sun was just beginning to light the night sky.  Birds were singing loudly.  And I began to consider all I have in life to be thankful for.

I am thankful for this beautiful morning.

I am thankful for my beautiful, still sleeping family.

I am thankful for God’s love and grace.

I am thankful I am not a giant disembodied eye ball being chased before a crowd of spectators at a sporting event.

Sometimes you have to be thankful for the stranger aspects of life as well as the obvious.

The truth about our lives is often difficult to see clearly.  When life gets stressful, or troubles plague us or we just end up depleted from everything going on, it can be very easy to believe nothing will ever improve.  Nothing will change.

But that’s just belief based on what we see.  Our perceptions are based on what we sense: feel, touch, taste, smell, see.

For example, when we smell a skunk, we perceive a disgusting, pungent odor.  The skunk perceives security, as this is his protection.  (Unless, of course, you are the already-dead road kill skunk I somehow managed to run over some years back, fifteen minutes into a four-hour long drive on a very, very hot summer day.  While skunk spray may stop a huge brown bear from mauling it’s potential prey, it is no match for a speeding Pontiac.  For that particular member of Genus Mephitis, the car was mightier than the stench.  My perception of the ordeal was not one of security, but nausea.)

Perhaps a twice-flattened dead stink otter isn’t the best illustration here.  Let’s consider the well known – and well worn – example of the iceberg.  When we see one (and, trust me, here in Minnesota they are a very rare sight) we think, “Look at that giant mountain of glacial ice!”  (Of course, having never seen one, I can only imagine my response would be something akin to “Look at that giant mountain of glacial ice!”)

But, what we see – what we perceive with our limited mental faculties – is only a small piece of the total picture.  Indeed, only about 10%, as the remaining 90% of the iceberg is submerged.  If what we believe about the iceberg is based simply on what we see, we miss the majority of it.  We also have to consider what we cannot see – a fact any survivor of the Titanic could have corroborated.

If we look at our situations, our lives, ourselves, and all we see is hopelessness, or failure, or despair, or sorrow… we are basing our beliefs of faulty perceptions.

Don’t misunderstand me.  We need our brains to discern the 10% of the iceberg we can see.

But perceiving the remaining 90% requires faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).  If all we live by is what we see with our eyes, what our feeble brains can figure out on their own, we’re going to hit an iceberg.  And we won’t have ample lifeboats to survive the frigid waters.  Another fact any Titanic survivor could have attested to.

However, when we have faith in God – when we begin to see who Jesus is, and who we are reflected in Him – we find hope, and strength.  And we begin to see that the troubles and pains of this life are not the whole story.  Not even close.  In fact, they only count for about 10% of our story.  The remaining 90% is still under water, waiting to be revealed.

Don’t look at the troubles you see and believe that’s all you have in life.  There is a deeper purpose for your suffering.  I cannot tell you what that is.  I will tell you that the Lord can take every situation and use it to grow us, to strengthen us, to help us bring hope and empathy and joy to others.  Heck, you may even come to embrace your hardship with gratitude!

And if you can’t start there, well… be grateful that you’re not a giant disembodied eye ball being chased before a crowd of spectators at a sporting event.

 

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

 Photo by Warren K. Leffler
Billy Graham got it right.  He didn’t get caught up in the murky waters of theological debate.  He didn’t hoist high the banner of any one Christian denomination.  He simply wanted to ask each of us the most important question on earth:

Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

When one studies the life of Christ, you see very quickly that He went about saving people, serving people, loving people.  Jesus is, quite simply and powerfully, the answer to all life’s questions.  He is the resolve to all our troubles.  He is our peace; The Way, The Truth and The Life.  Nobody comes to the Father except through Jesus.

And Billy Graham dedicated his life to making sure we knew that.  His message was also simple yet powerful.  

And for that – for being a very public, very strong, very vocal lion of our faith – I am thankful.

I’m sure we’ve all heard references to this pastor or that evangelist being “the next Billy Graham”.  In truth, there will never be another Billy Graham.  Which is okay.  What we need are more people on this earth to follow Dr. Graham’s example of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ without apology, without holding back.

So, let me ask you: do you know Jesus Christ as your personal eternal savior?  Do you trust Him with your whole heart? If not, let’s talk.

What (Not) to Give God

Give God praise.

Give God thanks.

Give God your heart

Give God your mind.

Give God your time.

Give God your talents.  (You know, the talents He gave you.)

Give God your life.

Give God your all.

Give God the credit.

Do not give God the blame.

The simple fact is we live in a sinful, imperfect world.  Everybody fades hard times and bad things and sorrow and pain.  Understand that means, at some point, each of finds ourselves wondering “Why God?  Why did You let this happen?”

We may never understand all the whys and how’s behind life’s tragedies.  But each of us can rest easy knowing that God is love, God is always with us, and God is in control.

Give God your focus.  Your full attention.

Love God.

Love others.

Seek Him first.

An Ash Wednesday Valentine

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16 (KJV)

Cupid appears to have won.

As I checked out my Facebook feed tonight, there were lots of hearts and roses and romantic Valentine messages.

This year Valentines Day fell on Ash Wednesday.  And it got nary a mention.  

But, if you consider what Ash Wednesday commemorates – the beginning of forty days fasting time that mirrors the forty days Jesus spent in the desert – we quickly see what real love is all about.

Very simply, live requires sacrifice.  We sacrifice for our spouses.  For our kidlets.  For our parents.

But what we give up pales in comparison to what God gave us.

His Son.

The Perfect, Sinless Son of God came to live a perfect life and die a horrific death as the only possible atonement for our sins.

Jesus sacrificed His life that we may live.  Forever.

No box of chocolates can compare to the gifts from our Loving Heavenly Father.

Think about that.  Think about the love the Lord has for you.

For you.

You.

And love one another as a means of reflecting the love God gives us.  Not only on Ash Wednesday or Valentine’s Day, but every hour.

Every minute.

Every second.

Without ceasing.

Be joyful.  Be thankful.  

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I Hear the Train A-Comin’ (or a Priest, a Pastor and a Comic Walk Into a Blog)

Crossing Gates

Photo from https://maxfaqs.wordpress.com/

There seems to be a perception amongst some people that I haven’t been writing lately.

I understand this perception.  I assume it’s because I haven’t been writing lately.

You can blame my wife.  (Or, you can thank her – it’s all in your perspective.)  She pointed out a fact to me some months ago that had been painfully – painfully – obvious to me: “You’re writing the same message over and over.”

She was right.  I was writing the same message over and over.

And over.

And over and over.

And over again.

Needlessly repeating myself again and again.

And again.

And again and again.

Ad nauseam.

I have spent a lot of time trying to write.  I would stare at the computer screen, the cursor blinking at me.  Taunting me.  Daring me.  I felt like Billy Crystal in Throw Momma From the Train, unable to type anything beyond “The night was…”

Even now, as I’m writing about the writer’s block (boulder is more like it) I’ve been staring at for such a long time, I find myself riddled with self doubt about writing this piece.

Sitting down to write started feeling like waiting at a railroad crossing.  Usually I could see my train of thought in the distance, but it never seemed to make any progress.  On occasion, the train would come speeding across and be gone before I could get a good look at it.

After much prayerful consideration and reflection, I realize the problem isn’t the train.  The problem is the crossing arms – or, rather, my sitting at the crossing arms.  I can’t drive through the barrier.  It’s illegal and extremely dangerous to try driving between the lowered arms at a railroad crossing.

However, I can circumvent the impasse by turning around and finding another crossing.

Which is what I’m doing.

Sort of.

I’m driving the same vehicle (writing).  And I need to cross the same set of tracks (my train of thought).  I just need to find a somewhat different road from which to cross – a different approach to writing.  A style that is more aligned to me – to who God Himself created me to be.  More personal.  More humorous.

My goal is ultimately the same: help people through depression and anxiety through faith in Jesus Christ.  I can show you Scriptures all day long about peace and joy and fear and worry and quote Matthew 6:33 until I’m blue in the face.  But I need to demonstrate more faith and joy.  I need to widen the aperture a bit to let out more light.

It’s one thing to write about it.  It’s quite another to write with it.

I have a very nebulous idea of how my writing is going to look.  It will be more humorous in approach.  It may even be irreverent (gasp!) than some may like.  But maybe a little irreverence is what some of us need.

Maybe we need to lighten up and quit taking everything so serious.

Please stick with me as I seek my voice in writing.  Input is more than welcome – it is encouraged.  PM me or e-mail me (bouvillediarist@gmail.com) or message me via carrier pigeon (although you may want to wait until the spring thaw – send a bird up here now and he’ll end up more freezer burnt than that bag of baby peas buried in the bottom of my freezer).

I have to go.  Got a train to catch!

bouvillediarist@gmail.com

 

 

V

Not All Good Things Come To An End

It’s been a wonderful weekend in the Courtney house.  I hope your weekend was wonderful as well.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  Including the weekends.

However, that old phrase doesn’t really reflect the truth of the matter for those who place their trust in Christ.  While Jesus we can have mountaintop experiences that cause all others to pale in comparison.  

No mountaintop experience will last forever.  But the presence of the Lord never ends.  He is always with us.

He may not take away every pain, but He let’s no bad situation continue in vain.  It is when we are tested – in pain, in hardship, in sorrow, in guilt – that the Lord instructs us, strengthens us, guides us out of the darkest valleys and into great fields of light and joy and peace.  Peace not determined by circumstances (which are fleeting and every changing), but by faith in our Father through Jesus Christ His Son (God, Who never changes but is always steadfast and faithful).

Whatever you’re going through, you’ll be fine.  However stormy your life is, the clouds will break.  No matter how dark things may seem, we have a Light to guide us.  

Do not worry.  Do not doubt.  Do not stare at your trials.  Seek the Lord our Father, the Giver of all good gifts.  He will either pull you out of the storm, or He’ll see you through it.

And that’s one old saying you can cling on to tight.

Reconnecting With Focus

256px-Ericsson_bakelittelefon_1931_svPhoto by Holger Ellgaard.  Used by permission.

I was at an antique shop over the summer with my wife and 10-year-old boy.  As we walked around looking at the items for sale, my son spotted an old rotary phone for sale.

“Wow!” he gasped.  “Is this a telephone?  How does it work?  Can I call Mamaw?”  I showed him how it worked (dialing the phone, by the way, was far too laborious a task to him).  It seemed to boggle his mind that this ancient piece of equipment was ever useful.  You can’t text, or stream music, or play Madden Football on it.  You can’t give voice commands so it will automatically call anyone.  It doesn’t even store a contacts list.

This must be the original phone Moses used.

I tried to explain to him that rotary phones were a mainline of communication when I was younger.  We didn’t have the internet.  There were no texts, no Snapchat, no messaging (unless they had an answering machine – an expensive luxury back then).  The disconnect between my child’s understanding of our ability to communicate with such primitive equipment and the way cell phones, tablets, laptops et al work was so great that I didn’t bother explaining party lines.

He walked away a bit bemused, looking for some other old treasure to entertain him.

As I reflect on this episode at the antique store, I think about the times when I feel disconnected from God.  Generally when I’m feeling distant from the Lord, it’s a warning sign that I’ve wandered too deeply into the abyss of this life.  Maybe it’s a time of stress – over work, or family, or health, or finances, or whatever – and I’ve forgotten Who’s in control and sovereign over all.

Maybe I’m finding myself too caught up in trying to improve my lot in life and forgotten Who’s important.

When I’m wrapped up too tightly in earthly distractions – whether these distractions are “good” things or “bad” – I find I tend to approach the Lord like my son approached the rotary phone. 

I walk away a bit bemused, looking for some other old treasure to entertain me.

The problem with the distractions of this life is that they bore holes in our souls.  If we’re not connected to Jesus, we’re going to seek out something else to fill those holes.  When we’re anxious, we seek calm.  When we’re ill, we seek healing.  Conversely, when things are going good, we tend to seek more of the goods that make us feel good.

We will always have plenty of opportunities to take our eyes off God.  And a wide variety as well!  But James gives us the remedy to our malaise.

First, he identifies our problem:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? – James 4:1-5 (ESV)

Then he provides the solution:

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:6-10 (ESV)

Humility.  Submission to God.  Drawing near to God – seeking Him first and foremost instead of drawing ourselves inward – so that He will then draw near to us.  That is the key to reestablishing a connection to God.

When I find myself in a season where I’m struggling with the Lord, the first place I look is my prayer life.  First, am I spending time every day in prayer?  Second, where are my prayers focused?  Is my time with God spent spewing a litany of personal wants, or am I truly seeking Him, focusing on Him, praising Him in faith knowing He is with me always?  I’m not suggesting we don’t pray to the Lord for our needs.  We’re told to go to Him!  But we need to do so with our focus on God, casting our burdens on Him, holding fast to His Word and His Love and Grace and Faithfulness.

The simple fact of the matter is that God Himself is our One True Treasure.  Nothing on this earth can compare to knowing our Heavenly Father and staying connected with Him.

If you’re feeling disconnect from the Lord, reconnect.  Get into His Work.  Lay aside the stuff of this world and seek Him first.  Make Jesus a priority.  And you will find God drawing nearer to you as you earnestly seek Him and follow His Way.

 

Cue Slim Pickens…

NagasakibombIt’s one of those classic movie endings.  The bomb bay doors open.  Sitting atop an atom bomb loaded missile we see Slim Pickens, swinging his cowboy hat in the air and shouting “Yaaaaaaaaahhhhhhoooooooooooooooo!!!!!!” with great enthusiasm as he and his nuclear payload freefall through the clouds to begin the chain reaction of annihilation that started with a misunderstanding.

Cue Vera Lynn singing “We’ll Meet Again”.

The problem is “Dr. Strangelove” is a movie.  (A great one to be sure, but still a work of fiction.)  The fears and uncertainty we face today is all-too-real.  These days, even the pretense of diplomacy is off the table.  It’s all just bombast, bomb blasts and hype in the media.

Cue Michael Stipe singing “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”.

I look at this messed up world (not that it’s any more messed up than ever before – we just have more destructive toys) and I think, “What can I do about this?  How can I change things?”

Here’s the thing: I have no control over the madness that swirls around us.

Neither do you.

We can watch the news in terror and fear and worry about our future and that of our kidlets.

Or… we can choose to understand that this is exactly what Jesus said would happen

3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

9“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then many will fall awaya and betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

I don’t mean to sound filled with doom and gloom.  I’m not ready to don a “The End of the World is Nigh” sandwich board and parade around downtown.

Rather, I think we have ever reason for great hope – now more than ever.  As Christians, we have nothing to fear.  Nothing to worry about.  No need to be anxious – about the bigger world picture or the smaller view of our individual personal lives.

Now is the perfect time to lighten up, follow Christ with great abandon, love one another and ignore the naysayers.  Keep putting God first.  Keep striving toward the goal.  Forget the junk that divides us and weakens us and worries us.  Trust in God.  He’s in control, not us.

I believe the heaviness of everything going on weighs us down.  Now more than ever, we have to face the world with courage rooted in faith, love rooted in Christ, and hearts lifted high.

Will we face hard times in life?  Of course.  Everybody does.  But remember… we follow the Risen Christ, the One True God.  He has already won.  We just need to hang in and hang on and keep our eyes focused upward.

Cue Rich Mullins singing “Hold Me Jesus”.

Love one another.  Live in peace.  And know that you are loved deeper and greater than you’ll ever comprehend!

 

 

A Matter of Perspective 

6  “Seek the L ORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the  LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:6-9 (ESV)

We were discussing anxiety at church a couple of weeks ago.  As we talked about the causes of fear and the remedies found in Scripture, my wise friend Marsha made a very astute observation: “Don’t you think it’s a matter of perspective?”

She is absolutely right.

Anxiety, fear and worry all grow from the same root of self interest.  Think about it: we fear what we think might harm us, or hurt us, or those we love.  We worry about the future.  We fret over money and health and the general state of world affairs.

But… what if we chose to see things from a more Christ centered perspective?  What if we truly, honestly accepted the overarching fact that God is sovereign over all – every situation, every occurrence, every second of our little lives?  Would we view our troubles a little differently?  Would our cares ease?

Our ways are not God’s ways.  We try to avoid discomfort.  We kick ourselves when we mess up.  Again, all concerns rooted in self interest.

Jesus walked on this earth and endured much.  He was the only truly 100% innocent, pure and holy man ever to grace our planet.  Yet He willingly gave His life in the cruelest, most humiliating and downgrading manner possible.  He took on our sins.  He accepted the punishment we sinful humans deserve.  He did nothing – absolutely nothing – out of self interest.

He didn’t cringe at the critics and the scoffers.

He didn’t shrink from His enemies.

He didn’t run from pain.

He didn’t fear, didn’t worry about the things of this life.  

His purpose was far greater than satisfying any physical or emotional need or desire.  This thoughts and ways were higher by far than ours.

You see, Christ operated entirely out of love – the preference of others over self.  His motivation was entirely selfless.  He was laser focused on doing the will of His Father.  Jesus operated from a perspective far higher than any self interests.

Everything Jesus faced, all He went through, was for us.

For me.

For you.

Maybe that’s a key to rightly framing our anxieties.  Perhaps a change of perspective- a refusal to view our life situations and challenges as something to fear but, rather, opportunities to grow and learn so we can help others – is in order.  Instead of anxiety over our troubles, maybe we should see that God is sovereign, nothing we mess up is beyond His abilities, and nobody will ever thwart the will of the Lord.

Know this: as a believer in Christ, your life and everything about it is in the hands of our gracious Lord and Savior.  I that doesn’t mean everything will be easy.  But God can make every situation good.  He can bring good results from your pain and trouble.  

Rest in the Lord.  Focus on Jesus, not your troubles.  Let His perfect love cast the fear out of your heart and fill you with peace and joy in Him.  Seek first the kingdom of God.  Watch Him, with great expectation and faith.  Live life with a God informed and Christ led perspective.

Have a blessed week!