Daunting Task

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a daunting task that you were facing? I have. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of action, decision, and indecision as I accepted an offer on the sale of my house. After trying to sell the house for nearly two years, I have discovered that decisions about my future come down to just a few short days. I’ve lost my “balance” during this time as my routine has been turned upside down but soon I’ll regain my equilibrium and I will return to normalcy. There are also times in our spiritual journey when we become overwhelmed by a daunting task God asks us to face. Sometimes we lose our sense of balance and our world gets turned upside down when God calls us into action. I heard two friends this week describe the feelings of fear, inadequacy, and doubt that plagued them as they faced a challenge God was calling them to enter. When they both relinquished control to God, he gave them a sense of peace and fulfillment. Nehemiah serves as a living testimony of what God can do when ordinary people are called to face a daunting task. We can learn three P’s that will help us move from daunting to daring. Nehemiah spent much time in prayer, fasting, and mourning when he was faced with a challenge in his country. “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. 5 Then I said, “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer!” Nehemiah 1:4-6 He was terrified to approach King Artaxerxes to ask for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls. When he petitioned the king, Nehemiah had prepared beforehand all the details to help him accomplish the task. The king asked Nehemiah how long the task would take and when he would return, then gave Nehemiah permission to go. So Nehemiah, out of love for God and His people willingly left the comfortable court life behind and as the new governor headed with a select few toward his troubled land 1,000 miles away. More than two months later he arrived at the devastation that was once Jerusalem and assumed duties as its governor. After prayer and preparation, Nehemiah took positive action. Did Nehemiah experience imbalance? Yes, he must have felt some sense of disequilibrium when he was contemplating going to the King and then when he moved to a faraway place. How did he cope or regain his equilibrium? Through prayer and diligent preparation Nehemiah forward in positive action. What can we learn from Nehemiah about keeping our balance and facing daunting tasks? Pray about our circumstances. Pray about our schedules. Prepare – Learn about our challenges and determine our options Positive Action - Act – do something. Move forward in confidence. When we face a daunting task, let’s pray the prayer of Nehemiah, prepare ourselves through study, and then move forward.

How Deep Is Your Love?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"How Deep Is Your Love" is a song recorded by the Bee Gees in 1977. It was ultimately used as part of the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever. The chorus to the pop song actually expresses a question we might ask of God when we’re in our “deepest darkest hour” – How deep is your love?

In Psalm 42 the psalmist must have felt the despair of a dark hour when he called on God. He was in the middle of great affliction. He was downcast, his bones were suffering, and his tears were his food. Yet his soul, even in its sorrow, yearned for God. In the depth of his anguish, he called out for the depths of God’s love.

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
Psalm 42:7

The Psalmist could see the waters plunging down Mt. Hermon. He could feel the breaks of the waves roll over him. That is where he felt the presence and power of God. He realized that God’s mighty power was stronger than his pain. The Psalmist concluded by reminding himself to put his hope in God and to praise him as Savior.

When we’re in sorrow we too can call on God. Our deep pain needs the deep love of Jesus. “Deep calls to deep.” I have been burdened this week about the suffering of families in our area who are enduring unspeakable pain from the tragic loss of a teenager. I ache for friends with children who are hospitalized with major illnesses. My heart goes out the thousands of Japanese who’ve experienced the tragedy of the tsunami. Some of you may be dealing with your own heartbreak. When we think we’ve lost hope and are in our darkest hour, let’s remember that God’s love is very deep. The old hymn says it well…

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

Where Are You?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The traditional purpose of Lent is to prepare ourselves for the commemoration of Holy Week. During the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter believers spend time reflecting on their lives in order to draw closer to God. Reflection entails that we ask ourselves questions about our relationship with Christ. In his book Questions God Asks Us, author Trevor Hudson marked a turning point in his faith journey when he realized the Bible is filled with questions God asks us. A look at the first question God asked will guide our reflection during Lent.

When Adam and Eve were in the garden, they broke the first rule God gave them. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In their shame, they sewed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness and then they hid. “But the Lord God called to them, ‘Where are you?’”

What does this question tell us about God? God pursues us. God was in pursuit of Adam and Eve, but it was their choice to come to him. He asks us the same question, “Where are you?” He beckons us to come to him. I recall many times I went in pursuit of my young children, calling out, “Where are you?” I wanted to find them. I wanted them to call out, “Here I am!” or “I’m coming to you!” God wants the same from us.

God pursues us and desires for us to unite with him. The prophet Isaiah tells us that he waits for us to come to him. When we wait on him, we will be blessed. He will respond to our cries and he will lead us and teach us the way to go. Isaiah reminds us that when we are in tune with God, our eyes and ears will be opened to his leading. We will hear that still small voice saying, “This is the way you should go.” This voice is the prompting of the Spirit.

So the LORD must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the LORD is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 40: 18-21

During Lent let’s answer God’s call to us, “Here I am, Lord. Show me the way to go.”

Stay Off the High Wire

Monday, March 7, 2011

Picture yourself 66 feet above the ground on a platform and thousands of faces watch and wait for you to perform. Now imagine taking a step, with only a 1/2-inch metal wire between you and the ground. This is the world of high wire.

Circus high wire acts have a long history. In first century China the art of "rope dancing" was performed over knives. In the 1850s, Jean Francois Gravelet received world acclaim for cooking and eating an omelette on a neatly set table all on a high wire stretched over Niagara Falls.

The high-wire artist often carries a balancing pole that may be as long as 39 feet and weigh up to 31 pounds. This pole, usually drooping rather than rigid, helps balance the tightrope walker by lowering the center of gravity. The balancing pole helps the performer control the body’s “rotational inertia,” or resistance to a change in motion. Because their performances involve great risk, acrobats train for years and use a safety wire when executing a dangerous trick. A high-wire performance requires practice, concentration, and balance.

It’s really best to avoid the risk and stay off the high-wire if one doesn’t have the expertise to walk it safely. The same is true in our daily life. It’s best to avoid foolish risks in our personal lives. Whether we’re referring to risks in financial situations or relationships, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What are the high-wires you are walking? Are you walking a tight rope in family relationships? Are you on the high wire in your career? Are you fighting a “change in motion?”

What are the risks you’re facing? Do they involve moral, ethical, or spiritual choices? Have worldly enticements caused you to lose your focus?

Sometimes our relationship with Christ is at risk because of poor choices or neglect. Are you walking a tightrope in your relationship with Christ?

The acrobat uses a mechanical called a pole to help him maintain balance. As Christians, we also have mechanicals to help us keep our spiritual walk in balance. Our mechanicals are found in the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer, Scripture, worship, and faith-filled friends to keep us motion. Fortunately, when we slip off our spiritual high-wire, we fall right into the hands of God. Let’s use our mechanicals to walk into the arms of Christ.

The eternal God is thy Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:37

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