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O that I had wings like a dove…

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Have you ever wished you could just fly away to someplace where the cares and burdens of this life could not reach you? Or perhaps have your own remote island, far away from the noise and vitriol that envelops us today?

I must confess that escaping to such a place, where evil and hurt  cannot be found is becoming an all too frequent wish of mine. 

When I think of the fear, anguish, and overwhelming anxiety so prevalent in the world today I am drawn to thoughts of a place that Jesus said he had gone to prepare for us.

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.   [1]

That sounds like exactly the place I’m longing for. Truthfully, I don’t even care about the mansion part, it’s that last part that has me captivated.

Trouble, pain, and fear don’t only come calling to the average person like you and me, of course. The Psalmist David also knew what it felt like to have the world come crashing in all around him.

Having fallen from the lofty heights of the throne of Israel when he committed adultery and murder, David was surrounded by his enemies, including those of his own family.

Out of his anguish and distress he cried aloud “O that I had wings to fly like a dove, for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness”. Selah  [2]

I cannot begin to tell you how compelling it sounds to be able to wander far away and remain hidden, away from the evil turmoil of this age. Can any of you relate?

Of course, one does not have to commit adultery, murder, or any other egregious sin in order to feel the pressures of life weighing heavily upon them.

Life, all by itself, is often more than enough to cause us to become weary and discouraged. The oppressive isolation brought about due to the pandemic for example has left many of us drained and stressed. Who among us hasn’t felt this way?

Thanks be to God, however, that we can rise above the feelings of hopelessness and despair. David himself reminds us that God is our sustainer and burden bearer.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you; 
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.   [3]

It’s true, many of us would rather take to the air and fly away from all of the problems this life presents to us. Unfortunately, the last time I checked that was not an option. Instead, we can look to Scripture for support and encouragement.

Paul, in his wonderful exhortation to the Ephesians, tells us the position we must take when facing the storms of this life. He told them no less than three times to “stand”.   

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.   [4]

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.   [5]

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,   [6]

Indiana Audubon Society

So, rather than wish we could fly away like the beautiful doves that are always at my house, God has called us to make our stand with Him.

I encourage everyone to spend an hour or two this week searching the Scriptures for examples of how that our God is a helper and sustainer to those who call out to Him.

I believe you will come away strengthened and encouraged by what you find.

Be blessed in Jesus name!

Ron

[1] John 14:2,3

[2] Psalm 55:6,7

[3] Psalm 55:22

[4] Eph. 6:11

[5] Eph. 6:13

[6] Eph. 6:14

When God is your only option

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This past Sunday morning in my home church, I delivered a message about the undefiled and incorruptible inheritance that awaits us. I made several points about how short this life really is, and how that if our only hope was in what we can amass in this life, then our hope was not only misplaced, but also futile.

I tried very hard to drive home the point that in this life, while there will be seasons of hurt and disappointment that will severely test our faith, such testing is much more precious than gold which is purified in the fire. [1]

At the close of the message, as is the custom in our church, I invited anyone in need of special prayer to come forward. Our church makes this time of prayer a priority, and every week there are usually several people that come forward.

On this particular Sunday, a young lady who had only recently started attending our church came forward. Having met and spoken with her on her first visit, I was aware of some serious physical challenges she had been facing, so it was no great surprise to see her ask for prayer.

I listened as she shared with me that the disease that was supposed to be in remission had now spread to another part of her body. If that wasn’t horrific enough, she told me how fearful she was of what might become of her small children should the unthinkable happen to her.

As I prayed for her, she collapsed into my chest, sobbing uncontrollably and unashamedly. In short, she was broken. Broken in spirit and broken in body. And who wouldn’t be?

I have no doubt that some of you understand this level of desperation. You too have had to face death head on, with no guarantee of the outcome. Can life get any more real than this?

As I continued praying with her, she held on to me, unable or unwilling to let go. All I could think about was how this is what real ministry is supposed to be: bearing one another’s burdens in our most desperate moments.

That’s why we’re here, to express the love of Christ to all who need it. You and I are the hands and feet of the Master, and I believe with all that’s within me that no one is too hurt, too sick, too lost, or too desperate that God cannot get to them. He can reach anyone in any situation. He is our helper in the time of trouble. [2]

It may seem like God is this young lady’s only option at this point, but really…

Sometimes I wonder…is that so bad?

Please join with me in praying for Mary, and if you would, please share this with someone else that believes in the power of prayer.

Ron

 

[1] 1st Peter 1:3-9

[2[ Psalm 46:1

How much longer will you carry that ball and chain?

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Most of us have heard the term “ball and chain” before. It used to be a common term that described an actual weight attached to the ankle of a prisoner, a method of prohibiting the prisoner from escaping.

You may have also heard it used derogatorily by a husband or wife who refers to their spouse as a ball and chain, meaning that they are being dragged down by a reluctant spouse. Hopefully not, but…

It is the rare individual that isn’t walking around carrying some type of baggage, or in this case a ball and chain, these days. As a matter of fact, I am hard pressed to think of even one person who isn’t.

All of us have been negatively impacted by someone or something in this life. Such is the cost of our living in a fallen world. The result of such encounters can leave us damaged and scarred, left to carry around the consequences like a ball and chain.

You know what’s interesting about carrying around a ball and chain? You never feel the impact of it as long as you’re sitting still. It’s not until you wish to get up and move on that you begin to feel the tug of it’s weight holding you back.

This is an apt metaphor for our Christian walk as well. How many of us live lives clouded by guilt, uncertainty, shame, and the like? Many of us do, of this I have no doubt.

We go through life carrying around all kinds of baggage, having learned to function to a certain degree in spite of the ever present weight of it all. This, in spite of the fact that Jesus said that “if the Son make us free, we shall be free indeed”(John 8:36).

How is this possible? It happens because we learn to navigate through this world from the security of our own comfort zone. Thus, as long as I stay in my box, or comfort zone, and do not try to move about too freely, all is well. I can manage the weight of the ball and chain, and still function.

But what happens to us when we feel God wanting to stretch us beyond our comfort zone, to get us out of our special box and move us to a new level? Well, if you’re like me, this brings about a degree of uncomfortableness and forces us to confront the ball and chain once and for all.

You see, sooner or later we must all deal with those things that hold us back. This is because God has a plan and a purpose for your life, and those plans don’t include you becoming comfortable enough to forever manage that ball and chain you’re carrying around.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   Jer. 29:11

God’s plan for you and I is to be free from our past mistakes, to be free from the harm inflicted upon us by others. God has called us to a life of peace and love. The torments that have enveloped our lives are but shackles that must fall off in the presence of Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown weary of carrying around the ball and chain of past regrets. The things I cannot fix on my own, I must surrender to Christ. If we’re going to surrender all, then all must be willingly lain at the foot of the Cross.

Be blessed,

Ron