"The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
When evil-doers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though a war arise against me,
In spite of this, I shall be confident......
For in the day of trouble, He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent, He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock."
When Joy was a little girl, we had a little weird closet at the entrance of our bedroom. It was a small, angular closet that was a bit awkward and wasn't suitable to hold much. But Joy found a use for it. She made it her little hiding place. We hung a battery operated lantern on a little nail, and she would take all of her stuffed animals inside and her beloved blanket and hide and pretend and play for hours. When I read this verse--In the day of trouble, he will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of his tent, He will hide me--I thought about this wonderful hiding place of Joy's--a safe place from the outside world, where no one could find her, hidden in our room, and safe from all the visitors who came to our house.
It seems that I am surrounded with women who are in the midst of very difficult circumstances--hurting marriages, rebellious children; family members who are very ill; economic crisis; broken relationships and misunderstandings. I so wish I could somehow make all of these difficulties go away as I know the deep struggles so many are experiencing and the dark times of life. But, I think somewhere over the years, I realized that I had never really had a realistic picture of just what it meant to live in a fallen world. This is the broken place--heaven is the place where we will see justice and wrongs being righted and healing and deep, bubbling-over happiness and freedom from the burdens of life.
The other day, I was talking with my children and they said,"You know, it seems like people think that our family is so sweet and perfect and that it is easy for us to be good and make right choices and that things have been easier for us than for their families. But I wish they could see that the beauty of our lives and the messages we all talk about is as a result of mounting up over overwhelming difficulties, having faith in the darkest of times, putting up with impossible circumstances and difficult relationships. We have had to light candles of faith amidst the darkness and inconsistencies of our lives.I hate having people just think we are naturally sweet and good--they don't know the journey of faith it has cost us."
If you live long enough, your older children will share their perspectives and sometimes they hit the head of the nail in such a way that it gives clarity to where you are. I think that sometimes it is hard for children to bear the opinions of so many when their parents are a little bit more in the limelight. Those of us who are called by the Lord to write about ideals and to live boldly by faith often do so out of a desire to move in that direction and to live by faith that what we read in scripture is true--but not because we don't struggle and suffer and face fear.
I have realized that at heart, I am a very fearful person. So often, I awaken at night after a few hours of sleep, and the first feeling when I awaken is fear--fear of the future, of finances, for my children, and so on. Yet, I am learning so much, even now, about the importance of mounting up over fear by faith.
As I study the stories of scripture, it was when people looked at their obstacles in life--the storms, the giants, the battles, that they became fearful and useless and defeated. But when they looked at God, instead of their fears, they became strong and conquered in their battles and storms and difficulties. Peter saw Jesus walking on water and started out toward him and found himself walking on water! But when he turned his eyes to the waves, he became scared and began to fall.
Where are your eyes? On Jesus? or on the storm? Hebrews 12:2-3 says for us, "fixing our eyes on Jesus--(looking to Him, trusting in Him, depending on Him!), who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him (ponder Him, understand His life, His sufferings) who has endured such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."
The only way I have found peace and assurance and confidence in life to keep going, one step at a time, was to let Him hide me in the corners of his tent--to let Him fight my battles, to submit to His will, to say, "you be my defender and provider, because I am your child." Fixing the eyes of my heart on Him, on His face, on His integrity of character and strength, is the only way I could live by faith and not by fear.
It is in resting in His presence and strength and power and goodness, that we will find our hearts at rest. It is only when we patiently face the storms with, "This is too big for me to handle, but I am asking you to handle it for me," and then learning to wait--and sometimes wait and wait and wait, that we will see His purpose, ways and yes, salvation from our storms. I wish I had learned at a much earlier age not to struggle so and worry and fret--it did me no good, and now I see how very faithful God was--He just didn't always do it my way!
It took David almost 25 years after he was anointed to be king, until he was made king over all of Israel, yet God was faithful to His promises. May our wonderful, real, present Lord give you the grace today, to hide in the secret place His shelter, like Joy did as an innocent child in the secret places of our own home--to look at Him and keep your eyes on Him, as he delivers you in your time of trouble and lifts you up in your weariness.
As I grow older, I am so very aware that He has been with us, He has always heard my prayers and He lovingly works and wants us to, like David, see His light and salvation. Grace to you in the midst of your lives. May His beauty and strength lift you up today.
My heart is so full of His joy and I can't wait to share what I have been learning more fully at the conferences. He is good and He wants us to hold fast. Grace and peace.
For prayer, you can write me at Sally@wholeheart.org and I will lift you up before Him.