Updated: Jun 6, 2020
- Apr 12, 2020
- 3 min read
Perhaps one of the most daunting parts about our current situation is the uncertainty, the many “what if’s” and the fear of what’s to come. I suppose those are the kind of things that can always burden our minds, but clearly they’ve been escalated. I have those thoughts, and then I remember that I’ve been given a perfect picture of what it could be like to be in worse circumstances.
My friends and I are blessed to be in touch with several friends in Venezuela. They join us online four times a week for meetings where we sit quietly together and wait on the Lord. It’s the way we’re learning to listen for what He is putting on each of our hearts. Sometimes that is only internal, or if someone feels there is something that is meant to be shared, we all have a chance to benefit from it. It’s pretty extraordinary, sometimes hard, and sometimes a soothing balm to the soul.
As most people probably know, Venezuela has been in turmoil for quite awhile. They lack basic human necessities such as food, water, medicine, money and electricity. It’s hard to even comprehend what their day to day life must be like. One of our local friends talks with them more often and every time we ask how they are doing he says “really well”. That doesn’t seem possible but the reason is this, they keep turning their hearts to the Lord. They focus on Him and not the world around them. They are aware of course, and do what they need to in order to survive each day, but they don’t get caught up in the chaos. One man said:
“I need to be careful of all idolatry. Whatever thing in me that might be more important than God, including my own body, and my own needs. Is this more important than the Lord in my heart?”
Another young man came to the Lord after being in a gang. He was later put in jail for a crime he had committed during that time. He could have gotten out by bribing the judge, but he chose to do what he knew was right. He understood he’d never be free if he didn’t tell the truth. He wrote and said:
“I look around me and see that there are more reasons for me to be happy than to be depressed. Despite me being deprived of freedom, which could be a good reason to be sad. Nevertheless, I know the Lord is molding me for a purpose and I have seen changes in my life through this process from the Lord. There are a million things that bring joy to my heart…when you are walking in God’s ways, you realize problems don’t really exist.”
For those who may not know, Venezuelan jails are horrific and inhumane to say the least. I find it astonishing that anyone could find joy and happiness there, but again that has been made possible by turning to Christ.
So there is the perfect picture of hope that we’ve been given. The clear vision of “what if” and what it could be like if things were worse. There could be assurance of freedom, joy, peace and Love in our hearts. Why would we settle for anything less?
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
- Apr 9, 2020
- 3 min read
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
A couple of nights ago after just falling asleep, I was awakened by the sound of a siren. It was the kind that usually only lasts a few seconds and then is followed by an announcement that says “this is only a test”, only this time it kept going. It took me a few moments to realize that and when I did I checked my cell to see what was going on. I found out that there was a tornado warning which stated something to the effect of “take shelter immediately, there is imminent danger to life…” So I grabbed some pillows, held on to my phone and headed to my bathtub, (which in my second floor apartment was my safest bet). There was a relative sense of calm, but also a strong flight or fight response in my body, heart pounding and all!
I got into child’s pose, (thanks to some good yoga practice) covered my head and back with my pillows and started talking to the Lord. Mostly asking to be with Him. It was interesting how all of a sudden all the other concerns that I’ve been struggling with were completely irrelevant. There really was no telling what could happen next. What did happen was that I sent out a group text to my friends to see if everyone was ok and within the few minutes it took everyone to respond the warning was lifted. That was that.
I’ve been thinking about it since then, and it feels like it was another kind warning, another clear wake-up call and another indication of how extremely fragile and unpredictable this world is. And the question remains, what is my response to that? Do I just think “whew, I’m glad that’s over and, I’m so grateful it didn’t get any worse”, or do I continue to take seriously how crucial it is to turn to the only Source of safety that is eternally reliable and infallible?
I’ve also been thinking about the phrase “shelter in place” knowing that our only true shelter is in Christ.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings..
For those who believe, this may serve as a reminder and for those who don’t, as an invitation we’ve all been given. What a generous and wonderful gift! Why would I exchange it for anything in this crazy world, and why do I ever forsake the freedom and peace it brings?! One thing that is undeniable is death and we have a chance to face it every moment of every day. Dying to our self and all that comes with it. Letting go of “our life” in exchange for true Life.
I realize that might sound obscure, but it’s the most simple and beautiful reality one could hope for. His Life is Love and it can fill our souls as they are emptied of all else. I can’t make that happen, but I can ask for that. I can start with even the willingness to ask and a heart that is humbled by a constant realization of how powerless I truly am.
I don’t want to bide my time and not heed the warnings we’re being given. Now is the time to turn to Him, and turn away from what is temporal at best. We have a soul that is ever-lasting, which needs to be held far more dear than what is so precious to us in this world. Of course we still need to love and care about one another, but I hope that reaches a deeper level of caring for the only part that matters. Without that, there is “imminent danger to Life”.