Can you see Him now?

08/27/2005

 

Can you see Him now?

                                                                 Can you see Him now?

How about now?

                                                          Maybe now?

I lost sight of God a few nights ago. I woke up in the middle of the night consumed with worry. It really came as a surprise…at first I didn’t even know why I was awake. I usually am a very sound sleeper. I sleep through most noises and even difficult situations in life, but not on this night…I was wide-awake and worrying.

When I realized what had woke me up, I started to pray. I knew that God would not want me to be worried. I thought of the verse in Philippians 4:6 which says, “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT) So I did exactly that. I started to tell God what we needed and to thank Him for all He has done. The thank you list was much longer than the needs we now have, and as I went through the “thank you’s,” the second part of that scripture (Verse 7), started to come about. It says, “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

It wasn’t immediate. It took some work. It took focus, because the enemy would rather have us focused on the needs list instead of the thank you list. After all, it was the needs that woke me up, not the thank you’s.

I would much rather wake up in the middle of the night full of gratitude for all that God has done as compared to waking up with a list of all the things that “I think” He needs to do in our lives. But when I woke up with worry, I knew I was not “seeing” God as our Provider, as our Hope, as our Loving Father…I was seeing this world and all that it contains and all that the enemy was filling my mind with to try and defeat us. I had lost sight of God, and I needed to recognize that very quickly before I was buried so deep in the worry that it would make the way out that much more difficult.

Actually, I should have seen it coming. We had been riding high!! We had caught a “good wave” so to speak and it was thrilling! We had just returned from Oregon, welcoming our new little granddaughter into the world, and life was good. But, I could sense the “wave” flattening out on our return home. There had been such a build-up waiting for her arrival, the thrill of adventure in traveling north for her birth, the joy of holding her when she was less than an hour old, the pleasure of having our son and his wife and new daughter close by, and seeing so many of God’s provisions and miracles in making this trip possible. I knew when I woke up worrying, I needed to thank God for all He had done and trust Him for all He would continue to do…to fix my thoughts on “what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise…” Phil. 4:8 (NLT)

Why is that so difficult at times? Why is it so much easier to focus on all that is wrong, on the lies of the enemy, on the things that aren’t so lovely? The fleshly nature gets going and it can be hard to stop it. It can wake us up with worry and fret and concern for things that we really have very little control over, but somehow in our strange way of making our way through this life, we think worrying will accomplish something! It will not!! It will only cause us to lose sleep, to be stressed, and to move our focus from what God would have us focus on to the will of the enemy and his evil schemes to try and destroy us.

Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what
happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance
is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then
you will receive all that he has promised.
Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)

As the enemy tried to swallow me alive in the middle of the night, I knew prayer was my greatest weapon, along with God’s Word to keep the enemy at bay. I was easy prey to the devil’s tactics otherwise, and he knew it. Satan knew a great thrill was behind us and we were headed back into a time of not knowing what was next.

We are not living a “normal” life! We have spent the last year putting everything we have and every ounce of faith we know into a project that we truly feel God called us to. When that was finished, we returned to the Bay Area, awaiting the arrival of our granddaughter. From here we traveled a bit further north where we were blessed with a wonderful week up at Lake Shasta with friends, while checking our phone messages daily. We didn’t know if we would have a day or the whole week at the lake, knowing when the call came that labor had begun, we would be back in our rig and headed to Oregon for her birth!

In God’s perfect timing for us, not necessarily for our daughter-in-law, Kylie didn’t enter the world until our week on the lake was finished…she was one week late! Our little granddaughter was so considerate! As the houseboat headed to shore, we got the call that things were progressing and we just smiled in wonderment at the timing of her impending arrival.

In the middle of the night when things seem so dark, we need to remember these things. God’s blessings, His timing, His care…I started to thank God for all that He has done in our lives, and I started to see Him again. He started to come back into view, as the fears and lies of the enemy slipped further and further into the background of my thinking. I could see God again as I thought back on the morning I sat by the river in Oregon and a deer swam by. Yes, a deer can swim! It seems they shouldn’t be able to because they don’t exactly have webbed feet, but swim they do! This one was beautiful, with a new set of antlers forming on its head. What a way to start my morning with this gift from God.

My mind began to go back and see God’s provision through the obedience of others in providing us with the money we needed to even get us up to Oregon in the first place. I thought of how wonderful it was to be able to park right in the hospital parking lot, waiting for our granddaughter to be born--free of charge, plugged in with the air-conditioning running, we waited! Then when she was born we were able to be there, and even spend the next few days just simply walking over to the hospital to see her from our home in the parking lot. It couldn’t have been more convenient.

After they left the hospital, we headed to the country and stayed at the home of friends on their beautiful property in Oregon, allowing us more time with the kids before we had to leave. All of these gifts came from a mighty God. One who knows the last thing we “should be” doing is spending a week on a houseboat and then traveling up to Oregon “seemingly” on vacation, when we are in no position to be doing any of it. We should be putting out applications for jobs anywhere we can find a want-ad, pounding the pavement in worry and concern that the bills will go un-paid otherwise. That’s what wakes us up at night, at least it did me, and I told God what we needed, as His Word says we should, but I fell back asleep when I started to thank Him for all that He had done.

He has placed comforting and encouraging words in His Book for a reason…because they work! They change this fleshly human nature that focuses on the wrong things in life and they bring us back to what is true. God knows our every need; none of it is a surprise to Him! He does not wake us up in the middle of the night to worry about things, the enemy does. Satan wants us to lose sleep, to lose our peace, to wonder if God really cares. And God says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true…” And we must!!

So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on
your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet.
Hebrews 12:12 (NLT)

Our legs can get shaky even as we lie in bed. Sometimes, more than any other time because there are less distractions, more time to think, more time to dwell on the troubles instead of the blessings. But the enemy will use anything, even the smallest detail of our lives to take our focus off the blessings and onto the troubles. And, we’ll fall for it! We’ll dive straight into the pit of despair if we are not choosing to pray our way back to what is true!! God will never leave us!

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we
hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things
we cannot yet see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

I could not see what tomorrow held, but I could worry about it. What I needed to look at was what was behind us…blessings beyond our wildest imaginings, and thanking God for all that He had done was certainly called for! When tomorrow came, along with it arrived things hoped for but not yet seen. I found out that my old position in the church office had recently become available, and I will be returning there for the time being. With working there and some other house-painting jobs going on, as well as what Jim will be working on, God is making a way where there seemed to be no way in the darkness of the night. The enemy operates in the darkness because he knows in the light of God, there is a way through all things, no matter how difficult they may appear.

Sometimes it is laughable the way the enemy can get to us…I was losing sleep over something pretty insignificant considering everything else we have been through…. I sleep through most every night peacefully now, even after the loss of our son. It truly shows the lunacy in the workings of the enemy and the ridiculousness of the things he will try to distract us with when he can wake us up with something petty. He will do anything to take our focus off of our God and place it on the things of this world. We can be quickly distracted from all that God is doing when tempted by the pit of despair…we can lose our focus.

My brother just called to share a verse with me, as he will sometimes do when God puts it upon his heart. Today he shared this:

Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord,
he will lift you up, encourage and help you.
James 4:10 (LB)

I also looked it up and found this translation in the Message Bible:

“Get down on your knees before the Master;
it's the only way you'll get on your feet.”

We cannot do this life alone if we are to live in the victory that Jesus Christ has offered us! We should not fight those battles alone in the middle of the night no matter how large or insignificant they may be. In the darkness, all “monsters” loom larger than life. It’s only when the Light is turned on that we see it was nothing at all, simply a shadow cast, appearing as something other than what is true and lovely and admirable, like our Father God.

Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief
rises up among you, for whenever it springs
up, many are corrupted by its poison.
Hebrews 12:15b (NLT)

Why do you think the enemy is trying to plant his seeds of poison in the dark of the night? He is hoping we will start to lose faith in God, that we will see all the bad instead of all the good, that we will forget all that God has done and only focus on all the needs that we have. Our belief will turn to unbelief, and in that we are more likely take the bitter root that has been planted in our heart and plant it in other hearts that we meet along the way. Instead of encouraging each other, as we are called to do, we will have quietly slipped over in the dark of the night to the enemy’s camp, and sometimes without even knowing it we will end up working for the wrong side. We may start to cast our doubts and fears onto others that we come in contact with.

This is not to say there aren’t real troubles in the light of day. Life is difficult. It is challenging. Sometimes faith is rewarded with tremendous success, sometimes “others trusted God and were tortured…Some were mocked…chained…Some died…some were hungry and oppressed and mistreated.” (Hebrews 11:36-37 NLT)

When we wake up in the morning, after having lost sleep the night before, it doesn’t mean that everything has been resolved. It may not be resolved for many months or years or perhaps never, but what can be put to rest is our fear of what that means in our life.

When I would wake up in the morning after our son died, I would awaken to the reality that I had to go through another day without him. Even if I were able to sleep and escape it for a while, sometimes even having dreams about him and seemingly getting to spend time with him, morning would still come. The trouble was still there. The missing would be huge, my broken heart caused me not only emotional pain but actual physical pain. I wondered if it would ever stop hurting. Would it ever get any easier?

Night after night went by, and even more torturous, day after day…when it seemed to the world that I should be healing, it was only getting worse. As the months went by the reality that he was gone was almost more than I could bear…no, it was more than I could bear. It seemed to consume my every waking thought and when others were chatting about everything under the sun, I was just trying to breathe in enough air to survive. I remember sitting at a table full of women who were chatting in the lunchroom at work one day, I was not even adding to the conversation, I didn’t have the strength for that, but I became so drained just by the activity in the room I went off to the bathroom. I found an empty stall and went in to breathe…that’s desperation. That’s pain like I had never experienced before in my life. That’s when focus is so important that without it, we will drown in the circumstances of life for sure!!

I wondered what this would mean to the rest of my life? I could not know until I had gone through it and come out on the other side, but I didn’t even know if that was going to be possible. If I couldn’t sit and listen to friends chatting without losing my breath, how would I ever live fully again?

Another of my brothers shared with me the other day that even David hid in caves…and then I came across this verse, “They wandered over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” (Heb. 11:38 NLT) There were times when I had to go away and hide just to breathe…and yet these were people who “…received God’s approval because of their faith…”

It’s not a lack of faith to struggle, to wake up in the middle of the night with worry, to question God’s whereabouts when times are hard…it’s times like these that cause our faith to increase if we will turn to the one true and living God and ask Him to help us! Jesus said we would have trouble; He had His own tremendous struggles when He walked this earth. Times that caused Him to literally cry out to His Father in heaven for help. Times when He went into the hills alone. Why should we be surprised that we must do the same? The Bible doesn’t say “take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs” because life is always going to be easy! Quite the opposite! During these times we have to keep our eyes on Jesus!

…let us run with endurance the race that God
has set before us. We do this by keeping our
eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from
start to finish.
Hebrews 12:1b-2 (NLT)

If our eyes are not on Jesus, we will sink! When I woke up the other night, I admitted that I was sinking, I was going under, and I called out for help! Yes, I told God what we needed, but mostly I found peace again by thanking Him for what He has already done. In doing so, He lifted me up so that I could see Him once again…He encouraged me to continue on with patient endurance. In the end, the enemy had no choice but to retreat until another day, as I went back to sleep.

The race is not yet over! Not until Jesus comes back or we go Home to be with Him. It’s not time to give up but to stay focused!! That’s where true peace is found through all the difficulties of life, the littlest to the biggest. God cares about all of them!!

Can you see Him now?

 

                                                  Can you see Him now?

 

How about now?

 

                                                       Can you see Him?

  

See, God has come to save me.
I will trust him and not be afraid.
Isaiah 12:2 (NLT)

Diane