Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Strength to Stand On

Sometimes I am amazed at how clearly and directly God's Word speaks to me. A few days ago I woke up feeling overwhelmed and completely defeated. Its a terrible feeling to wake up to a full day of responsibility feeling completely exhausted!

Here's what I wrote in my journal:
"I am feeling so defeated. And I know that is right where Satan wants me to be. Lord, please help me not to believe the lies of the enemy. I woke up this morning and almost immediately thought to myself 'you can't do it'. I'm supposed to [minister to a few people in difficult circumstances] and I thought 'How can you do that with the way you've been feeling?' Its just like a barrage of defeating thoughts. Lord please help me to stand strong. Help me to know and embrace the truth -- that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God, I know that I am totally incapable on my own. But I have the power of Your very Spirit living inside of me! Help me to rely on you at ALL TIMES."

And then I remembered a passage I had read the day before in Proverbs 30:1b "The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out." And I just confessed to the Lord that that was exactly how I felt. And I needed God to help me overcome and press on with what needed to be done.

And then I turned to a new book I'm starting (Ezekiel) and began to read. I found that Ezekiel had been called to a difficult ministry. Ezekiel was somewhat bitter about his difficult calling: "The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the Lord being strong upon me" (Ezekiel 2:14). And Ezekiel was totally overwhelmed by the ministry he faced: "And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days" (Ezekiel 2:5).

God was completely upfront about the difficulties Ezekiel would face, saying "Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house" (Ezekiel 2:6b-7). And then "go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them...whether they hear or refuse to hear" (Ezekiel 2:11).

Wow, talk about feeling defeated before you even begin! Ezekiel was basically told to share God's Truth, even though the people may completely refuse to listen to him. This was way more overwhelming than my little situation!

As I read, I saw what God did to sustain Ezekiel in this tough ministry assignment: twice in these early chapters Ezekiel says "the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet" (2:2; 3:24). And that is what I needed for my day. I needed the Spirit to set me on my feet.

In Matthew 28:20 Christ sends out believers, and makes a very important, comforting promise: "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." This is crucial to remember in times of difficulty, defeat, anxiety or overwhelming tasks. The very Spirit of God is in us (who have repented of our sins, accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, and seek to follow Him); He will set us on our feet when we are unable to get up on our own; and He will stay with us always.

As God's Word spoke Truth to my heart and strengthened my soul, I had a fresh energy to face the day. Then, God poured an extra measure of encouragement into me with the words of Oswald Chambers in that days' devotion in My Utmost For His Highest:
"The one concern of a worker should be concentration on God, and this will mean that all the other margins of life, mental, moral and spiritual, are free with the freedom of a child, a worshipping child, not a wayward child. A worker without this solemn dominant note of concentration on God is apt to get his work on his neck; there is no margin of body, mind or spirit free, consequently he becomes spent out and crushed. There is no freedom, no delight in life; nerves, mind and heart are so crushingly burdened that God's blessing cannot rest. But the other side is just as true -- when once the concentration is on God, all the margins of life are free and under the dominance of God alone. There is no responsibility on you for the work; the only responsibility you have is to keep in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him."

 God's Word is so practical. It speaks to our daily circumstances and needs. What a treasure we miss when we fail to turn to it first each day! If you're reading this, but haven't yet read God's Word today, let me encourage you to stop everything and start somewhere in His Word. Perhaps in Ezekiel. Perhaps in John or Philippians or James. Let His words breathe fresh energy into you, and give you strength to stand.

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