“I lift up my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help come from the Lord, the maker of the heaven and Earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
Last night, some friends and I were having a conversation about Facebook interactions. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I have mixed feelings about Facebook and you know that I’ve taken several breaks from the social media platform. This specific conversation was about how some people scroll and rarely make any indication that they’ve even seen posts. To me, that’s the creepy part of Facebook; I try to always keep in mind all of the friends I am speaking to when I post something because it is easy to forget the large audience of Facebook. Then the conversation shifted to the new emoji reactions that Facebook recently released. My input to this conversation is that comments are more valuable to me. I don’t get much satisfaction from seeing a notification that someone “liked” or “reacted to”. A comment is more cherished in my heart because of my strong connection with words.
As a book-lover, I wholeheartedly agree that words are powerful. Rudyard Kipling said that “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Or as James put it, “the tongue is a flame of fire….It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:6. Lately, God has been revealing to me about how to make everything about him, and specifically God has shown me that the words I choose to speak and write are powerful. It’s always been a problem of mine to speak and write what comes to mind and what I think others want to hear. Through painful discipline, I’m learning (over and over) to really apply James 1:19 by pondering my words very carefully.
In fact, God has quite a bit to say about words and how we use them. In Psalm 12, the psalmist makes the bold request that God cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that makes great boasts. Instead, the tongue should be used to spread wisdom, healing, and encouragement (Proverbs 12:18; Ephesians 4:29).
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
If you also struggle with words, I don’t have any specific advice other than to prayfully submit to God. I’ve had to ask for forgiveness from God and people quite a bit, and I expect that I will more in the future. It’s been a lesson in patience as I’ve wanted to say something but realize that it’s not appropriate or uplifting. Ultimately, though, it will be worth the discipline and patience because I trust that God is changing me and using the words he gives me to say to encourage and challenge others. I only have to learn to listen to his guidance rather than spouting off whatever comes to my head.
In closing, I leave you with words from Roald Dahl:
“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”
― Roald Dahl,
I lift my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
Your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forevermore.
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
Lately I’ve been having these moments of intense longing for God. Usually these pangs come when I’m busy. I’ll tell myself “okay when I get back to the house, I’ll spend hours with God” but then I get distracted or convince myself to do something different. My mood is affected. If I long for water, why do I settle for soda? If I long for Jesus, why do I settle for mere entertainment?
This reminds me of an event the other day. At the church Easter Egg hunt, we noticed two boys walking through our field where we had hidden the eggs. No one really paid much attention to them until the hunt was about to start. When some of the workers went over to approach them, the boys ran off. Turns out they had been stealing the eggs because we found our prize egg in the creek without any candy. The boys longed for a hunt and for candy yet they chose to remain on the outside and steal. They could have been part of the celebration and had many eggs. Instead they settled for stealing. My Christian walk shouldn’t be about settling. When I long for Christ, I should spend time with him. He’s there with welcome arms.
“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.” Psalm 84:5-7
This summer I have learned to keep my focus on Jesus. When I remember that truth, everything else just lines up and I’m less stressed. If I remember who I’m really serving and keep the real goal in mind (Jesus and his message), I am more content and happy. The sons of Korah were referring to a literal journey to Jerusalem, but I can replace Jerusalem with heaven and find a truth for my life here.
My strength does come from God. Oh how I’ve learned that when I’m able to keep going even when my mind is plagued. I am also more joyful when my mind is focused on the fact making every action bring glory to God and I can look forward to the moment when God shows me how my earthly actions brought glory to him. That’s my goal as a Christ follower so when I remember to keep everything I do focused on God’s glory, I am happier. I am only passing through this world on my pilgrimage to heaven.
Then come the valleys of weeping. Those are the times when things seem to be falling apart. At this point in my life that usually means a broken relationship or a lower test grade than expected or just general stress. In those moments if I keep my focus on my journey to heaven and my purpose, I am able to see the “refreshing springs” and blessings.
Finally I will grow stronger. After each trying time of my life, I look back and see how God was using that situation to make my faith stronger. God uses every situation to bring me closer to him. As long as my eyes are focused on him, I’ll be able to get a glimpse of how God is making me stronger through him.
And then some day I will finish this journey and stand before God in heaven. I’ll finally get to hear God say “welcome home.” He’ll show me how he was always with me and I’ll be able to praise him without the distractions created by the sin here on earth.
So I keep my eyes focused.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:1-3
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Christ is enough for me?
Maybe the question should be “Am I living life to prove that Christ is enough for me?”
Maybe there shouldn’t be a question at all.
Instead maybe we should just accept that Christ is enough. He is all we need because he supplies all we need.
It’s easy to forget that though when our earthly desires of human love, food, things, opportunities, etc are not met. It seems that God has disappeared. We ask “where are you God? Why didn’t I get what I want?” We look to Psalm 37:4 and blame God that we didn’t get the desires of our heart. Or was it the desires of our mind?
We forget the beginning of that verse- “Take delight in the Lord.” Our heart must be seeking the Lord in order to receive the desires of our heart, which as a consequence will be the Lord and his will.
In those moments of doubt, instead of asking God where he is, we can realize that he’s right there. He’s waiting on us to say that He is enough. He’s waiting on us to say that we have decided to [once again] follow him wholeheartedly.
Christ is enough for me. I may not live that way, but remember that I live in the flesh and do battle there. Fortunately, Christ is on my side and battling for me. He’s enough. In that I take hope.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. —1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Regardless of my current emotions or circumstances, I choose to focus on encouraging today. It may not be what I want to do because let’s be honest, it’s easier to stay in a pity party. That’s not what we’re called to do. We’re called to encourage each other in Christ’s love. There are some truths I know that keep me pushing through life. Today I want to share a few verses that have really encouraged me in the past bit of my life. If you’re feeling beat up by the world or completely alone, remember that God has it all under control and that he will provide a refuge.
The honesty of the Psalms have always encouraged me.
“I look for someone to come and help me but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me.”
Then watch this next bit of hope break through the clouds.
“Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.” Psalm 142
In Psalm 13, the Psalmist pleads for God to restore the sparkle to his eyes. How often have I or you asked for that? Then he chooses faith.
“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.”
A couple songs to leave you with that we can all sing together as we choose faith.
Please Be My Strength (Gungor)
Blessings (Laura Story)