Here's part one of my Stop, Look, and Listen verse (as it turns out, those aren't just instructions for elementary school students crossing the street):
"This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives." Jeremiah 17:5-6
I have been a desert-dwelling shrub many times in my life, and pain has always been my excuse. I've written before about battling fear from an early age, but during my senior year of high school, I went through a fire of accusation that spun my life completely out of control and took my battle with fear to a whole new level. I remember feeling torn apart by anxiety, pinned to the ground by pain, so heavy with helplessness that I couldn't see straight or remember what was true. When I went to college I didn't want anyone to see the ugliness of those wounds, and I was beyond tired of thinking about them. So I stuffed the pain...which only made it fester and grow until I felt all but consumed by a sadness I couldn't fully understand, and still have difficulty putting into words.
Although you and I have most likely not experienced the exact same set of painful circumstances, we all know what it means to be hurt. And, no matter what person or set of circumstances is responsible for inflicting the various wounds we carry, we have all probably responded with words of resolve similar to these: "Never again."
Never again will I let that person do that to me. Never again will I allow myself to be treated that way. Never again will I let my guard down. Never again will I put my heart out there only to see it cast aside. Never again will I open myself up to embarrassment. Never again will I risk failure.
Never again will I be out of control.
Because of my background and my story, I have this desire to see exactly how everything is going to turn out, to know exactly where everything is going. If I can't, my general response is fear and worry—as though playing "What if?" scenarios in my mind over and over again will prepare me for every possible outcome so that I can never, ever, ever be caught off guard by a surprise attack again.
So yes, I understand well what it means to "depend on [my own] flesh for [my] strength" by attempting to control the circumstances around me. And because of that, I have often found myself in the middle of blessings bigger than I could have ever imagined, yet failing to "see prosperity" because I'm too busy worrying about what might happen if those blessings are suddenly taken away.
But here is part two of the verse, which by the grace of God, is what I know I am becoming:
"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8
|Found this tucked-away stream while living in France. I'd like to put down my roots here, please.|
Blessed am I when I'm in the middle of a battle I didn't see coming, or standing at the edge of an adventure I don't feel quite prepared for, or straining to control a future I'll never be able to foresee, and I choose to draw all of my confidence from the reservoir of my unchanging Savior rather than the ever-changing circumstances around me.
Blessed am I when instead of constantly looking over my shoulder to prepare for attack, I choose to send my roots even deeper into the stream of Living Water and trust that "my God will supply all [my] needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to [me] in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
Blessed am I when even in the midst of pain—the kind I said I'd never make it through alive again—when even then, I remain steadfast in my trust. When even then, I refuse to fear. When even then, I believe that the Lord will bring beauty from ashes. When even then, I realize that my leaves are green and my branches are bearing fruit not because of the perfection of my circumstances, but because of the perfection of the God who "causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
I want my eyes to be open to see prosperity when it comes. I don't want to miss the good thing He is doing by worrying about that good thing slipping through my fingers. I don't want to live in a desert of isolation, a captive of fear in that "salt land where no one lives." I want to be an evergreen, fully at peace and bearing fruit no matter where I'm planted or what the weather forecast says.
Join me today on a journey of trust—let's watch and wait and see what our God will do.