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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Challenged by God


One of my observations over the years has been that devotional books tend to focus on a certain number of passages over the years, time and again. Favorite passages or books, like Psalm 23, or the Gospel of John, or the Book of Romans for example.  One of those passages is one I call my “plaguing passage.” Maybe, for that to make sense, I should quote it for you first.  It’s Matthew 6:25-34.  It’s kind of a long passage.  It is from the teachings of Jesus:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  (English Standard Version)
Now, why do I call it my plaguing passage?  Well, it is because it is extremely relevant for my life, time and time again, and since it keeps popping up in the devotions I read, it keeps reminding me over and over again, too!  

You see, I am pretty good about trusting that God will take care of me, and provides the things I need in life.  UNTIL….until I’m in a new situation, one that is different than what I have had before, or one that I is harder than what I had before, or one that stretches me further than I did before, or one where I can’t imagine how it is ever going to work out.  In other words, each time I am being challenged to grow beyond my comfort level, I have to be reminded to not worry.  I have to be reminded to trust.  I have to be reminded that God still cares, that God understands, that the issues I face are not anything God didn’t expect, nor are they so big God can’t handle them, and that just becausecan’t see a solution doesn’t mean that GOD doesn’t have a solution!  

It seems like I’m always having to be reminded that God can get me through whatever I face.  And that He knows what I need, and will always meet that need. And that I need to focus on today’s troubles, and deal with tomorrow’s troubles tomorrow! 

Perhaps “plaguing” isn’t the best word.  After all, when God is helping us to trust and to grow, it isn’t really a plague, is it?  It’s a blessing, because God is helping us to become more than we are, helping us to learn the path to victory and peace.  It’s because it means God isn’t going to give up on me, and that he will patiently keep reminding me of what I need to know, and encouraging me to keep trying, and giving me the hope and strength to hang on and remember that God has my back.  

That passage may be an important challenge for you as well. After all, when life falls apart as it does in divorce, worry and fear and uncertainty can become overwhelming. But maybe there is something else that is challenging in your life.  Is there a lesson God has been trying to teach you over the years, an area you just keep running up against and feel like you keep struggling to achieve?  Or a passage that God just keeps putting in front of you over and over, to remind you, to challenge you, to help you know that He really does care, and that He really will protect you, and that He really does have a plan for your good whether it feels like it now or not?  

If you identify with that experience, I encourage you to embrace the teaching, accept the challenge, and let that reminder spur you on to greater things in your walk with and work for God.  And you can offer a little prayer for me, too, that I will learn on a higher level how to trust God with whatever comes, and to do so without “worrying about tomorrow!”

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