When the Monsoon Winds of Change Blow

I spent the morning doing a little bit of cleaning, putting away Halloween decor and getting out Thanksgiving decor. While I was doing that I was thinking about what to do with this Faith post. My life has never been one of discipline or routine. My spouse is a college instructor, so every semester the schedule changes. We homeschooled our two girls all the way through high school so that schedule changed in accordance with my spouse’s. There were times when Mark had several evening classes, so we would have our main meal together at lunch time. Other times, the girls and I would fend for ourselves, knowing dad wouldn’t be home until 9 or 10 at night. In addition to that all of our family is out of state. Holidays, spring breaks and summers were often littered with trips to see Grandmas and Grandpas, uncles, cousins and friends.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Change is not a bad thing. Often, change can be exciting and something we look forward to with anticipation. Unfortunately, change can also be something that fills us with dread and despair. In just a few short weeks, my position as assistant manager of a university bookstore will be over. It was a position I grew into, as I started working when my girls were just little. I went from sales clerk, to general merchandiser, to shipping and receiving clerk, to assistant manager. I made the transition working part time, so I could still homeschool our girls and more recently help out with our grandson.

Pixabay - shop door

I had hoped that I could take a few months off, get my thoughts together and get through the holidays without the added stress of learning a new job, having a new schedule, blending with new coworkers and on and on the change comes. However, that is not the case. I have to find another job, so I am applying for something seasonal.

Image by  Andi Graf  from  Pixabay

Image by Andi Graf from Pixabay

Part of the reason, I am writing this is to work through the situation myself. Losing a job is like losing someone close to you. You didn’t get to have a say in when it happened, it just happened. You didn’t get to determine, what that change or that end would look like, it just ended. So here I am. I’m 55 and not sure what the next step is, other than to keep stepping.

There is a passage of Scripture that seems especially pertinent to my situation today, and maybe will speak to you as well.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:26-39 (ESV)

There are several key points that we can pull from this passage.

1 - Someone is praying for us.

Verses 26 and 27 plainly state that the Spirit intercedes for us. I love this. To know that someone is praying for me and not just praying but interceding with “groanings too deep for words.” Have you ever noticed when life is overwhelming it is also often confusing as well. In addition, knowing what God is trying to do through or in a situation is more often than not beyond our ability to understand. There are times I find myself saying, “Lord, I don’t even know how to pray.” That is how I have felt over the last few months as I have looked down the pike to losing my job. Sure, my heart would like to pray that everything would go smoothly and that I wouldn’t have to get another job right away. I want to be able to enjoy the holidays and not have them messed up with a new schedule and the stress of learning a new job. But, my mind is also praying for a new job as soon as possible. I have also entertained the idea, that maybe God would just like me to really trust Him. Ha, ha. It is exactly in this state of confusion that my prayers often hit the ceiling and go no further, so it is very reassuring to me that the Holy Spirit is praying for me and He is praying according to the will of God. Pure and simple.

Image by  Couleur  from  Pixabay

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

2 - Things will work out.

It would be nice to say, that things will work out, exactly as we had hoped and expected, but reality says that is rarely the case. However, according to verse 29, things will work for good to those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose. That may sound a little confusing, as though we have to figure out what God’s purpose is. The fact of the matter is, all we have to do is be present. Whatever the circumstance or difficulty, God will work it out and you can be sure it will be for your best and my best, because His will is always for our best. Our minds are limited in what we are able to see as being best, but from personal experience, I can say, it is only when I am completely submitting to Him and whatever path or direction He’s leading me that I have complete peace. That path may be wretchedly difficult, but He is walking it with us and the end result will be good.

Image by  SplitShire  from  Pixabay

Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

3 - We are known, called, justified and glorified.

Verses 29 and 30 pack a big punch. There is a lot going on in these two verses, and rather than delving into each word individually, just know that we are pretty darn important to our Creator. I am also not going to get into a discussion on predestination versus free will. My heart believes that both are possible and that God is the only one who needs to understand how it works. That is good enough for me. The fact that He knew us from the beginning, He called us to Himself, He justified us through His Son Jesus Christ, and He will glorify us at the resurrection with new bodies, reiterates the amazing love of this being we call Jehovah. The complexity of this relationship with an Almighty being becomes clearly simple when we believe that everything He does is done for our benefit.

Image by  Stefan Kuhn  from  Pixabay

Image by Stefan Kuhn from Pixabay

4 - God is for us.

This needs little explanation. The only thing you have to do is believe it!

5 - God will provide.

God, who did not spare His own Son, Jesus, for our benefit, will provide all that we need. Note, I did not say all that we want, but all that we need. What we are responsible to do is figure out, what is it, that we really need. Food, clothes, love, security. Think about people who have been persecuted, tortured or neglected, yet still survived and even thrived regardless of the adversity. What is it that we really need? Only to abide with Him.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

6 - We are secure.

Verses 33 through 35, and 38 through 39, reassure us of our firm foundation in Christ. No one can separate us from Him or His love. We can be persecuted, neglected, overwhelmed, or in despair, but still He is will us. We might be losing our jobs, our spouses, our families, our homes, our health, but still He is will us and we are secure in His hands.

7 - We are conquerors in Him.

Verses 36 and 37, give us the kick in the pants we need, when we become self focused. When change is coming and the future is uncertain we can easily begin to look inward thinking things like, we’ll never get through this, we can’t do this one more day, we aren’t good enough or other such thoughts that take our focus off the one through whose hands every circumstance trickles. We can become anxious, self-absorbed and begin to invite friends to our pity party, but that is not what God wants for us. Verse 37 says, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Think about your favorite super hero movie. How did they get through the battles with bad guys, aliens and monsters? They conquered. They conquered their fear and they conquered the enemies. We have an Almighty, All Powerful God on our side. We can be conquerors too, in Him.

Image by  Joanny Liu  from  Pixabay

Image by Joanny Liu from Pixabay

The Trickle Down Effect

I am putting my Traits of a Godly Person on hold to address, once more, the need for constantly abiding in Christ. Living this life is no easy task. Maybe for some, the living of life bears no heavy burdens. Your life is free of insecurities and unknowns. You haven’t experienced the death of a loved one, or the loss of a dear friend. Maybe you’ve never watched an aging parent slowly fade as their mind gives in to the devastation of dementia. You might even be a parent, but have never had a child who rebelled against all you taught them because of a dark secret they carried. Maybe you’ve never gone without a job or had to scrimp and save, just to put food on the table. Most of us don’t have that privilege. Most of us struggle day after day and many of us lose hope.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Why abide in Christ? What difference does it make? Will He relieve us of these burdens by removing memory of our loss, or by showering our houses with gold coins, or by healing the minds of our kin that are turning into literal mush? Probably not. Why then abide?

Andrew Murray says it best,

Dear souls! How little they know that the abiding in Christ is just meant for the weak, and so beautifully suited to their feebleness. It is not the doing of some great thing, and does not demand that we first lead a very holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept — the unfaithful one casting self on One who is altogether trust worthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us and through us. It is a work He does for us — the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is simple, to yield, to trust and to wait for what He has engaged to perform.
— Andrew Murray - Abide In Me

When you are tired, abide.

When you are weak, abide.

When you feel lost, abide.

When you feel tempted, abide.

When you experience loss, abide.

When you experience joy, abide.

When the sun rises in the morning, abide.

When the afternoon grows long, abide.

When that same sun sets in the evening, abide.

Day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, abide.

Abiding is made much easier when we recognize two truths.

Truth 1 - God is Sovereign

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
— Psalm 103:19 (NASB)
13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
— 1 Timothy 6:13-16 (NASB)

No matter what we think or what we do, we cannot change the fact that God is and He is supreme. We cannot put Him into a box of our design, even though most people try. We cannot make Him do what we want, even though we pray with pleading and begging as if it will make a difference. We do not control Him, nor do we control the things that come into our lives, unless they are the result of our own choices. Even those, are sifted through the fingers of the Almighty. This idea is what I like to call the trickle down effect. Nothing comes into our lives that does not first go through the hands of God.

Image by  Peter H  from  Pixabay

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

You might be thinking at this point, “Well, if that’s the case then God is an overbearing, bad guy.” But that brings me to the point number 2.

Truth 2 - God Loves You

Image by  Vlad Ymyr  from  Pixabay

Image by Vlad Ymyr from Pixabay

It might be hard to see that, when you are going through a difficult struggle, but it still holds true. We can say, “I do not believe the sun will come up tomorrow.” However, tomorrow the sun will come up. Our saying I don’t believe something, does not make it the case. God is love and God loves us. He is the purest, most perfect form of love. No matter how sacrificially we love, our love is still imperfect compared to the love with which God loves us.

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
— Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
— John 13:34 (NASB)
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
— John 15:9 (NASB)
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
— Romans 5:5 (NASB)

That last verse speaks a truth we need to hear and remember. Hope does not disappoint. Why? Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Dear ones, God loves you and the testimony of that love is the Holy Spirit that lives with in you. Should we not also do Him the service of living within Him. This is what it means to abide. To dwell within and with, not just when we are strong and things are good, but especially when the darkness has fallen.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I love to go for walks with my spouse in the darkness of night and see all the houses with their lights on. I am not looking in like a voyeur, but in amazement and thanksgiving, that even in the darkness light still shines because someone is living there.

The light shines within us, even in the darkness, because He is living there and we abide with Him. Knowing that nothing comes into my life that He hasn’t already seen with His eyes, heard with His ears and felt with His heart gives me the strength to stay in that safe place, nestled in His arms.

The Real Romance

My regular devotional book is My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. If you have never heard of him, he is one of those men of the past that, like David, seemed to be a man after God's own heart. The wisdom he had as a young man and his passion for Christ drove him to eventually start the Bible Training College in London. I have used this devotional book for years and it never grows old. 

Oswald Chambers devotional book

Over the years, I started writing in the margin at the top of the page what various events had occurred on that particular date. It has become a way to keep track of life. I always write the year and the event that took place. For instance on September 15, 2010 it says, "Quintin Arthur Vern Christensen born." That is my grandson. On May 31st 2014 it says, "Rebecca Christensen marries Daniel Trumbull." That is when I gained a son-in-law. There are pages filled with vacation travels, birthdays and family gatherings. It is also filled with broken engagements, hospital stays, unwed pregnancies and deaths. 

Oswald Chambers - devotional

It seems apropos that a devotional book that reminds us over and over to draw closer to Christ, hold a record of the very events that have caused that closeness to take place. The good events caused me to pour out my heart in thanksgiving and praise for blessing. The bad events caused me to pour out my heart in despair and grief. This correlation brings me to today's reading from the devotional and one quote in particular. 

Without the sovereign hand of God Himself, nothing touches our lives. Do we discern His hand at work, or do we see things as mere occurrences? Get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance.
— Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest - January 30th

There are several truths we can pull from this quote.

1. God is Sovereign.

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
— Psalm 103:19 (NASB)

God is all. ALL powerful. ALL present. ALL good. ALL loving. ALL knowing. How can a being like that not be sovereign. The word itself means, one who holds supreme power. I have a feeling that this word that was first noted to be used in the 13th century, does not begin to describe the sovereignty of God. 

2. Nothing touches our lives that doesn't pass through Him. 

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
The Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’
Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’
The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.’
Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.’
Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’
So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.
— Job 1:6-12 (NASB)

This passage from Job is the perfect example of God's sovereignty and how He filters the events that touch our lives. 

What exactly does that mean? It means that no matter what is going on in your life, He is aware of it and He allowed it. That may seem a bit overwhelming and bring questions to your mind like, "If He's all good and all loving, why are all these bad things happening?" Quite simply, God knows you and your circumstances even better than you do. He knows what will push you towards Him or away from Him. 

If we allow ourselves the freedom of trusting Him, then we know that He's got us, no matter what is happening. If we bend to His will and sovereignty in our lives we will enter into an amazing relationship with Him. More on that in a minute. 

3. We have choices. 

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
— Joshua 24:15 (NASB)

I've said this before and I will say it again. We have choices. We can decide to trust His sovereignty or not. We can accept His truth or reject it. Each of those choices we make will have an affect on how we think and how we maneuver through life. 

If you read the Old Testament at all you know that the Israelites were constantly changing their choices. One day they chose God, the next day they chose idols. On and on, over and over. When they chose God, they prospered. When they chose idols, they floundered. Our choice to believe God's sovereignty will make life more stable and peaceful. It doesn't mean life will be smooth sailing, but it does mean we will always have someone to rely on and who will give us supernatural means to deal with the hard things in life. 

If we look back at Joshua, who lead the children of Israel into the promised land, we know he had to conquer cities, and battle for every inch of land, but God was with Him and as long as they put God first and worshipped and trusted Him they were victorious. That didn't mean people didn't die, or get sick or have marital conflict or....fill in the blank. But God was there through it all. In all honesty, if I have the choice to have an all loving and all powerful being, walking with me through those dark and treacherous valleys, I'll take it. 

4. Life with Him can be a romance.

that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.
— I Samuel 3:4 (NASB)

Who doesn't love romance? Even the most jaded person, if they do a little soul searching will admit, they want to be pursued and loved. Romance has to be nurtured. When you are in a romantic relationship it isn't about getting what you want, it is a beautiful dance of giving, receiving, listening and talking. We can have that with our Lord. Isn't that amazing? The all powerful, supreme being who created the universe from nothing wants to woo us and have a romance with us. 

With February starting tomorrow and Valentine's Day right around the corner, wouldn't this be a good time to reevaluate our romance with Jesus? Are we spending time with Him? Are we pursuing Him, just as He daily pursues us? Are we taking the time to converse with Him and quietly listening for His sweet whispers to our souls? Are we looking for Him in the simple and mundane things of life as well as the big and beautiful things? 

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
— Psalm 34:8 (NASB)