Our Rock Eternal

Isaiah 26, Rock...from Hawaii

God has inserted Himself in every part of the world He created.   Since I’m a visual person,  I gain much understanding of God from observing His world.

As I was reading Isaiah 26 this morning I, once again, read one of my favorite passages – verses 3 and 4.  The Amplified Bible reads, “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].”  (Amplified Bible)

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  But Hawaii also has one of the most dangerous and destructive forces surrounding it, the ocean.    When ocean collides with rock, as in the picture, two powers meet.   The surf, with its power and defiance, slams into the rock which doesn’t move.

As beautiful as the ocean is, and even with all the good it can provide, there is still much unrest, turmoil, turbulence and destruction in it.

So, as I’m looking at this picture, I’m thinking, “We can either live in the breakers of life, or on the Rock.”  The surf can be brutal.   In fact, this picture is from the side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu they call “Break Neck Beach.”

Likewise, we break our necks trying to fix things, attempting to survive, by clinging to a jagged edge of the Rock while trying to stay in the “stuff.”   It doesn’t work…I’ve tried.   As the waves beat against the rock, so we beat against a God Who wants us to be in Him, in His safety.   But as long as we’re trying to do it all ourselves, we are still in the dangerous surf.

There have been times when, I am enjoying the safe clefts of my Rock of Ages…my Loving Heavenly Father, that I think I might be able to take on the waves.  I don’t know if I become complacent or if I’m lured by the lies of the Evil One, that it will be safe to dangle my toes in the inviting water as it swirls beneath me.  Either way, I’ve fallen back into that perilous smashing of life.

It could be that I simply lose sight of the stability and goodness of Him.  Jesus warns against this when He describes the different soils in the gospels.   Worries, persecution, troubles, deceitfulness of wealth, desire for other things…they all can produce the same result….chaos and destruction which come from separation from the Giver of Life.

Thankfully, I’m pulled to safety and I’m reminded that with the promise of Psalm 91:1,2, comes a responsibility of me, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].  I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!”

We love the promise of this passage, but we must remember that it is our responsibility to dwell there…to live and inhabit that place.   Settling in and staying there takes work. As we dwell there, God’s power helps us to remain, but we must want to remain there.

Unfortunately, at times, other houses seem better and we want to go out and test other ground.   We become restless – until we find ourselves in the swirling waters that will eventually suck us in once more, smothering us with fear, worry and anxious thoughts that destroy our peace of mind.

Or circumstances – many of which are grave and threaten to break us – steal our peace. It’s definitely a world at war, and we’re in it as a matter of life and death.

But with all this, STILL – The Rock remains…God, the Creator of the universe, our Refuge and our stability offers us peace of mind.    As the passage from Isaiah says, “…whose mind is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

He is THE Everlasting God.   There is safety, protection and shelter in Him.    And one thing I know….He remains steadfast and faithful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depression, Robin Williams and Us

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The suicide of Robin Williams has brought to the forefront a serious topic.  It’s a darkness nobody really wants to talk or hear about – depression.  Sometimes and most sadly – the church, Christians – want to avoid it at all costs.  It’s just too negative.

Those of us who struggle with depression are told to simply get over it.  “Deal with it,”  “quit feeling sorry for yourself,”  and “get a grip” are some of the harsh words and thoughts thrown out. Even worse, and more cutting, people assume those who struggle with  it don’t understand God’s grace and forgiveness.

Labels are placed on those who battle the the Enemy’s words of, “You’re not good enough,” “nobody loves you, nobody really cares,” “they would be so much better without you.”    And those labels aren’t pretty.

But Robin Wiliams’ decision to end it all has forced everyone to take another look.   I hope Christians will as well, even more so.   It’s time for the church to offer hope to those we think should already have that hope…Christians.

The world is mourning a great comedian.  News people don’t know what to do with a man who, having brought laughter to millions, lost his own ability to smile.   They talk about the legacy he has left, but what about the man within?  Condemnation is heaped, but who was there in the bitterness of his nights, to know the person he really was?

Christians are throwing out trite answers such as, “this is what happens when someone doesn’t know Jesus Christ.”

And those of us who DO know Jesus Christ, and still suffer, hunker down and wonder, “Could this happen to me?”  We understand the demons that speak to the soul.  Robin lost the battle.  We do not want to, but the edge of the precipice is ever so close sometimes.

I won’t begin to argue whether or not Robin was a Christian.    I can only speak as a Christian who fights the battle.

It’s not like it’s a surprise to anyone…people have been whispering about it for years – the entire time my husband, Tom, has been in ministry (which only makes it worse).  People have seen it, and pointed fingers, talked, ridiculed, and tried to fix, and…..done everything but what it takes to help.   All in the name of love, of course.  I’ve been told I will ruin my husband’s ministry, I’m unloveable and I’m unfit.  (Oh, those words help!)

People tell those of us who battle this foe to “get help,” while they walk away with all the help a despondent person might need…love, a listening ear, care or time from a sincere brother or sister.  But those take time and getting down in the nitty gritty of a person’s life, where there’s muck and mire; well…eww….it’s ok, we’ll stay up here in our pretty people spots.

Advice seems to be abundant, but trust me, those words of advice are like shards of glass ripping the inner soul to pieces.    We’ve heard them all, we’ve inwardly recited them…over and over and over.  We’re also made to feel like we will never be able to contribute anything, especially to the Christian world.

Christians meet each other at church, or small group, or other venues and ask, “How are you?” without stopping to hear the answer.   Sometimes we don’t want to look deep into another’s soul because we may find ourselves there.

I know it’s no fun…hearing others’ stories, taking time out of our busy schedules to really love and care.   It may be a tad bit uncomfortable to hear that I was abandoned and horribly rejected as a child and can’t seem to “work through” those abandonment issues.   It may take patience and kindness.  It may take love.

My struggle will most likely be with there until I am perfected and made completely whole in his sight when I behold Him.   Some days I win, some days I simply hang on to a thread of the string that threatens to break.

God told Paul in 2 Corinthians, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   And so, I come to you today, sharing my weakness, so that God’s power can be made perfect, and so that God can work through me to reach out to those who are hurting.

I understand that by embracing that weakness, God has developed compassion within me.  And quite honestly, I would rather be broken and have one of God’s greatest characteristics, than to be whole without it.

Depression – it can kill,  but it can give life as well.   Such an oxymoron.   In some of my most disheartened moments I have seen a Loving God, a Heavenly Father, Who keeps my tears in His bottle, Who holds me in the palm of His hands,   Who promises, He will feed his flock like a shepherd.  He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.  He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”

Depression teaches me also to not live for this world.   I cling to the passages like Isaiah 65:17, 18, “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,  and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.  Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!   And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.  Her people will be a source of joy.”  

So do yourself a favor, listen to someone’s story.  Ask someone how they are really doing, reach out to someone who is hurting so much they will turn to a bottle or pills.  Get dirty, take time, care.   You may just find yourself in the sandals of Jesus.