I think encouragement is a big gift. When you are feeling frustrated, run-down, confused, or tired encouragement is like cool water for your soul. It comes in and brings life to what is withering and suddenly you are ready to continue. Encouragement can come in all sorts of forms too. Sometimes it is a phone call from a friend, a note from a co-worker, or maybe even a smile from a baby. Those are all good but encouragement from the Lord God of heaven and earth is by far the most encouraging thing we could ever get. When God encourages you, it sticks. Other types of encouragement help and boost us up for a time but encouragements from God get down deep and cling to your innermost parts.
Isaiah 42:10-16 is one place in Scripture that I think has incredible encouragement. This is because it is one of those sections of the Bible that talks about what God is going to do. There is a sense that God did this but there is still a part that is to come. Not only does it talk about what God is going to do in a grand worldwide way, but I think it teaches us a bit about who God is. Anytime we can read about who God is and understand His character better we are better off because we get to see Him in a deeper way.
In this section, God speaks through Isaiah and tells us that there will be a time when the people will rejoice and lift up their voice in a shout of praise. He says that every place will shout for joy and sing praises. The deserts, the coastlands, those in villages, and those on mountains will rejoice when God moves. Then as if that was not enough, and this is the kicker, He says that although it has taken a while, He will not keep Himself restrained. He will lead the blind and they will walk on flat ground.
In case you missed it all of this is encouraging because God is saying that He will do this and that sometimes the delay in life is because He has paused the movement. He is the one who is waiting for the time to be fulfilled. Habakkuk 2:3 talks about this as well and says that sometimes there is what feels like a delay, but we just have to wait because God is moving. I have said before that one of my favorite movie scenes is when Beaver says “Aslan is on the move.” In the movie, the children don’t know this is a huge deal, but it is because it means that things are about to change.
I am not going to say that God is going to change things in your life today or even tomorrow. I don’t know when it will happen, but I know this; Jesus is on the move. He is working behind the scenes to do things that will blow your mind you only need to wait for it. Keep the course and stay steady. Wait for the Lord to move and you will see great things. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. We don’t get to know when it will happen, and we don’t get to know the outcome, but we do get to know that Jesus is moving and that He is working things out. That is the encouragement; Jesus is on the move. He is Lord and He is God and He will redeem everything in its time. Trust the process, stay the course, know that Christ is in control. Oh, it is going to be good.
Just a thought,
I think it is almost mandatory that if we look at 1 Peter 5:6 then we have to look at 1 Peter 5:7 because it is the natural outcome of humbling yourself before God. Maybe outcome is not the right word though. Maybe it is not an outcome, maybe it is more of a logical next step. As a reminder 1 Peter 5:6 says that we should humble ourselves before God and then He will exalt us. This means that if we place ourselves before God then He will lift us up. The next part of that is we need to cast our cares upon Him. We have to take our burdens and give them to God.
The idea of casting our cares (anxieties) is a pretty simple one. At first, I thought it was like a faith thing. Something like sitting in a chair or plopping down on a couch. You know you just trust that the chair or the couch will sustain you with no effort on your part. Yeah that would have been pretty cool and there is an element to that but it so much more. The idea behind casting is more like throwing. It is not a laying down of your burdens before God in a symbolic act of submission that looks like something from a movie about a hero who needs a little help. No, it is more like throwing. It is not making an appointment with someone who can help you, so you present your concerns or problems in a way that hopefully gets help from them. No, it is more like throwing.
The idea is taking your burdens and anxieties and throwing them before God in a way that says I cannot carry this, and I need your help. It is taking what you have and chucking it before the King of the universe, the Most High God and not even caring. There is a freedom in the throwing because you are not worried that God will look at your stuff and cast you out for bringing it to Him. We can throw it on God because He cares for us and because He can handle it. God is not weighed down by our burdens or anxieties. He does not reach a point where He needs a break or already has too many things going on. He does not need a minute. He is ready to go at any moment and we just need to cast.
I think it is interesting that the other time this same word for casting is used is when the disciples put their coats on the donkey before Jesus rides into Jerusalem. When the disciples were putting their coats on the donkey they were not worried that the donkey would buckle under the pressure of the coats. They did not even think about it, they just put their coats on the donkey because they knew it could carry the load. No, clearly God is not a donkey, but I think we can get the picture. There is not a weight God cannot take. It is like when my kids come to me with a complaint. They are not worried I cannot handle their issues. They know that daddy has dealt with other things, so they come to me and just let it all out because they know I am able to help, and I care for them.
We have to come to God with the same abandon. We must come to Him knowing that He can handle it and that He cares. If we don’t then we will never actually cast our cares on Him. We will gently hand Him little things and hope He reacts well. We will be scared of how He will respond. We do this because of our wrong image of Him. That is on us, not Him. God says come to me in faith and throw those burdens down. This can also be a test for us. If I look at my life and see that I am not really casting my cares on God, then I get the opportunity to examine my trust in God and I get the chance to make a change. That is exciting because in that I get to not only cast my burdens on Him, but I get to grow in my relationship with Him.
Just a thought,
I do not like roller coasters. I do not find them enjoyable and I usually feel like I am going to pass out. So, I avoid them unless compelled. That being said recently at Kentucky Kingdom for my daughter’s birthday I felt compelled. It was not my daughter because she does not like them either and it was not my wife. It was a feeling inside saying do it. I shook the feeling a few times because I felt it was a ridiculous thought. As we were getting ready to leave, I told my wife I wanted to ride the Kentucky Flyer. There are no upside downs so I figured maybe I could handle it. The line moved quickly which was nice and the next thing I knew we were seated and chugging to the top. We dropped down and the first half of the ride was everything I hate. My eyes were closed, my heart was racing, and my hands were clenched so tight to the seat I was afraid I might rip something. Then I heard my Father.
I had been praying 1 Peter 5:6 for about a week because life is a little chaotic right now. It is all good but chaotic. We had been in Kentucky for missions training for 2 weeks at that point. We don’t have normal jobs anymore and we are trusting God for our daily bread in new and exciting ways. Halfway through the ride, I felt God say trust. So, I quickly said, “I humble myself under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt me in due time.” With that, I let go opened my eyes and threw my hands in the air. The ride changed or rather I changed.
What started as something I hate turned into an encounter with the living God and I was crying on the roller coaster. Not because I was scared but because God was showing me how much He loves and protects me. I was in His hand more than I was in a seat whipping around corners. God was holding me and revealing something about Himself to me.
I could tell you that life is like a roller coaster or that life is an adventure but instead, I want to say life is life. What yours will look like or feel like is up to you and God. Yes, you both have a part to play. Life will never feel like a roller coaster or an adventure if you don’t step out and trust Him. That is unless He decides to push you but that’s a different message. Life can be freighting and uncertain but only if you are stepping out into the unknown and trusting God to lead you. It has to be that way because we have to learn to trust, obey and humble ourselves under His mighty hand. God wants you to lean into Him so we can truly know Him. This means He doesn’t give us the whole picture and make everything OK from the word GO. It has to be a process and that is OK because if we embrace the process and press into the Father, we encounter Him in ways we never can outside of trusting in the storms and chaos. It is so worth it to take the ride because in the end, we have something that is beyond anything the world can offer. We encounter the living God and have intimacy with the one who sustains the universe. That is just awesome in the truest sense of the word.
Just a thought,