The last week or so I seem to have been off my game a bit. That happens sometimes, and it is especially true when I have an unusually active period. But you know that is when the adversary is most apt to strike or try to knock you off your game; when you are weak or run down.
When I have had a week that wears me out, I remember Christ Jesus at the end of His 40 days in the wilderness and how the adversary waited until then to confront Him with temptation. I also remember how He responded. He turned to the Word.
Now I was doing things I love, but even so, my strength and stamina are not what it once was, and my recovery time is ten times longer. But during those times I have to be vigilant and hold onto my hope.
Many folks see me and see someone with speech and balance issues but do not see the difficulty I have discussing things with passion. I am kind of like an old motorcycle. I can go a good distance loping along at 50-60 miles an hour with a few stops to cool down. Riding like that I will get 50 miles to a gallon of gas. But if you crank that throttle to wide open and drag the floorboards in every turn the motor gets hot, and the gas mileage will drop to 30. If you push her like that for too long things, start to break.
Well, these past couple weeks I loped along mostly for a bit more distance than usual, and as I was tiring, I had my throttle twisted, and a lot of things came at me far too quickly. But folks don’t know it is not something they can get their head around. For them, it is a spirited discussion for me it is wide open and floorboard dragging with sparks flying, and at the end, I am overheated and exhausted.
Last night I was on Facebook, and I saw this Psalm 71 posted, and I thought, “hmm… that is pretty good.” It was just one verse, so I looked it up to get more context.
The title of the Psalm was ” Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent, ” and I just said AMEN. I read the first six verses and felt such contentment.
Psalms 71:1-6 (ESV)
“Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent”
1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me, and save me!
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
I read this Psalm and said to myself, YES, this is the vigilance that I need when I am worn down. Then I thought this is something we all go through. The only difference is the threshold at which it occurs.
Before my health issues, I could go a long way before I even got winded. I could have passionate discussions until dawn, and often then I was only winded. Now, I can hit that threshold at 20-30 minutes, but my mind still tries to operate like the old days, and by the one hour mark I am spent, and this Psalm is a good reminder of where I am to turn.
I think about all the options we have as people in this world. We can turn away. We can turn to anger. We can give up, or we can retaliate, but those things are not God’s desire for us. I am reminded of a passage in Hebrews.
Hebrews 10:35 – 11:3 (ESV)
35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
God reminds us of this passage that He wants us to hold on to Him. He has promised many things to us, and He is faithful. He does not want us to allow the things of this world to cause us to shrink back but to have faith, and then He reminds us of what that means.
As I thought more about the frustration and anxiety that comes with these times, I was reminded of some passages in 1John.
1John4 – Test
I read 1John4, and the Holy Spirit reminded me that I do need to hold fast to God at all times and not let my emotions lead me. Test everything I am unfamiliar with against the Word of God and confirm the source.
1 John 4:1-6 (ESV)
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
There are many that will mislead us. Some do so intentionally. Some unintentionally. It is not wrong to test and question when we are unsure. It is biblical. The Lord directs us to test. Just as He reminds us to love.
1John 4 – Loves One Another
John goes on from testing in this letter to love again. I have always found that interesting. I am not sure why, but it is interesting to me how he reminds us to be vigilant in testing spirits but not to forget about love. In verses, 7-12 John reminds me how I learned to love.
1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
What a wonderful gift. What a joy it is to know that true love comes from God. I know that I look at everything differently now that I am born again. How I love is the biggest change. I am glad John explains it because I cannot.
1John4 – No Fear
The last passage in John 4 I want to cover may be my favorite. It talks about fear, love, and punishment. It talks about how with love perfected there can be no fear.
1 John 4:18-21 (ESV)
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
This passage rolls around in my head a lot. Fear is one of those emotions that used to drive me. It did not drive me to run, but it pushed me to take action. To do my best at my job. To stand up to that guy that would not back down. To NOT back down and give rise to anger. But when I read this passage I realize how wrong that whole idea is.
If you just reread that passage a few times, it makes so much sense. It is like turning the burner off on a stove under a pot of boiling water. In just a few minutes that water stops bubbling, and it is not too long, and you can put your hand in it.
Anger against a brother or sister fades quickly when we remember the truth of God’s love.
You know every one of us has this point where we feel we are pushed too hard. Our motor is run wide open and we cannot seem to even slow down for the turns, but our limits are all different. Some of us are well-tuned race bikes and other a little more vintage. The thing is
we need to be conscious of each other’s limits.
I look back on this past couple weeks, and I am more convinced of the need to constantly find time for God. I need private prayer, and I need to seek the answers to our questions in His Word. We all need that time.
If we approach our days prayerfully, God will reveal what we need when we need it. But if we rely on our own reasoning it is so easy to be pulled off course, and we will get run down and become more susceptible to the attacks of the adversary.
He reminds us to test everything. He reminds us how and why to test. He also reminds us of our need to love one another and why.
I take great comfort in the council of God’s Holy Word. I am overwhelmed at how He will point me just where I need to be based on my circumstances. I pray I never stop being amazed by Him.
Father, thank you once again for leading me out of my circumstances to focus on you and your plans for me. Lord God I am amazed at your patience with me and my struggles. I thank you for putting up with my doubts and giving me the gift of Grace and Repentance. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen!