In the past year, I have found it more and more difficult to wake with a clear head and the focus that I once had. I struggle sometimes just to focus on a thought and work my way through it. The best analogy that I can come up with is driving through a heavy fog to get to work. I cannot see clearly, but I know that if I push myself to focus and not go to fast I will get to my destination. Sometimes I slow to a crawl, but I keep moving forward. After all, I did need to get to work. I have to trust my headlights. Well, that is how many of my mornings are just to be able to pray and study God’s Word, but I must trust in God to get me to my destination.
For me, I really need to do my prayer and study in the morning. It sets my mood and tone for the day. It is what sets my focus. But sometimes the fog is so thick a big cup of coffee does not seem to help. Shaking my head like a dog does not help. But I have found prayer and searching for God’s influences will clear my mind and if I seek him I can hear Him. I can listen to Jesus.
How I Work Through the Fog
Some mornings I will listen to a sermon because I cannot focus to read. Sometimes I will jump from verse to verse I receive in email or see on Facebook, and in time the fog begins to lift. Maybe I will go from 5 feet of visibility to 10 feet of visibility and 10 will change to 20 etc. etc. Eventually, my head will clear to the point that I can read more than a verse and listen to someone preach and hear what they are saying.
The thing about all this is that it is not my sole effort that accomplishes this task. I do not clear my mind on my own. It is Jesus… It is the Holy Spirit in me who helps me… That help is there and all that I need to do is ask for His help and mean it… I need to trust that He will help me and He will. My head may still feel like soup. It may still ache, but the Holy Spirit answers my Prayers and strengthens my focus so that I can put my eyes on the things of Heaven.
Sometimes it is so difficult that I just want to lay my head on my desk and think of nothing. But I know that if I will make the effort and call on my father to strengthen me He will. Not simply by what is written on my pages of my Bible, but because Jesus has shown me that those words are alive and the promises are true and IF I will trust in Him he will not forsake me. Today I started in Psalm 9:9-10
Psalms 9:9-10 (ESV)
9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
What a wonderful promise in this passage, but it requires something from me… I must put my trust in Him. God is my stronghold, I must trust and know that is true. If not, they are just words on a page. If I am struggling I must know that he will clear my mind and help me find the true path that He desires for me. It is not always an easy task, but I am not alone if I will call on Him and trust in Him… I must step forward and ask when all I want to do is say that it is too hard this morning. I just want to turn off my mind.
That poke in my heart that; that gentle discipline pushed me to read Psalm 146.
I read Psalm 146 but I was Struck by verses 5-10
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
I read this section more than once. When I read verse 8 God touched my heart with a thought that I had not considered before.
“8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.”
When I read this I thought this Psalm speaks of physical needs being met, but It is not limited to that… It is spiritual needs that He speaks of. He opens my eyes to see Him… He lifts up those who humble themselves before Him and confess their sins. He loves those who are righteous…
This morning the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and humbled me. These physical ailments, as real as they are, cannot keep me from Jesus if I will trust in Him and call on Him in my troubles.
Hope and Strength in the Lord
You know these struggles have always been a part of my day… even before the health issues. Some mornings I woke and just did not want to study God’s Word. I was ok with prayin’ as long it is not too long… But what I learned is that if I would work past doing what I do not want to do I will be strengthened.
This morning as I fought through this fog the Lord opened my eyes. He gave me clarity. My head still hurts, but that is ok… because the Holy Spirit gave me what I needed to reach out to him… and I am thankful.
This fog does not always constrain me, but when it does IF I will not give up and IF I will reach out to Him He will clear my path… and I am thankful.
An Additional Thought
I want to mention one other thing that I did this morning… A friend shared a sermon on Facebook. I was compelled to listen to the it on YouTube. The sermon was by Paul Washer. The title was, “We Have Forgotten that the Way is Narrow”. Paul Washer’s presents a powerful sermon on Matthew 7:13-14
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
As he preached this sermon one of the big points he made was that Jesus was speaking to his followers and He was saying that not all who follow Him will find the narrow path. Many will miss it. That is a hard truth. But as I listened to that and I considered the verses I had read earlier this morning and I was reminded that in them too was the need to reach out to God and live in accordance to His will.
Washer posed a question and I will paraphrase it here. “How do you know Jesus was speaking to those who were following Him?” He answered his own question with Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV).
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
In my mind this is one of the most sobering passages in the Bible. I shudder at the thought. As I read this passage I am reminded of my need is not only to know Jesus, but that He must know me and I must seek Him with my whole heart and live my life in obedient service to him.
It is not enough to just go to church or teach Sunday School or go on a mission. The list of physical activities is endless. Struggles will come and go. Temptations will work to steer me from the path, but God will not forsake me… and I must not turn from him.
Calling on Him
As I pondered all this I remembered what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well.
John 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
My desire is to worship Him and to praise Him. My hope is in His Word. God is faithful and true. He keeps His promises. He disciplines those whom He loves. He answers our prayers. He knows me better than I know myself and He gives me grace. If I will listen to the Holy Spirit, He will break my heart for those things I do which breaks His. I have the gift of repentance that may confess my sins to Him and by His grace I am forgiven. How glorious a gift this is? What is a greater love than this?
If I will listen to the Holy Spirit, He will break my heart for those things I do which break His. I have the gift of repentance that may confess my sins to Him and by His grace, I am forgiven. How glorious a gift this is… What greater love is there than this.
I look back on my life and I am thankful for so many things that they could never be listed out. I think the thing that holds all those blessings together for me is that God is my Hope and salvation. Words cannot describe my love or thankfulness for Him. I pray that I might listen and obey.
Father, please help me that I might not sway from the path you have for me.
Father, Help me that I might cling to the teachings of your Word and not be swayed by the world around me.
Father, I thank you for all you do and I pray that I might hold fast to your teachings, listen to your commands and obey.
Praise be to you God, in the name of your blessed Son, My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.