Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT)
What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
Woke up to the news this morning that Andrae Crouch had made it home to be with the Lord. Though I know his friends and family miss him already, I am quite certain that the moment He met Jesus face-to-face there was no sadness or regret. When I was a young, I went to see Andrae Crouch in a concert. There was no great choir around him just the man, his piano and the Presence of God. He sang the song “Through It All”. At that time, I was not very impressed to be honest. New artists were coming along with contemporary Christian music that appealed to my youth. However, over the past few years I have caught myself singing this song under my breath or humming it my mind when waiting at appointments or walking down the hospital corridor. It has become a source of comfort in my journey though etched in my mind long ago. God knew when I heard these words of encouragement that I would need them one day. So His Spirit in due diligence inscribed them on my heart and recorded them for my brain, so that when I needed to be reminded that I need only trust the Lord it would be easily recalled.
“Through it all…through it all…I’ve learned to trust in Jesus…I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all…through it all…I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” Such a simple chorus and not very complex, it is the song of a survivor and overcomer. Through it all. We are assured that there will be trials on this earth but we are promised that through Christ we will overcome them all. I would love for everyone to think that I have it all together. I would love to win every race rather than crawl across the finish line like a marathon runner. But the truth is this world really doesn’t mean a whole lot compared to our plight to find Christ, know Him, love Him and trust Him. “What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord…” I would never have known the Power of God in my life and available to me if we had not endured hardship in our life. The minors would still seem major and priorities out of order if everything had remained the same comfortable, normal and ordinary. Life is really not as complicated as we make it. Those who set their hearts and minds on a pilgrimage to live and love in the Presence of God really have nothing to worry about. The Lord will be our strength in the passage through it all.
What are you going through today? I could give you a list starting with this nasty cold coming just on the heels of an inconvenient sinus problem. Just when I thought I was getting over the allergy/sinus issues and returning to work after a peaceful and wonderful holiday break, BAM! I am hit with our busiest day of the year and a head cold that does not seem to want to leave its comfortable home. Setbacks used to seem terminal. Delays were devastating. Waiting was irritating until He brought me through some things. As the Lord leads to higher ground, it is through the challenges that I have faced that I make the choice to depend on the Lord or continue to rely on my own strength. I have been broken and rebuilt over the last few years which is sad considering that I have been a Christian for over a decade. I thought that I was representing my Lord and Savior well. We were faithful. We served in our church. Avoided all the worst sins. Tried to do the right things. Without the right heart and mind focused on faith in God, there is no point in our doing. It is in our undoing that the Lord changes us into His Likeness. This leads us through it all including those Valleys of Weeping to that place of refreshing springs that He has promised.
Psalm 84:1-4 (NLT)
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises.
I used to think that God wanted me to be a good person. I thought to have the mind of Christ was all about NOT making mistakes but liking the right kind of life. I was wrong. I was doing a lot of good things. I was making many good choices. Just knowing Jesus Christ has changed my life for the better before I started learning to trust Him by just reading His Word and doing it. But that is not what I am called to do. I cannot remake my own righteousness. I cannot become that good person. Jesus forgave me of my sin and distanced me from them. Without Him, I am powerless but that is what we try to do so many times. We get washed in His Blood and then say, “I can take it from here.” We establish a routine of religion rather than fully pursing righteousness found only in faith. This is not condemnation but a true confession. I am not called to be THE example but follow His Example. The persistence of my heart is to find Jesus and be where He is. Mr. Crouch did that yesterday. His passionate pursuit and persistence in His Presence was granted when He found the Lord. Do you long for God’s Presence today? With your whole being, body and soul do you shout to the Living God, let me in? I could list a hundred scriptures talking about the benefit, blessing, promises and procedure to find the Lord but what is the point if you do not trust Him? When we build our life around pursuing the Lord and His Presence even when we step off course He is there to lead us back safely. Mr. Crouch went through some things. He made some mistakes. He was just a man seeking to live in the Presence of the Lord. Through it all … he learned to trust in Jesus. What a simple declaration today? How ironic in my pursuit of a simple life that I am taken back to this one thing. There is joy in Jesus. Those who learn to live in His Presence sing His Praises. My life is forever changed for the things that our family has gone through. They were traumatic. They felt tragic. But from the beginning, the Lord asked me as I cried out in desperation for our son’s life, “Do you trust me?” My response, “Of course, I do!” But I didn’t really trust Him then like I do now. God is leading you to a better life. You will go through some things to get there. You must decide if whether or not you will make this time in your life count for something more than the scars on your heart.
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT)
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
The joy and peace that I have found in the Presence of the Lord have changed my life forever. Not a day goes by that I do not want more of it, it is addictive. I can read the Word of God cover to cover and study it each day but if I do not have any faith in what I am learning what’s the point. If I do not attempt to try these things in my life and trust God, how will I ever know if it works? Well, let me assure you keep reading, keep studying and keep praying. God will bring it back to your recollection through the Holy Spirit when you need it most. Sometimes this thing called faith makes no sense and does not seem to be producing the Promises of God but it is. God is using it to turn the details of our life into the good things that He has promised. His Greatest Desire is to bless and prosper His Children causing them to succeed. He is relentless in His Pursuit. Andrae Crouch was arrested back in the 80’s on a drug charge. Just for the record, this was not BEFORE he went into ministry but during the height of his popularity. There is nothing terminal in your life as long as you are still breathing. I have made so many mistakes. The enemy has “kindly” thrown them all in my face as I have tried to put my faith in God and total trust in Christ. Why you? How could you ask God for anything? What makes you so special that you might be spared? I know the battled you are engaged in. We are all fighting the same things just in different ways. But through it all, if we could just learn to trust in Jesus and put our faith in God. There will be valleys and hilltops in our journey from beginning to end. If we end up with Jesus it will be worth it in the end.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.
Through it all…our greatest calling in life is to trust the Lord with all our heart. I know that you may not understand the hardship that you are going through. The struggle is real. Maybe you are “doing” all the right things and making good choices in your life, but still are not satisfied or overcoming. But wait…do you trust God? I was reading one of those “How to” articles that pop up on Facebook recently…this one happened to be on saving money and better budgeting that would supposedly save you hundreds of dollars each month. Who couldn’t use some extra money? I am a budgeter and bargain shopper by nature. At the end of the blog, I realized that I was doing all but maybe one of the things on the list and that I was working on this year already. As I was contemplating the message and what I was doing wrong on the list that still small voice said, “But are you trusting me?” There goes that “doing” thing again. How many things in our life do we think we are trusting God for but still trying to do it ourselves? I don’t believe that the meaning of “through it all” is an in-case-of-emergency situation, but in every aspect of our life as we go through it all we learn to trust God and depend on His Word in every moment and with every breath. Thanks Mr. Crouch for writing this song. Thank you for singing it even when maybe you didn’t feel worthy of the words or calling. Your encouragement has rendered a harvest in my life. Thank you Lord for using ordinary people to share your extraordinary message of faith, hope and love. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn to love and trust you … though it all!
Psalm 33:1-4 (NLT)
Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him. Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy. For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.