I Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?” The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.” – Mary Stevenson, 1936.
Footprints in the Sand hung as a framed poster in my grandmother’s house. As you walked in the door, it was on the facing wall so all who walked in could see it. A beautiful picture accompanied it with a set of footprints imprinted in the sandy beach with these words of comfort written over them. I haven’t thought of it in forever. Grandpa and gram have been with the Lord for several years now. Growing up with very young parents whose marriage would end in divorce, there were many times these two precious people were the ones who looked after two little children caught up in the crossfire. They loved the Lord and I believe that their love for Him led to their unconditional love and care for us when we needed it most. My dad would marry a wonderful woman who became a great mom to us as they were both saved and followed Jesus. My mother would do her best to find the Lord though lost in addiction and sadness the rest of her natural life but their love carried us through the darkest times of our lives.
When I read those words on the wall and looked at the picture, I could picture Jesus carrying me but I really could not understand what it meant. I was going through things but I did not see my Deliverer in action though now looking back I can. Life is filled with experiences that mold us and shape us even when we do not want to change. Encounter and escapades of life sometimes subtle but mostly profound that makes the man or woman. My grandfather and grandmother were very patient, loving and kind to us. However, my dad and aunt have a different opinion of each personality as I am sure my children will tell my grandchildren. What changed them? Life. Love. Jesus.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s Mighty Hand, that He may life you up in due time.” What is this “due time”? If God is so great, why doesn’t He take care of things before they come up? Why do I have trials? Why is there pain? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do they get sick? Why do they die? I was talking to my boss yesterday who believes in the idea of God. Discussing the world’s events and the ISIS crisis, he made a powerful statement. He said, that radical religious sects like ISIS have long term views where modern Christian religion has short term goals.” Drop the mic. How profound and so true! Christians want a better life now. A suicide bomber walking into a crowd does in the name of his god believing in the life that is coming. Now I am not condoning or supporting such a thing, but the Bible says as Christians that we are to humble ourselves to God with the promise that in “due time” not “you time” that He will lift you up. Are you willing to be uncomfortable until then? Will live on high alert? Shutting all access points that the enemy might use to come in to steal, kill or destroy you? Are you even resisting the enemy at all? The God of All Grace is calling us to live with Him forever. Jesus made this possible with His Sacrifice on Calvary so we can step into righteousness again. The Holy Spirit is leading the way. Are we following? Jesus will carry us through this life. But He will not fight us or apprehend us with anything but His Amazing Love.
What does that mean? Do you want Him to carry you? Straightforward question that you probably answered in the affirmative. To be carried by Jesus is to surrender to His Love, Power and Presence in our life which means making a choice to live by faith and not by sight. Have you cast your cares on Him? Really…have you? Are you anxious? Worried? Afraid? Sad? Depressed? Overwhelmed by circumstances? Do you feel like you are sinking fast? Going under? What’s the point? The Lord wants to carry you today. Will you let Him?
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
When the Lord told me, in His Own Voice and with His Own Words, that He would heal my son, it came with only one condition – trust. In a still small voice in the midst of teary tirade, the Lord asked me if I trusted Him. Now I have trusted God for a lot of things, but this was a little much in my mind at the time. Our son had stage IV cancer. For those who don’t know the medical terms, it means things were not looking good since the next stage V was as high as the scale goes. I had to make a split second decision in a dirty bathroom in a germ-infested hospital the day my whole world fell apart if I would trust Him. I said, “Yes.” I had no idea what that day would mean for the rest of my life.
Faith is confidence not in what is happening or what we can see God doing, but rather confidently trusting that what we cannot see will come to pass just because God said it. Believing God at His Word enough to let our life follow suit. This is what it means to be a Living Sacrifice. To totally trust the Lord not just with our mouth but our life.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Let’s think about this logically. Jesus cannot carry those who are not with Him. It is simple truth and doesn’t take much common sense. I cannot reach out and touch my daughter in New England. I can FaceTime her on my way home each day and she can fly home for a visit. I love my daughter. I do not want to lose tough with her. If I don’t call her at the usual time, she will call me soon after. We text a lot. Our communication is constant. But let me tell you something, if anything were to happen and she needed me – nothing would keep her dad and I from hopping the next plane, no matter the cost to get to her and help her. God forbid but if she were in the hospital it is safe to say that there would probably be hundreds of other patients who I didn’t know. My inclination would be to find her room and make it to her bedside first and foremost because she is my precious child!
To be a living sacrifice is viewed differently when looked at through the eyes of love and devotion. Our life would not be the same without our five children…but then neither would our bank account or passport. We sacrifice for those we love. Rather than vacationing in a tropic paradise this year, we flew up North to visit our daughter and her husband. They wanted to share their new life and let us see what they were doing. They wanted to introduce us to their new friends and we wanted to meet them, too. Why would Jesus who gave His Life for us desire us any less or better yet why don’t we want Him more?
Matthew 14:28-32 (NIV)
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
We are all great at jumping out of the boat in the name of faith. But at the first sign of trouble, we want right back in it. If we truly knew the price of faith ahead of time, few would budget for it. Walking with Jesus is like walking on the beach with salty surf washing over our feet. Some days it’s too rough or too cold so we stay on the shore. Maybe we have something we want to do or someplace to go so not wanting to mess up our appearance, we carefully roll up our pants and carefully tiptoe along the edge. Other days we are bold enough to wade in a little or even up to our waist, now aren’t we the faithful few and proud of ourselves drying off while shouting to onlookers, “Look what the Lord has done.” Faith is not found on the shore, it is not experienced by getting our toes wet, or even wading in a bit. It is deeper. We find true faith when our feet cannot touch. When we cannot keep our head above the water, so we have to depend on Jesus to take us to the shore. To many it looks like Peter failed, but I believe that day He grew a little more so it was definitely a win.
If you want to be carried by Jesus, we must get in over our head. The place where are feet fail right along with human logic. The point where others are concerned that we might be a little crazy or on the verge of a breakdown. No friend, that is when we about to experience a breakthrough. His Strength is made evident in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Peter saw the wind. How do you see the wind? You don’t. Peter saw the waves, storm clouds gathering and sensed danger all around him and when he responded to that danger – He did so by crying out to Jesus. Who will you cry out to when the next storm hits? What or who will you cling to? The boat or your Savior.
Psalm 23 (NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Life is a journey. Surrounded by people, there will come a time when we feel like we are walking alone. When our son was sick, I was surrounded by people who loved and supported us. My husband and four other children were rock stars through it all. Yet in the quiet of the midnight hour when our son was afforded blissful sleep as an escape, I felt all alone. In the solitude of the room, I would cry out to the Lord. He was there immediately responding every time. One time as I prayed I asked the Lord to send His Angels to surround and protect my sick and depleted child, He opened my eyes to see a room full of angels standing arm to arm so many I could not even see the boy lying in the bed. It is through that journey that my entire perspective on life has changed. Jesus never wants me to feel alone. He is with me everywhere I go. His Arms are open. His Goodness and Love follow me all the days of my life but ultimately above all else my goal is to live in the House of the Lord forever. I have a purpose in this life – it is to learn to trust Him more. I have a promise in this life – He will never leave me or forsake me.
Colossians 2:6-9 (NIV)
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
Do want the Lord to carry you? Faith that is totally dependent on Jesus Christ will be the platform that carries us through every trial, situation and circumstance. We must trust Him to release it to Him. Seeds are available to us in the Word of God every day. Some take no root and die quickly on a hard heart. Others make it into our heart where the cares and worries of this day choke it out. But to those with ready hearts willing to plant that seed by faith and wait for it to grow comes a promise. They will be like a tree with deep roots that does not fear the drought of the day but thrives in the depths of the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:7-8) He give seed to the sower. The Lord invites us to cast our cares on Him today, trusting and leaning on His Word, and He offers His Presence as a safe haven and waiting room as He makes it come to pass. Our response makes all the difference. Will we seek? Will we desire? Will we wait? Will we depend on the Lord to carry us? Like small children who are suddenly afraid or just want to be held, throwing up little arms, looking in mama or daddy’s face, pleading, “Carry me!” God is good father. He loves us so much. Of course, He will pick us up! I am asking you Lord Jesus to carry me today!
Psalm 19:7-11 (NIV)
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
“And did you ever walk out upon that lonely desert island upon which you were wrecked, and say, “I am alone, — alone, — alone, — nobody was ever here before me”? And did you suddenly pull up short as you noticed, in the sand, the footprints of a man? I remember right well passing through that experience; and when I looked, lo! it was not merely the footprints of a man that I saw, but I thought I knew whose feet had left those imprints; they were the marks of One who had been crucified, for there was the print of the nails. So I thought to myself, “If he has been here, it is a desert island no longer.”
Dr. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Education of the Sons of God, (1880)