Where Are You Looking?

Overwhelmed.

That’s how I felt last week. To be honest, I’ve felt that way numerous days since the new year began. For someone who doesn’t have an identic mind (like Sheldon Cooper on TBBT), I’ve been doing a significantly accurate job of remembering every problem and concern in my mind. Frankly, it has consumed me.

It all boils down to a conglomeration of worry about friends and family, relationships, finances, and fear of the unknown. I’ve been researching on Google and speaking with other people in similar circumstances. Wrapping my head around it has been nearly impossible.

I’m back in the ninth grade, standing at the chalkboard during Algebra 1, stuck in an equation. My stomach hurts. I’m having performance anxiety. The fear of failure is pervasive. Every time I try to solve, it is clear that I am just not equipped to do so. Then Mrs. Randleman gently takes the chalk from my hand, looks me in the eye and smiles. AT THAT MOMENT, I know that she KNOWS the answer and is going to help me find the answer. And she does.

God is waiting for me to “turn over the chalk.”

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

I HAVE TAKEN MY EYES OFF GOD!

I’ve trusted in myself and forgotten to trust in the One who is always trustworthy. I’ve convinced myself that I’m smart enough to figure these things out and ignored the One who is Omnipotent. I’ve chosen to stomp through the high grass, hacking away at the underbrush, and crawling through uncharted territory, even though God can make a way when there seems to be no way (Philippians 2:13-14).

If you’re there with me in that “I can do it myself” mentality, let me ask you to just lay the burden down. You don’t even realize how heavy it is. If it helps, you can cry all the frustration out. I did, and when that was over, I cried out to God and confessed my sin to Him.

Don’t be surprised if you get tempted to pick it all up and try it your way again. That’s the urging of the devil. He will come to you in your weakest moments and say that you can handle this all on your own. Remember that the devil is a liar and the father of all lies. (John 8:44).

I am praying the promises of Psalm 121 and claiming them. For everyone who has lost sight of the Source of our strength, I’m praying for you and I ask that you pray for me.

Psalm 121:
1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

shr

Music Monday: Hurricane

Life has recently felt a bit disjointed, a little crazy, a little out of control, and a lot nonstop for me.  When I arose this morning, I felt run-down and a bit like an over-done steak.  Ever been there?  Are you there right now?

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Once, I ran out of gas driving my little blue Subaru in the days when I was first teaching school.  That was way before cell phones.  It wasn’t dark, but it was close.  I was on my way home from school and just about half a mile from my exit on Interstate 95 when the car sputtered, puttered, and I guided it off the road as it rolled to a stop.  Yep, the needle was below “E” if that’s possible.

Image Source:  www.automopedia.org

I sat for a few minutes, wondering what to do.  I decided to get out and walk to the exit ramp, go to the Exxon station and call my daddy.  Before I took more than ten steps, a pick-up truck slowed down and pulled up in front of my car.  It was the grandfather of one of my students (and the janitor at Eastover-Central Elementary School).  Once I told him what the problem was, he advised me to get back in the car, lock it, and he’d be right back.  In about twenty minutes, he was back with a full gas can and poured it all into my gas tank. The car started right up.  He wouldn’t even let me pay him!  Leon Patterson was an angel that day.  (As I later found out, he couldn’t really afford to be as generous as he’d been that October afternoon.  So, I made sure he always got extra goodies from me at Christmas and any other holidays that came throughout the year.)

I could have run out of gas on another road or at a different place along the highway that Mr. Patterson might never have passed.  Or I could have been driving my parents’ car that day, which Mr. Patterson would never have recognized.  But it was just the right spot and in the car Mr. Patterson knew belonged to me.  He found me along a highway in a situation that could have been dangerous.  In my heart, I know God sent me Leon Patterson that day.

Image Source:  www.touch-the-flame.deviantart.com

God sees us running around under our own steam.  He sees that our tanks are getting to that dangerous “below empty” level.  He’s just waiting for us to run out of gas and turn to Him for strength and solace and comfort — to give up the burden and take His lightness to our souls.

So, today — even though there was a storm raging in my heart — I just took a little time for Him.  I let Kelly run a couple of errands for me on his way home from work instead of dragging myself out of the house to do it.  I sang as I swept the kitchen (and grimaced at the amount of dirt that can accumulate in just a couple of days) and in between songs,  I spent a lot of time praying.  I sat down and played hymns on the piano.  I listened to my favorite Christian radio stations.

Image Source:  www.amerigas.

And Natalie Grant was singing my song.  So, I thought I’d share it with you, even though it’s late.  Who knows?  Even though the calm has finally come to my house, the storm may be raging at yours.  Just remember God made those winds, and He can control them.  Just let Him.

shr

Hurricane” (Natalie Grant)

To Watch Over You

Image Source: www.angelinstitute.co.za

Yesterday was a bad weather day where I live. All morning, the clouds gathered and I could feel the rain in my bones. A cold front quickly took over our area and the darkness of the heavens looked threatening.

Still, I had to go to physical therapy for my knee. I only have two more sessions before they will cut me loose to work on my own at home. So I drove under ominous skies and actually made it to PT before the bottom fell out of the sky and a torrent of rain beat upon the earth.

Image Source: www.nasa.gov

The radio was on while I worked through my exercises and I heard emergency messages about tornado watches and warnings across southeastern North Carolina. Instead of listening to the music, I felt compelled to pray — not only for myself, but for everyone in the path of the storm. This is the scripture that came to mind:

He will put his angels in charge of you to protect you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11 (GOD’S WORD translation)

Over the hour that I was doing my PT, the rain dissipated and the skies began to lighten. “Would you like to ice your knee or do you want to skip it and head home?” asked Jackie, my physical therapist.

Image Source: www.sportmd.com

I almost skipped the ice. I even picked up my keys and purse to leave. But there was this “niggling” (sort of a cross between “nagging” and “tingling”) voice in the back of my mind. “Ice that knee!” it seemed to be whispering. So, I lay on the table and let Jackie tend to my tired, sore knee.

No sooner had she gotten the ice on it and started the timer, than we all heard the most horrific noise. Out of the huge glass window front, we watched as a huge pick up truck, an SUV, and two other cars spun on the wet road immediately outside the doctor’s office on Ramsey Street.

Image Source: www.car-auto-online.com

After the screeching of the tires stopped and the whirring of the police sirens began, all of us in the physical therapy room sat in stunned silence.

“That could have been you, Ms. Sandy,” Jackie offered, her voice wavering. “If you hadn’t stopped to ice that knee, you could have been in that mess.” My heart was already beating fast because this same thought had just come to me a moment earlier.

Image Source: www.wallpaper.jurko.net

Even after she took the ice pack from my knee, I sat and watched as EMS and police worked the scene. The people in the SUV were now standing on the side of the road, looking at little wet, but okay. One of the other drivers was leaning against his badly damaged pick-up, arms crossed, head shaking, but seemed to still be in one piece.

Image Source: www.welcomethespirit.com

As I pulled out of the doctor’s office parking lot and made my way home, I spent the entire ride praising the Lord for the angels I know that He dispatched to Ramsey Street that afternoon.

Bad news always make the news, so I perused today’s paper (The Fayetteville Observer) for a story about the accident. Since I could find no mention of deaths on Ramsey Street, it looks like those angels were working overtime yesterday afternoon.

You have earned your “Prayer Angel” wings!

Image Source: www.angelghost.com

And indeed, angels all over the United States have been doing God‘s work this week. My cousin, Sonny, is in stable condition. Although he’s still in the medically-induced coma, he seems to be responding to the presence of family around him. Doctors are unsure if he’s had a heart attack, but they do know he’s suffering from pneumonia that is a side effect of the chemotherapy. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to each one who lifted him up on Monday. You, by association, have been doing God’s work as prayer angels!

Have you ever experienced a time in which you absolutely knew that God’s angels have protected you?

shr