Mid-Life Crisis

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water. — Psalm 63:1

The introductory phrase to Psalm 63 informs us that David wrote this psalm while in the Judean desert. Like many psalms, this one was composed while David was running and hiding from King Saul. In this particular psalm, David found himself hidden from Saul, but in an arid, waterless desert. You might think that in such a place David would pray for water and God’s help, but that is not the focus of these verses. The psalm begins: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”David’s main concern was not his thirst for water. It was his thirst for God.

Today, many people reach this very same place; some call it a “mid-life crisis.” It’s that moment when you think to yourself, “There has to be more to life than this.” It’s the sentiment so many successful achievers experience when they have conquered all their goals, but still feel unfulfilled. It’s the time of life when even though we may have everything that we could ever want materially, we feel empty – or not as full as we would like – in the spiritual realm. Suddenly, all our material objects lose their allure, and we hunger for one thing and one thing only — an authentic and deep connection to God.

There is a Jewish teaching that talks about two shapes — the circle and the line. The circle represents our physical existence. This is why the earth was created round. However, if we live simply on the earthly level, we will go around and around the circle, but never get anywhere. This is the life where we wake up and go through the daily routine — and repeat it again and again and again. This is the life devoid of meaning. We age, but we don’t change. We go through time, but we don’t grow with time.

The line, however, is symbol of progression and connection. As we grow, we come closer to God. This is why human beings were created in the form of a line. Sure we may have elements that are circular, and indeed, our lives require physical cycles and routines, but our overall form, from top to bottom, is a line. This teaches us that while we live in the circle of earth, our job is to grow up and out like a line. We can, and must, live a meaningful life growing closer to what is beyond the earth – to God.

Today, take some quiet time to meditate on what gives your life meaning. Let us remember that the true thirst of our soul can only be quenched by God.

Shalom, peace,

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With God There Is Victory

Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies. — Psalm 60:11–12

Today is another wonderful day. There are blessings in store for us and beautiful moments to be shared. However, like all days, we also will face our fair share of challenges. The big question is how will we deal with them?

The sages teach that our most powerful weapon against all destructive forces is the internalization of the words found in Deuteronomy 4:35: “. . . the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.” When we recognize that God is the most powerful force in the world at work, we can be assured a place under His protective wing. No harm can come to us and no person can damage us unless God allows it. When we fully believe that God is in control of every single thing, we merit His full and powerful protection.

Rabbi Isaac Soloveitchick, who survived World War II, describes how this verse literally saved his life. In his youth, he was instructed by his grandfather to remember the verse in order to receive divine protection. When things got bad for the Jews in Poland, the rabbi decided that it was time to escape from Warsaw to Vilna, Lithuania. With Nazis lurking everywhere, the roads were extremely dangerous for Jews, but the rabbi kept the verse in his head. Once, the rabbi’s thoughts strayed and suddenly there was a vicious Nazi headed his way with death in his eyes. Immediately, the rabbi collected his thoughts and remembered, “. . . the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.” Instantly and inexplicably, the Nazi disappeared and the rabbi was saved.

In Psalm 60, King David expressed the very same idea this way: “. . . human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory . . .” When we shift our faith from human beings to God, we can experience miraculous protection and salvation.

The rabbis provide a telling analogy. Imagine you are confronted with a vicious dog. You might be frightened at first, but then you notice that the dog is attached to a leash and the leash is held by the dog’s owner. Now you feel safe, knowing that the situation is under control. In the same way, when we recognize that God is the owner of everything in the world, we can feel secure. Moreover, when we acknowledge that God “holds the leash,” so-to-speak – that He maintains control over everything in the world – we know that we are protected.

I want to encourage us to focus on God today, no matter what may come our way. Whether we face a dangerous situation or simply a difficult person at work, at home, or in the street, remember that God is in control and with His help “we will gain the victory.”

The Pruning Process of God

John 15:1-2
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. 2 Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (WEB)

I am not a farmer but I know a little bit about the pruning process. Not the pruning of a fruit tree, but the pruning of my heart. In John 15, Jesus paints a very vivid picture of the Christian life using the illustration that He is the vine, we are the branches and His Father is the gardener. It is interesting to note that it is the fruitful branches that are pruned back, not the unfruitful ones. Not being a farmer, I risk not giving an adequate explanation of the pruning process, but here goes anyway…

When a branch begins to grow, it develops leaves and smaller branches that are meant to bear fruit. But along the way, it also produces useless shoots that do nothing but distract the branch from the fruit bearing process and drain it of its energy.

To help the branch be more fruitful, these useless shoots are cut away so that all of the energy coming from the vine can go directly to where it is supposed to go. There is one thing that I have discovered about the pruning process though… IT HURTS! No doubt about it.

I have had many ‘useless shoots’ pruned from my life over the years. At the time, the loss of some of these things was very painful. But in hindsight, I am thankful to my Father who lovingly cut away all that was necessary, so that I could bear the fruit that brings glory to Him (John 15:8).

If you are going through a pruning process in your life right now, my prayer is that you will know that all things will ultimately work together for your good (Romans 8:28). Our dear friend Jack Winter used to say… “The Gardener is never closer to the branch then when He is pruning it”. May we all receive comfort in these words as we submit to the fruit bearing process in our daily lives.

John 15:1-9
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. 2 Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you. 8 “In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples. 9 Even as the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Remain in my love. (WEB)

God Is Our Refuse and Strength

Psalm 46:1 (WEB)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Promise: I am a very present help for you in times of trouble.

In today’s promise, the psalmist makes the declaration that God is ready to help us at the first sign of trouble. He is always with us and is our refuge and strength when we need shelter from the storms that come our way. Reading from the English Standard Version Bible, I want to read Psalm 46:1-3…

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah (ESV)

When we read the first three verses of this psalm, we can fully appreciate the result of us embracing the promise that God is a very present help for us in times of trouble… We will not fear. Even if the earth itself gives way, we will not fear. If the mountains are thrown into the sea… We will not be afraid. Though the waters roar and the mountains tremble… We will be safe in the secret place of the Most High.

In a time when natural disasters are at an all time high and there are increasing wars and rumors of wars, we need to be convinced that God is who He says He is. He is our ever present help in our time of trouble and He promises to be our refuge and the very strength of our life. May the revelation of this promise bring peace to all of us that passes our understanding.

Following The Light Of The Word

 

Psalm 119:105 (WEB)
Your word is a lamp to my feet,
and a light for my path.

Promise: My Word will brighten your steps and light your path.

Have you ever walked on a path in the forest in the middle of the night without a flashlight? If you have and there wasn’t a full moon shining, it is a pretty difficult thing to manuevre. Without a light to guide the way, you will inevitably go off the path and at the very least, bump into a tree.

I believe the psalmist in today’s promise is saying the same thing about the importance of God’s Word for you and me. In the grand scheme of things, we are only little boys and little girls who need all the help we can get. We do not have the navigational tools to manage our own life. We need both the written Word of God and the timely spoken Word of God to guide us through this life.

It is comforting to know that our God and Father equips us with all we need to live a godly life including lighting our path as we take one step at a time. Notice that the psalmist doesn’t say that God’s Word lights the path miles in front of us. He says that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet.

May each one of us rejoice in the fact that God has committed the resources of heaven to guide us on our life’s journey. He has not left us in the dark to try to fend for ourselves, but has focused His Word like a huge beam of light at our feet to guide every step we take.

God Is Our Salvation

Isaiah 12:2 (WEB)
Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for Yah, Yahweh, is my strength and song; and he has become my salvation.”

Promise #108: You can trust in Me, for I am your strength and your song.

God loves it when we trust Him. Trusting God is truly committing our lives into His care and not trying to manage life all on our own. In Proverbs 3:5-6, we are encouraged to trust in the Lord with all our heart and to not lean to our own understanding. God wants us to lean into His care today and not depend upon our own ability to manage life.

When we realize that our God and Father is indeed trustworthy, then we will not be afraid of anything that comes our way. We will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the LORD is our strength and our song and our very salvation. However, before we can truly enjoy the benefits of living a fearless life filled with God’s strength and His song, we need to deal with the trust issue.

God wants to restore childlike trust to each one of us. The trust that was broken when we were little children can be restored in our relationship with our Heavenly Dad because He is indeed trustworthy in every way. My prayer is that we would all would trust in our Abba more today than we did yesterday and that our ability to trust in God would increase every day for the rest of our lives.

God is our salvation. We will trust in His goodness and not be afraid. He is our strength and the song that we sing every day. Hallelujah for such a wonderful salvation!

Safety And Security

Psalm 91:9-10 (WEB)
9 Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

Promise: If you make your home in Me, then no evil will come your way.

Psalm 91 is an amazing chapter for anyone who struggles with the fear of not being safe. It is a powerful picture of safety and security. It tells us that we are living in the secret place of the Most High. In today’s promise we read that when we make our home in the Lord, no evil will come our way because we live in the fortress of the living God.

I am sure that many of us have watched movies or read stories of huge castles, surrounded by high walls, motes and scores of soldiers. Even that picture of safety and security pales to the sense of protection that we have when we abide under the shadow of our Papa’s wing.

Jesus did tell us that in this world we will have trouble, but we can be encouraged because He has overcome the world. Living in the secret place does not mean that we are insulated from trouble but it does mean that when troubles come, He is the safe place where we can find safety and security.

My prayer today is that each and every one of us would feel the safety and security that comes from knowing that we have a refuge in the heart of our God and Father, where we can live all the days of our lives. I pray that fear would have no place in our lives as we make our habitation in the living God.