The Little Voice That Says I Can’t Handle It

I have discovered that there is a voice in my head, a part of myself, that continually makes me panic at the thought of having too much to do.  It thinks I won’t be able to handle it.  It tells me that, as if it is a truth, and paralyzes me. At least it used to.  I also discovered I do not have to agree with it or act as if it is true.

When I look at my office, the smallest room in the house which also doubles as a “catch-all” for all of the junk in the house, I literally feel a sense of panic pass through my body. It is a body-wide shudder that makes me want to run away, but instead, as my body prefers, I freeze.  So I ignore it, walk straight to my desk and face my computer screen so I don’t see it.  If I don’t see it, out of mind.

I have lived this way for so incredibly long, I just thought this was a natural response to what I have always perceived as a source of overwhelm.  It never crossed my mind to challenge the thought – just to accept it as truth and succumb to it. But as I have been learning about and listening to the different voices in my head, the different parts of my soul, the different me’s from my past, I’m realizing that it is a lie, a bold-faced (albeit protective) lie from a part of me.

First of all, if it is true that our many parts are constantly trying to protect us, especially from overwhelm stemming from our suppressed emotions, then this makes total sense. When I feel uncomfortable, or feel a disturbing emotion, my Manager gets to distracting me from it, and the Firefighter has me ready to run from it (or eat a bag of caramel corn while I distract myself from it).  A part of me believes I will absolutely fall apart if faced with uncomfortable feelings and emotions, and it tells me so.

Another point of interest I learned in a TED talk about the Pleasure Trap is that there is a part of our brain that freaks out, panics, when we attempt to change the pathways in our brains by new and different behavior.  It resists us and even evokes fear in us to stop us from changing.  That is because doing things the same way without thinking is easier and supposedly safer to our mind’s way of thinking. Change is risky.

So if you combine these two factors – your soul screaming at you that you are a fragile flower who will fall apart if your emotions surface and you experience uncomfortable feelings, plus your brain trying to scare you into falling back into line and following the same pathways (even if they are unhealthy and unproductive) – you can understand why you have trouble modifying your thoughts and your actions.  You are discouraged by your thoughts, emotions and flesh from changing anything.

However, once we have prepared ourselves with the knowledge of the backlash we will experience, we can then steel ourselves against the ploys our body and soul will attempt, and take back our lives.  Like Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal that it’s just a little man who is controlling the very scary image of Oz, when we realize that it is just a soul and body glitch that is stopping us from moving forward, we can get past them.  Like the grown elephant who finally pulls away from the tiny string that has kept it attached to a post since it was a baby, we find that what was holding us back was simply our belief that we couldn’t move beyond where we’ve always been.

So I have started addressing my parts when they tell me I won’t be able to handle things.  When I get a text from someone who normally bears bad news, instead of getting sick to my stomach and shaking, I say, “I CAN handle this.  Whatever uncomfortable news they bring, I may feel emotions, but those emotions will NOT kill me. I CAN handle this.”

When I see my office with the piles of paper that require scanning and data entry, and I know that my assistant won’t be available for a while, instead of giving in to the gut wrenching reaction of fear of not getting everything done, I correct myself.  “I WILL be able to get this done eventually, even if it will not be enjoyable.  The fears that I will be overwhelmed by all I have to do are LIES. Having to do things I don’t like and that make me uncomfortable is a part of life, temporary times I have to push through it and just get it done. I have historically always finished everything I needed to do, so I CAN do this, and there is NOTHING TO FEAR.”

And voila – the fear passes. The panic subsides. It just becomes a room full of papers, not a torture chamber.  It is simply a text from someone, not an envelope with deadly white powder.   I have found the secret of not giving in to the terror – tell it I know the truth, and that it is lying.  And then I act accordingly.

I love the story about John Wesley (I think it was him) who was in his bed when the devil came into his room.  John Wesley sat up in bed, looked straight at the enemy and said, ‘Oh, it’s just you.’  And then he went back to sleep.

That’s what I have learned to do with these soul and body reactions that paralyze me. They mean well, they want to protect me, but they are hindering me instead.  So I am putting them on notice that, although I appreciate the intent of the message, I will have to ignore it, because it is not helpful nor true.

I CAN do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

My Life Has Always Sucked (and other generalizations that stop us from being healed)

Psalm 13

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

I wanted to share a live recording of a very short song I wrote and played in college. It is from Psalm 13. I find that putting psalms to music helps me memorize them.  I hope it helps you to encourage yourself in the Lord by memorizing His word and speaking or singing it to yourself.

Sometimes it just feels like you have felt bad FOREVER. Time stands still when you are hurting, physically or emotionally. We tend to no longer remember any days that were good, and we rewrite our personal history to be a simplistic, condensed version of the truth, such as “My life has always sucked.”

But that’s not true either, because you have had moments of joy throughout your life. You are just choosing right now not to remember them because those memories don’t support the picture you have painted of your life as always having been bad. When we are exhausted from the battle against sorrow and disappointment, we tend to over simplify and generalize, because we just don’t feel like we have it in us to relive and deal with the specifics.

But therein lies the problem. Depression and anxiety cannot be healed without dealing with specific events in your pasts, not generalizations. When I ask women to drill down to the specifics of what has happened to them in the past, to tell me the last time they felt happy, the last good friend they had, or when their depression started, and they can’t tell me anything at all, I know they are blocking memories. They are blocking them because it is easier to live in depression and anxiety than to fight against it, and by simplifying and generalizing your past, there’s nothing to deal with. You can just “give up” and say there is nothing to be done about it.

But that is not the truth. The truth is that specific things happened in your life to set in motion your current paralysis of emotion. You must be willing to drill down into your past and dig those things up so they can be healed, not ignore them and pretend they didn’t happen. You have to REALLY WANT to be healed, and the dangerous thing about depression is that it sucks the life out of you so you don’t feel you have the energy to deal with anything. With anxiety, the problem is that you don’t want to deal with anything that will make you more anxious, so you avoid dealing with your past. So you avoid your past, and by so doing, entrench yourself in your present misery.

So what is the answer? You have to believe that you CAN be healed. You must have faith that God WANTS you to be healed and believe He has the power to heal you. Many of you have been determining God’s character according to what fallen human beings have done to you in your life and have come to the incorrect conclusion that He isn’t good and that He doesn’t care for you. BUT HE IS GOOD AND HE DOES CARE FOR YOU. He sent His son, Jesus, to die on a cross for you so you could be with Him forever. If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does our Heavenly Father want to give good gifts to you?

I want to encourage you to attempt to believe in God’s goodness once again. I want you to trust in His unfailing love for you, and give Him the opportunity to heal what caused your pain and loneliness. You have your entire life ahead of you, and you actually CAN change what the rest of your life will look like IF you are willing to trust God and do the work of cleaning out the specific emotional debris that is clogging up your life. My prayer for you is that you will finally be able to say: I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been so good to me.

What I Learned This Week: The Only Solution To Anxiety

I heard the loud thud of a body hitting the floor.  I had handled his two trips to the ER like a trooper. I even packed food and drink for the second time.  I did flip out a little when I found out he had fallen over face first into the dirt one day outside, but I figured he’d be ok.

But this was different.  The thud and then the profound, horrible silence was too much for me.  I ran into the bathroom to find my husband on his back on the file floor.  He was alive, and despite me telling him not to move until I got help, he of course did exactly the opposite, claiming he wasn’t hurt.  Then he got up and revised his assessment of the situation. He hurt his hip.

I just clung to him and started crying.  Now, you probably don’t know that I rarely cry.  First, it was because I stuffed my feelings, or rationalized them away for so many years, there was no reason to cry.  Then, when I had received a large measure of healing, I had no need to cry.  But this was anxiety-release crying – it just spurted out, without any deep emotion.  I don’t know if it was relief that he was alive, or if it was a wake-up call that it could have been much worse.  Either way, I was scared, and that’s when the anxiety started creeping back in.

Anxiety is really unbelief in God’s ability and willingness to take care of us.  It starts out like a little pinhole that allows a trickle of nervousness and doubt to start flowing.  It’s so small, you don’t even realize it is there.  It increases so slowly that you don’t realize you could drown until it reaches panic inducing heights.  Only then do we wonder how we even got here and what to do.  What happened to my peace?

If you remember that PEACE is a FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, it becomes clearer.  Peace cannot be manufactured, nor can it be lost like a locket hanging around our neck. It must be borne. We BEAR fruit, we can’t create it. Peace blooms only as the Life flows through the Vine and we remain grafted into that vine.  Therefore, the question should not be “what happened to my peace?”  but more accurately, “when did I separate myself from the PRINCE OF PEACE and try to handle or figure out things on my own?”

I’m going to tell you exactly how real grafting works with grape vines.  Both the receiving and grafted vines must be cut, with the grafted piece tailored to fit into the receiving vine.  Both vines have arteries through which their life-giving sap flows. The most crucial issue is that the grafted bloom’s arteries must be perfectly lined up with and in permanent contact with the vine‘s arteries so there is a continual, uninterrupted flow of the sap from vine to graft.   Then they use a compound or tape to keep them bound and packed together so no infection can seep in through separation.

Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches, and I believe that the compound that keeps us bound together is faith in His Word.  Faith allows us to say that we KNOW who we have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep everything we have ever committed to Him until we arrive in Heaven.  But faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit can quicken and speak to our spirits what the Father wants us to know as we read those God-breathed scriptures. He can direct and guide us into all truth in the midst of any situation, reminding us of the faithfulness and power of our God.

So if we are anxious, it means that we have lost our tight connection with the Vine – the packing has come loose.  When there is a gap, infection can find a way in and make us sick.  Instead of nestling closer to the vine, we start falling away and living apart from the Vine, but apart from Him we can do nothing – nothing but be anxious.

Isaiah 30 says:

15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

In repentance/returning and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
    Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
    Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
    at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
    you will all flee away,
till you are left
    like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
    like a banner on a hill.”

You see, our immediate knee-jerk response to danger and fear and anxiety is to flee to our own devices, to what we think will rescue us, NOT to God Himself.   But we must repent of trying to fix things our own way return to Him and quietly wait for Him, which means trusting and resting in Him.  The only true remedy for anxiety is resting in faith in Him, and that only happens when you bolster your faith through the Word of God.

I know that some of you struggle with reading the Word right now because your faith is not as strong as it once was, and the lethargy of your emotional issues has drained you of the energy to even try.  But you must remain in permanent contact with the Vine, and that means being bound to Him through His Word.  You can start small with just a few scriptures a day.  Sign up for a scripture a day service, or you can use my Jesus Text Me service/app.

Every counseling technique is only good if it leads you back to the Source of Peace.  If you are not securely bound to Him, no techniques or medications will cure you.  If you haven’t read my CRAZIFIED & OUT OF CONTROL ebook, or haven’t been using the ABC method, then I suggest you read and start practicing it.  It is what I used to stop the anxiety in its tracks, and what allowed me to return to my Daddy’s lap in quietness and trust.

Fortunately for all of us, Isaiah doesn’t stop there.

18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

The Lord wants to be gracious and compassionate to you.  He wants to fill you with His supernatural  power and with His loving kindness. He doesn’t expect you to do anything to earn it either.  He just wants you to return to Him in trust and wait for Him to take care of all the situations that you can’t fix anyway.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

 

Compassionate, Gracious and Slow To Anger

Exo 34:6-7
6 Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:
Yahweh — Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Isn’t it wonderful that our God is slow to anger, faithful to keep His promises, forgiving of our wrongdoing, rebellion and sin? He has compassion on us, even when we mess up. He is gracious, providing us with undeserved favor and empowerment. This is the message He speaks to the redeemed, those who have acknowledged their sin and have asked for forgiveness.

However, often we think of God’s attitude toward us as being harsh and punishing, remembering our sin to several generations, but that is not accurate. That is what Satan would like you to believe, but it is not true in our case. God forgives as soon as we ask, and chooses not to remember our sins anymore. He separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, because we are covered in the atoning shed blood of Jesus. The harshness is reserved for the unrepented sin of non-believers.

So when you feel condemnation, or think that God doesn’t like you, remember that it is a trick and a lie from Satan. Contrary to popular belief, we are NOT all children of God, and we are not all treated the same. You have to be born again through faith to be a child of God; everyone else is God’s CREATION, not His child.

As His child, He treats you with compassion and graciousness, loving-kindness and long-suffering. No matter how far you feel you have wandered away from God, He is ALWAYS close enough to hear you ask for forgiveness and receive you with open arms, just as the father of the Prodigal son did. He is always on your side, and always rooting for you to grow and mature in your walk with Him.

Plainly put, He loves you and wants to be close to you at all times. Don’t let Satan ever make you think otherwise.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

How Is Your Peace?

I was researching the word peace in Jer. 29:11, and found it to be “shalom”. I read up on it and found that in Israel today, they have a greeting that consists of saying, “How is your peace?” That really hit home with me. How is MY peace?

Several other meanings for shalom include in tranquillity, at ease and unconcerned. Hmmmmmm, I spend my days and nights being concerned about everything and trying to figure out how to handle it all. All that thinking makes me NOT at ease, or tranquil. What did Jesus say about not being concerned about what we will eat or drink or wear? No, this worry robs me of peace.

It also signifies a state in which someone can feel at ease, comfortable with another person. How many of us are no longer comfortable with ourselves, much less at ease with others? The isolation which depression brings cuts us off from others, leaving us feeling like there is something wrong with us, so we feel uncomfortable being with others. Plus, the stigma of depression in the church makes us feel even more uncomfortable in our own skin, affecting our ability to feel peace.

Shalom also refers to harmonius relationships. It is hard to experience harmonious relationships when you are scared to death of being around people. Plus, when we have relational problems at work or at home, that steals our peace as well.

Shalom can also refer to our welfare. How many of us deal with medical-related issues that make us feel less than whole? Constant pain as a companion can make us feel emotionally and mentally crippled as well, and without a break in the pain, it is hard to relax and be at ease.

Shalem is the Hebrew verb for peace, meaning to be complete, be sound. How many of us feel broken and incomplete, like people and circumstances have left us with holes in our souls and spirit? How can we feel whole when we can’t seem to pull ourselves together to get out of bed, or leave the house, or spend time with others?

Yet the covenant God has made with believers is a covenant of peace, prophesied all the way back to Isaiah. Our Messiah is a Prince of Peace. He has promised us peace, but not as the world gives. His peace that He gives passes all understanding, because it comes from trusting in Him.

That is how we can be unconcerned for the things we think we must scramble to obtain in order to survive, because we rest in the fact that He says He will provide them for us because of our faith in Him (not just because of our need for them). Our peace can come from our harmonious relationship with Him, instead of from relationships with others (although we need to establish and work on human relationships). We can have peace also through the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing God can bring for our welfare.

Finally, our completeness can come from being IN Him and He being in us. Everything we are not, He is – through His Spirit in us. We are more than just the sum of our broken parts – we are vessels of the Holy Spirit who fills us and fills those holes in our souls.

I want to experience peace, a lack of strife and struggling, harmonious relationships, unconcerned for things I have no control over and for which Jesus has promised to provide. I want to feel whole and unbroken, without emotional, mental and physical pain, and I will need to receive that by faith directly from Him. Peace will only come when I am in a completely trusting relationship with Him.

So, how is YOUR peace?

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

There Is Rest In God’s Presence

Exo 33:14
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

I hate driving in downtown Atlanta. It has a lot of one way streets. Take a wrong turn, and you could be wandering through the maze of streets for what seems like forever.

I used to get sick at the thought of going there, panicked because I didn’t know where I was going. But THEN God said “Let there be GPS”, and it was good! All of a sudden, I had someone with me who knew exactly where to go and when to turn, and this machine gave me true rest. Why? Because I was no longer alone and trying to figure it all out by myself.

So much of our stress in life is caused by being in situations where we have no control and no idea how things will turn out. The unknown freaks us out more than we consciously acknowledge. Imagine knowing that someone else who knows the future and also knows where you are to go and what you are to do accompanies you everywhere. They may sit in the driver’s seat silently while you whine and cry, but they still get you where you need to be, and later you realize you made a fuss unnecessarily.

How much of our life do we spend as if God is our Co-pilot, when in reality, He should be the one flying the plane? If I ride in the car with my husband and I don’t know how to get where we’re going, that doesn’t freak me out. I trust that he is capable of getting me where I am going. Why don’t I do that with God?

One day, I hope I evolve to the point where I am not worrying about my clothes or food or bills, but enjoy the here and now with which He has blessed me. I want to be able to rest in His presence right now, where I am. I want to be able to let go of my tight grip on my demands for the future, which essentially leaves my hands too full to receive the blessings of today. However, I can only do this if I remember He is always with me.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Even David Felt And Thought This Way

Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Does [his] promise fail for evermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? has he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, This [is] my infirmity: [but I will remember] the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old– [I had fainted], unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Ps 77: 7- 11. Ps 27: 13

Isn’t it encouraging to know that we can open the Bible and find the thoughts in our own heads written there? I don’t feel so crazy when I read David’s words and know I am not the first or only person to feel this way. He struggled with wondering if God had forgotten him or was so angry that He had retracted His love for David. He also wondered if he would ever see proof of God’s favor in his life ever again.

The only thing that kept David going was reminding himself of all the good things God’s mighty right hand had done before, so David could have confidence that God would do it again. Verse 12 goes on to say that David will meditate on and TALK ABOUT what God has done before, as a way of encouraging Himself. That is the only way that we can work through our doubts and questions and fears.

Do any of those verses echo your own thoughts sometimes? Be encouraged to know that even the great men of faith felt the same way. Remind yourself of the things He has done in the past to prove His goodness and faithfulness to you and believe that the same God who did those things in the past will do wonderful things for you in the present and the future.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

God’s Plan For Our Problems

Rom 8:26-39
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God knew from the beginning that we would have problems stemming from internal and external causes. He put inside us the Holy Spirit who is intended to translate our groans into prayers to God in times when speech and strength fail us. When we don’t have a clue what is wrong or what to pray, the Spirit is praying on our behalf to move God into action.

Whatever we are going through will somehow work out both for His glory and praise and for our benefit in that He will use it to conform us into His image. No experience is wasted, but used in His plan. We will be glorified, which means be endued with all of Jesus’ characteristics, which are God’s qualities.

No matter what is going on, God loves us and is for us. Nothing, no experience or person or situation or emotion can separate you from God, because His Holy Spirit lives in you, interceding on your behalf and attempting to quietly lead you. Any thought you hear in your head to the contrary is straight from the pit of hell!

Furthermore, any condemnation you feel NEVER comes from God. He lives to save and reconcile us to Himself, not alienate us from Him. He will convict us of wrong-doing by speaking to us quietly about our sin. Meanwhile, Satan piggybacks onto God’s Word of conviction to us and then attacks who we are (not the sin). That’s how you can tell who is originating the thoughts you hear in your head.

When you feel He is far from you, read this scripture aloud to yourself:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate ME from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Today Is A Bad Day

This is a perfect example of how life is. Yesterday I wrote a post about that day being a good day. Today, however, things changed, as they always do, and today is a bad day. Someone broke into my daughter’s car at our house while we were there and stole her radio and the bass speaker in her trunk.

Number one, we feel violated and angry that someone who must have known her deliberately chose to steal these from her. Secondly, I was UP at the time, changing into my bathing suit at the other end of the house for my morning swim. I heard the dogs barking and could swear I heard a young man say angrily “hush!” to the dogs, but I thought it was her fiance stopping by the house and leaving something for her in her car. This one morning, my husband overslept and wasn’t out there, and I never paid any attention and just went swimming with ear plugs in, and never heard or saw anything else.

Why am I still shaking, hours later? I am so distracted, trying to figure it out, somehow blaming myself and feeling bad for not catching him. I’m irritable and short, not a good thing to be at work, and I can’t concentrate. And my supervisor reminded me first thing of stuff I hadn’t done on Friday, like clean out the refrigerator.

I just can’t shake these feelings, even though we didn’t lose much of value. It is that horrible feeling of vulnerability and that I am no longer safe even at my out of the way house. I’m angry that someone was not only that bold, but that they got away with it. I want justice – and revenge.

But, as I said yesterday, Jesus is still on the throne. He did allow this to happen, but still no one was hurt. Maybe it was good I didn’t go around the house – what if he would have attacked me for seeing him? I feel on edge, but I think it is mainly because I feel so helpless. I must rely on God to deal with this person. I have to completely offload this onto Him, or I will go crazy.

It rains on the just and the unjust alike, but this too shall pass. Tomorrow can still be an extraordinary day. God, help me not to have vindictive thoughts, but let me let You handle the situation and minister to my frightened heart. Thank You for being Lord, even when bad things happen and I’m afraid.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Not Knowing Where We Are Going

Heb 11:8-10
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost For His Highest, talks about Abraham, the man of faith, going away from everything and everyone he knew in obedience to God’s command – NOT KNOWING WHERE HE WAS GOING. His was a walk of faith, NOT REASON. I would have had a lot of trouble with that myself – I don’t even like being behind a large truck when I’m driving, because I can’t see the road ahead!

I don’t like not knowing where my life is going. I like calendars and time slots and projects and tasks and goals. If I don’t know where I’m going, how will I know how to get there? How will I know when I am getting near, and what to do when I get there? How can I succeed (or more accurately, avoid failing) if I don’t have the detailed agenda and milestones for achievement?

Yet God does not promise us any details about His particular plan for us, His timetable, or even what we are to accomplish. I wonder if that is because we would reason ourselves into a tizzy, questioning God on every item. However, I think it is mainly because He wants us to depend on Him daily for direction (if there even is any direction that day), instead of taking the instructions and telling Him we’ll just take it from here, saying “Thank You very much for the suggestions, God”.

Chambers stresses that although Abraham didn’t know WHERE he was going, he knew Whose hand was leading him, and that knowledge was enough for Abraham. He knew God well enough, His nature and character, to know that He was trustworthy for the journey ahead. Perhaps it was that intimate knowledge of God that also allowed Abraham to obediently raise the knife to sacrifice his son, saying to Isaac, “God will Himself provide the sacrifice.”

But where does that leave you and I? If you are anything like me, you are not thrilled with the idea of pitch black in front of us until we see heaven’s light. However, if this IS the way God does business with us, not telling us the day or hour that things will happen, maybe we had better learn to adjust our expectations (or dare I admit it, our DEMANDS) of Him, and give up hope on getting any detailed spiritual forecasts for our life. If we gave up that hope, we would be left with only one thing on our agenda everyday – to listen to and obey Him. What a novel thought!

Adjusting our focus from long term goals to simply loving God and others as we interact with them is a major mental shift for most of us. What if where we go and what we achieve simply isn’t important, and it is only how we treat God and the people that we meet along this journey to an unknown destination that matters at all? Everywhere Abraham went was a strange and foreign place to him, and he lived in temporary tents – nothing was very stable for him. The only constant in his life was God, Abraham’s friend and companion. Maybe that’s how we’re supposed to look at life, too.

So while we are on this unknown journey to strange lands, we have two choices: 1) continue complaining that we don’t know where God is taking us, or 2) decide to become better friends with the One who leads us so we feel safer about the journey, and do our best to love everyone we meet along the way. I would like to opt for number two – it is a lot less stressful than trying to figure everything out!

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com