This weekend, I had the privilege of sitting down for breakfast with a dear friend of mine. After many weeks of travel and summer adventure, our schedules finally aligned over coffee and pancakes.
This friend has been through some storms in the last couple of months. We have shared sporadic, late-night text messages about work challenges, family health troubles, and consistent exhaustion.
When I saw her this weekend, I expected to see a girl that was knee-deep in the battle, maybe a little worn out from the brutality of the wind and waves of change and challenge.
But instead, the girl who sat across from me at breakfast was aglow with gentleness and grace.
She did not speak about her challenges with defeat. She was honest and transparent as she shared her recent experiences, but even as she talked about trials, she was filled with hope.
“It is so sweet to remember how big our God is,” she said to me. “It’s so important to keep bringing it all back to the foot of the cross.”
As she spoke those hopeful words, I was gently convicted as I realized the worry that was festering in me. I realized that she was speaking comfort and truth over some of my own challenges.
“Remember how big our God is,” she said.
“Remember how big I AM,” the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.”
– Psalm 104:1-3
Unknowingly, I have been letting stress get the best of my energy in the past few weeks. I worry about the health of my family, God’s hand and purpose in my work, my relationships, and the direction of our nation in this presidential election year.
I even worried as I watched a group of proud and brave refugees represent their own delegation at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games this week. I started to imagine what it would feel like to have no country claim you as their own, and I suddenly took on what I believed to be their anxiety.
“Oh, what is the world coming to?”
This statement seems to have become a mantra in my thought life.
Unknowingly, I have replaced our big God with my own strength when facing these worries. So it is no wonder that I sometimes feel powerless. No wonder I feel anxiety mounting as I try to fix and heal stressful conversations I face, and even the stress of what I see on TV. No wonder I feel powerless as I try to control these things into some sort of best case scenario.
I’ve tried to be the healer and the fixer that only God can be.
My friend reminded me this week that God is sovereign. In her gentle way, she reminded me that God is BIG, and that my best efforts to control stress pale in comparison to His strong and unshakable and dependable grip.
Nothing that is happening in our world or in our lives in knocking Him off of His throne, nor is it even knocking his socks off.
My friend’s demeanor reminded me of a passage in the book I’m currently reading:
“She keeps God on the throne as the ultimate healer & fixer of all things, so she is able to care for people without trying to carry their burdens for them.”
– from Wild & Free by Jess Connolly & Haley Morgan
Isn’t this cool?
A person that keeps God on His rightful throne as the ultimate healer and redeemer is able to live freely, without the need to control or hustle or fix. Because God is doing the fixing.
A person that trusts God as the ultimate healer is able to care for people well, listening to their deep need without feeling pressure to produce the perfect remedy. Because God is their remedy already.
A person that is rooted in The Lord can keep a well-watered hope, no matter what storms are happening on the surface, because their nourishment comes from below. Because their nourishment comes from their rooted foundation in Him.
I saw these truths in my sweet friend as she spoke with hope over her situation and over our stacks of pancakes.
“The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly.”- Psalm 104:16
Let’s trust God at His Word when He says that we are “watered abundantly” when we are in His care. Let’s trust that He knows our deep need, our deep anxiety, and our deeply-wrought worry lines, and that He delights to take it all in his strong and capable hands.
As this new week begins, I’m reminded that my word of focus and reflection for 2016 is HOPE. I am thankful for the many reminders I received this weekend that hope is not ignorant, nor foolish, nor fruitless. Rather, hope is proof-positive of a belief in a big and powerful God of all.
I just love the way the words of Psalm 104 display God’s greatness. I love the illustration of God making his home in the sea, on the wind, and on the clouds, and then giving each of His created beings exactly what they need. It inspires grandeur in my small heart, and makes my worries feel small.
I hope that, on this Monday morning, you feel a little of that, too.
“O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.
…These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
…When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.”
– Psalm 104:24-30