Lynn, at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, is hosting Thankful Thursday this week. She chose random as the theme for the week and is so grateful for all the Christian bloggers. I, too, am thankful for you. Your blogs are a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement to me and I learn so much each time I visit. Thank you. To participate, simply click the button above and share your Thankfuls or read through others...
This promise, originally given to Joshua as he accepted the mantle from Moses to lead the children of Israel into the land promised by God to be theirs, is one that I have found comfort in many times.
Life isn't always easy. No matter how many people surround you, it seems that feelings of isolation and lonlieness can creep in. Feelings of fear or discouragement crop up from time to time in our lives. Whatever the circumstance that allows these feelings to invade, perhaps times of illness or a crisis with family or friends, a crisis in a marriage, or even a crisis of faith, we can be encouraged by the Lord's promise to Joshua. It rings true for us, too, as with so many promises to the men and women whose stories are recorded for all time in the Bible.
Blazing the Trail
It's true that the Lord goes before us, blazing the trail of the path He has placed us on in life. While it's true that there is one narrow road that leads to eternity, I've found myself either in the ditch or wandering off in a cul de sac from time to time.
The Hebrew word for goes is halak, a verb that means:
1) to go, walk, come
The Hebrew root word of before is the verb panah, which means:
1) to turn
The rest of the word, paniym, means:
I found these meanings to be very interesting. When I wander off the beaten path, it's often because my eyes are on my circumstances and not on God, who goes before me. My Savior died for me, so that I could follow Him into eternity. Truly that is the road that I am traveling here on earth, the road to eternity. I can be sure that I'm never alone. I must follow the One who knows the turns, the One who is actually before and behind, toward, in front of, and has ever present with me. As long as my eyes are on God, I can truly trust that He is leading me, actually surrounding me, guiding me. There is not a place on this road of life that He Himself has not been, is not now, nor will be in the future. How comforting is that?
As a young child I would follow behind my earthly father as he walked in the garden. One fond memory I have is a superstition that he would tell me every time I was in the freshly plowed garden with me. "Don't step in my footsteps. It will give me a headache." I laugh every time I think about it. It's probably one his father passed down to him, but our God wants us to walk in the steps He has made for us. We can be sure that we will never trip if we place our feet where we can see His feet have been. How can we find these footsteps? Surely they are not visible; however, by praying, staying in the Word, and being aware, we can find them. He truly does go before us and the evidence of His footsteps are visible more than we realize.
Another part of this verse that comforts me is that God will be with me. He will not leave or forsake me. When I feel forsaken by this world, I can always count on God.
The Hebrew word for His always being with us and never leaving us is raphah. It means:
1) to sink, relax, sink down, let drop, be disheartened
Truly we are never alone! He never sinks, (think Jesus walking on the water), never relaxes His walk, never abandons us or drops us. He never disheartens us. What a comfort!
I remember being at the state fair one year when I was a small child. Pre-elephant phobia, I had stopped to look at a white elephant piggy bank, and when I looked up a crowd had filled the gap between Momma and my grandparents. Ya'll, I was never so happy to see the back of my grandfather's head in my life! They would have realized I was gone in a second and would have been back for me but the loudness of the crowd drowned out my cry, "Paw Paw!" I ran to catch up and asked why they left me. They never realized I was gone but Paw Paw, laughing, pulled out his handkerchief, dried my tears and held my six or seven year old hand. I stuck close to them the rest of the afternoon. I didn't stop to look at anything unless they stopped, you can be sure of that.
One thing we can be confident of is that God will never lose sight of us. Not for a minute! Just as I held my grandfather's hand, spiritually I hold the Father's hand as often as possible so I don't get sidetracked and look to the things of this world. When I do, He never loses sight of me and I find that so amazing and personal. In a sea of a billion faces on this earth, His eyes are watching me, His footsteps are there for me to follow in, and He never let's go of my hand, even though I might try to wriggle free in unintentional distraction. When I do, just as my Momma and grandparents did, He dries my tears and forgives me for halting, and does remind me to keep up.
High But Not Dry
Another promise of God in this verse is that He will never forsake us. Forsake is just a funny word to me. I know it basically means abandon or turn your back on, because I have been forsaken by people here on earth. Let's look at the Hebrew meaning, though. `Azab is a verb that means:
1) to leave, loose, forsake
I love this. To be able to trust in the Almighty God's promise that He will never leave us, cut us loose, depart from us, leave behind, neglect, or desert us is a promise I cleave to. I have it in my heart and know that no matter what happens to me in life (smooth road vs. ditch or cul de sac) that I will never be cast from His presence or left high and dry. How great is that?!
Because of these promises, we can rest assured and have confidence. Fear is just not an option. When feelings of isolation or abandonment kick in, try to identify what's at the root. Is it something disturbing you've seen on television? Change the channel. Is it because you've limited your options at being around people due to illness? Reach out across cyberspace. Perhaps it's depression or a chronic illness. Seek treatment. Is it a horrible circumstance because of the loss of a loved one or an illness in the family? Share your heartache with others and let others help you bear the burden. Whatever the problem, God's Word tells us that we should never fear or be dismayed.
The Hebrew word for fear is yare'. It means:
1) to fear, revere, be afraid
While we should honor and reverence God, I think the fear that the writer of Deuteronomy was trying to get across was plain old fear and being terrified.
We can always count on God. As He goes before us, promising never to leave or forsake us, we can count on this promise that we can rest easy and not be filled with a sense of dread of isolation or lonlineness. Isn't this wonderful?
The Hebrew word for dismayed speaks even stronger to this. We are not to be discouraged as God goes before us. We can trust that He is always there. Chathath, also a verb, means:
1) to be shattered, be dismayed, be broken, be abolished, be afraid
Have you ever felt this? I have. When we lost Sydney to miscarriage July 20, 1998, was the time I felt it most strongly. Not with God but just the absence of the baby I was carrying. Somehow I knew in my heart of hearts that I would never conceive again, though we didn't stop trying for another year. I was completely broken and scared, terrified at the lonliness I felt. In the radiology department I was left alone for a long period of time while the nurse who was doing my ultrasound went down to the ER to speak with the doctor about the case she had before me. She asked me if I would be okay alone and I said, "Sure." After quite some time had passed, I said, "I'm not okay being alone anymore." I said it out loud, as if anyone could hear. God heard me and began healing me right then. The Holy Spirit spoke so loudly to my heart that He may as well have spoken audibly. He said, in essence, "You're not alone. I'm with you." I remember turning my face to the side, my pillow wet, and looking around for a second, and then settling down into the most peaceful sleep I would have before the sleepless week I would endure ahead. In fact, I would not sleep that peacefully again until late March, 2000, when I had my hysterectomy.
No matter how alone we may feel, the fact is that we are never alone in this world. We are not lost among a sea of people. God is so personal and real to us. If you have accepted Him as your personal Savior, you need not ever fear. If you haven't made Him Lord of your life, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me tell you about my Jesus.
You need never be lonely again.
Questions for Reflection: What verses remind you to fear not? Do you ever feel lonely and forsaken? If so, what can you do to get your sense of security back?
Verse for the Day: "But now, this is what the LORD says - he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." ~ Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for blazing the trails before me in life. I praise You for the paths You have set before me. Help me keep my eyes on You and to never feel forsaken or alone. I know that discouragement comes from taking my eyes off You and I never want to do that. Help me not to be distracted with the things of this world, which are here today and gone tomorrow, but to look to You and Your strength always. Thank You for the promise of never leaving me alone. Help me minister to other women and help them find the joy in knowing that we are safe when we are on the path You lay before us. Thank You for Your grace through Your Son Jesus Christ. I praise You eternally for His death, burial and resurrection and the power that is found in Him. Thank You for the promise that we need fear not. In His Name I pray, amen.
F - Focus on God rather than the things of this world. "My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek." ~ Psalm 27:8 (NIV)
E - Embrace God's love for you. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." ~ 1 John 3:1 (NIV)
A - Accept that God is always beside you. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." ~ Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
R - Remember the promises of God given in the Bible. "Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. " ~ Psalm 119:49-50 (NIV)
N - Never fear being forsaken or forgotten by God. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." ~ John 10:27-29 (NIV)
O - Open your heart to receive and store the truths of God's promises. "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees." ~ Psalm 119:11-12 (NIV)
T - Take captive every thought to Christ, and cast down the negative feelings of isolation the devil or your own self gives you. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)