Psalms 121:1 (KJV)
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I am emotionally driven. I am not sure if this is a prominently "feminine" trait, or perhaps it could be an "artistic" trait. As I happen to be a female artist, I have BOTH reasons coursing into my "excuse" pipeline. I get in a situation, and it's like a canvas has been wrapped around my head and fastened tightly by twine about my neck, as if I'm a scarecrow! All I can see, smell, hear, and taste is THAT moment, THAT emotion. It is quite an overwhelming and consuming feeling! However, I have been alive long enough to experience the power of peace and common sense that comes to loosen the twine of flesh binding that canvas to my senses. And as knowledge lifts that canvas off my head, low and behold, there is an amazing, breathtaking, masterpiece on that canvas! And my blood, snot, sweat, and tears have contributed to the beauty of that art! But there is no way for me to see it unless I invite peace and knowledge to free me.
Whether we are male or female, artsy or logical, we ALL have been guilty of not being able to see the big picture. And God GREATLY dislikes when we do this. God depends on our trusting him. He will forgive us when we don't. (Thank goodness! Because I would be a hopeless case without his mercy in this area!) But when humanity absolutely and stubbornly refuses to relax and chill in the middle of a crisis, God can't fulfill his will. When we decide to function as if everything is proper and normal., and all the while we cannot see, hear or do anything right because we are consumed by "the moment" we can greatly damage ourselves. We have each been guilty of this behavior. People who live life consumed by "the moment" boldly plow destructively through life, ticked at "all of them" for not seeing things how we see it! All along our head is enveloped by emotions of "the moment," like a hostage held captive by a terrorist!
It is an act of the will to bring your life to a screeching halt, to apologize to everyone you may have hurt in your sincere, yet carnal efforts to remedy a crisis, and just start over. It is a PAINFUL act! It is an action of humility and crucifixion! But it is the best way to get yourself free from the terror holding you hostage.
You have to answer this question: Do I believe God is in control?
If you do not believe this then the darkness and confusion plaguing your life will sadly continue dogging you to your grave. If, however, you DO believe God is in control, then there is hope of a bright, present future! (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Because, if you believe God is in control then you have taken all human power out of the equation. Your boss no longer has power in your life, your ex no longer has power, your abuser no longer has power. Suddenly there is no reason to be angry at people. There is no reason to need so-and-so to do anything in particular for you to be happy. It is all about God working all things out for your good! And he WILL, because he loves you! (Romans 8:28)
One of the results of believing God is in control is that you will begin to seek HIS favor. Seeking his favor will put you in a position to be used as a tool by him. And there is NOTHING more fulfilling than being used of God to fulfill his purpose in the earth! (2 Peter 1:9)
God can and will move any and all people in or out of your life as he sees fit. The canvas makes us hope for people to be or to do something particular in our lives based on the suffocation of the canvas. What we should be doing is resting in the confidence that God loves us and is looking out for our good. Whether ANY of the people in your situation are right or wrong MUST be irrelevant. Only in this action and choice is the canvas released.
God can work out an AMAZING plan that you are guaranteed to love, but only if you will stop obsessing over the people and circumstances in this moment, and focus instead on God's ability to unfold something amazing. (Ephesians 3:20)
Think, if you will, about the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness, coming to the Promise Land. Do you think Moses, Joshua, or Caleb had life any better than the rest of them? Absolutely not! They had the same food, same heat, same sand, same EVERYTHING! The difference in these men and the rest of the people was their behavior which was BASED ON THEIR FOCUS. They were ALL lacking their favorite fruits and vegetables. They were ALL chased by Pharaoh's army. But Moses, Joshua, and Caleb chose to focus on the prize at the end of the journey rather than to focus on the journey. Moses was not able to enjoy the victory of the Promise Land because in a moment of "canvas suffocation" he lashed out. He took his eyes off the prize and acted in a moment of passion. God takes "canvas decisions" seriously. In his incomprehensible grace he will forgive us and help us move forward, but he will allow us to pay the price for them. (Numbers 20:7-12)
It does not matter how much I dislike "this wilderness." I can choose to focus on the wildness, and murmur and complain, or I can focus on God's big picture plan, WHICH IS THE PROMISED LAND!
God does not ask anything of me that he did not do himself. It is a God-nature to focus on the prize, NOT the journey to the prize. That is why he was shocked at the people's complaining in the desert. These humans were created in HIS image. They could have lifted up their eyes from the desert sands and focused on the prize. But they didn't. These people spent their emotions and energies on the lack if quail, lack of fruit, the harshness of the desert, the size of the people, etc. God did not know what to do with people who focused more on the difficulties than the prize.
God demonstrated the possibilities of releasing ourselves of the canvas when he himself, God robed in flesh, endured the cross "...for the prize set before him." It is his nature to live by trusting the big picture rather than the emotion of the moment. It is why he preserved Joshua and Caleb and let the others die. They lived out HIS nature. They did not say they loved the desert. We do not find scripture depicting Joshua and Caleb acting as if the wilderness was not a hard place to function in. But they stayed focused on the promised prize.
Do you know that Jesus did not embrace the cross? Jesus did not one time express joy in the crucifixion. Before he was arrested he begged in intense prayer that "the cup would pass." And once the arrest and crucifixion process began, Jesus DESPISED the shame. He endured what he had to and he despised every ticking minute of it. Faith does not say, "I love being on the cross!" Faith says, "this cross isn't the end of the story!" (Matthew 26:39, Hebrew 12:2, Romans 6:4)
So, yes. I despise the cross... I loathe the desert. I hate this emotional canvas that can sometimes be frightening and suffocating. It is during these times, if I am not careful, that I will foolishly think the world should function at my needs and commands. All along not a single decision I make is based on the freeing power of knowledge! I'm trying to build my life and the lives of my children (and all of us have other lives that we are also somehow contributing to the building of) and trying to do so literally blindfolded! (1 John 2:11)
I say stop to myself and to you, and to this world around me! Husbands and wives, men and women of all races and ages, "STOP!!!"
When we feel the noose tighten we have got to recognize what is happening and just... stop.
"Do I believe God is in control?"
Yes, I do. And that in itself lifts the canvas from my thinking, and at that point I CHOOSE to lift my eyes from the desert sands, and look up. When we look up we will see the big picture. We will see him working all these things out for our good. We will see that it does not matter if the people in our lives are right or wrong. We will see that God WILL fulfill our lives with power and glory when we focus on HIM.
How do we "just choose" to lift our eyes? How is it possible to see the big picture when the canvas is too close? The closer we get to God, the easier this becomes. We are changed into his likeness from glory to glory. We are able to do as Christ did on the cross and focus on the prize, but we cannot do this with our own carnal strength. The power of God's spirit working in us helps us to accomplish this. (Jude 1:24, Ephesians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 3:18)
God has and will give who and what is needed. You may cry, you will likely get angry, and you will feel a lot of emotions. But faith in God says, I wouldn't change one thing. I want NOTHING but HIS almighty hand unfolding HIS perfect plan.
...because HIS ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:9)
So instead of allowing the tightly bound emotional canvas engulfing your mind to dictate your behavior, find a place of solitude & prayer. Get out your Bible and study the behaviors of men and women of faith. Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and do not allow yourself to lean on your own understanding. In all of your decisions acknowledge Him. Then you will start to see the prize. He will give you the desires of your heart. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
Le Muser; Denée Richardson
~Thanks to Lisa Velie for editing.