For He Himself has said: "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Last week I mentioned that there was more than one song entitled “Be Still” that was ministering to me. I shared the version then sung by Travis Greene but this week I am going to share the other one that really got my attention: “Be Still” by Bethel Music and sung by Steffany Gretzinger.
For me the main thread throughout the entire song are the words: “‘Cause You gave it all for me…” When I hear these words it brings to my mind a vivid picture of what Jesus went through for us … for me.
Recently, I shared with some students the story of the crucifixion. I was teaching a Religious Instruction class at school and I started sharing with them Jesus’ journey to the cross. I felt led to paint as vivid a picture as possible of all the pain and suffering Jesus had gone through some two thousand years or so ago. I spoke about His rejection by His own people, the Jews, His betrayal by them, the horrific treatment He received at the hands of the Roman soldiers who were simply doing their job believing Him to be a criminal worthy of the worst punishment. And yet, in spite of all that Jesus went through, the reality was that He still chose to allow Himself to be killed, to die for the very Jews responsible for putting Him in that position, for the very soldiers who beat Him and who pierced His hands and feet with nails as they fastened Him to a cross. In spite of all of that, Jesus still loves us…
The first verse of the song says:
Be still my heart and know, You are God alone
Stop thinking so much, and just let go
Be still my soul and rest, humbly I confess
In my weakness, Your strength is perfect
Let’s face it, we all go through situations that disturb and discourage us. Sometimes, we are doing the best we can but nothing seems to be going the way we would like it to. Worry and fear step in and it may feel as if everything is spiralling out of control. Yet, according to the lines of the verse, sometimes we just have to speak to and encourage ourselves. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that this problem is too big for us so we may as well just give it God.
The sad reality is that the more tightly we hold on to the problem, the more stressed and discouraged we become. Yes, it is difficult to let it all go, I should know because I struggle with letting go time and again. But, I am also learning to ask God to help me let go what I need to let go. And, the encouraging things is, we may be weak and totally incapable of handling the situation but God isn’t! In fact, His strength has the opportunity to show out even more in the face of our weakness. There is nothing wrong with being and feeling weak and helpless. The problem comes when we know it but still unnecessarily stress ourselves out trying to fix things. I am truly learning to just rest in Him. As problems rear their ugly heads, I am learning to just admit that I can’t do this and that it’s God’s battle not mine … and I give it to Him.
The chorus says:
For You alone are God, there will be no other
And You have won my heart, more than any other
So I will give it all, 'cause You gave it all for me
God is God all by Himself and we need Him way more than He needs us. There is nothing or no one that can compare to Him (Isaiah 45:5). He is God and God alone. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and because He gave His all for us, we can give everything to Him - both the good and the bad. It can be really difficult to give ourselves completely. It is already difficult to give Him our problems but, giving ourselves completely to Him can be just as tough. Yet, when we hold ourselves back, we are missing out on all the beautiful things He has in store for us.
I am reminded of a picture I saw once of a little girl holding a tiny teddy bear in her hands. Jesus is kneeling in front of her asking her to give it to Him but she refuses while holding tightly to her bear. What she can’t see, however, is that with His other hand, He is holding a much larger teddy bear behind His back.
We usually can’t see the good things God has in store for us. All He wants us to do is to trust Him, to trust that if we surrender ourselves and all that we are holding on to, if we give it all to Him, what He has for us is so much bigger, so much better, so much more beautiful than anything we may be holding on to. God always wants the best for us and He already has it. He has already given His all, even His very life so that He could give us His best - eternal life. He gave His all for you, He gave His all for me … there is no way we can lose by giving our all to Him! Trust Him today.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. When you invite Jesus into your life you are positioning yourself to receive His very best for you. After all, no good thing will He withhold from you His child (Psalm 84:11b).
I have been listening to various versions of the song “Be Still” sung by different singers. However, as the time approached for me to write this blog, the version by Travis Greene has been playing in my mind over and over again. The second part of the first verse says:
But when the noise is over, a still, small voice you wil hear. I hope that you believe me, when I tell ya
That I'll handle all of your cares, just wait on me
I am reminded of a couple of experiences this week where God kept reminding me to be still. While doing my monthly grocery shopping, I kept being concerned about the prices of things and how it would all affect my budget. Interestingly, while shopping and stressing, I barely noticed that this song had started playing in my mind over and over. When I finally started paying attention to the song playing in my mind, I somehow felt that God was trying to get my attention. And suddenly I got the message. I was busy stressing, worrying, and all God wanted me to do was to trust that He had it all under control. I am in His hands, my finances are in His hands and He would take care of me and my family. I immediately felt a peace, and I visibly relaxed and continued my shopping minus the feelings of stress and worry.
I am reminded of the story of Jesus rebuking the wind and waves. He gave a simple, yet powerful command: “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39), and they had to obey. My stress and worry were like wind and waves tossing me to and fro, coming against me to destabilise me. Yet, just as Jesus reminded the wind and the waves of Who was really in control, God was using that song based on His Word to silence the worry and fear raging in my mind and heart. God was still in control and I needed to be reminded of that.
As I think about it, God has the authority to silence any enemy, any challenge, any trial coming against us. The problem is we have to learn to trust Him. The song speaks of a “still, small voice” reminding us that God is in control. So many times, the cares of this life seem to drown out that voice but it is there, we just need to pay attention to it, to listen to it. As the chorus of the song says:
Be still and know, that I am God
Be still and know, that I am God
Just trust and know, that I am God
And I'm in control, I am still … God
The lyrics remind us to simply be still, to trust and know that our God is in control and that no matter what comes our way, God can and will handle it. Remember I said that I had a few experiences this week that God used to remind me to be still? Well, just before writing this blog, I was trying to scan some documents to meet a particular deadline. My printer at times works and at other times it does not. Unfortunately, this was one of those times it decided not to do what I wanted it to do. I tried and tried but to no avail. Finally, I simply surrendered to God and told Him that it was in His hands. I acknowledged that I just could not do it. In a matter of minutes, if so much, I was able to scan all the documents I needed to meet my deadline. From the time I gave the problem to God, just as the disciples turned to Jesus for help, God stepped in and did what I could not do.
Psalm 46:10, the source of these words, is actually a reminder to us that God will silence our enemies. Verses 6 and 9 of the same Psalm say that “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.”
It is not simply a consolation to us that God will take care of us, but it is a command that goes out to our enemies to be still, God has us His people covered and they cannot prevail against us. God is in control, not our enemies, not our challenges, not the fire we may go through from time to time. Jehovah God, is in control!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to do so now. What a comfort it is to know that the God who created the heavens, the earth, and you and me, wants to cover us, protect us, fight for us … simply, love us!
Morgan suffered from anxiety attacks for a number of years. Her first attack happened a few weeks after stepping into the role of children’s pastor at her church. She was visiting family and friends for Thanksgiving and while at the gym there, she felt as if she was losing control and even her vision became blurred. The doctor told her that it was an anxiety attack.
Over the next two years, the attacks worsened, and on top of that, depression stepped in. She struggled with negative thoughts and was afraid to tell anyone, including her husband and family, what she was going through. She was afraid that they would think that she was crazy.
The battle in her mind became so bad, she barely wanted to get out of bed or take care of her family, she was not eating and even lost around thirty pounds. She did not even feel much like a pastor yet, amazingly, she continued to go to church and function in the role she had been placed in. God seemed so far away. Finally, one day, she decided she had had enough. While in the bathroom, she knelt on the floor and with her razor in hand attempted to end her life. She was honest with God. She told Him that if He didn’t step in to help her, she would end her life. Even today, as she tells her story, she remembers the feel of the razor against her skin. As she felt it, however, she also felt a warm feeling, as if someone was giving her a bear hug from behind. She realized it was God letting her know He had not left her. Immediately, the razor fell to the floor. After this episode, she felt the need to open up to her husband and others and she found the support and love she needed. God gave her the will to fight and not give up. Over a period of time, she has learned to deal with the negative thoughts, taking them captive and making them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). On top of that, in a dream, God assured her that she had won the victory over the enemy. She was indeed free!
A few things come to mind. For one thing, she was isolated. She was afraid to tell anyone what she was going through, because she was afraid of their response, of possible rejection because, after all, she was in a pastoral position and she was supposed to have it all together. The reality is, the devil loves to make us think that we are alone in our situation, that no one would understand, that we would be rejected and disappoint people if they only knew what we are going through. But, that is a lie. We are never alone. God has promised never to leave us or abandon us and there are always others who can relate to what we are going through, who may even be able to counsel and pray us through. God knows exactly how to guide us to the right people who can help.
The prophet, Elijah, in the Old Testament faced a similar sense of isolation and desolation. Queen Jezebel had just threatened to kill him and he ran for his life, believing that the children of Israel had forsaken their God and that there was no other prophet in Israel left but him (1 Kings 19:10). That was not true. He was not alone. In the quietness of a cave, the Lord’s still small voice reassured him that he was not alone and that there were still those in Israel who had not forsaken their covenant with God (1 Kings 19:12-18).
Elijah heard a still small voice, Morgan felt God’s presence in the form of a bear hug, hugging her and reassuring her that He was there and had not left or abandoned her. So many times, because we can’t hear or see how God is moving, we get discouraged and afraid and just want to give up. God hasn’t and does not give up on us.
Another thing, she reached the point where she wanted to end it all. She felt that her family would be better without her. That was a lie from the devil too. So many times, we too, want to give up. The situation seems so much bigger than us, so much scarier, so impossible that all we see is the challenge and it blocks out our ability to see our God ... if we let it. From the time God changed her perspective, she was motivated to keep fighting and to not give up. Sometimes, we too have to change our perspective. If our focus is on the situation, yes, it will always look bigger, more powerful than we are and all we will see is how impossible it is to overcome. Yet, when we give it to the One who is able to fight and win on our behalf, the responsibility is not on our shoulders anymore to fight and win but on God’s.
God has been teaching me this in recent times. Whenever something is too much for me, I would hear Him say: “Give it to me.” You see, He knows that I can’t handle it. It’s not even my job to stress over it trying to figure it out. He is right there to take every burden, every stress and whenever I give it to Him – and sometimes it’s hard to release it – I feel relieved and He always comes through for me. So, I encourage you today, no matter how big or how impossible the situation may be, it will never be bigger or more powerful than God. He can handle it. Just give it to Him. If you find it difficult to let it go, be honest with Him and ask for His help and He will not let you down. Just a reminder, God has not given up on you ... don’t give up on Him!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. God has promised to be always there for His children. No matter what we are going through, we are never alone, and we always have help right when we need it.
Mike was a well-known banjo player and country music artist living with his wife, Brenda, in Nashville, Tennessee. One day, after mowing the lawn and receiving a few scratches in the process, he noticed spots appearing on his skin. He thought nothing of it and showed his wife. However, the spots were getting worse and even spread to his tongue, so she decided to take him to the hospital. The doctors there discovered that his platelet count had dropped to a dangerously low 175 while normal platelet count levels are between 150,000 to 550,000. Additionally, people whose levels drop below 2,000 usually do not survive. He was at risk of bleeding to death internally and it was shocking that he was still alive. He received a blood transfusion that kept him alive, but they could not determine the cause of his condition. His wife called for prayer support from family and friends, specifically those that she was confident were serious about prayer. His platelet count returned to normal, however, doctors were still not sure what had caused the drop in platelet levels or even what had caused the count to increase and go back to normal. Mike and his wife were concerned because they did not know if it would happen again. Unfortunately, a few months later, his hand was injured and he received fifty stitches. He resorted to taking anti-inflammatory medication to ease the pain and immediately he saw the same spots he had witnessed some months earlier. As his wife put it, fear hit her strong, in fact, it hit her before faith did but, she cried out to God and reminded Him that He had healed him before and asked Him to do it again. She then called for prayer support and her faith increased. Mike too reminded God that He had done it before and He could do it again. He told God that this situation was His! Blood tests revealed that both experiences were due to an allergic reaction to “lodine” found in the anti-inflammatory medication he had taken. Now he knew the cause and now he could prevent the same problem from ever happening again.
One of the things that catches my attention with this story is the reality of the fear they faced. His wife said that fear hit her hard because the same problem surfaced a second time. Fear is real! Sometimes, no matter how much we try to have faith in the midst of our situation, fear feels way bigger than the faith we are supposed to have as children of God. We know what the Bible says about fear, that it is not from God, yet, it is a real force that seems to engulf us at times and render us almost paralyzed. The interesting thing is that she saw God do a miracle the first time but when the problem popped up again, her faith took a terrible hit. That’s the reality of life sometimes. No matter how much we want to trust God, the situation is so real, so palpable, that we struggle to believe that God can do it a second time.
Yet, this is what both she and her husband prayed for. They wanted God to heal him again. Their story reminds me of the Israelites (Exodus 14). God had delivered them out of the land of Egypt after sending many plagues against the Egyptians. Pharaoh finally agreed to release them. Not long after, however, Pharaoh changed his mind again and decided to go after them to recapture them. Imagine the fear the Israelites must have felt to see their enemies coming after them when they thought they had finally been set free! And, to make matters worse, there was nowhere to run because there was a huge body of water in front of them – the Red Sea – as well as territory that was difficult to navigate on either side of them. They were trapped. Yet, God had delivered them before and He would do it again even though many more odds seem stacked against them!
Note that the second time around, God revealed to Mike’s doctors the source of the problem so that he was able to prevent it from ever happening again. Similarly, the second time around, God didn’t just deliver His people out the hands of their enemies but He completely destroyed them so that they would NEVER be able to come after them to put them in bondage again. God knows exactly what He is doing. What looks like a problem, as if God did not do a good job the first time, is sometimes God simply setting things up to rid us of the problem completely. In the process, He also increases our faith by performing even greater miracles than He did the first time! You just can’t figure God out! He will do what is best ... HIS way!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to make that step now. Jesus died so that we could be set free from every bondage and attack that may come our way. When we commit our very lives to Him, He is obligated to take care of us and to see us through life’s challenges again and again and again!
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of watching a movie based on the life of African-American baseball player, Jackie Robinson. He was the first Black athlete to play Major League Baseball in the 20th century.
During a season of much racial tension in the United States, Jackie was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945 by Branch Rickey, general manager and president of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Branch saw Jackie’s potential and was seeking the opportunity to bring about the desegregation of the major leagues. He saw this opportunity in Jackie, who went on to make his major league debut in 1947. Branch knew that Jackie would face racial challenges and encouraged him to not fight back when confronted with racism.
As was expected, Jackie faced racial abuse. Some of his team members objected to his being on the team, he faced jeers from the crowds, harassment from rival teams and threats directed towards him and his family. Yet, in spite of it all, day by day, he chose to do what he was hired to do – play baseball.
I see in him, a man of strength and character. It was difficult, it was even dangerous at times, but, he stuck it out. What strikes me is the fact that he kept his focus, even chose to keep his focus. It was difficult when players from rival teams hurled insults at him. One player even intentionally threw the ball so that it hit him in the face instead of throwing it so that he could hit it with his bat.
I parallel this to our own challenges as children of God. We face attacks and challenges designed to knock us down and knock us out. Sometimes, the attacks and trials are coming at us so quickly and repeatedly, we feel as if we can barely survive this unfair onslaught. Yet, just as Jackie had the backing of his manager who believed in him, his teammates who gradually grew to accept him, his wife who always encouraged and supported him, not to mention his own will and determination to survive, we too have support and strength from our God who will never abandon us (Hebrew 13:5b) and who is our help when we need it (Psalm 46:1).
In my own life as I have faced my own share of trials and testing, I have found myself more and more understanding and appreciating Jesus’ life here on earth. Like Jackie, Jesus was faced with his share of opposition, attacks, even attempts on his life. Yet, this is what has gotten my attention – every day, Jesus got up, spent time with His Heavenly Father and went out and did what he was assigned to do here on earth. He knew the attacks would come, He knew they would try to challenge His words and criticize His miracles, He even knew they would try to kill Him ... but, He went out and did His assignment anyway. He kept His focus and did not allow anything or anyone to stop Him from doing what He came here to this earth to do.
This reality gives me strength. We can’t always stop the challenges and trials from coming our way. In fact, sometimes, we may even want to give up because the battle is too fierce, or the wind and waves from the storm too strong. It just doesn’t seem worth the effort. But, it was difficult for Jesus, it was difficult for Jackie, yet, they both kept their focus and they got up each day and did their assignment.
My encouragement is this: don’t let the attacks the enemy sends your way stop you from doing what God has given you to do. We are not here by accident, God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. The reality is the devil knows this and will do anything and use anyone to distract you, to derail your purpose, to prevent you from accomplishing God’s plan for your life. Do not get distracted by bitterness or resentment, do not get distracted by fear or discouragement, do not get distracted by “distractions” whatever they may be. All of these things the devil will use to cause you to not fulfill God’s purpose for your life. So, keep your focus, give the battles back to God and do what God has called you to do and be who God has called you to be in Him. He has already enabled you and He will fight for you!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Savior, I invite you to do so now. Life is tough, yet, we have all the support, encouragement and strength we need from a God who has promised to fight for us, who will always be there for us when we need it and who will help us to carry out His plan and purpose for our life.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.