CLOSE YOUR EYES

In my last post I wrote about the spectacular fall I had at OU during a football game.  It was one of my more attractive moments!  Since then I have been getting some physical therapy for balance, and part of the therapy involves proprioception, that I also mentioned in my last talk.  Briefly, our bodies have specialized nerve endings in our joints and muscles that send messages to the brain about the position and movement of our body parts.  For example, close your eyes and extend your arm out to the side so that it is parallel to the floor.  Now, with eyes still closed, bend your elbow 90 degrees toward the ceiling.  You were able to do that without looking because your proprioceptors were able to tell your brain the position of your arm.  Your brain was then able to move your arm properly without the benefit of sight.  

Part of my balance therapy requires standing on a squishy foam board and performing movements with my feet, head, and arms with my eyes closed.  These movements challenge all of my lazy balance systems at the same time.  This is more difficult than you might think.  Apparently balance is a “use it or lose it” mechanism.  And one of the best ways to strengthen it is to confuse it by making it unstable and then removing eyesight.  I can tell you…I don’t like it!  I want to be on firm ground with my eyes open.   

As I was performing these movements yesterday I was thinking about how much life is like that.  We want to be on firm footing and to be able to see where we are going.  We want to know what is ahead and figure out how we are going to handle it.  When life removes our familiar supports, when things are unsteady and the future is uncertain, we don’t like it.  At least I don’t.  And this is where walking by faith comes into play.

Walking by faith means we trust God’s promises even when we can’t see where we are going.  It means we trust in the goodness and purposes of God even though we may be going through severe and frightening trials.  The Bible encourages us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  We keep our eyes fixed on the eternal things that we cannot see now, and not on the temporary things that we can see (2 Cor. 4:18).  We have hopenot hope as a wish, but hope as a secure anchor that we can trust when we are going through stormy seas.

Here is my true confession: I hate trials and I would rather not have to walk by faith.  I want to be able to look ahead and see good things…many more years with my husband, happy lives for my children and grandchildren, a good report in My Chart, a lower number on my bathroom scales and a higher number in my bank account.  But I often say, with all the moving parts in our large family, if everyone is at a good place…don’t breathe.  Because life can change in a moment.  Trials happen, and those trials require faith.  And walking by faith through those trials develops my trust muscles. 

This much I know: God is a good God…all the time.  Even when things don’t look good, I know I can trust my good God.  His purposes toward us are always for good, not only for my good, but also for His bigger plans down the road that I cannot see right now.  And not only is He good, he is a way maker, and a promise keeper. He makes a path for me, and goes before me and behind me.  He is my anchor.  

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters— a pathway no one knew was there! Psalm 77:19 NLT

POWER OUTAGE

The winter storm we have been experiencing all across the nation has led to widespread power outages.  We woke up this morning thanking God for our power, and as I write these words we are still on line.  But there are many who have lost power, and others whose power is unstable.  We are currently sitting at a temperature of -4 degrees with a wind chill of -21.  At those temps it doesn’t take long for a house to cool down.  And for the homeless it is a life or death situation.  It is dangerously cold!  I was supposed to have an important Zoom call this morning, but others on the call have lost power, so we are changing plans.  We are so reliant on power and an outage changes things quickly.  

As I was thinking about the importance of power this morning, my mind shifted to spiritual power and what it is like when we lose that kind of power.  In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus promised the disciples of a power that would come to them after He departed.  And in the very next chapter it happened, just as Jesus said it would.  The Holy Spirit came in like a rushing wind and filled them with power.  This power enabled them to do the work they were called to do.  Likewise, when we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and empower us, instantaneously and permanently.  While we can never truly lose this power, we can, in a sense, become disconnected from it.  The Bible calls this the quenching of the Spirit.  It can flicker and dim, just like what some of my friends are experiencing this morning. 

What would cause a power “outage” in the life of a believer?  1 Thessalonians 5 gives us some instructions. The first thing that comes to mind is sin.  Disobedience.  While we are secure in our salvation, we still live in a sinful world with trials and temptations.  And we still have that pesky free will that often yields to temptation.  That is why the apostle Paul admonished us in Romans 12 to present our bodies as a living sacrifice (not giving in to the temptations of the flesh).  He went on to tell us that we are not to follow the behaviors and customs of the world.  Instead we are to let God transform the way we think.  

And that brings me to the second reason we might lose our power: we neglect God’s word.  For me, this is where that transformation of thought occurs.  Where I have my “aha” moments.  I need to think God’s thoughts and see the world through His eyes.  The only way I can do this is through studying the Scriptures.   The bible is where God reveals His heart to me, where He tells me how He sees others and me.  In order to put on the mind of Christ we must know the mind of Christ.  God’s word guides me.  David said, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Ps. 119:105 NLT.  There is nothing like a power outage to revel how much we need light!

The other way we can lose our power is through prayerlessness.  Prayer is where I meet with God and get my spiritual batteries charged.  Oh, the mistakes I have made when I have gone off alone without consulting God.  My car is not going to get out of the garage unless it has gas in the tank.  When I run low on gas, it is time to get to Quiktrip and fill my tank.  In the same way, Christians will soon venture off God’s path and run out of spiritual gas without the constant filling of the Spirit we receive through prayer.  I’ve heard it said that power failures are prayer failures.  

Finally (and this might have gone first), is pride.  When we start getting real with God we will see what a problem pride is and how it keeps us from being all we can be in God’s kingdom. We get so full of self there is no room for the Holy Spirit.  And we lose power.  We are told that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).  Life is tough enough.  I certainly don’t want to go up against opposition from God Almighty.           

Sometimes the storms of life cause power outages, just like the winter storm we are enduring now.  We need to be prepared because storms are inevitable.  Confession of sin, Bible study, prayer, and humility all serve as backup generators for the sudden storms of life.  I must always be on guard against the things that disconnect me from God’s power and I must continually rely on His grace.  

Thank you, Lord for the gift of your Holy Spirit.  Please give me the grace to stay connected to you.      

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