Watching and Waiting

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Photo: Jimsmith Lake, fire season

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.

Micah 7:7

Smoke from the fires here in British Columbia blocks out the sun and our view of the mountains. I’ve seen the pictures of Slave Lake and Fort McMurry in Alberta and cities in California after wildfires swept in. We live in the middle of a tinder-dry forest. I know what can happen – and there’s no rain in sight.

The next town down the road is on evacuation alert. I wonder if I should be packing up a lifetime of family photos or deciding which paintings and heirlooms to take and which to leave to the flames if we need to run.

My anxiety level rises when I feel pressured to make a decision, whether it’s what kind of replacement laptop to buy or whether or not I should throw an old guitar in the back seat of the car. I can’t think straight. That’s when I need to take a step back into rest and trust and ask the Lord what I am missing.

Usually the missing element is peace, and it’s missing because FOMO (fear of missing out) or FOFSI (fear of forgetting something important) has taken it’s place.

Today is one of those days when I find I am actually pressuring myself to make decisions based on “What if _____________ (enter disaster de jour event here) happens?”

Sometimes I don’t receive direction because I don’t need it. I’ve noticed God tends not to bother with answers to hypothetical questions about events that will never occur.

Sometimes my frustration or confusion is due to an inability to hear because of a barrage of fearful thoughts that drown out God’s voice.

Sometimes I don’t hear because my confidence is misplaced. The author of the book of r of Proverbs about the dangers of trusting in our own armaments over trusting in God. You can do your best to prepare for the battle, but ultimate victory comes from the Lord God. (Prov. 21:31 TPT)

Sometimes, when I remember to step into the quietness of peace where his still voice is best heard, he simply asks for trust. “Put your confidence in Me. Watch. Wait. I’m still here.”

The words of Fanny Crosby’s song, “Blessed Assurance” have been coming to me lately.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love…

His goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life, and His lovingkindness endures forever — even when I forget.

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Superabundant Hope

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Last year the mountain ash tree outside my window bore no fruit. This year the branches bend low under the weight of thousands of berries. In the winter, when nothing grows here in the Canadian Rockies, birds will feast on them. Abundant provision now for sustenance later.

My prayer for you today:

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope,

fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy

and perfect peace

as you trust in him.

 

And may the power of the Holy Spirit

continually surround your life

with his super-abundance

until you radiate with hope!

(Romans 15:13 TPT)

And Some Have Humility Thrust Upon Them

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I almost walked past these little blooms on a low brown shrub. I don’t like brown. I spent years trying to rid my house of the brown walls, flooring and trim that was so trendy when we bought it. The experience left me with a dislike for brown décor and an aversion to popular fashion trends.

I wondered why anyone in a country prone to vegetation-killing frost almost three-quarters of the year would intentionally decorate their garden with a bush that looked so, well, humble compared to the colourful alternatives. When I slowed down to pay attention, I noticed the beautiful little intricate blossoms.

In dreams, the colour brown often represents humility. (Not always, of course. When God chooses to communicate through symbolic language he customizes it to take into consideration the connotations for the one receiving the dream as well as their willingness to follow clues.) In a culture that honours the right, even need of the individual to be “the winner,” the humble person who puts others’ needs before their own seems to exert little influence.

And yet God says over and over he is attracted to the humble.

We’ve heard Shakespeare quoted: “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.

I wonder if, in the upside-down arrangement of the Kingdom of God, where the proud stumble regularly and last shall come first, it might be accurate to say: Don’t be afraid of humility. Some are born humble, some humble themselves, and some have humility thrust upon them.

I can tell you from experience it is better to humble oneself than to have humility thrust upon one, but a loving Fathers chastises when necessary if we continue to ignore his advice. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up.” He’s serious about your character development.

The humble are not victims, or grovelling worms unworthy of attention, or door mats willing to be trampled underfoot by the ‘entitled,’ nor are they sympathy addicts who use their challenging circumstances to attract people who will take responsibility for them.

Truly humble people have the advantage of knowing who they are in God’s sight. They know they are loved and secure and have no need to push other people out of the way in the race to admiration and acceptance. They are accepted already. They can appreciate help and correction, but they don’t need the approval of people who compete.

The humble know that God is God and they are not. Their confidence (which may be mistaken for pride) is a result of their trust in their Creator. They can afford to lift another person up to become all they are meant to be. They can afford it because they have access to all the riches in their heavenly Father’s house. The truly humble have prosperous souls.

Jesus-followers follow his example of humility.

So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy.

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves.

Abandon every display of selfishness.

Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation.

He [Jesus] existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion!

Because of that obedience, God exalted him and multiplied his greatness! He has now been given the greatest of all names!

(Philippians 2:3-9 TPT)

Thank you, little brown shrub. I see you.