A ticking clock in a thunderstorm
In the midst of adversity there is grace which can enable you to live above and beyond.
The stresses of life do not agitate a person who has learned to live in peace. Jesus never let Himself be controlled by others. He only listened to the Holy Spirit, and did what the Father told Him to do. He would not hurry, or stop or run to anyone else’s clock. He moved at His Father’s pace and was always on time. Sometimes people thought it was too late but it always proved that He was on time. I admire people who can walk through life and not get ruffed by what life throws at them. You need God’s grace when things are going well; but you need God’s grace more when you are in trouble. Great grace is needed to keep the soul under control during troubling times. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Self-control is needed most in times of conflict and trouble. Let your life be rooted in something eternal and so that it goes on “at it’s own private pace”, just like that ticking clock. Now that takes a supernatural impartation.
In the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9, he prays, “0 that you would bless me, and bless me a lot.” Blessing is an impartation of supernatural favour. An impartation implies that is not of you. It comes from God but it is imparted to you and is therefore in you. As you walk in God’s blessing He gives you everything you need. God imparts all His resources to you that you can draw upon them as needed. He can give you strength, knowledge, skill, understanding. We doubt our own ability but if we draw on God’s grace then we have His ability at our disposal. Everything we need, He makes available to us. Knowing this enables us to live with a contentedness that is supernatural. “Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune and misfortune at there own private pace like the ticking of a clock in a thunderstorm. “Robert Louis Stevenson
There is the quote by Shakespeare which goes something like, “whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” The Bible says it like this in Proverbs 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. “The Holy Spirit wants to be in control of your emotions. He is our Helper. He wants to help. I have found it hard to stop and seek God in the midst of trouble. Often we take things into our own hands, and frantically try to ‘fix’ everything. That seems to be the human tendancy. It takes discipline to stop, but if we do, we can find that place of blessing. Tough times build spiritual muscle. Over the years, I have learned it is usually never a great choice to make a life-altering decision in a crisis. It is the time when self-control is needed. Jesus was never moved to make decisions when faced with difficulty; He just listened to His Father and was moved by what He told Him to do.
The Art of Detachment
The Old Testament is a picture book and it reveals in pictures, great spiritual truths. In the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of Moses is the Golden Candlestick. The Seven Faces of the Holy Spirit are seen in the Golden Candlestick. The Candlestick holds seven candles, each one representing an aspect of the Person of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, counsel, light, knowledge, fear of the Lord, holiness and understanding. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead. He is a person. Worship Him. He can impart to you these attributes. He is the Spirit of understanding. He is knowledge. He is wisdom. The Bible tells us that “he who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” Proverbs 17:27 If the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Understanding, then a calm spirit is born of His Spirit. When we come to our Father in prayer we can exchange our stress for His calm and learn the art of detachment. You can do nothing of yourself. We are made to be connected to God and be reliant upon the Holy Spirit. I have found that music is a tremendous help in bringing me to that place of calm. I don’t know what will work for you, but find the key that will take you into that place with God. It may be walking and connecting through nature. Ask the Holy Spirit for your key.
Our culture worships freedom, independence, personal rights, and the pursuit of pleasure. To stand against the tide and say, “I want nothing, except the blessing of the Lord,” goes against everything the world preaches. If I have God’s blessing I am content. Yet I need God’s grace to live in that place. Grace is God’s ability. Only by His strength can I want nothing but Him. Imagine Abraham when he said to his brother Lot, “you choose first.” From his heart comes the attitude which says, “take what you want. I just want the blessing of God. I’ll take what is left and that is enough.” Just imagine three children standing around two pieces of cake, and one says, “help yourselves, I’ll take whatever is left!” Doesn’t happen!
It’s hard to say, “I want nothing,” when your flesh screams, “what about your rights!” I’m sure Jacob had a few things to complain about after twenty years with a man who seemed to have it in for him. Yet he managed to stay connected to God.
The soul is strong; that is why we must allow the Holy Spirit to control it. We cannot control it by ourselves. Your soul is your will, your mind and your emotions. You soul has been trained to be independent of God. The world says, “be independent of God!” the media teaches us to live without God. God says, “I just want you to want Me.” David said in Psalms, “this one thing will I seek, to behold Your beauty.” David wanted nothing more than to know the Lord. It was his ultimate choice. Great joy comes at the end of the day, when I have managed to succeed at something which I would normally find difficult. I say, “Lord, by Your grace I did that well today.” I know that if He had not helped me I could not have achieved it. But to walk in that position daily takes concentrated effort and thought before it becomes a habit.
Faith is to be exercised daily
Faith is to be used. We can be surrounded by many things, but they are of no benefit to us if we don’t use them. I don’t have an exercise machine in my house because if I did I would have to use it and I know I won’t! I won’t apply myself in that area (yes, I know I should!) You can have a Bible beside your bed but unless you open it and start to practice what it says, its principles cannot help you. Many stomach disorders, indigestion and sicknesses today are traceable to mental states due to stress and nervous tension. The number of men and women who are on anti-depressants is increasing every year. Faith exercised in your mind will make you and keep you well. It will do many other things for you but you must use it.
Man gets sick, partly, because he cannot control and discipline his mind. So much attacks the mind. Our minds become full of useless information. That is why I use a diary and keep a journal! It is smart to keep the mind free from clutter; that is why I use a diary. But I regularly need to clean out the “closet” of my mind because it gets full of junk. Free the mind of clutter; just like you would a house. Clutter is not attractive, whether it is in a house or a brain! People keep themselves so busy because they cannot bear to stop. I lived in America and Americans keep busier than Australians do. It is said the Americans invented the first rocking chair because they couldn’t sit still.Other people don’t like their own company, and some don’t like silence. Whatever happened to the phrase, “silence is golden?” I can remember being on the farm as a child, and enjoying evenings sitting out on the verandah just listening to the cows “mooing”, or the crickets singing. Sometimes we would just listen to the silence and it was spectacular. I find myself craving moments of silence is this loud world.
Have you ever heard it said, “my nerves are all shot to pieces?” This is usually not true. Nerves are seldom damaged. The nerve is simply a telephone wire from the brain to a given part of the body. What a person means when he says that his nerves are all shot to pieces” is not that there is anything wrong with the actual nerve, but that the thoughts which stimulate the nerve are disturbed. These agitated thoughts make it impossible for the brain to send orderly and controlled impulses to the nerves, so that contrary and uncertain messages go out over the nerve wires. The brain is in confusion because the thoughts are in confusion. Thus the nervous system tends to be in disorder. As a result one feels nervous, tense, up tight and agitated.
Day to day Christianity is lived by taking control of thoughts and disciplining the mind. The simple things form the foundation stones of our lives. Life is not complicated. It is matter of knowing a few basic principles and applying them daily to your life. Practice living Christianity in your thought life and your actions will take care of themselves.
Grace to live detached from stress
One of the biggest keys to live above stress is the art of detachment. It is the ability to find a place where you can separate yourself from the stress and live above the circumstance. A great life skill is to practice taking a detached attitude toward irritating things. Practice lifting your mind above the stress and the irritation around you.
For example you can practice it in small things. What constantly upsets you? They may be things you have no control over. Consciously try to overcome that feeling of anxiety when the situation happens by visualizing it differently. I found have had difficulty with lines at checkouts or at banks. So I kept a list of Scriptures in my handbag which I pulled out for such occasions to meditate upon. As I did, I could lift myself out of the mounting stress and impatience I was beginning to feel. Now I no longer need the list, because I have memorized Scripture passages, and I think on them when I am in a line. It is a much more productive use of my time. How many things do we allow to control us like that? Traffic, traffic lights, the list goes on. These things rob us of God’s blessing.
To live free from stress, worry, anxiety, anger, fear is to live in the blessing of God. What would your day be like if you did not have one irritation? Life would probably be boring with no challenges, but I know of some irritations I could live without! Without an irritation of sand in a shell you would not get to enjoy pearls! Irritations can end up producing some beautiful things for us. In our lives, as we mature, irritations become the building material for strong character. It should happen to a certain degree naturally, but as a nations moves away from God, many of these godly principles become lost. Christian character is built upon the Word of God. If we fail to get the Word into us the foundation is gone.
There are many Scriptures which almost command us not to let our circumstances get the better of us. If the Bible instructs us there must be a way to do it. God never asks you to do that which He doesn’t show you how to do and give you the grace to do it.
“Let not your heart to trouble. “John 14:1 God doesn’t stop your heart from being troubled, you do. He says, “let not.” It’s your choice. When you worry, you have allowed yourself to worry. Do it often and you’ve trained your soul in a negative until it becomes a bad habit. Habits can be changed. Once we recognize them, we can change them.
“I will fear no evil, for You are with me. “Psalm 23:4 You can say, “I will not fear.” I make the deliberate choice to keep my heart steadfast. I replace the negative I feel with a positive word and focus my attention of what God says. What is going on around me can be frightening, but I will not allow my heart to fear.
Walking through your Red Sea
Just imagine how the Israelites felt when Moses began to walk them through the Red Sea after it parted in two. Here is a nation hearing the sound of an army coming to destroy them from behind, and a sea in front of them. Moses says, “let’s go!” And they plunge headfirst into a miracle. I would have thought that would be exciting, but wait a minute, I don’t think it would be so much exciting, as terrifying! I would be scared witless! Miracles sound exciting when you are not in them. If someone else tells you about it, it’s exciting. To live the miracle has many terrifying moments. We only get to enjoy the miracle, at the END of the whole event! Your emotions and nerves have really had a workout.
“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as on thy land” Hebrews 11:29
You are passing through the Red Sea as on dry land. Imagine what it is like — the Red Sea roaring on both sides of you —
– the sound of it is deafening
– the size is intimidating; You look at the giant walls of water and your heart stops
And the Lord and you are passing through as on dry land. Think about it — you are passing through. The walls of parted water are gigantic. They are overwhelming; but you and the Lord are passing through them. You won’t get stuck in your Red Sea, you are passing through it.
The sound subsides, the size is no longer intimidating – all there is now is the Lord and you. His voice is pre-eminent. ‘You are passing through this.’ Your heart quiets. It becomes still. It no longer pounds. Your emotions settle and your heart is no longer racing. Thoughts dissipate until there is a stillness, a quietness. There is no conflict of emotion or thought. You focus on God and His Word – I am passing through.
Let’s look at another example:
What about the disciples in the boat when a storm arises? Jesus is asleep. The storm rages and the disciples are alarmed. Then He speaks. What storm are you in? Are you in a state of alarm? Let Him speak to you.
Learn to yield yourself to Him. Feel what it feels like to sink back into His everlasting Arms, into the safety of His Strength. You no longer are responsible. You are only responsible for allowing yourself to fall into the strength of this powerful, passionate Person of God who loves you and wants to shield you from all harm. It’s not what you can do, it what God is doing for you and through you, by His grace. Yield to him in the Red Sea, and let Him take you across to the other side. Allow yourself to rest in the middle of the tumult. That is not so easy to actually do. Learn to wait in the middle of your storm and let Him work. Here is a great lesson; let Him work! You rest, He works! You can’t do it naturally; you may want to get up and do something! But learn to let it go. Walk through, one step at a time. This too, will pass.
As you meditate, make room for your soul to enjoy the quietness of being in the presence of the Lord in the Holy of Holies. Think of what would normally come and interrupt you, and see it outside of the Holy of Holies. You can see the “interruption”, but the noise of it cannot affect you because you are in His presence. God protects you from everything that would bring stress to your soul.
Imagine God’s power flowing down on you. Let your mind become attuned to Him. Yield yourself to God, to the quietness. It’s a directed quietness. Let your mind become completely enthralled with the presence of God.
King David says in Psalm 27:3 “My heart shall not fear though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.” He’s in trouble and feeling the stress. But what does he do? What is he confident in? Verse four tells you that there is one thing David will seek — “to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
Of all the things that David could do, he chooses the best thing. And that is to go in a wait upon the Lord. It screams against everything that your human nature wants to do. Go and wait before God. The flesh screams, “No. I don’t think so, let me at ‘em! I want to do something! Anything! But not sit and wait! “Waiting is a sign of maturity. If you don’t believe me look at children waiting in doctor’s surgeries. When they have to wait, they wiggle and squirm and generally drive their parents and everyone else, slightly crazy. Sitting still and waiting is beyond their ability. It does not come naturally. It is a skill to aquire.
‘for in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavillion, in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me, He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me” Psalm 27:5
That is a perfect example of detachment. David went into the Holy of Holies and allowed God to touch his emotions. He became detached from the circumstances surrounding him. In our minds we know what to do. It’s the emotion of it that causes such stress. When you come into the presence of God, He lifts you above it all. If it was only the mind we had to deal with then strong-minded people would walk free of stress and worry. But fear, stress and worry churn our emotions and this is where we really need God’s touch. In Bible times, the Greeks thought it was all about the mind. But it’s about the heart. You must feel lifted up above the stress. Only then you can come back and face the issues of the day. Find that place of detachment to rise above it. That secret place is found in the presence of God. Stress touches the heart but the key is to remain steadfast. Tell your soul “be still.” The goal is not to let it affect you or your performance. A good test to know if it is affecting you is, “are you thinking about it all the time?” If you are, then you have not allowed your heart to become detached and lifted up from it.
Christians are to live above their circumstances, like the eagle that flies above the tumult of the storms but allows the air currents to carry it. You can find a place in God which carries you above the storms of life. You can retrain your mind to think differently so that your emotions don’t drive you. You can be steadfast in your spirit. You can walk in God’s power, no matter what surrounds you. Because you can live in this blessed state of contentment, your life is centered and you don’t find yourself being controlled by anything or anyone else.