The people of God in Isaiah’s time had blinded their minds’ ability to see God by looking on the face of idols. But Isaiah made them look up at the heavens; that is, he made them begin to use their power to think and to visualize correctly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades, if we will only begin to use our blinded thinking to visualize it.
The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control. Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Is it your work? Is it your idea of what a servant should be, or maybe your experience of salvation and sanctification? If so, then your ability to see God is blinded. You will be powerless when faced with difficulties and will be forced to endure in darkness. If your power to see has been blinded, don’t look back on your own experiences, but look to God. It is God you need. Go beyond yourself and away from the faces of your idols and away from everything else that has been blinding your thinking. Wake up and accept the ridicule that Isaiah gave to his people, and deliberately turn your thoughts and your eyes to God.
One of the reasons for our sense of futility in prayer is that we have lost our power to visualize. We can no longer even imagine putting ourselves deliberately before God. It is actually more important to be broken bread and poured-out wine in the area of intercession than in our personal contact with others. The power of visualization is what God gives a saint so that he can go beyond himself and be firmly placed into relationships he never before experienced.
|FEBRUARY 10, 2015
How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)
It was his birthday.
We had a flight to catch.
Even though it was a working trip for me, I planned to make our trip a quasi birthday celebration for him. We were still about to leave the house without our kids. That always spells me-and-you time, honey.
We were supposed to wake up and look at each other with “goo-goo” eyes, remembering how much we actually like each other, because there were no distractions.
We were supposed to travel leisurely to the airport and stop somewhere for lunch on the way.
We were supposed to have a meaningful conversation on the plane about deep, important and beautiful things while we were soaring above the clouds.
We woke up to plumbing problems, broken suitcases and a rainy day. We rushed to the airport and searched for a parking space while listening to each other’s bellies rumble. We missed our flight and had to run to catch another one that would get us to our destination on time.
Then we sat next to each other … in complete silence … and it was his birthday.
Part of my sullen attitude was because it really was a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day.
Part of my bad attitude was frustration that this yucky day was my husband’s birthday, and I felt so badly about it not being special for him at all.
Most of my gloomy attitude was because things weren’t going as I had planned, and I was pouting.
The cramped ride on the itty-bitty plane came to an end. He helped me get my luggage out of the overhead bin, looked over at me and smiled. He walked through the airport, pulling my suitcase and his.
It was raining in our arrival city too, but he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t get too wet as we got our things into the car. On the way to our destination, he started a pleasant conversation and kept it going until we arrived.
Somewhere between the frustration of the morning and the smile in the afternoon, my husband made a decision. He made a decision to rise above that terrible-no-good-very-bad-day and find something to smile about. He made a decision to choose joy.
And while it never stopped raining, the longer-than-expected-drive-time gave us more time to chat. And stopping at the drive-thru became a romantic birthday dinner for two.
I don’t know about you, but I have lots of days that just don’t go quite the way I want. Even when I’ve done everything I can to ensure my plans don’t go awry, they still do.
Sometimes it still rains and I’m tempted to pout.
I’m tempted to throw all efforts at rising above my situation to the wind and sit and sulk in a quiet corner, lamenting the difficult parts of my day or life. And of course, some problems are a whole lot worse than rain or a delayed flight.
But watching my husband reminded me of something.
I don’t have to let the events of a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day determine my actions and attitude. Like our key verse suggests, we can choose to consider trouble as “an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2b). Life’s challenges allow faith to be tested and endurance to grow.
Some days are just difficult. Life can be hard. And many of those difficulties happen at the most inopportune time.
However, let’s not forget that it’s in the most difficult places where we derive our deepest life lessons. Even from hard spots beautiful things grow.
We can plan, prepare and put our best foot forward, but sometimes life just happens.
Thankfully, bad days don’t have to dictate our response or the ultimate outcome.
We get to choose.
So my friend, choose joy!
Father God, Help me rise above my circumstances, choose joy and find something to smile about. Even in the midst of a difficult day, Lord, help me have a joyful heart while the experiences You allow build character in my heart and produce beauty in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”
When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.
Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy was sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”
Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was so mesmerized they couldn’t recall what else the great master played. Only the classic “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
That’s the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music. But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work truly can be beautiful. Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”
Feel His loving arms around you. Know that His strong hands are there helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.
Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. And He’ll always be there to love and guide you on to great things. Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than the things you acquire.