Learning to Lean Hard on Jesus … in Me
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)
As a young girl, I was deeply impressed by Solomon’s request for wisdom.
I read the Old Testament story of Solomon, the heir to his father King David’s throne. Following David’s death, Solomon became king and was overcome with the weight of his new responsibility. So Solomon asked God, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10, NIV). In response, God poured out His blessing on Solomon and granted him an abundance of wisdom and knowledge unmatched by any earthly king before or after him.
If Solomon could ask God to give him wisdom, then why couldn’t I do the same? So I began praying. Continually. Consistently. And I believe God has answered my prayer as I’ve opened my heart, mind and life to the One who is the Counselor: God’s Holy Spirit.
I’ve never been more grateful for the Counselor’s guidance than I was when I learned I had breast cancer last year. The diagnosis plunged me into a deep dependency on the Lord, caught up in a whole new world of options and decisions that would shape my journey through cancer treatment.
Not just in my cancer journey but also in my faith journey, I’ve realized every major decision — especially ones involving others — needs to be confirmed by Scripture to ensure I am indeed hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Although I can never be absolutely certain I have heard the Spirit accurately, as I take Him at His Word and act on it by faith, the decision is confirmed by circumstances that follow and by confirmation within my own spirit.
Have I ever made wrong, unwise decisions? Oh my, yes!
The unwise ones loom so large in my memory that I can easily feel swept into a downward spiral. But I have learned, and am still learning, to lean hard on the Holy Spirit — my Counselor — even in letting go of the past. I’ve realized if God said, Anne, I forgive you, and He has, then who am I to say back to Him, Thank You, God, but I can’t forgive myself? Are my standards higher than His? So I’ve simply had to bow my head and allow His grace to wash over me.
The writer of Proverbs (which many believe was King Solomon) encourages us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). I must lean on Him in utter dependency as I intentionally, specifically and personally ask for His counsel, claiming His promise from James 1:5 that He gives wisdom without finding fault.
The best adviser, the best business manager, the best life coach is the Counselor God Himself. He is readily available. 24/7. Without charge. If we want to live our very best lives, we cannot go our own way, follow our own logic or somehow conclude we know best. If we follow the Spirit’s leading, there’s no reason to think we’ll end up with less than if we do it our way. Or that getting what we want will make us happier than what He wants. Or that we don’t need Him for every decision.
What do you need the Counselor for right now?
Are you confronting cancer, as I have, and the related choices of doctors, surgery, treatments and follow-up? Or maybe you need wisdom for other pending decisions? A relationship. Career. Education. Friendship.
Do you need direction? Discretion? Discernment? Deliverance? Talk to your Counselor. Pour out your heart. Be honest. Transparent. Lean hard on the One who is Jesus in you.
Never Out of the Game
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 NASB)
In 1993, the Buffalo Bills played the Houston Oilers in the wildcard game of the American Football Conference playoffs. Minutes into the third quarter, the Bills were down 35 to 3. Slowly the seats cleared in Rich Stadium, Buffalo, New York, as disappointed Bills fans had given up and were heading home. Next, the unlikeliest of events occurred. In less than a quarter of gameplay, the Bills scored four straight touchdowns. In what remains the greatest comeback in NFL history, the Bills ended up winning in overtime, 41 to 38. Hearing of the Bills mounting comeback over the radio, hundreds of fans who had earlier left the game decided to return, climbing the stadium fences in time to see the closing minutes.
The Bills never gave up. A chief reason, for what has gone down in football legend as “The Comeback,” was the play of backup quarterback Frank Reich who threw for four touchdowns. Although a lesser-known fact, Reich also holds the record for the greatest comeback in college football. In 1984, he overcame a 31-point deficit in a win for the Maryland Terrapins.
Growing up a Bills fan, I’ll never forget “The Comeback.” Today, it’s not only football fans who are inspired by this iconic 1993 game. Hailed by some as the “comeback king” of football, Frank Reich is a dedicated believer and motivational speaker. He uses the legacy of his giant sports comebacks as keynotes in his speeches, giving God credit for his victories.
God has used the story of Reich’s come from behind wins on the playing field to inspire others to have faith and not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16). Reich’s life and message taps into a profound truth lying at the heart of the Christian faith—with God on our side, we’re never out of the game.
Even though sometimes it seems we’re slipping or losing ground, with Jesus, defeat is never the end of the story. Despite our disappointments in life—be it a bad half of play in a sporting game or a missed opportunity in our home life, church, or the workplace—we needn’t lose hope. In fact, we have every reason to press forward and mount our own comeback when it seems everything is at a loss. When we glance at the scoreboard of life and think the game is over—it isn’t. The tomb is empty. He has risen. The only one defeated in this game is death. The eyes of faith always look ahead to a comeback win, as the love of Jesus overcomes every deficit.
Mary and Martha’s Vineyard
Life gets busy. Really busy. We’re stretched in numerous directions while facing a litany of endless deadlines. It’s always something before we collapse into bed in the wee hours.
Martha knew all about this. The busy sister. The world can’t run without invested Marthas. God knows this and intentionally gave Marthas their drive. Male or female, this personality organizes, coordinates, produces and runs countries. Without Marthas, life would be disorganized and primary.
Mary knew about this too. The devoted sister. Same world can’t run without intuitive Marys. God likewise designed this personality and gave Marys their perception. They listen, observe, advise, and savor life’s beauty. Without Marys, life would be regimented and exhausting.
Marys need Marthas and Marthas need Marys. But both need The Vineyard.
The Bethany Sisters are meticulously highlighted for our review. Their types run throughout Scripture; however, Luke fastened them to parchment. Jesus was so comfortable with their polarized strengths that His itinerary wove its way to their doorstep. Chef Martha, Innkeeper Mary, and Concierge Lazarus made their Judean address a five-star stopover. The “Vineyard” was booked for a stayover.
The Vineyard. An enriched field brimming with hearty vines, guaranteed to produce under the watchful oversight of the Vinedresser. He’s careful to ensure mature fruit; requiring pruning for the best harvest and vitality of the plant. Strategic pruning, which while momentarily unpleasant, brings the Vinedresser in closest proximity to us.
It’s non-accidental to find ourselves with both sisters’ priorities. We locate Martha fluttering about her well-organized kitchen. The Master and Company have arrived and 13 hungry mouths await her culinary prowess. Lazarus readied foot washing for their guests while Mary stood alongside her sister cutting vegetables in preparation. Wrong. She’s seated at her place of joy: Christ’s feet. The heat of the kitchen caused more than the fire to flare.
…“Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Then tell her to help me.” Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed. And Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.” Luke 10:40-42 (MEV)
Cue the 21st century. Texting, social media, 60-hour workweeks, aging parents, worn brake pads, family illnesses, missed deadlines, and more month than money. An overabundance of Martha maladies. And if we stop, dare to slow down, what disasters will result? Who’s going to complete it if we don’t do it ourselves as galvanized taskmasters?
God lovingly calls us out of our hot kitchens to the cool oasis of His presence. Offered long overdue relaxation, He motions to a soft pillow beside Him. It’s the only way to recalibrate from life’s demands, for our Good Shepherd knows we must be made to lie down in green pastures for soul restoration.
It’s true; mankind cannot live by bread alone. We’re not mere humans but spiritual beings as well; needing to feed on every word that proceeds from God’s mouth. Everyone must satiate the Mary factor woven into us that nourishes our deepest needs. Bake Martha’s bread and savor its provision, but the menu items of hungering and thirsting after righteousness hold utmost priority in God’s economy. This is the good part—Christ referenced to all Marthas—that cannot be taken away.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NASB)
The cares of this world will assuredly be overseen by its Creator, while He invites drinking deeply of His living water. Wisely invest in your Mary side. Your Martha is depending on it.
Streams in the Desert – June 1
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. (Exod 14:15)
In the past he said to them, “This is where security can be found. Provide security for the one who is exhausted! This is where rest can be found.” But they refused to listen. (Isa 28:12)
Why dost thou worry thyself? What use can thy fretting serve? Thou art on board a vessel which thou couldst not steer even if the great Captain put thee at the helm, of which thou couldst not so much as reef a sail, yet thou worriest as if thou wert captain and helmsman. Oh, be quiet; God is Master!
Dost thou think that all this din and hurly-burly that is abroad betokens that God has left His throne?
No, man, His coursers rush furiously on, and His chariot is the storm; but there is a bit between their jaws, and He holds the reins, and guides them as He wills! Jehovah is Master yet; believe it; peace be unto thee! be not afraid.
–C. H. Spurgeon
“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
The storms are raging on God’s deep—
God’s deep, not thine; be still and sleep.
“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s hands shall still the tempter’s sweep—
God’s hands, not thine; be still and sleep.
“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s love is strong while night hours creep—
God’s love, not thine; be still and sleep.
“Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God’s heaven will comfort those who weep—
God’s heaven, not thine; be still and sleep.”
I entreat you, give no place to despondency. This is a dangerous temptation—a refined, not a gross temptation of the adversary. Melancholy contracts and withers the heart, and renders it unfit to receive the impressions of grace. It magnifies and gives a false coloring to objects, and thus renders your burdens too heavy to bear. God’s designs regarding you, and His methods of bringing about these designs, are infinitely wise.