In a recent blog, "I'll Sit Right Here," I shared how God graciously intervened in my life amidst the swirling vortex of anxiety as I trained for a new job. While I would love to say that encounter was the tipping point for a victorious walk of overcoming courage, it wasn't.
As the lengthy onboarding process continued, I found myself wavering between sure-footed assurance in God's promise, "I will be with you wherever you go" [Joshua 1:8] and weak-kneed cowardice, wanting to retreat to the security of what I knew. My confidence blossomed, thanking God for anointing me with "an unusual aptitude for learning" [Daniel 1:17] and then wilted in defeat, "I just don't have the mental bandwidth to learn all this stuff." There were days I walked out the door, assured that "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" [Phillipians 4:13] only to return home with a sullen, Elijah-under-the-broom-tree, "I have had enough, Lord" [I Kings 19:4]. Truth be told, I was the perfect example of what James 1:8 describes as "a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." Emotionally, I was "a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind" [v6].
You can imagine then, how difficult it was to try to sit in church and to heed God's command to "be still and know..." [Psalm 46:10]. One recent Sunday, having retreated to the choir loft for the sermon, I found myself struggling to lasso my wandering thoughts. Longing for God to settle my mind, I whispered a simple Samuel-ish prayer. "Speak, Lord. I am desperate to hear Your voice."
My attention returned to the message just as the pastor was speaking of God's intentional kindness in establishing a relational covenant with Abraham. During that exchange, God graciously promised the gift of a son to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. And how did Abraham react? His response is found in Genesis 17:17. "Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief" [NLT].
Similar to when Dory becomes obliviously enamored by a light in the murky darkness of the sea (think Finding Nemo), I found myself intrigued by the Light of that verse glowing in the muddy quagmire of my mind. Drawn close by curiosity, I experienced, as Dory did, what I can only describe as an "Aha!" moment. And while hers was a revelation of deception, mine was a revelation of Truth. "That's me!" I exploded on the inside. "That is exactly what I have been doing!"
Immediately present in His presence, a tear of joy leaked from my eye as I realized that God was speaking to me. With a warm voice of loving authority, He spoke. "Son, it's time to stop." Startled by His frankness, yet oddly comforted by His clarity, I breathlessly waited for His next words. "It is time to stop laughing to yourself in disbelief about your ability to do this job. 'How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?'" [see I Kings 18:21 NLT]. In my prodigal-son weariness, there was only one response to the revelation of this dichotomy. Exhaling deeply, I melted into the Father's embrace of abiding peace.
Much like a child sits on a parent's lap to read a story, I leaned against God as I slowly reread that Genesis 17 passage. The parallel was painfully accurate. Here, God spoke words of undeniable blessing and made extraordinary promises. And while Abraham may have appreciated them, he did not initially receive them. In fact, he suggested that God pass them off to his son, Ishmael [see verse 18].
Trying to process my own Abrahamic behavior, I journaled, "It was like Abraham was resisting the very blessing You so lavishly promised. Why couldn't he accept all the things that You were saying? Why can't I accept the things You are saying? I have admired them, for sure. But maybe I have been subliminally suggesting that You give those blessings to someone actually worthy of that kind of investment - someone who has their whole life ahead of them. I am so sorry, God. When I think about all the promises You have spoken directly to me about this job... and then the chutzpah of me admiring them... but immediately passing them off like a game of hot-potato... just ugh. (Insert face-palm emoji)."
I continued writing, "It sounds so virtuous to say, 'Let my kids live under your special blessing.' But, perhaps You are a God who is both - and. I think Your terse response to Abraham's suggestion affirms that. You said simply, 'No.' Or perhaps a less-than-coddling, 'NO!' In the face of Abraham's unwillingness to receive, you adamantly countered, 'No... Sarah your wife will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac.' His resistance was met with unapologetic clarity. 'No, son. This is about you. I'll take care of your children, too, but right here, right now, this is about what I am doing in your life.' (Selah.)"
Continuing, I wrote, "So here I sit with Your lovingly firm, 'It's time to stop...' resounding in my heart. God, I humbly receive what You have promised about this job. I choose to stop wavering and hobbling between bowing down to You in reverence and secretly laughing to myself in doubt. Dad, You intended that blessing for me. And as You infused Yourself into Abram, making him Abraham, You are imparting Yourself into me in the person of the Holy Spirit. I do have the mind of Christ. You have given me 'unusual aptitude for learning,' and I can do this job. Thank You, Jesus."
I joyfully can testify that this was, indeed, the tipping point. Something happened that Sunday. It was like what King David wrote. "Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight" [Psalm 94:19 TPT]. That "comfort" has been so tangible that any time that anxiety about my job has tried to creep in, the Holy Spirit has gently reminded me of Abraham, whispering, "This promise is for you AND for your children..." [Acts 2:39 caps mine].
Perhaps as you have been reading this, your own Abrahamic tendencies have come to mind. With the grace generously granted to me, I tenderly and respectfully insist, "It's time to stop laughing to yourself in disbelief about ____________." God will be with you wherever you go. You do have "unusual aptitude" and you do have "the mind of Christ." You can do this!
Beloved one, may your "busy thoughts" be calmed by the "soothing comfort" of God's overwhelming presence. And may this Scripture become your testimony. "I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose - I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace]" [Philippians 4:13 AMP]. Thanks be to God, Amen.
If your heart and mind have been murky and clouded with doubt and lies, I pray that this original song might be a starting place to allow you to give voice to your heart's cry. And as the waters clear by displacing lies with Truth, I pray these Scriptural declarations may strengthen and nurture you.
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