Witness Him Now
I don't know when or why it happened, but most Americans feel like we have to be the best at everything. We have to be the prettiest, the strongest, the fastest, the smartest, the thinnest, the best dressed, and we have to have the best phone, the best car, the best house. We have to be on top, better than others. Somehow if we have these things, we then feel better about ourselves, like we are OK. But in reality, these wrong ideas create lots of stress in our lives. We work our lives away trying to get things, but these things have no eternal value...it is all vanity, selfish ambition, pride.
And so we come to today's topic...status. God's ways are so much higher than our ways. He is so unconcerned about outward appearance. All of that is just pride, and God says that He resists the proud, so if we are trying to fit into the world and be "on top", God is resisting everything we do. And we can feel God's opposition when anxieties and stress and fears hit us. God is saying, "What are you doing? Your eyes are on the wrong things. You are following the wrong things. Turn around and life will get easier." But what do we do? We work harder. We worry longer. We stay awake and toss and turn, trying to figure out how we can make it.
What we don't realize is that in God's kingdom, up is down and down is up, life is death and death is life. To be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, we have to be on bottom. We have to think of all people as more important than we are, and we must become a servant to all. This is the "highest calling"...to serve others. So when others walk into a room, instead of thinking "Who is top dog now?" we know that this person, too, is more important than we are, and we have the awesome privelege of serving them. This is what Jesus did for us, and now He is calling us to do this for others.
So what do we get in return? Jesus said, "Come to Me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Come and learn of me for I am GENTLE and LOWLY. Take My yoke for My burden is easy and My yoke is light. So when we reach for the "high calling" of seeing others as more important than ourselves and serving others, we get rest and peace. We don't have to worry about what others think of us because it doesn't matter. We just take the mantle of our King, and we become like Him, and our Father in Heaven smiles down at us with deep pleasure and gives grace to our humble heart.
So my prayer for you this day, my friend, is that you, too, will lay your burdens down and take upon yourself the yoke of Jesus. May you learn from Him to be lowly and gentle, and may the God of grace no longer have to resist you, but instead may He pour out on you the richness of His love and mercy and grace, and may you find rest for your soul. I ask this in Jesus' name. AMEN
Last week I was feeling my age. When I looked in the mirror, all I could see was mousy gray, so I turned to my friend Leia, who works at Sally’s Hair Supply, and I said, “Can you get me a hair color that will wash out, maybe some color of red?” She was excited. She does this all the time, so she chose the color she liked. Then she got a developer to go with it. Little did she know that the developer would make this color permanent. Little did I know what color she would find pretty.
The color she chose was burgundy. It started out purple, then turned bright reddish purple, and by Wednesday – after washing my hair two to three times a day to get rid of the color – my hair was bright, reddish pink, and I knew by the way it was fading that some shade of pink would be my final color. I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do, but my husband said, “Go. Get it fixed. It will be alright.” So I went to Pro-Cuts and found Tina. She didn’t recognize me. I said, “Help! Can you fix it?” She earnestly began to pray.
She chose a neutral shade of brown to try to off-set the red. What came out was a dark, reddish (I think I will always have red), brown with rust highlights. I grieved. I know in the whole scheme of things hair is not important, but what I felt was real. Color is important to me. Come into my home and you will find all sorts of colors, but they are all earthy and natural. Look in my closet and you will find all sorts of golden green, brown, muted purple, rust…all earthy and natural. But my hair is like no other color I have ever seen on a human being, and I knew that there was nothing I could do about it, so I grieved. And I went to church.
At church my friends made light of it. It was not important to them, but Kathy Ashe came and asked me what I had done all day. I went outside to tell her. I think only those people who have to go through chemo and lose their hair could fully understand what I was feeling, but while I was out there, the spirit came over me. I turned my face toward heaven, and I said, “LORD, You said that all things work together for good to them who love God and who are called according to His purpose. And You said in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you, so I choose to thank You. And You said that You know the plans you have for me…plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give me hope and a future. And LORD, You said that the work of righteousness is peace and the effect of righteousness is quiet assurance. I do not have peace and I do not have assurance, so LORD, I know that there is something inside of me that is displeasing to You. I ask that you would forgive me for the pride that is in my heart. Forgive me for the conceit. Forgive me for self-pity. Forgive me for being concerned with what others think. I am so sorry, LORD. Forgive me.”
At this point peace entered my heart. The circumstances didn’t change, but my heart did. Once again peace and joy flooded my veins. But as the days passed, I found that I could not pass a mirror or think about my hair at all without it consuming me. This frustrated me to no end because I normally do not have to think about myself, and now I was consumed with me. I continually had to turn my face toward Jesus and confess my sin. I had to take all my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus. I had to consciously “give thanks” in all things. But in the process, I learned a few things.
Four years ago the LORD told me that judgment was coming. Then He opened up the scriptures to me. When He revealed what was about to happen, I cried out, “LORD, we are not prepared. How are we going to make it?” He then gave me four scriptures. I am going to share all of them with you now. I had to use three of them to fight the “Battle of the Hair Color”.
1. First, He gave me Matthew 6:33: But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. It was not until this past year that I realized that God was talking about money. If you start in verse 19 and read to verse 34, you will find that God is laying out a plan for our finances. We no longer can follow after money. We will not know where we are going if we do. Instead, we have to fix out eyes on the Kingdom of God and what God is doing. If our eye is good (we are looking at God), our whole body will be full of light, but if our eye be bad (we are looking at money and not God), our whole body will be full of darkness. But if the light that is in us (we think we are looking at God) is really darkness (money), how great is that darkness. Now this goes against everything we have ever been taught to believe, but I think in the coming days, we will make a choice…do we serve God or do we serve money. This passage has nothing to do with hair color. The other three do. Read on.
2. Second, God said, “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.” Hebrews 12. When we put our eyes on Jesus, we get our eyes off of ourselves. That is so important. Circumstances are about to become extremely tough. Today it is hair color, but today is preparing us for tomorrow. If we can learn these four steps we will be prepared for what lies ahead. To do that, we have to turn our eyes toward heaven. If we are looking at what is happening on this earth, we will not make it. God has a big plan…a plan to prosper and not to harm, a plan to give us hope and a future, but if we have our eyes on the circumstances, we will not see the big picture…God’s redeeming love.
3. Third, God said, “Above all else guard your heart, for out of it flow the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. There were all sorts of things that attacked my heart this last week. Self-pity was one. We have to guard our hearts in the coming days so that: worry, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, revenge, etc. does not enter. Let our heart be a barometer. If there is worry, anxiety, fear or insecurities that enter our heart, we know that there is something inside of us that is not trusting God. We then have to open our heart wide and invite God in. Let Him search us. He will reveal to us all things that oppose Him. Then we have to accept our guilt (we are guilty of not trusting God) and confess our sin, and then He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Then peace enters. That is what happened to me last Wednesday.
4. Finally, God said, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you.” Once we cross over into thanksgiving, we cross over into victory. The enemy of our soul is defeated. Christ is victorious. So I will choose to give thanks.
OK, so hair color is trivial. My son was not a first responder in West, Texas. My grandchildren did not attend Sandy Hook. We were not spectators at the Boston marathon. But the lessons that I applied to my heart with my hair color, could apply to situations that are much more “permanent”. God is good. He is still on His throne. His plans are good plans, and we can trust Him. I will choose in the coming days to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”. I will “fix my eyes on Jesus”. I will “guard my heart”. And I will “give thanks”. I pray that you, too, may find the peace that passes all understanding that will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
The scripture says, "May you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers."