Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Next Page

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.”
I John 4:18 (KJV)

I sat at the kitchen table with tears gathering in my eyes, threatening to spill over at any moment.  I felt so sorry for Zachary.  He was seated in the chair next to me, and I watched as he became more and more frustrated over his school work.  He was working on a page in math that had problems that he was very familiar with, and he knew how to solve.  The page was half-finished, and I wondered why he was becoming more and more agitated as he worked on it.  I asked him what was wrong.  He said, “Mama!” as he flipped his workbook over to the next page.  When I saw it, I knew instantly why his little heart was so troubled.  On the next page was brand-new stuff….new information…problems he’d never seen or had to solve before.  And he was filled with anxiety.  Why?  Because it was unknown, uncharted territory.  And even though he hadn’t reached that point yet, even though he was still working on a page that was easy for him, he had looked ahead and seen what was coming up, and the dread of it was overwhelming him.

I said, “Zach, don’t worry about that page right now.  Just work on the page you are on.  Finish that first, then we’ll do the next page together.”  He reluctantly went back to doing what was familiar and comfortable.  When he finished that page, we tackled the next one.  He caught on to it real quick, and it turned out, his dread was entirely unnecessary.  He even enjoyed that page and said it was fun!

It hurts me to see him get so upset and worried over what’s coming next.  I could look at the page he was so troubled about, and to me, it was no mystery.  I already knew how to solve the problems, so they didn’t threaten me the way they intimidated Zachary.  I tried to tell him that it wasn’t that bad, and that I would be there with him and help him through it.  But, to him, it was monumental and frightening, and it disturbed him terribly.

Anxiety is a terrible emotion that plagues all of us at one point or another…some worse than others.  I’ve always been prone to worry over the future, but it seems over the past few years, my anxiety level has been over the top.  I wake up in full-blown panic attacks sometimes…not necessarily over things that are actually happening in my life, but because of what I fear might happen.  Sometimes, satan paints such dark, intimidating pictures and presents them to my mind that I become utterly terrified, and even though things are calm around me, the fear and dread of what might happen on the “next page” of my life causes me to not be able to enjoy the peaceful setting I am in today. 

This frustrates me because in my Christian journey I have learned a valuable truth about satan’s dark, intimidating predictions.  They never happen.  They don’t come true.  They are lies and baseless scare tactics.  Jesus said in John 8:44 that satan is a liar and the father of lies.  Later, I feel so ashamed over the way I got so worked up and troubled over something the enemy has come and whispered in my ear, and I promise myself I won’t ever do that again…that I will trust Jesus, because He is the truth and I have always been able to count on Him to see me through.  He already sees the future.  He knows what is on the next page.  And even though I may catch a glimpse, and it may look frightening, He knows the answers and already has all of the problems solved.  They don’t intimidate or surprise Him at all.

In Joshua 3:3, 4, God gave instructions to Joshua concerning how He would lead the children of Israel.  They were to faithfully follow the Ark of the Covenant and the priests who were carrying it.  When it moved, the people were to move.  When it stopped, they were to stop.  And there was a very specific way they were to follow it.  They were always, and at all times, to stay 2,000 cubits, (about ½ mile) behind the Ark.  They were never to come any closer and they were never to drift any farther.  It was a perfect distance to allow clear visibility.  Verse 4 ends by saying, “for ye have not passed this way heretofore.”  God’s presence, represented by the Ark of the Covenant, was leading the way, and this removed the uncertainty factor.  The Israelites didn’t have to figure things out on their own.  All they had to do was to stay a safe, visible distance, and follow God’s lead.  They were not to crowd in and try to rush God.  They were not to try to run around the Ark and get out in front of God.  They were not to lag too far behind God.  They were to obediently keep a 2,000 cubits distance between His presence and themselves and allow Him to lead in His time and in His way.

You and I live in very troubled times.  We have not passed this way before.  Things we used to think we could depend upon are now shaky and uncertain.  We don’t know what will happen tomorrow.  But, God already knows, and He already sees.  The things that seem so frightening and mysterious to us are as clear as the sun to Him.  His presence goes before us, and it would be in our best interest to keep a clear visibility of the way in which He is leading us to go.  You can be certain, satan will try to block your vision of “the Ark”.  Sometimes it will seem like things are not moving fast enough, and we should run ahead of God and do something.  Other times, it will seem like things are moving too fast, and we need to fall back a bit, not realizing if we drift too far from the Navigator, we will not be able to see which direction He is wanting us to go next, and we will lose our way.

“Perfect love casteth out fear…”  Remember the old Fanny Crosby song, “Blessed Assurance”?  I love the verse that says, “Perfect submission, All is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest; Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”  That is where the perfect love comes in!  That is what removes the fear factor!  Total, perfect submission to God, His leadership, His timing, and His will. 

Are you tired of being afraid?  Fearing what will happen next?  Listening to the devil’s lies that terrify you?  Submit it all to God, and you will find sweet rest in Jesus.  You too can say that you are “watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love”.  Oh, praise God!  What a blissfully happy way to live!  Just consecrate yourself and the unknown future into the hands of our all-knowing God, and keep your eyes on “the Ark”, my friend!  He knows what is on the next page, He leads the way, and there is absolutely nothing at all for you to fear.

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