October 3, 2013

Replace ‘what-if’ with obedience and trust

Just as a person may fail through too much zeal, so may a person fail through too much caution, particularly if that caution comes through fear. What if I fail? What if something goes wrong? What if I turn people off? What if no one will listen? What if my words are ignored?

A friend tells me that after sixty, women are apt to say anything. Why should it take so long to have the courage to speak my mind? Or be brave enough to do what the Lord puts on my heart?

Jesus tells His followers to speak the truth, to tell others about Him and His saving grace and power. Do loved ones remain under the wrath of God because I have not overcome my fears of being wrong or rejected until I’m too old to care if that happens?

Today’s devotional reading rebukes my excuses. It tells me to stop looking at externals, stop listening to my fears, and do whatever the Lord tells me to do without concern for the results. He will take care of that part . . . 

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:1–4)

The reading says it is easy to sneer at fanatics and make fun of enthusiasts who are so earnest that they are not wise. Yet far more fatal to any cause are those who always have an eye on the clouds and waste their days shrinking from the wind. One person said it is better to aim at the stars and hit the woodpile than aim at the woodpile and hit your foot. In plain words, it is better to try and fail than to do nothing.

Besides that, Christians who experience spiritual warfare often see how God brings victory when it appears that all is lost. Our enemy works overtime to make our efforts vain. At times I feel like quitting. If not that, I can criticize the challenges before me or magnify their power instead of going on with the business of planting, watering and even reaping the harvest that God offers me.

Peter illustrates how easily it is to watch the wind and look at the clouds. He started bravely when he saw Jesus walking on the water. “Lord, if it’s you, tell me come to you,” and Jesus called to Peter, “Come.” Peter leaped out of the ship and walked on the water to his Lord. Then he regarded the clouds and observed the wind — how boisterous — and he began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me” and Jesus took his hand and brought him safely into the boat.

How many time has Christ said “Come” to me and I have given more heed to the uproar around me? Like Peter, I am rebuked by His words, “O you of little faith, why do you doubt?”

Jesus is mighty to save and powerful to keep. No matter what is happening, how will I discover that truth unless I disregard everything except His call? As the wise writer of Ecclesiastes says, the future is in the hands of God and I do not know what He will do with the bread that I cast on the water. I could be thinking it will dissolve into mush, be eaten by the fish, or sail away never to be seen again, while He has plans to multiply it by a hundred times and send it back to me in great blessing.

Oh such little faith. Stop being concerned about the storm and keep my eyes on Jesus.

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