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Saturday, August 30, 2014

I can vs. I choose

I have lived in climates where ice can form overnight, leaving sidewalks and roadways rather treacherous to pass.  The small steps you have to take to avoid your feet from going out from under you, or the slower speeds you must drive in order to avoid a spin-out are "precautionary measures" you PERSONALLY take to keep yourself from loss or injury.  There are clearly times when all you can do personally is just not enough to keep you upright and on course!  Your reliance upon another to be there to catch you when you begin to slip, or the street sanding trucks to be ever-vigilant is something outside of yourself you are also hoping will keep you in a position of safety.  We use both internal and external sources to aid in keeping us safe.  What we may fail to recognize is this "internal and external" source of safety we have at our disposal each and every day - the presence and power of God.  God expects us to have a certain amount of "precautionary measures" in place in our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual lives, but when our defenses are less than ideal in any of these areas, he is at the ready to keep us from harm.

When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady. And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure. (Psalm 94:18-19 CEV)

Have you ever noticed that you don't just "slip" - you somehow "know" you are slipping - you just may not be cognizant of the fact you need to catch yourself before you do!  I think this is why our psalmist makes mention of God's ability to keep us steady when we begin to feel our "standing" slipping away.  What is it God uses to "steady us" in our walk?  Nothing less than his love!  If we can just get a picture of this, we may face our "slips" a little differently - perhaps not as though they were the biggest blunderings we could have done and now we have to find some way to "get back up" all on our own.  It is his love which comes to our rescue - his unconditional, "I will ALWAYS love you", never late love.  God comes with his love - it is this love which keeps us steady.  Most of us long for love of this kind while we are here on this earth, but forget how much we already have this love!  We just need to be embraced fully by it and then rest secure in it.

Probably one of the easiest and more common reasons for us slipping is this idea of being burdened with something we weren't meant to carry on our own. The issue is not that we "can" carry these things, but that we weren't designed to carry them "alone".  I "can" carry heavy bags of cement - with some difficulty - but I am no longer going to do it.  Why?  I value my knees and my back!  So, I will ask for help if there is a project involving me needing cement to be mixed around my home.  I "can" carry lots and lots of stress at work, with multiple looming deadlines, and challenging issues pressing in around me - but I choose to share the load with others.  Why?  I value my sanity!  What we value will begin to get our attention.  If we come to value the "load bearing shift" God asks of us, we will begin to give this some attention in our lives.  

God helps us deal with the difference between "I can" and "I choose" when it comes to the burdens of worries in our lives.  We "can" determine to bear up under their load.  We "choose" to allow him to carry them on our behalf.  We might not want to let go at first, but he helps us recognize the "efficiency" of allowing the one who knows the end from the beginning to bear the load which will ultimately trip us up if we choose to say, "I can do this on my own". You are not in this alone, my friends, for all of us have to come to the place of laying down our "I can" and picking up our "I choose" moments.  Look again at our passage.  Even those "I choose" moments are made possible because God comes to us with his comfort and his ability to soothe our feelings of guilt which we might encounter by not carrying these burdens all by ourselves. Everything we need to let go is at our disposal - all it takes is us opening up our hands and releasing what we have been holding onto in our frustration, pride, and fear!

Most of us need more of God's comfort and care than we openly choose to admit, but when we finally take the first step of admitting this to ourselves, heaven's gates are opened on our behalf.  This is where God can connect his resources with our need - his love with our slips, his comfort with our burdens, and his treasured peace with our "feelings" of guilt, anxiety, and fear.  Just sayin!