In the Face of Fear

Many years ago we took our boys to a large amusement park. The youngest at that time was four years old and quite excited about all the new experiences he would have. When we approached one particular ride, he begged to be allowed to ride it. He met the height requirement and assured me that if I went with him he would have a great time.

We got in line for the ride which was a large pirate ship that swung back and forth like a pendulum. We were seated and the ride began. With each swing the boat went higher and higher in the air. After just a few seconds, the look of terror on my son’s face caused me to think fast. I knew if we were to get through this experience with minimal trauma I had to get his mind off the movement. I quickly turned his face toward mine and said, “It will be okay, I am here with you. Look at my eyes, don’t look away.”

I kept holding his face gently in my hands, talking to him and encouraging him to keep his eyes focused on my face and nothing else for the duration of the ride. We finally came to a stop and he threw his arms around me and buried his head in my shoulder. We had survived the giant ship ride and would live to tell about it.

That picture can help us understand how our Heavenly Father longs to comfort us when we’re afraid. He tells us to look to Him and not at the things that frighten us. If we will call to Him and focus on His face He will deliver us. If we will trust Him, He will never fail us.

Look into His eyes and rest in His comforting arms.

 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!” – Psalm 27:7-9 (NASB)

Storm Clouds

I was sitting in my front yard on a beautiful sunny day. The breeze was warm and the sky was blue. I was enjoying the perfect weather, reading a book and sipping some lemonade. Gradually, I became aware that the gentle breeze was beginning to take on a greater intensity. I casually looked over my shoulder and was surprised to see huge black clouds towering at the horizon. A storm was coming. The wind was picking up and the clouds would soon blot out the sunshine.

What did I do? I gathered my belongings and headed inside. I sought shelter from the storm. If you live in an area where tornados or hurricanes are common, you know the importance of having a shelter when the storm hits.

God tells us that storms will come. Sometimes they come with no warning but other times we see them gaining strength, growing as they approach. When that happens, God has told us what we need to do. He has told us where to find shelter from the storms of life. He promises to protect us from the storm.

Joel 3:16  says, “The LORD’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel.”(NLT)

Sometimes God allows the storms to come into our lives on purpose and promises that he is a refuge for us when everything else is shaking around us.

Psalm 27:5 says, “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.” (ESV)

Psalm 91:1-2  tells us,“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” (ESV)

God has provided a safe place for us in times of trouble. He will protect us from every storm we can possible experience in life. Though the storm rages around us, we will be safe in the shelter of our God.

Puzzle Pieces

I love jigsaw puzzles. However, I’m quite particular about which ones I enjoy the most. My favorites are made from  the Americana paintings of Charles Wysocki. Clear-cut lines, lots of colors, not too much sky.  I don’t care for puzzles with muted colors that run together, it’s too hard to see any progress.

Have you ever thought about how you do a jigsaw puzzle? You don’t start at the top left-hand corner and work your way across, row by row. Personally, I usually start by finding all the edge pieces and when I have the outside frame all or mostly completed, I begin looking for pieces that obviously go together.

The puzzle goes together little by little. You watch each area grow one piece at a time. Sometimes there’s a hole that you just can’t seem to fill. Other times there’s one piece that you keep trying everywhere for so long you wonder if it really belongs to a different puzzle and was put in the wrong box.

When you finally put in the last piece and look at the completed picture you feel a certain satisfaction and joy seeing the finished product.  When my boys were younger they used to beg to be allowed to put in the last piece. Are you kidding? After I’ve worked for days on this puzzle, they want to put in the last piece?

I know we’ve all  heard the analogy that  life is like a great tapestry. The picture  is beautiful but the underside is messy and gives very little help in discovering the picture on top.

I would like to suggest that life is also like a jigsaw puzzle. God designed the picture and know exactly where each piece goes. He also knows exactly in which order the pieces need to be added.

We sometimes feel like we’re holding a piece in our hand and though we look and look at the unfinished picture, we just can’t see where our piece fits. At this  point, what the Lord asks us to do is to wait. He will show us where our piece fits when the time is  right. And when the piece is in and the picture final finished, we will be able to share in His joy over  it’s completion.

And the last piece?  Jesus gets to place that one!

“I wait  for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” – Psalm 130:5 (NASB)

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

Rough Waters? Change Your Perspective

Last week we had a visit from friends from the north. We spent quite a few days near the water. We were at the beach, with the waves crashing against the shore. It was delightful even though the water was cold. We picked up shells and watched the water birds and were always on the lookout for dolphins.

One day we went to the park by the bay and walked along the water. It was chilly and the water was choppy. The wind was brisk and we pulled our sweaters around us. We didn’t stay there long.

Instead, we went around to the other side of the bay and walked out on a long pier over the water. It was warm in the sun and the water looked smooth and calm.  How could this be the same body of water?  What changed?

The only thing that changed was our perspective. We moved to a new location and looked at the same water from a different view. The wind was now behind us and the water looked completely different.

My friend was first to comment on the change. She said, “Isn’t this just like life? Sometimes when we are facing some rough waters, all we need to do is choose to look at things from a different perspective.”

The problems haven’t really changed, we have just opted for a better view.  Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to give us the courage to keep hoping.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)