The Way Life Should Be

My wife and I are on a mission. Our goal is to, eventually, make a visit to all 50 states. We have been incredibly blessed to stop by, and subsequently get a magnet from, a decent portion of the 50 states in our great Union already. (Quick poll: if we have been to a state but forgot to get a magnet can we just buy a magnet on Amazon, or do we have to go back in order for it to “count.”)

Anyway, one of my favorites, if not the favorite, state so far would be Maine. (Fun fact: Maine is the only state whose name is only one syllable. Go ahead say all the states in your head, it’s true!)

I fell in love with Maine in a matter of minutes, literally. Now, I know that the short time I spent there does not necessarily offer a complete and fully accurate picture of what life in Maine might be like. But, with that being said, what I did see and experience was absolutely breath-taking.

I was debating of whether or not to share a bunch of pictures here and I decided to just go with the one. (Taken by my awesome wife, by the way.) The reason I am not showing more is that, even though the pictures we took turned out really well, they still do so little justice to just how beautiful it truly was.

God is such an awesome and incredibly creative creator. This world that He has made is so beautiful. (Read more about that HERE.)

Maine was awesome. The coast was my favorite. I could sit there on a rock and stare off into the ocean for hours. The blueberries were heavenly. The lobster was in mac n’ cheese. The donuts were exceptional. The trees were tall and skinny, just the way they should be. (Oh, also trees make up 90% of the land in Maine…so that’s neat!) The people were down-to-earth and friendly. And did I mention the coast?!

While we were driving we saw a sign that stuck with me. It read, “MAINE: The Way Life Should Be.”

I remember smiling and saying out loud, “yea, that’s about right.” I mean, if there is a way that life should be lived it probably is: on the edge of a forest-on the top of a cliff-next to a lighthouse-overlooking the ocean-eating fresh blueberry pancakes. Now, that’s living.

I kept thinking about that sign for the next few days and even weeks. The phrase itself makes my mind run to Genesis 2. Back to the Garden. Back to the way life should be.

That one chapter in the Bible where all was as it should be. Man and woman walking and talking and living and enjoying life together next to God. Together with God.

If you look around you today, you won’t find a picture-perfect garden paradise. Instead, you will see brokenness, pain, hurt, despair, sin, and death. This is not the way life should be.

That is important for us to remember. This new normal for mankind is so “not the way life should be” that God did something about it. He sent Jesus.

Jesus died on the cross so that we could experience life, abundant life. (John 10:10)

Jesus came to show us the way, and the way that life should be. (John 14:6)

And, God promises, for those who put their trust in Jesus, to take away all the things that stand in the way of “life being the way it should be.” (Revelation 21:1-8)

You may be reading this and be thinking, “that’s great! I have already trusted Jesus, but how do I navigate life today?”

That’s a great question. Proverbs 3:5-6 gives a great answer. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Trusting in Jesus today and tomorrow and the next day and the next…that is how we, not just survive, but thrive in this life.

Trust in Jesus.

That is the way life should really be.

All My Hope

Trust me on what I am about to say, be careful who you trust.

If you are anything like me, a living breathing human being, chances are that at one point in time someone somewhere let you down. Chances are that you put your trust in a person, organization, institution, or any other entity, only to see that trust misplaced as you walked away sadder but wiser.

Now, please understand what I am saying here. I am not advocating that we never trust other people, we actually do need one another. We need to rely on our close loved ones, we cannot, or at least should not, do this “life-thing” alone. But, we should be careful who we do trust. Even then, even if we are careful about who we trust, we still should not be surprised if, or more likely, when they fail us.

So, what do we do during the times where we face disillusionment? How do we respond to people and organizations who misuse our trust? How do we even move forward in the midst of our frustrations?

As always, we take our cue from God’s Word.

First, we need to understand that people, ourselves included, are fallible. We make mistakes, we mess up, we make errors in judgment, we disappoint, we sin. You don’t have to look past the reflection in a mirror to find a person who doesn’t have it all together and who is more than capable of letting others down. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) That means that all of us have sinned and therefore fallen short of God’s perfect standard of living. Therefore, it should not be a big surprise when a human being or a human run organization lets you down. We should actually expect it.

But there is also good news on the “fallible human front.” We actually can be better. 2 Corinthians 5:17 promises that if anyone is in Christ then they are a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come. Does that mean when a person becomes a Christian they are automatically perfect and perfectly trustworthy? No. But, as we let the Spirit work in our lives we will become more and more like Jesus. As a result of becoming more like Jesus, we should become more trustworthy as well. But again, we are still human. Humans will always eventually let you down.

Therefore, our ultimate and unwavering source of hope must be in God alone. We can, should, and need to trust in Him. He will not fail us because He cannot fail us. Take a moment to remind yourself of these truths,

Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 13:5 “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Revelation 21:5 “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

The Lord, He is God and He is trustworthy and true. People will fail you, I promise you that, but God never will. His love has, is, and will continue to pursue you. His steadfast love and kindness is literally following you around everywhere you go.

He will hold you in the midst of your hurt and pain. He will guide you when you don’t know where to go. He will pick you up when you can’t move. He will comfort you when you are alone. He will be trustworthy when everyone else is not.

In fact, Romans 5 tells us the beautiful truth that “while we were weak” and “at the right time” Jesus died for us. He provided for our most desperate need while we were weak and His “enemies.”

If anyone is worth trusting it would certainly be the one who gave His life for you.

As I write all of this, there is a song called, “All My Hope” by Crowder that I just can’t get out of my head, so I’ll link it here.

Our trust is not in men, women, governments, organizations, nor Institutions.

Our trust is in God alone.

 

 

 

 

When You Just “Can’t Even”

Okay, I know the title of this sounds like something a teenage girl would text to a friend after finding out that there is homework due the next day, but hang with me for a moment.

From all that I have been able to deduce the phrase “can’t even” can be equated to saying, “I’m emotionally dumbfounded.” In fact, according to the internet, the phrase is used when a person has so many emotional responses to a situation that they just can’t even comprehend what is going on.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of many different situations where I have been left emotionally dumbfounded. Life is full of circumstances that are hard and confusing and, if we allow them to, they weigh on us so much until we can’t even stand it anymore. Often times we allow our anxieties and stresses to rule over us.

So, what do we do when we just simply can’t even?

We need to trust that when we can’t God can.

Jesus literally gives us the answer here in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Additionally, 1 Peter 5:7, reminds us that we ought to be, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Why should we go to Him when we are burdened? Because He can give us rest. Why should we cast our cares and anxieties on Him? Because He cares for us. Why should we lay our burdens down? Because He can carry them with ease.

Another thing that we need to realize and remember is that emotions can be tricky things. Emotions are good things that help us connect to events and to one another. I feel as though I can’t overstate this, emotions are not bad, it is ok for you to feel how you feel. However, with that being said, we need to understand that emotions can be very misleading. So, when we are in the midst of a highly emotionally charged situation it is good to take a step back and refocus on the truth that we know. Emotions can change from day to day or even hour to hour, but the truth always remains.

God is true, and His Word is truth. Next time you feel like you just can’t even take a moment to step back and run to the Bible for help, support, and direction. I use the word “run” because I want to convey the urgency in which we should be going to read our Bibles. 1 Peter tells us that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. All the answers and wisdom we need can be found in His love letter to us. His Word is literally a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105)

In addition to running to God’s Word, we should remember that we can talk to God faster than we can text a friend or update our status. Prayer is so much more than a list of rote phrases that you repeat for different occasions. Neither is prayer a performance where you try to wow others by your “talking to God skills.” No, prayer is much deeper and much simpler than that. Prayer is communication with God. That statement is so very simple and yet incredibly complex. The God of the universe who holds galaxies in His hands and breathes life into being- is the same God who cares enough about you to listen to your smallest and silliest requests. To Him, your request and burdens matter because you matter.

I thank God for Philippians 4:6-7 for summing everything up so perfectly. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We are promised that when we take our burdens to God, the peace of God (which by the way, surpasses any and all of our understanding) will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That is incredible! When we are emotionally dumbfounded, when we are at the end of our rope, when we just can’t even, God can and will give us peace.

So, next time that you feel overwhelmed just remember; when you can’t even move forward, find the answer, deal, cope, reason, feel, or understand…God can.

Find your rest in Him.