Monday, February 1, 2010

From the book . . .

Here’s an excerpt from UNAFRAID: Living God’s Plan on a Ladder and a Promise that might help you a bit more as you face fearful changes, because you will manage your life changes well with the grace of God – trust Him to be there. I’ll post more excerpts as we go along.

Chapter 18
Building from the bottom up

Why is it so scary to build that trust God promises He’ll honor? Why do we live the “suspenders and a belt” philosophy so often, guarding ourselves in the event God gets lost on His way to help us? Why are we apt to watch Him like a new employee who can’t be trusted with the keys to the vault? Why do His promises look like high-priced menu items we can’t afford? Regardless of our reasons, there’s one way to grab a hammer and build from the bottom up: practice.

God’s temple of our lives is just like the temple the Hebrews built. It starts on the ground, not twenty stories high. It starts where you can reach the work flat-footed. Then as winds and rains and fear and doubt come, you have to make the decision to keep going or to stop. And every time you keep going up, the ground gets a little farther away. Then the fierce winds may make you sway a little more, and it may be harder to feel stable and secure, but with practice—with the choice to keep on building—you master that level and move on.

And when we choose to keep building, even a little afraid when our jobsite’s a total mess, we do that in trust in God. We trust Him for our strength and ability and for His control over everything that’s ours and everything that isn’t. We trust Him when we’re standing on the ground and then we’re stabilized and energized to trust Him on the roof, where the work is much greater but so is the view.

That’s our work, our daily work, to know and practice real trust that comes from knowing and believing our God who makes promises to keep, who designs our lives to the finest point, and who stands always beside us on the ladder as we build. High or low, He is all we see.

Speaking with a stable trust

Let’s take a moment to look at a story we’ll look at again at the end of our book. This story is the perfect and timeless illustration of God’s vision and provision and our part in His work.

As Jesus and His disciples were sitting on a mountainside, lots and lots of people came to see Him. After a long walk, they were hungry for more than His words. Jesus asks Philip “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5).

We can see this experience as an exercise, a trust-stretcher, because Jesus knew exactly what He was going to do before He asked. Philip’s response was probably like ours is very often when we’re faced with a surprising challenge—focused on what he could see and touch and limited to what his humanness could (or couldn’t) imagine or achieve.

Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” [John 6:7]

Well, isn’t he a ray of sunshine and possibility. And we can be just like him sometimes, or maybe that’s just me. But we know the story doesn’t end with Philip’s charming voice of optimism. Andrew speaks up and teaches us with his great example what it means to trust our Lord no matter what the world looks like.

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” he asks (John 6:9) And of course, Jesus takes it from there.
Oh, I want to be Andrew! So calm and sure, focusing on what they have instead of what they don’t. He’s claiming every promise he’s ever heard from Jesus to come true right there, on the grass, hungry, just waiting to see what happens next knowing Jesus is in control.

Andrew speaks with the authority of a stable disciple. “Let’s trust Him. Let’s look at what we have and trust our Lord to do the best He can with it,” he’s saying. That’s all we need to remember. Impossible situations surround us all the time, and some of us are masters at finding and creating the chaos in even the not so tragic circumstances. Again, maybe just me.

But God says the solution remains the same -- Trust Me. He’s saying trust Me and work with Me and the bounty will be more than enough. I promise. Everything we need is dependant on one thing—where our focus and trust lies—and everything else follows. He says, “Focus on Me, no matter what you see.”

When the Israelites behaved with the mindset of Andrew, they finished their work. They rebuilt the temple unafraid, with the trust they built on the promises of God.

Let’s take a closer look now at how we keep building high a temple of our own, on that same trust of the same loving God. Some things never change.

Read below or download the study of Ruth for yourself or your group.

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