Futile speculations

1 Comment

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is one who keeps the Law. Proverbs 29:18 NASB

I worked hard last night.  Thinking.  No wonder I woke up, already tired.

Just how did I spend hours in the night speculating about scenarios? I’m in Seattle helping my mother-in-law sort through what to discard, donate, sell and move across country. 

Since Mom is mostly wheelchair bound, I imagined her actual flight across country and the actual move in and set up in her new Senior Living apartment. I examined and lived through future scenarios as I imagined them to be.  That is, from THIS point and time stamp on the horizontal.

This morning, with my Frenchpress coffee, I listened to one of John Eldredge’s Pause meditations and immediately SAW how I had exchanged God’s gift of rest for time spent focused on the cares of this world.

I journaled my conversation:

  • ‘Jesus, I disconnected myself from you. I see now what happened, where I went wrong.
  • Did I even ask you, before turning out the light, to increase my focus on you?  No!
  • Did I pray for you to fill me with more of you, crowding out temporal thoughts? No!’

Then I wrote my plea.  ‘Tonight, Father, please!  Remind me…give me a compelling picture of you, so I can hand over my cares.’

I didn’t have to wait until tonight. Immediately, an earlier ‘vision’ or picture of Jesus’ night vigil, watching over me popped into my mind.

At times during the past several months, I have settled into sleep picturing Jesus and me sitting cozily together on a leather sofa in front of a fire crackling with warmth and light.

I tell him my cares, humbly off-loading them as Peter instructs us in 1 Peter 5:7.  He receives them and bids me good night.  I move off into the bedroom and leave the door cracked.  My situations are with him for the night.

This morning, I took that vision a step further.  I imagined Jesus reminding me before I left my warm spot next to him: ‘Remember, Maria, I will work out the details and give you instructions for these events when it is time.’  I nod and go off to bed.

Do you remember the words before that ‘Cast all your cares on Him….’ promise?  God instructs us to give him our situations by humbling ourselves.  That means, we let go of them.  We release the illusion that we know best. 

Hm. That’s hard.

The Lord brought Solomon’s God-inspired teaching to mind right after my cabin scenario. Using the various Hebrew slants of several terms, I worded Proverbs 29:18 like this:

Part A – Where there is no mental sight or dream, the people neglect, overlook (God).  They are uncovered, open to unbridled human thoughts.

Part B – But he that guards and treasures God’s instruction is HAPPY, blessed!

That truth-seeking treasure hunt down the paths of words led me to God’s reminder in Psalm 40:4  How happy (blessed) is the man who has made the Lord his trust!

With those reflections in my journal, I moved on to one of the morning’s readings in Romans 1.  God clobbered me with more reinforcement.

Romans 1:25 –  Just as non-Christians who turn their backs on God, I am guilty of exchanging the truth about the Lord for lies. 

Such as:  I have to figure this out myself!

Just four verses earlier in Romans 1:21 I read and wrote down:  When I am not thanking God and honoring him, I indulge in futile, empty speculations.

How am I to honor or celebrate God?  By surrendering my cherished worries. Those patterns of preoccupying thoughts that lead to exhaustion.

Okay, Father, I get it.

Tonight, before I turn out the light, I will ask you to strengthen my resolve to hand over everyone and everything to you. Then by your supernatural power, I will trust you and expect you to help me fill my thoughts of your ‘able-ness’, willingness and goodness.

Hope – picturing a different cause or future

Leave a comment

We live and die by hope.  Without it, the people perish.

Wait a second, didn’t Solomon dictate that truth a bit differently, as you & I have read numerous times in Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish“?

Well what does a vision do but paint a picture of a future.  A bright, encouraging in-color action scene, personalized to include you births energy-producing HOPE.

The opposite picture or vision, what I call ‘DIS-hope‘, automatically siphons off any happy expectation of good.  Without hope, we quickly plummet, weighed down by that heavy, ominous, foreboding vision of gloom. That sort of picture immediately births those dangerous twins, Dread and Discouragement.

This week through written texts I’ve read, podcasts I’ve heard, YouTube interviews I’ve watched and scripture I’ve pondered, I have noticed examples of the leveraging potential of a new idea. The empowering influence of a new suggestion or previously unconsidered FACT can throw open the door to possibilities.  Light streams into the mind, instantly transforming one of those gray ‘Bunyanian’ sloughs of despair into a light and airy garden of color where flowers delight the senses.  This shift can happen in an instant.

I predict that my recent experiences this month won’t surprise you.  Most of us have felt uplifted by good news about changing circumstances, such as an email notifying your teenager of the awarding of scholarship money to attend college after all. Suddenly, his and your vision of the future shifts.  What brought about this sudden change? NEWS!

News is not confined to events that have already taken place, as in the decision announced by a scholarship committee.  News that paints any hopeful picture with YOU in it, births energy just from a single THOUGHT.

The most potent provider of this kind of new thought is the Holy Spirit.  At least this is MY recent discovery, for He gifted me twice this way in the past two weeks.

Let me explain.  May 2019 presented me with numerous skirmishes with a couple of my worst enemies:  Mr. Worry and Mrs. Fretting.

I’ll share the first occasion where the Holy Spirit came to the rescue with a new thought, a thought that ended a severe 48-hour battle.  My last visit to the ophthalmologist before moving to Alabama left me with startling news.  Apparently, the pressures in my eyes were creeping upward toward the Glaucoma range. He recommended that as soon as I settled into life in Huntsville, I should make an appointment to be seen. The earliest I could schedule was for August.

One day last month, however, I realized that my right eye felt different, as though there were a light layer, a sort of fine haze covering it.  Barely perceptible and not noticeably affecting my vision, the feeling persisted.

Suddenly aware, I fell into worry about the Glaucoma pressures in my eyes and the long wait to see a professional.  I could NOT drop this anxiety.  It pestered me without ceasing. No matter how many times I cast it on Him, repented, fixed my thoughts on the Lord, recalled all that was beautiful and excellent and praiseworthy, the worry kept coming back. I fought and succumbed numerous times on day 1 and into day 2. Sometimes during Day 2 I’d find myself distracted and realized I hadn’t worried for 15 minutes.  But that night, lying in bed, without anything to occupy my mind BUT worry, enemy forces attacked as soon as I lay my head on the pillow.  Night # 2 felt relentless.  I couldn’t shake the thought of my worsening eye. I eventually fell asleep in the early morning hours. Drained, I awoke on Day 3 – a Sunday.

I prayed, asking God to unite my heart just to worship Him, at least during the Sunday service. Unbidden at the moment and totally unexpectantly, relief came! No, it wasn’t from a spoken prayer or any of the sung hymns or even the preached Word. A simple thought broke through.

  • “What if this ‘haze’ is actually a protective layer that God has placed on your eye?”

Oh!  You mean that a reason OTHER than degradation of vision was possible?  I had never considered anything but something negative and scary, something that portended worsening vision.

Now, it could very well be that my eye is in more danger.  But the very idea that an alternative reality was possible halted my incessant, debilitating worry.  RELIEF!

God repeated this experience just a few days ago when I was battling once again, in a different matter.  Another one of those independent, and very liberating thoughts ‘popped’ into my mind. Thank you, Holy Spirit.

So that is my recent experience.  You know what they say, two times in a row makes a habit.  Mike and I currently battle fear and anxiety regarding something else in our life these days.  And I am expecting God to prompt another one of those liberating thoughts to break through into our conscious minds and bring relief.

I thank God that His Word daily feeds and strengthens me to trust Him. I pray and try to bank ALL on His wisdom, goodness, power and intention to work this ‘suffering’ for our good.

AND I am asking our loving and merciful Father, in His sovereign time (but hurry up, please!) to give my husband that new idea, that new perspective, that kaleidoscopic thought or realization that will shift what he is thinking to something new and life-producing.  This slight but empowering change will be such that his subconscious feelings will immediately move out of the pit of despair and gratefully sink into the cool, relieving pool of hope.

British Anglican pastor and author W.H. Vanstone captures this explosive power of a new thought in his book, Love’s Endeavour, Love’s Expense – the Response of Being to the Love of God. This very seismic shift in thinking and then feeling happened to him.  He describes it on page 16 of his book:

  • The clarity with which I saw this (in his situation, the possible BENEFICIAL role of a new church plant in a community pleasantly indifferent to its presence) was an intellectual clarity.  I knew that I was not simply experiencing a change of feeling, but was seeing something that justified a change of feeling.

What about your experiences?  Have you been blessed by a small but powerful kaleidoscopic shift in your thinking?  Please share!

%d bloggers like this: