I’m not afraid of that mountain!

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Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him!  Zechariah 4: 6-8 NLT

What looms as an impassable mountain in your life these days?

For us, it’s been getting Mike and Steve’s mom from Seattle to Asheville.  She’ll be 94 mid-month. After a hospital stay in July, she has had to use a wheelchair to supplement her former total reliance on a walker.  When she did not bounce back after three weeks in rehab, she realized she could no longer live independently in her retirement center.

The ’mountain’ facing all of us has been her recuperation and emptying out of her apartment in preparation for her move back East, near Mike’s brother Steve and his wife. In August all that loomed large. I felt totally overwhelmed by what lay ahead. 

But now, this first week in November, the mountain has grown smaller. Steve and Mike, the brothers and Eve and I Mom’s daughters-in-law have been working out one detail after the other.  Mom has remained pretty cheery despite the emotional stress of leaving the Pacific Northwest where she has lived for over 50 years.  But downsizing with all the  letting go of possessions, some yellow with memories, has been painful.

When I read God’s words this morning, I felt the power and truth behind them. I DO trust the Lord that before too long Mom will be settled into her new surroundings, with the circumstantial mountain in distant view. 

Yet, I recognize that the Lord will bring us face to face with other seemingly insurmountable issues.  I want to hold on to the Bible’s supernatural facts to fight the fear that likely will come:

1) No power of mine will avail in difficult circumstances.

2) The Holy Spirit alone is sufficient for the situation.

3) With God, what looks like an imposing obstacle will become as gentle as a rolling green meadow.  

One of the Lord’s overall principles and promises is that we are NOT to fear scary things. Isaiah 8:13 records this truth: It is the Lord of armies whom you are to regard as holy. And He shall be your fear and He shall be your dread.

Father, help us to order our fears.

And cause us to remember that when we deal with frightening circumstances, we can be peaceful for you have said that you will be with us as we walk in those valleys filled with menacing shadows.

May I honor you as I take you at your word, trusting your goodness and power.

When your ‘nothing, except for’ is enough!

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2 Kings 4: 1-2

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.

I love this account.  We don’t know anything else about this widow except she is VERY needy and she has neighbors with empty jars. She takes her problem to Elisha, fully expecting his help.  He comes through with a God-given recipe:

Step 1: Elisha tells her to go and round up from all her neighbors as many empty jars as they have.

Step 2: Next she is to go into her house, shut the door and follow the prophet’s direct but simple instruction to the T.  She takes her one little jar of olive oil and ladles the oil into each of the empties until there are no more empties.

Step 3: Finally, she is to sell her jars of oil and pay off the creditors, thus safeguarding her sons whom SHE needs for her future well-being.

Did Elisha’s remedy work?  YES!  Is that all?  No – our Father is the ‘much more’ Provider.

Not only does God ,who is rich in loving kindness, guide Elisha to the solution for her financial and family emergency, He also provides a nest egg for the future.  There are MORE than enough jars of oil left over after her husband’s debts are paid.  She will be able to sell the jars of oil to buy what her family needs in the future.

Reading again of this miraculous account, I saw direct application for my teaching ESL (English as a second language) venture. I’ve been recording simple, illustrated stories for my YouTube channel English without Fear.  But the viewership and number of subscribers is still small.  Yet, SO many people all over the world struggle to learn to speak English well. What mitigates against these learners’ success is the false, but ubiquitous idea that grammar and vocabulary instruction will produce competent English language communicators.  NOT TRUE!

Common sense AND research show that the most effective way to learn a language is through listening with understanding. ‘Mommy Talk’ is what I call it.  I know this approach works.  I used it for the last 19 years of my 27 years teaching French.  I’m having success with it now in one-on-one English tutoring and I’m acquiring Spanish myself through listening to lots of Spanish on podcasts and in videos.

In the past couple of months, I have fought back discouragement due to my still-limited impact on English language teachers and students.  But this story reminded me again to ‘keep asking neighbors for empty containers’ and filling them with the oil that God has given me.  He is the one who will multiply my impact, in His time.

So YOU, my neighbor, if you know of someone struggling to learn English as a second language or a teacher who helps learners acquire ESL, would you forward on the link to my YouTube channel (above) or my website?

As the prophet Zechariah exhorted in 4:10 of his writings:  “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin!”

 

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