Koinonia: Fall 2019 Edition
It’s already October. Wow! Here is the Fall edition of the Koinonia!
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Isaiah 43:1-3a
Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. ”The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Psalm 46:8-11
When I was in second grade, I was terrified of getting the chicken pox. I saw classmates contract it and disappear for a week and heard grownups talking about how my cousins were passing it around the family. In my young mind, I determined this was nothing less than The Plague. I thought it would be the most excruciating, life altering (and not in a good way), debilitating disaster that could befall someone. Combine that exaggeration with the simple fact that I knew I’d eventually get it, and I was wrought with fear.
I’ve learned that is the general nature of my mind, particularly when given time to its own devices. In down times I will play out the worst-case scenario time and time again, punishing myself with what I do not know and might not ever be. But I think that is the only way I can try to exert control over that which is out of my control. Thus, it always backfires, and I end up punishing myself for something that is rarely as bad as I think it is going to be. As for the plague of chicken pox, I ended up getting it in third grade, missed a week of school, and itched a lot. But then life returned to normal, this time with the peace knowing that trial had passed.
It is super easy to worry about things that have far more weight than the chicken pox. Nowadays I think about the successful transition of my son into adulthood, the successful outcomes of the work I do for the school system, the successful transformation of our church into a gathering that fully blesses the Lord and does His work.
In any arena, there are bound to be questions without simple answers: What does the future look like? What should the future look like? What am I doing now to effect which future becomes reality? But these questions point back to the need for control, of which some much is beyond us.
So our best bet is to take refuge in the Lord and garner strength from what our He tells us time and again in His word, a message captured well in these two passages. Here is my attempt to break down God’s counsel in those times we find ourselves overthinking things:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
Stop it. Stop worrying. Restored favor with Me has serious benefits.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
Plenty of trials ahead, but I will be there with you. Even the chicken pox.
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.
See above. Yes, I am still here…and so are you.
“For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I am better than insurance.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.
I am in control, even the scary stuff.
Drop your fur
Relax your shoulders
Relax your grip
Rest your mind, soul, spirit, and body
that I am God;
The “I AM”
God Almighty—far, far more capable than you trying to conquer it in your own strength
Omniscient--not wringing My hands, wondering what to do
Omnipresent—near to the humble, broken-hearted, exhausted, people-pleasing, self-reliant
Sovereign—firmly on My Throne
Paraclete—walking with you
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
I am going to come out on top. I always win.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
I know you’ve already forgotten, so I will say it again. I am with you even if you don’t pay attention.
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Stop trying to take control. I got this.
Think about it.
Do you hear God speaking this truth into your life?
-- Pastor Justin