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Posts Tagged ‘Renewing our strength’

 

Pretend you’re a crew member on a cargo ship, and the captain has just announced rough seas ahead. That means just walking will be a challenge. Things on tabletops and floors will tumble and roll if not secured, and sleeping will require wedging yourself into position to keep from being tossed back and forth.

But the captain reminds you, there is good news. A full load of heavy freight in the hold will provide stability and safety against the waves. The rocking will be greatly curtailed.

All of us at some time or other face storms in life, and the same principle applies: certain kinds of cargo provide stability–not the lightweight freight of feel-good pep talks, relaxation techniques, or plain avoidance.

Cargo of substance is required, such as:

 

 

Joy

“The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Simply affirming all the ways God demonstrates his love to us will quickly fill a large compartment with delight.   Last week’s post, Be Glad, included many reasons to rejoice in God.

 

 

Quietness and Trust

“In quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

If you haven’t already done so, make space in the hold of your heart for frequent quiet times with God, perhaps by going to bed earlier and rising earlier.

Very soon time spent in his presence and in his Word will become one of your favorite times of day.   You’ll find it transformative also, creating strong bonds of trust with your Heavenly Father. Just ask anyone who has established the habit.

 

 

Promises

“He has given us great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

But they can offer no stability if we’ve not stored them in the hold our hearts.

“Grasp them by faith,” Charles Spurgeon wrote long ago.   “Plead them by prayer, expect them by hope, and receive them by gratitude.”

Not that a compartment full of promises will protect us from all harm. But our attitude toward the storms of life will be very different as fear is replaced by faith.

 

 

God’s Grace

“It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace” (Hebrews 13:9b).

And what is grace?  I like the old standby definition, an easy-to-remember acronym:  God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

This compartment is worth checking often, to examine the wealth of substantial contents stored there.

Several years ago I surveyed scripture for that wealth and discovered forty-seven gifts tucked behind the door of grace.*

Thomas a Kempis was right:

 

 

So if you don’t feel quite strong enough to face the challenges of 2020, add more weight in the cargo hold of your heart:

  • More joy in who your God is and more delight in what he does
  • Frequent quiet times alone with God, for meditation on his Word, talking with him and listening to him
  • A collection of promises, especially those that apply to your situation
  • Attention to the many facets of God’s grace and how each one impacts your life

Of course, if these blessings could be placed in the cargo hold of a ship, a record would be kept of each compartment’s contents.

The same is true of the cargo holds of our hearts, though for different reason. We can enhance our joy, strengthen our faith, increase our wisdom, encourage our spirits, and augment our worship of God—all as we keep record in a journal or notebook.

 

 

“The deepest satisfaction of writing

is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us

of which we were not aware before we started to write.”

–Henri Nouwen

 

M-m-m. More space for more compartments to add more cargo.

 

What would you put into one of them?

 

*(You can compare your list of God’s graces to mine at Undeserved Goodness Part 1 and Part 2.)

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.flickr.com (2); http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.pexels.com.

 

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(A personal psalm)

 

When thoughts are allowed free rein…

 

 

…I worry about the future, forgetting who’s in charge–You!–The all-powerful, all-wise God of the universe, Master Controller of all things (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). The truth is, if I’m worrying, I’m not trusting.

 

…I become overwhelmed by the tasks ahead, overlooking your reliability in all situations (Philippians 4:13). Key word: in. You provide strength in the midst of the journey, not before it has begun.

 

 

…I question the reason for difficult circumstances, failing to remember all the benefits you bring out of trials, including maturity, strong faith, and deficiency in nothing (James 1:2-4).

 

…I feel inadequate to handle new responsibilities, forgetting you will not leave me to muddle through on my own. I can confidently depend on your help and put my hope in your promises (Psalm 46:1; Numbers 23:19).

 

 

…I allow disbelief to fester in my mind, neglecting to “dismantle doubts with declarations” (1)—declarations of stabilizing truth from your Word (Psalm 119:93, 160).

 

…I become discouraged in prayer, not considering that You grant what we would have asked for, if we knew everything you know (2) (Isaiah 55:9).

 

 

…I feel like a failure, losing sight of how you can turn weakness into strength and redeem any situation (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). How miraculous that even “worthless dross [you] transform into pure gold”(3).

 

…I make poor choices, ignoring the wisdom of your ways and what it cost you to pay for my sin (Psalm 119:137-138; Galatians 2:20).

 

 

…I experience despair, giving no thought to your over-all objective:  to accomplish what is good and right–always. That good purpose may not be fulfilled today or to my preference, but it is certain nonetheless (Psalm 42:5 and 145:17; Jeremiah 29:11).

 

…I am discontented,  forgetting to clarify my perspective with praise–for who you are and what you’ve already done (Psalm 31:19; Psalm 145).

 

 

…I become jealous of others, neglecting to celebrate your uniquely designed plans and specially chosen blessings for me (Ephesians 2:10).

 

…I feel weak, overlooking “the inner dynamic of grateful joy that empowers the greatest efforts” (4) (Colossians 3:15-17; Nehemiah 8:10).

 

For every troublesome emotion, every problem, every insufficiency that plays in my mind:  you, O God, are El Shaddai–the All-Sufficient One.

 

 

You are the answer for everything I face.

 

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;

I will tell of all your wonders. 

I will be glad and rejoice in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. 

–Psalm 9:1-2  NIV

 

Notes:

(1)  Jody Collins, author of Living the Season Well and blogger at https://jodyleecollins.com/blog/

(2)  Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus, Viking Press, 2015, p. 52.

(3)  Charles Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, December 8.

(4)  Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus, Viking Press, 2015, p. 31.

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.flickr.com, by Giogio Montersino; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.heartlight.org (2); http://www.canva.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.canva.com (2).

 

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Back in the early 60s when I was a young teen, Dad took me to an Artur Rubenstein concert. For those of you too young to recognize that name, Mr. Rubenstein was a well-known pianist of the last century.

You’d think a thirteen-year old would be bored at a classical performance. Far from it. Mr. Rubenstein’s flying fingers held me spellbound. Sometimes he’d even come up off the bench, putting body and soul into the piece.

One selection in particular Dad and I will never forget. While performing “Ritual Fire Dance” by DeFalla, Mr. Rubenstein’s arms beat up and down like hummingbird wings, from head level to keyboard, in rapid succession. How could he possibly bring his fingers down to the right keys from such a height and at such speed? It was a marvel of power and precision—from a man who was seventy-five at the time.

(You can access a video of Mr. Rubinstein playing “Ritual Fire Dance” here:  https://youtu.be/3SDeN9ZrRRI.  To view just the DeFalla piece, skip ahead to minute #11; to see just the portion described above, skip to 11 minutes, 30 seconds.)

Yes, older folks can still fly—maybe not physically like Mr. Rubenstein’s fingers, but certainly attitudinally and spiritually.

 

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Our youth can be renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:5).

The eagle enjoys a long life compared to many other animals–up to thirty years in the wild and fifty years in captivity. Each year its feathers are renewed, providing new strength for flight.

We can renew our strength attitudinally by focusing on the benefits of growing older.

Yes, research has uncovered a number of advantages, including:

  • Improved self-esteem, self-control, and selflessness.
  • Decreased sadness, anger, fear, and other negative emotions. Stress and worry also decline.
  • Less concern for the trivial; more focus on what’s important.
  • Increased wisdom, due to a wide base of experience and a broader perspective on life.
  • Less attention on the negative, more focus on the positive.

As a Christian senior, I’d have to add:

  • Increased faith in God as I’ve seen more evidence of God’s faithfulness.
  • Greater appreciation for the simpler things of life—each one a precious gift from my loving Heavenly Father.
  • The glorious hope of heaven as it grows closer to becoming reality.  John Newton said:

 

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(“I am still in the land of the dying;

I shall be in the land of the living soon.”)

I like his perspective.

We can also renew our strength spiritually with the help of God.

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Just as the eagle rides on the wind high above the earth, we too can ride above our infirmities on the wind of the Spirit. He provides renewal of faith, strength, and passion in numerous ways—through scripture, song, other biblical reading, strong teaching, mature Christians, and more. Then we can:

  • flourish and be fruitful (Psalm 92:14).
  • stand firm and immovable (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • always give ourselves fully to God’s work (same verse).
  • run and not be weary (Isaiah 40:31).

 

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Here’s an idea:  Let’s start a list of advantages we observe in growing older, to help keep us uplifted on wings of praise.

What “blessings of aging” have you noticed? Please share in the comments section below. (If you’re still enjoying the first half of life, tell us what you’ve observed in others, or what you’re looking forward to.)

 

“The last chapter in life can be the best!” – Vance Havner

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.youtube.com; http://www.freeimages.com; http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.wildlifeworkshops.com; http://www.pinterest.com.

 

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