Living In Faith
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
This has been another interesting time in my life, mostly because it is unexpected. Recently I fell and broke a bone in my foot that requires me not to bear any weight on it for six weeks. I’m using crutches, which I find most difficult to navigate, and I am mostly confined to sitting with my leg elevated throughout the day. It seems that though life has been somewhat restricted because of the Covid-19 virus, mine has become even more restricted by injury. I have found myself reflecting quite often about the life I had planned and the one that I am actually living now. Needless to say my present experience is not what I imagined.
The challenge in these times is to look for and discover God in the midst of the present circumstances of my life. I keep circling back to the idea that these moments provide the opportunity to deepen my faith. I am at times disappointed with myself because, rather than allowing my faith to be deepened, I instead give into the fear regarding lost expectations, lost dreams, lost comfort and lost control over my life. Fear can permeate so much of my life and circumstances just seem to exacerbate it.
I feel like the world I live in and my own life is lived in a constant state and threat level of “Defcon one” (nuclear war). I am, more often than I’d like to admit, motivated by fear rather than in my responses to circumstances and people. This year I have watched people grow increasingly polarized and fragmented in their perspectives on life and how it is supposed to be lived. Because of some of the divides that seem like deep fissures in the earth’s crust, it can be difficult to establish connection. The islands of humanity created by these fissures can easily see every other island as a threat to their well-being, and thus much of the time are themselves on “Defcon one”. I find that I myself can become anxious every time I have an opinion or point of view that is different because of the possibility of being seen as an alien intruder. I guess what I am noticing is an approach to the circumstances and people of this life from a stance of fear rather than faith, hope and love.
Personally, I have found myself scanning and planning for the potential threats, possible disappointments, differing perspectives and the sometimes awkward and uncomfortable relational moments. The greater my fear regarding the possible dangerous and threatening outcomes the more I attempt to control and manage things so they will turn out the way I want. But the reality is I cannot control or manage all the outcomes to my liking. It just doesn’t work. Besides that, I am aware that all my planned outcomes are an attempt to make me feel better and more secure in my ways and my thinking. I want everyone to be on my page, fit on my island, and agree with my definition of the status quo so things turn out the way I want. I am selfishly and arrogantly trying to manipulate the world around me to think and act just like me. I know I subtly do this in relationships and definitely do it when I am trying to produce outcomes in my circumstances that are pleasing to me and fit my plan.
All this manipulation, management and control are operating under the false assumption that my plans are the best for me and for everyone else. The reality is that my plans are flawed and self-centered and tend to be ego driven more than anything else.
What I see in the Bible is something different. It is not the absence of trouble, discomfort and suffering, but a faith in God that grows deeper the more expansive the threat seems. The Psalmist says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” In the mind of the psalmist there is no threat or danger so large that God is not larger still.
The psalmist affirms his trust in the Lord and is able to receive life as it comes rather than seeking to defend territory, manipulate circumstances or attempt to control outcomes to eliminate the perceived threats to his wellbeing.
As I consider the circumstances of my life now there are plenty of opportunities to be anxious and afraid or to feel threatened by events and people. But I have found these opportunities for fretting to also be opportunities to pray more intentionally and deepen my dependence upon God, who is good and loving, to bring about the appropriate and best outcomes for my life. My broken foot has, in some ways, become an imposed pause, an unexpected Sabbath or ceasing from my activities to run the world, so that I might trust in God’s surpassing ability to keep the world spinning on its axis. This moment has forced me to reflect upon the quality and depth of my faith and spend time remembering the Lord’s great care and provision for me throughout my life. It reminds me that there are moments when “pressing pause” is not left up to me, but to God, and His infinite wisdom.
Whatever your present circumstances, may you, in the places of your own fears and perceived threats to wellbeing, remember the psalmist’s words, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” The Lord is fully able to save and secure your life. He cares about you in ways far beyond what you might imagine. You are precious to Him. Possibly rather than preparing better defenses to protect and avert the perceived threats, you might practice a prayer of surrender to the Lord’s mercy and goodness. May the Lord bless you and keep you close to His heart of love!