Sometimes it lodges in pretty deep before we are even aware of it. Somewhat like a blemish that appears on the face overnight while we sleep – we wake up and discover something is gnawing at us. Often the result is irritability, or perhaps a heaviness of heart that attaches itself to us like undesirable emotional lint – we can’t quite define it nor are we quite able to shake it as the day goes on. It brings with it the fleeting companions of fear, worry and skepticism. What is this thing, anyway? It is the all too familiar presence of a disquieted spirit. Can I get a witness?
“Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” – Psalm 117:7
If you care about life, about God, about the Kingdom or about people who currently populate the planet alongside of you, then you have certainly experienced the occasional tossing, trembling and turning of your heart because you have been made a person of eternal purpose. What a blight this disquieted heart is to those of us who have been saved by immeasurable grace – to distrust the God who proved His commitment to us by dying on a cross for His enemies – as if He would hold back the minor elements of life from us when He has blatantly revealed His reliability in the most precious of things. Truth be known, some people just are not content unless they are experiencing a little discontent. If fully trusting God equals a life of carefree days then I humbly submit that few among us really trust Him fully. God has blessed me so extravagantly that it saddens me when I recognize how often I have been skeptical of Him. I suppose I could try and lessen the sting of what I am saying by employing less direct terms, but I feel the need to be brutally honest today. Many of us are the types of believers who readily acknowledge that “God Can” but falter when it comes to declaring “God Will!” We echo the words of the man in the Gospels who cried to Jesus, “Lord, I believe but help me with my unbelief.” That’s tough turf to dwell upon, isn’t it? We wrestle with theology meshing with practical life. We speak and sing of God’s grace but then limit that grace to the boundaries of what we think we might deserve or have earned from being good boys and girls. We speak of His love to others but sometimes live our lives as if we are only slightly loved or even unloved by God. We encourage the one next to us to take heart and look for the coming answer – for it is on its way! At the very same time we harbor a sneaking pessimism that God will not likely come through for us this week in our own personal challenges. Above all, we are hesitant to make bold declarations about God’s willingness to be manifestly God-like through our lives. Our hearts hesitate to tell others what amazing things God will do…lest He not do them, and then we come off looking foolish for having proclaimed His awesomeness.
So Christians are shuffling their feet, stuffing their hands in their pockets and nervously darting their eyes while wondering if anyone else notices the conspicuous silence of the Almighty.
It occurred to me recently that God might be waiting for me to edge out on the limb before He allows me to witness His greatness and pluck off the fruit from His sturdy branches. We can hug the tree trunk all day with the brethren, but how many of us are willing to grab that lowest branch of promise and begin to climb? We want fruit, don’t we? Well…how much fruit can one expect to find while wandering around at the roots? No, if we want fruit, we have to slide on out upon the length of the limb because the fruit is always found by those who will go out on a limb. Those who are suffering from disquiet in their spirit might want to explore whether God has allowed it to remain there because they are almost always living in their own strength according to their own resources. Any time we are trusting in self there should be the expectation of some form of unsettledness. It could be as extreme as panic attacks or as mild as a smoldering dread. The result may be seen in depressed and fatalistic paralysis or overexertion of non-stop effort to try to handle things. I don’t know if anyone out there is relating but I have to confess that I am weary of Jeff Lyle. I want to experience more of Jesus who rescued me in 1994 and made me His own. Jeff Lyle is so 1993 and I’m learning that he has little within himself to offer the world around him. Jesus Christ? Well He is an altogether different entity. When He is in focus, there is a zero tolerance policy for the intrusion of disquiet. Dread knocks on the heart’s door, Jesus answers…and nobody is there.
The Psalmist says simply, “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” To His inspired lyric I humbly reply, “Oh yeah. we tend to forget that for a bit. I guess we might go ahead and honor Him by refusing to fret today.”
The One who is so worthy of our refusal to fret is also the One who has the power and promises to eradicate the fret when it seeks a place to lodge in our hearts.
He is for you, child of God.
He is with you, child of God.
He is in you, child of God.
He welcomes you to refuse the temptation to welcome anxiety. He likes it when you fight back against fretfulness. He is completely at peace with you choosing to be completely at peace. Even when the world around you is extending you an open invitation to enter into its continuing chaos.
You can simply reply, “No, thank you. Jesus won’t accompany me into anxiety. He lives in the no-fret zone.”
Sounds like a fine plan for today.