Last week our pastor began a new teaching series about experiencing joy through life’s trials (Philippians). As he began, he acknowledged how life is truly filled with many trials. Life is hard.
There are some seasons where suffering may feel minimal and God's blessings shimmer, and we praise God for those times. But this is a broken world and we are a people who are still learning and growing even if our eyes are fixed on Jesus and our hearts are seeking God.
We look at the Biblical stories of people of faith: Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, Ruth and Naomi, Moses, David, Daniel, Esther, Elijah, Rahab, Peter, Mary and Martha, Paul... and the list goes on and on. We see great faith and real struggles, weakness, and sin. Our pastor described how in our struggles we often demand from God's gifts the one thing they can't provide—stability. We cannot find stability in our skills, our job, our family, our resources, our strength, or our possessions. Perhaps you can add to the list. True and lasting stability can only be found in our Triune God.
A couple weeks ago I was talking with a dear friend, who is a spiritual director, about some challenges in my own life. I shared my longing to be steadfast and she invited me to ask God for what I needed (as a spiritual director will so often do). As I offered my need to God, I sensed God's invitation to not simply ask him for strength and stability, but rather to step into Abba's stability. The image that emerged was one of a child stepping upon Daddy's feet.
If you remember or can imagine stepping on your father's feet to walk, to dance, or just to be as close as possible, it would require holding your father's hands or wrapping your arms around his legs. I would need to trust my father, trust his strength, balance, and ability to hold me steady. And in order to stand upon his stable feet, I must remain somewhat off balance while clinging to him.
Child of God, close your eyes and envision taking Abba's hands, first one big strong hand and then the other. Hold on tight, feeling the secure yet gentle grasp of his hands. And then lean back so that you can place your feet upon his big, Abba feet. Look up into eyes filled with love and delight. Feel the closeness and the intimacy of fully relying upon your Abba Father.
Can I relinquish my self-strength and self-stability to rely fully upon my Abba's stability and strength?
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4