During a summer-long drought, a newspaper in South Carolina carried this story: “About 100 people gathered on the Lexington County Courthouse steps, Sunday afternoon, and prayed for rain. ‘We had a very specific prayer,’ said the Reverend Henry ‘Hank’ Moody, Jr., pastor of the Pisgah Lutheran Church, who gave the prayer during the twenty-minute service. ‘We prayed for a gentle, soothing rain for the land, a rain without lightning and storm, a rain that will nourish the land and refill the ponds.’” The article continued, “That’s a tall order, and the one the National Weather Services says won’t be filled anytime soon.”
Isn’t that the way of the world? The world seems to say, pray if you want, but don’t expect anything to happen because of your prayers. But by the next weekend, the city had gotten more rain in that one week than in the previous three months combined! The rains came, but not without storm. A neighbor lost a tree to high winds, and on Friday, there was a fierce, but brief, thunderstorm.
There are two types of thought – God-thought and worry-worldly thought. A useless human exercise is tossing and turning in the middle of the night, instead of sleeping like a baby. You are tired, you need rest, but you’re awake. You are wide awake, worrying about all the pressures you have, worrying about finances, deadlines, even worrying about not sleeping. The biblical term for this is “The thief in the night.” Your own mind is robbing you of peace and rest. The harder you try to sleep, the more you toss and turn.
Perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way. What we need to do is look to God, but instead we are looking to our own problems. Dale Carnegie said, “If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”
Job 4:6 teaches about building your life on the rock: “Is not your fear of God your confidence . . . .” Fear could translate as “respect.” In the middle of the night, do you respect God? Do you respect God’s power in your life, in your problem in the challenge you are having? Do you respect that power? Do you know what that power can do?
The verse continues, “. . . and the integrity of your ways your hope.”
When you stick steadfastly to God, everything becomes wondrous.
Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday!
In one of the glass cases of the Washington D.C. Smithsonian Exhibit is a fur coat with a story. It is the fur coat of Marian Anderson, the great singer. It was her dream to buy the fur coat, and she bought it. There was another fan of hers, at the time, who never thought she could ever do what Marian Anderson did, but she looked, listened, and read articles about her and dreamed. Her name was Mahalia Jackson. In the early 1950’s, she found herself before a sell-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. She said she stood there and she recalled gazing out at the thousands of men and women. She was just standing there as a baby nurse and a washer woman. As she stood there before the crowd, she wondered if she could even utter a note. What was she, to stand before this crowd? Who was she, to stand there thinking she had the power of Marian Anderson, Lily Pons, or Caruso, all who had stood there on that stage before? After all, she was just a washer woman and a baby nurse.
Then she was reminded again. She was not standing there as a baby nurse and a washer woman, she was not just standing there as flesh and bones, but infilled with the presence of God who could bless through her. She opened her mouth and she was a little shaky at first. She opened her mouth and that first note didn’t come out, but she kept going. It would have been easy for the human in her to walk offstage and say, “Well, I tried this.” But the human would think about it for the rest of her life.
Mahalia knew God could do it through her. She opened her mouth again, and the notes came out, and soon the audience got excited. As the beat picked up, people were clapping, screaming, and out of their seats. She was, what many say, the greatest voice of all time.
Mahalia was asked, many times, throughout her career to go to Las Vegas and sing jazz. One time, she was offered what was a lot of money then, to make one appearance. She refused to do it because she said, “I am a gospel singer. I stand on stage for one reason and that is to bring God to those people.” She said, “When you sing jazz, what do you have when it is over, but the blues. When you sing gospel, you have something to take home.” She refused to sing anything but songs about God.
When Mahalia died in 1972, her funeral was attended by so many that the Greater Salem Baptist Church in Chicago had to hold the service at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center – a huge place that frequently has international auto shows. Forty thousand people came to her funeral. On her tombstone this is written, “Apart from Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”
It can be said of you, too – it truly can – when you are having great success and those moments that are so sweet in life. Remember why you got there: you got there because of God. God is the great abundance and prosperity for the human being, if we will follow God, be loyal to God, and respect God in the moment.
How do you rise above conditions in your life? How do you rise above lack, limitation, and worry? You do it by consistently going to God and rising above any former problems that have trapped you.
Proverbs 3:25-26 teaches about true security: “Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.”
Where is your foot caught? It is caught in the problem. You yank at it and you pull at it, but it is like a bear trap and you don’t know how to get it off of you. It is true you might have stepped there, but God knows how to get you out of the trap.
Mark Twain said, “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”
A lot can be learned by watching a professional logger. It is fascinating how they take apart log jams in the river. It seems there are 10,000 logs in the river and they are all jammed. If we had to break the jam, we would go to the bank of the river and start removing logs. Not the professional logger: he climbs a high tree, takes his time, looks over the situation, finds the one log causing the trouble, blows it up, and then the stream takes care of the rest of the jam by flowing the logs down the river.
What do we do in the middle of the night with our “log jams?” We go to the edge of the river and we start removing logs, one by one. We start examining them and looking at them. In time, we will remove the jam, but we have worked hard and we haven’t slept and are exhausted. In this life, are we a professional or are we an amateur? What we need to do is climb higher, look over the situation, not with our eyes, but with Divine eyes, and ask God to see what the blockage is, and ask God that it be removed.
It will be removed in a miraculous way, something we couldn’t envision through a thousand nights of tossing, turning, and worrying in the middle of the night.
Will God take us up to an imaginary heaven in a chariot of fire, or do we use our mind to lift ourselves heavenward? “God helps those who help themselves” holds good in the heavens as in the earth. We begin right where we are to bring forth the kingdom of God in our lives. Every problem of life can be successfully solved if we begin with God.
BEGIN WITH GOD. Sometimes we end up with God as a last resort. That is the hard way of doing it. We don’t have to do it that way; we can begin with God. When we realize we can connect ourselves to God and prove what Jesus said – “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” [John 14:10] – Almightiness then begins to appear.
I will close with 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, “So we are always confident . . . we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes we do have confidence. . . .”
Please, join me in a closing prayer.
I am, dear God, always provided for. I know this now, and I know this at all times. I pray that I am reminded of this the next time I need to know, even in the middle of the night. I have faith in You, God, as my omnipresent help in every need. I have faith in You, God as my almighty resource. I trust You, God, to preserve me in abundance. I trust You, God, in every part of my life. I turn to You, God, because I believe You are a rewarder of those of us who seek after You.
I give thanks, this sweet spiritual day, to You, God.
In Jesus Christ’s name, I give thanks. Amen.
God bless you