Our next door neighbors had a gathering last night complete with kids playing on the lawn, music blasting and the sounds of people having a good time! These folks normally keep to themselves and are not around much of the time. In fact, in the almost two years we’ve been here, I’ve only talked with them a couple of times. So when they have friends and or family over, it is kind of enjoyable to hear the noise!
As Piper and I sat on the couch after dinner, we caught glimpses of some boys chasing a soccer ball on the neighbor’s lawn, and every so often the ball would come skirting across our lawn with the boys not far behind as they sought to retrieve it. Each time this happened, Fiver’s ears would go up and he would trot over to one of our front windows and observe the activity. I think that he, like me, was enjoying the sight of the kids playing, as he never barked but just quietly observed and wagged his tail.
As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, our country community is normally pretty quiet and even though there are kids in the neighborhood, we don’t often see them outside playing! So the activity next door and on our lawn was fun to observe. I have always enjoyed living in an active neighborhood with kids playing and having fun! That’s probably one reason I spent my ministerial career working with children and youth! Let’s face it… my wife and I just enjoy being around life!
As a child, I was raised in a very encouraging family. My Mom was an outgoing women who loved to laugh and encourage others. And although my Dad was on the quieter side, he also had a warm and encouraging way about him. I imagine that I never really had a chance to be any other way than encouraging! Then I meet this girl in high school who had a bubbling, encouraging personality and I was hooked for life! With that union… our kids never had a chance either!
Therefore it was natural for me, as a young Christian, to be drawn to scripture verses such as Joshua 1:9. The Good News Bible puts it this way exclaiming: “Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the LORD your God, am with you wherever you go."
The angel of the Lord’s words to Joshua are commands that are deeply embedded in my DNA. To be determined and confident without being afraid or discouraged are characteristics that make my enthusiasm for life swoon and tenderly encourage me to be all that I can be, and do the best at whatever the Lord calls me to accomplish… and to do it in such a way that I am not afraid nor discouraged… but encouraged and quickened by the power of Papa God and His Word.
Does this decision come easy to me? YES! Is it always easy to accomplish? NO! Am I always successful in my efforts… Well, not really… but I don’t like to quit! So I get up and try again! This is a way of life that I always strive for and expect to see victory in. One of the things that I have learned though, is that not everyone thinks the same as I do. This has been an eye-opening reality check for me as Piper and I have walked through the battle for her health…but let me digress for a moment…
The thought behind the command to “not be afraid” in our scripture verse describes an individual who is in “dread” over a situation and is “in awe” by the negative events happening to the point where they are allowing the pressure “to harass and oppress” them and finally “to prevail” in their lives. (See Strong’s H6202)
To be “dismayed” (KJV) or “discouraged” (GNB) implies that the individual yielding to these symptoms is “breaking down by the violence, confusion and or fear” of the situation. (Strong’s H2865) Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions adds the idea one being “shattered or broken”, while the Oxford Online Dictionary defines “discouragement” as “to deprive of courage, hope or confidence. To be disheartened. To obstruct by opposition or difficulty, to hinder or express or make clear disappointment of.”
So, like I mentioned earlier, I found out rather early in this “valley” of our lives that we now find ourselves “walking through” (See Psalm 23:4 KJV), that not everyone would react like us! After studying this scripture in Joshua 1:9 over the last week and looking up the definitions to the various word we’ve outlined in our last blog and this current one, I had the revelation that the confusing and many times frustrating actions we saw demonstrated against us clearly point to the Bible definition of one who was in fear, dismayed or discouraged!
As I was clearing off the table after breakfast yesterday, it hit me that our actions definitely will betray our words and/or the “face” we are putting on in the midst of the rough times in our lives. And you know… It explained a lot to me! But wait... it gets better… Just as I turned the light out last night, before my head ever hit the pillow… I suddenly realized the importance of ME not allowing myself to yield to fear or discouragement. As I sat there frozen in bed with my hand stopped in mid-motion in the action of pulling up the sheet and blanket in order to cover me for the night, I understood that I did not want MY negative, feeling-sorry-for-myself actions to – in anyway- limit what God has planned for my wife’s healing and life!
With wide-eyes I realized that my yielding to fear and/or discouragement could actually act to harass, obstruct and hinder God’s working in my wife’s life... as well as in my own! Believe me when I say how REAL that thought was to me as I know what it is like to be painfully harassed in my efforts to do what I felt the Lord was instructing me to do and have first-hand experience in dealing with obstructions, difficulty and hindrances continually placed along my path.
And that is NOT something that I want to BE in the path of God’s plans! So last night – still before my head hit the pillow! - I resolved to “be stout hearted and decided in my convictions” (hebrew4christians.com definition of “Terrified”) and “not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD my God, is with me wherever I go.” (GNB – personalized)
What do you think? Have your actions every betrayed what you were really thinking? Have your actions ever been a hindrance to someone else… or maybe even to God? Hummm… something to consider… wouldn’t you say!
Have a wonderful weekend… we’re supposed to have thunderstorms all weekend, but we’ll see… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to allow my actions to be a hindrance to anyone today?”