The Pendulum: When God Moves
When God moves, sometimes my life feels like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to another. For a few years, God had me in a small, slow place. I wanted more, but He said no. I wanted more friends, I wanted more ministry opportunities, and I wanted more direction. What I really needed was more hope because I felt like my life was small and slow.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I am too small and slow, and that’s a whole different thing! Feeling small and slow leads to feeling overwhelmed and that’s a hard place. Or maybe being overwhelmed leads to feeling small and slow? Time seems to be racing ahead and I can’t keep up.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been mentally hyperventilating over regular stuff (like more tasks than time in a day and not even getting started on my to-do list). It’s a chaotic time with the end of the school year, plus the start of my summer semester for grad school. I’m also juggling my preparations for some speaking opportunities and trying to make sure I get exercise in, plus time with friends. Life is full! And it’s all good stuff, but it’s a bit much when you throw in a trip out of town just before a big exam! (Can you hear me breathing from here?)
The Busyness on the Inside
My busyness on the outside is really nothing compared to the busyness in my mind. I have a deeper anxiety over my very dear friend who waiting on a hard diagnosis, and a precious girl who is having heartbreaking marriage difficulties, and the increase in my hubby’s pain and Crohn’s symptoms. There’s another close friend who has a sister dying of cancer (who is younger than me).
I pray. But I cry, too, and lift up my helpless hands and say, YOU pray, Spirit, I just don’t know what to say anymore. And that frantic, tightness in my chest and the lump in my throat are joined by an unlikely companion: quiet and calm HOPE.
I’m fighting to find the good, but it doesn’t come easy some days. When doubt creeps in, I strain my eyes to see God making things new. Yet, as I turn to the Him, hope enters as a quiet peace amidst the chaos of not-knowing-if-or-when-things-will-get-better. This hope, this peace, is a sign of the Lord’s steady presence within.
Jesus said there would be trouble in this life.
Something beautiful is happening when you are pressed, pulled, and a little bit crushed because “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV). Like Shadrach Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, there are no guarantees. As our pastor says, this is not a health, wealth, and prosperity gospel:
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.
Daniel 3:17-18, ESV
We pray, and we don’t know how God will answer. Trouble surrounds us. Yet, “the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble” (Psalm 37:9, ESV). Matthew Henry explains:
[The Lord] is their strength in time of trouble, to support them under it and carry them through it. He shall help them and deliver them, help them to do their duties, to bear their burdens, and to maintain their spiritual conflicts, help them to bear their troubles well and get good by them, and, in due time, shall deliver them out of their troubles.
The Good Hope
This is the HOPE, and it is nothing short of miraculous: The Holy Spirit, inside of me and you strengthens, encourages, teaches, trains (disciplines), convicts, advocates for, and comforts us. He is the quiet peace, the still small voice, singing over us (whether we are weeping or laughing). And He is always, always at work to make good for us and to make good in us.
The God’s love towards us does not swing back and forth like a pendulum; He is steady. He is faithful, more like a metronome, keeping time and helping us to make our music well.
So, how’s your song this week? Are you singing praise or raising a lament? If you are struggling, don’t forget that He is with you, in the fire:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
Daniel 3: 24-25, ESV (Italics mine)
If you want even more hope, check out this amazing sermon preached this week by our pastor, Bob Flayhart. He does such a great job of explaining the mystery of the Holy Spirit and the importance of prayer (if the video isn’t visible, just refresh your browser). And as I share this, I am just realizing that my pendulum metaphor is related to Bob’s sermon title. Spoiler alert: God is not just a watch maker!
Have a blessed week, walking with Him!
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