This chapter seven, "What's the Worst that Could Happen?", stirred a variety of emotions. Of course, I always love to talk me some Noah and Abraham, and Micca starts us off with Noah. Love me some Noah, for sure. [Side note: if you've not seen Adam Almighty, you must. I have never left a theater feeling the presence of the Lord and feeling worship in my soul like I did that movie.]
"He [Noah] was a man of faith and it showed in his works...his lifestyle of faith gave credibility to his message." I want to be sure my message is credible because of a lifestyle of faith too. What could my faith do in the lives of others? What could your faith do in the lives of others? The possibilities of impact are unending.
I'll say it again...I love the story of Noah. He ranks up there with my admiration of Abraham. They both had blind faith. They both had unwavering faith. They had faith without any doubt even though their flesh and the world would've said: This is crazy. You are crazy. This is impossible. (I feel in the depths of the hearts of others--close to me even--they too say this about me and my belief/hope for restoration.) Whether speaking of Abraham's only son Isaac and his willingness to sacrifice him or of Noah building an ark for rain that had never been seen, they exemplify unwavering, undoubting faith...pure and genuine faith in the rawest form.
Something Abraham didn't really experience but Noah did was mockery, judgment, and ridicule. "Nothings says 'weird' like a man on a huge boat shouting 'flood!' on a bright, sunny day, hundreds of miles from any large body of water." ☺ Yet, yet, Noah still believed. Above his fears, above his flesh, he stood strong in his faith in God. He trusted this command from God that He would be his provision and boy was He. I cannot imagine being Noah and seeing the entire world destroyed--no longer as he knew it. Even with all the destruction, He is still God. God is God. Through it all, He reigns. Still on His throne. Unchanged. Unshaken. Unsurprised. "His goodness and mercy have gone ahead of us to secure our future." He definitely went ahead of Noah, huh? We must have faith He's gone ahead of us also.
Remember, how we discussed Goodness and Mercy as God's bodyguards for us? Click here to refresh your mind. "Whatever the outcome determined by humans or nature, God's plan alone will stand." His plan alone. Alone. Nothing else. I have to admit that I struggle with that right now. I guess without knowing and seeing His full purpose and plan, it seems like the choices of others have prevailed. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 It can be a back and forth struggle within my mind. (Thank God right now that you are spared from entering the doors of my mind. ☺) I know He's sovereign and in control. Yet, He allows free will. Yet, He can sway and woo His children to heed His call. Yet, sin happens. Yet, choices not of God are made. Yet, God can and will make good out of those poor decisions (ours and others) for our good. Yet, yet, yet. See the pendulum? See the back and forth? See the frazzled brain in my head? However, I could easily counsel, encourage, and show God's hand and reasoning in someone else's life circumstance. I can summize all the good God is doing in another's tragedy. I can encourage the plan and purpose outside my box but within it, it's so hard to judge so close to home. Make sense? I do see His good from my pain but I can't see the full picture, the full plan, the full purpose. Thus the confusion and battle of my mind.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. 2 Corithians 4:8 Perplexed but not crushed. Perplexed? Me? You think?
What's the worst thing that can happen? In a weird sense I totally understood Micca's feelings at the loss of her husband, Porter. Mine was not by death but still a massive loss indeed. "I thought nothing else could be worse than the pain and fear that surrounded me during those dark days. I ached inside. I felt so lost, empty, and alone." Like Micca, I too, played the "what if", "only if", "if only" games. Early in the beginning days of my pain, I too had visions like Micca. I heard my name whispered in the middle of the night with a vision of my beloved standing by the bed. On another occasion, I woke in the middle of the night believing him to be next to me only to find it was a "mean" dream. Ugg.
"His love promises to sustain us, restore us, and make us new." I do believe that. He HAS sustained me. He IS restoring me continually. He HAS made me new in a wonderful way. (I only wish a certain someone could see this, would see this.) Amen to all that despite the continual pain. "It doesn't matter what we face in this life when we know that God in His timing, will change the outcome, either in this world or the next." I believe that yet the last three words do not bring me comfort. Changing the outcome of what's caused such pain in the next life seems to be pointless, especially since there is no marriage or marital relationships in Heaven.
"The worst thing that can happen to a person is never to know the love of God and His saving grace." Amen and amen!! That is the worst thing that could EVER happen. Second worse would be to know but not really know His love. To bear no fruit. To have no peace without skating on the edge of redundancy, let me quote it out of the mouth of a babe (Micca's young son, Parker). He answered his own question that he posed to Micca by saying: "Oh, yeah! If you don't know God's love, you can't be forgiven of your sins and go to Heaven. Nothing is worse than that!" Why is nothing worse? Because not only will one suffer misery on this earth but also in the next: hell without Jesus.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 38-39
I know that I have what prevents the worst from happening to me. So, I will never suffer the worst that could happen. Furthermore, I know there are worse things than what I've suffered in my life. There are worse things than being abandoned with despair by one's true love, soul mate, puzzle piece, other pea. I do not diminish the devastation and intense level of total heartbreak. Yet, I've not been beaten. I've not been sexually abused. I've not been homeless. I've not been through hunger. I've not been devastatingly ill. I've not been tortured. I've not been held hostage. I've not been enslaved. I've not been crucified on a cross. I've not been. That's right. So even though the worst thing possible ever to happen to me did happen, it really isn't. It's the worst thing possible to me but not the worst thing possible.
You know I like visuals and formulas so here you go...
Fearless living = partnership with God
Fearful living* = partnership with the world
*phobias, plagues, anxiety, fears
But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Refocus from self-centered to God-centered. "In truth, worry and stress are really symptoms of self sufficiency and lack of trust in God."
Micca shared the testimony she heard of a man who survived the 2004 tsunami. He saw the gigantic wave coming. He saw everyone frantically running. Then, he saw a native man running solo in the opposite direction, opposite of the crowd, oppositve of the natural. Instinct told him to get his family and follow the lone native. "With only a moment to decide, he chose to follow the road less traveled." The road less traveled.
"Whether we are conscious of it or not, each of us chooses the road we will travel in life. We follow either the broad way or the narrow way." For lack of a better word, isn't it ironic that the wider road provides less rewards than the narrow one. One would think a broad path would offer a wide range of opportunities, blessings, and rewards. But isn't that just like our Lord? He rewards and desires in us the opposite of what comes natural to us, to our nature. He rewards the less appealing, the less desiring, the less popular. He rewards the weak who depend on Him. He rewards the poor who give generously. He rewards the meek who are bold for Him. He rewards the lowly who rise to His character. The broad way leads to one result, destruction; but the narrow way leads to bountiful results.
I apologize for the length yet again. I tried with all my might to cut corners and cut words but my spirit spoke what it spoke. Praying the benefit outweighs the length. ☺
When the worst happens....He remains faithful, so remain faithful to Him.
Remaining Faithful to Christ,
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