At times we may feel as though we are in exile (literally or figuratively). For some the effects are physical, for others spiritual, and for still others mental. As we look at the upheaval and noise surrounding us at such a time as this, we may feel overwhelmed, fearful, anxious and tentative. Such turmoil can affect us with restless minds and hearts. Such restlessness can make us live in extremes. We may try even harder to discipline our flesh, repent for not meeting the mark that we impose on ourselves, or become paralyzed with discouragement. Take heart, for this is a place we can grow from strength to strength until each of us appear before Him in Glory (Psalm 84).
The way to combat such turmoil is to rest in Jesus. In Jeremiah 29, we read the story of how Israel had been carried into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. In such a time of upheaval, the Lord promised to restore His people, and in the meantime He told them to grow where they were planted until the appointed time.
Consider a mighty oak tree and the rings within showing growth and expansion. Between some of the rings a story will be told of much growth and a time of abundant rain and sunshine, between others the evidence of a season of harsh conditions, but the tree remains planted and growing. When we feel restless or can’t imagine growing and expanding one more inch, let us trush in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding, but rather continue to submit to Him for He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3). Let us be as a tree planted by the water – which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – but in whatever we do will proper (Psalm 1).
Enter into that rest of the Lord and live and move and have your being in Him. Spend time with Him, for the lie of the enemy is that such times with God in prayer, worship, and sitting in His presence will accomplish nothing, will change nothing, is futile so we continue with faint hearts. Instead let us enter into His rest, let His presence change, inspire, and refresh us. When we are changed, we change surroundings.
Stop the cycle of restlessness and discouragement by looking fully to God. Choose to believe His word and promises over the circumstances and noise of the now. There will always be some type of interference that endeavors to unplant us until we finish our races and enter into the Kindgom of Heaven. But the truth is that we can do all things through Christ who strengths. Fear not, be not dismayed, for the Lord is our God and we will trust safely in Him. Let us step out and submit to the unctions of the Holy Spirit and see what He will do with, in, and through us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you,Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
I Peter 5:6-11
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”