I’ve started and restarted… and restarted this post several dozen times over the course of the last week. I can’t find my words. Don’t know what my problem is. I go to where they’re always stored and… nothing. They aren’t there. Empty. And it occurred to me, perhaps it’s because they aren’t meant to be there. At least not at the moment.
Words are unreliable. Our own wisdom, unreliable. Our thoughts, our perception, our impressions… and especially our opinions, all unreliable. We are the unreliable narrators of our own lives.
But we aren’t meant to be the narrators of our lives. We aren’t meant to write our story or tell our tales. We aren’t even meant to be telling our story all the time. We’re meant to share His story, His wisdom, His thoughts. We’re meant to see from His perspective, with His impressions and His opinions. How quickly we’ve… no… how quickly I’ve forgotten that. Under times of great stress or trial, we tend to rely on ourselves. Rely on our thoughts and knowledge and understanding. But do you know where that lands us?
Not where we’re meant to be. Not where we’re thinking or seeing clearly. It lands us in a dark, murky place where we can’t find clarity or direction. And so we fumble around in the shadows, searching for answers and declaring we’ve found them when, in reality, we haven’t found anything but our own pride, ego and insecurity. (A strange trio if there ever was one.)
But when Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, even He relied on scripture; on the Word of God. How often do we just shut up, switch off the “me” center of our brains and just start reading scripture? How long has it been since you’ve just gorged on scripture like a starving man given his first real meal in weeks?
And so, a list of my favorite scriptures. I hope one or all of them help you weather anything you face this week. I’m pulling largely from the NLT translation, as I find it to be one of the most readable and personal versions, but you of course can use whichever translation speaks to you. Scripture is God-breathed (II Timothy 3:16) whether using NKJV, NIV, ESV, NAS, NLT or most others:
- Jeremiah 29:11-14… “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
- Romans 8:26-34… “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness… the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”
- Romans 8:35-39… “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- I Peter 3:13-17… “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”
- II Corinthians 12:8-10… “Three different times I begged the Lord to take this ‘thorn’ away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
- Hebrews 13:14-16… “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
- John 16:31-33… “Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world!”
- Philippians 4:4-9… “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
- Isaiah 40:28-31… “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
- II Corinthians 5:16-18… “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.”
There are so many more. So many, many more. And all of them speak to my heart, mind and soul. Take the time this week to really dig into scripture. Go there for your encouragement, your wisdom, your fill. Blogs, sermons, services, messages… these are all excellent tools and resources, but they don’t come close to comparing to the power, majesty and brilliance of the Source.
We’re praying for all of you. We love and miss you terribly.