Have you ever felt like a pinball in a pinball machine? It was a very popular arcade game that I loved to play when I was younger. Do you feel like a pinball being tossed back and forth? Are you wondering when the back and forth circumstances of your life are going to stop? Do you wonder when you are going to get a break from all the things coming at you? Are you ready for it to be over? Well my friends, let me share with you what I have been learning. It is helping me live in the back and forth of my life. I pray what I am learning will help you while you are being tossed around.
When you are playing pinball, you are trying to keep the balls from reaching the bottom so you can score points. You want to win as many points as you can before the ball goes down the hole at the bottom of the machine. Your eyes have to be focused on the balls. If you take your eyes off them, they will fall.
Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
I am reminded that it matters where my eyes are focused in my daily life. When I focus on things happening around me, I panic and fear takes over. We are in trouble in this world right now. There is no denying it. Everywhere you turn there is a problem or a disaster. You can’t escape it. In order to fight the fear and panic, I have to focus on God and His truth more than I ever have in my life. I can’t allow what is happening around me to dictate my life. When I focus on God, I can have the assurance that He is in control and He is working and fighting for me in the midst of the storms raging around me.
I have spent most of my life hoping people or my circumstances would change. You can imagine how utterly disappointed I have been because of where I placed my hope. I thought, “If only so and so would quit doing that, or if only that person would see me and care enough about me to change.”
This morning, I was thinking about a problem that has me pretty discouraged. This question popped in my mind. “Laurie, what are you placing your hope in?” I knew what my answer was. I was placing my hope in people and circumstances changing instead of my hope being placed on my Savior and my Lord.
I know that most of us want things to change in this world. We want our country to get back to normal. (Whatever that is!) We want diseases to end. We want marriages to be put back together. We want people to love one another and quit hating. We want nations to quit warring and fighting to cease. We want hunger to end. All of us want something to change, but I can’t place my hope on that happening. I can pray for those things to happen, but my hope has to be on God and His word.
Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
My life has been filled with a lot of things that have scared the crap out of me. It is so easy for me to panic! This world is a scary place right now. Lots of evil things are happening. But, I have a choice to make; we all do. Are we going to let what is happening around us control us? Are we going to base our happiness or sanity on people changing or the world changing?
If we base our happiness on people or circumstances changing, then we are going to be very disappointed and maybe even devastated. I think that is why so many people are struggling right now. We have based our happiness on the wrong things. And when we base our happiness on the wrong things and become devastated, we lose our hope.
It has taken me a very long time to understand the difference between placing my hope in God and placing my hope in God to change things. I have to be okay, even if He doesn’t change things. Do you see the difference? Let me show you an example of this in the Bible.
Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane waiting for the soldiers to come and get Him. He knew what was coming. He was praying to His Father and said these very important words.
Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will.” He says it again in verse 42. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
This teaching is life changing for all of us. Jesus was in agony. He knew what was coming. He was feeling every human emotion you can feel. He even sweat drops of blood!!! Jesus prayed for his death to be taken away, but prayed “your will be done.” Those four words showed how much He boldly trusted God and His plan.
I have been challenged lately by those words. There are situations in my life right now that I desperately want to see changed. For goodness sakes, I want the world to change. So, as I lay my requests before God, I am adding, “But your will be done.” It is very freeing to add those words to my prayers, because now my hope is for God’s will to be done. When you pray that way, you are going from what you see to what you can’t see because you are trusting God.
Oh, I have so much to say to you because I have spent most of my life basing my hope on what I am seeing or not seeing happen. There is so much going on in the spiritual realm right now. God is working. God is fighting. God is moving. We might not be able to see it, but it is happening. He is going to war for us.
Proverbs 15:3 “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Romans 12:2 tells us that God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect. So, why wouldn’t we want that? I know that His way is far better than mine. I might not understand why He does things the way He does, but He knows things I don’t know and He sees things I can’t see.
His ways are definitely not my ways, but look at what He did with Jesus’ death. He made His death a way for us to be with Him. It definitely didn’t look good at the time, but boy oh boy, his death turned out to be the biggest blessing for all of mankind
I am sharing this because life is hard right now. I look around and see so many things happening to others and to me. I have to quit looking around at what I see and fix my eyes on the One who stands before me. I want to praise Him for what He is doing and what He will do in my life.
Let me end by sharing something Lysa Terkeurst wrote about David in the Bible.
“David’s praise wasn’t in vain. It steadied his heart. And his painful circumstances weren’t wasted. God used those hardships to mature David. It was in the cave, the womb of the earth, where God met him and birthed in him a heart ready to lead. Darkness was the perfect training ground for David’s destiny. And those difficult places we so desperately want to be done with can be good training ground for us as well. Will we see this dark time as a womb or a tomb? Is it a birth of something new or the death of what we thought should be? Will we fix our eyes on the truth of God’s goodness, or will we give in to hopelessness and despair? Let’s choose to believe there is a purpose in every season, even the ones that don’t seem to make any sense. Let’s ask God to birth something new inside of us, allowing Him to do a work in us that will better prepare us to walk out His promises. Praise may not shift our circumstance, but it will definitely begin to change our hearts. We can choose how to live through our circumstances.”
I have always been told that reading and praying through the Psalms is so important. David chose to praise God in the midst of being hunted down by a mad man. I want God to use my difficult circumstances to be good training ground for me too! There are things in my life that need to die and there is definitely something new that needs to be birthed. I choose to keep my eyes fixed on the One who stands before me and ask Him to do a mighty work in me. What will you do?
Until next time my dear friends. This is my journey to joy!!!