Where Does My Help Come From?

“I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Psalm 121

This chapter has been my very lifeblood this weekend, as I’ve muddled through stormy marshes of every kind.  I’ve been busy beyond my craziest nightmares, and while some of what I’ve been doing has been very fun and a blessing from God, there has been so much constantly going on that I haven’t been able to stop, take a breath, and appreciate it. I am mentally and physically more drained than I ever remember being, hurting for a friend of mine, praying over another who’s having both health problems and problems at work, missing my friends that seem so far away, and now caring for a horse that hurt himself out in the field. Again. 

Needless to say, there’s been a lot going on and I haven’t had any time. But even in this swirling, twisting, turning, painful mess of circumstances I’ve found myself in, God has held my heart. His arms that hold the universe have been wrapped around me in a warm embrace, and I’ve felt Him moving in everything I do. I can’t understand why He’s putting me through this from this side of the mountain, as I’m trapped in the valley, but as the psalm says, I can always raise my eyes up to the hills. And I can be confident that my Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts, is at work in me. Whatever it is he’s doing, it’s for the better, and someday I know I’ll look back on this time and say to myself “wow… God is so good. I never would have imagined that something as wonderful as this could have arisen from such a time as that.” God is perfect, and everything He does is for a reason. I may not understand His reasons until I’m standing on that mountain top, looking back into the valley I’m trudging through today, but I can find peace and strength in knowing that none of this pain is in vain.

Proverbs 17:3 tells us that “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” The fires of life may burn and scar, but the purest gold comes from the hottest furnace, and the most beautiful metal sculptures were hammered again and again to reach their state of perfection. God puts us through these trials to form us into his perfect, shining image, and for this reason I can be proud of my scars. There is no greater honor than to suffer as my Savior suffered for me, and in His strength I can push on through anything.

So, the reason I post all of this today is to, hopefully, encourage you in your own valleys of persecution. I’m going through some hard times, but I know I’m not the only one. I can only pray that perhaps this post will speak to one of you, and help to ease your burden just a bit. In closing, I’m sharing two songs that have spoken to me, and served as beautiful reminders that God is with me and working on and through me.

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The Circle Of Life

So, the other day I was thinking. Thinking about the circle of life. And you know, I found a rather interesting pattern. It goes something like this:

Age: Outlook On Life:
5-6 “Man, look at those teenagers! They always have so much fun! They have the good life. I wish I was them!”
15-16 “Aww! Look at those little kids. I wish I could be that young and free again!”
17-18 “I can’t wait till I’m out of college. Then I’ll be free and I can do whatever whenever I want too. I’ll be free!”
21-24 “If only I could go back in time to when I was 17 or 18…Stop myself from __________ (Fill in the blank).”
25-30 “Look at that beautiful family! I wish I had kids to look out for.”
45-55 “They grow up so fast! I wish I could go back to when they were little 4 and 5 year olds, hanging on my neck, thinking I was a super hero.” Or “Honey, I love you, but your going on 25 now. It’s time you moved out of our basement!”
60-65 “I wish I was 20 again!”
70-80 “I can’t wait for my new parts. They’re due any time now. Oh, too wait for the day that I am eternally in the presence of my gracious God who has wiped my tears away, and forgiven me all my wrongs! What a glorious, gracious God he is, and Oh what a day that will be!”

Now are we going to live our lives like this, or be content with where God has us?

We will always want something else until we let God take the pen. He knows what to do, He’s knows what’s best for you. He knows what you need to make it through the rest of your journey. So instead of blowing full steam ahead, or trying to take control, how about you take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Be satisfied with what our wonderful creator has given us RIGHT NOW, and not yearn for what we think we want but really don’t.

So tomorrow, when you wake up, instead of wishing for something else, be content in what God has for you. Right here, right now. Because this is where you were meant to be.

Sometimes, We Forget

So as I’ve been saying, my life has been entirely insane lately. At least, that’s what I thought.

With pressure coming from every angle and no light at the end of the tunnel, I have been in a deep struggle with my heart for the last couple months… and the trials keep pouring in, adding one atop another until they have created a waterfall, majestic from a distance, but deathly powerful up close. But I have come to realize that, though compared to the culture around us these days I have it rough, compared to most Christians throughout history and even in other parts of the world today, I have it easy! My life may seem tough with financial, church community, etc. etc. trouble, but if you compare it to just about any of the main characters from the Bible I have nothing to whine about.

One example would be Noah. We all know the story of Noah’s Ark. But have you ever considered putting yourself in his shoes? Not only are you surrounded by evil (ie murder, beating, stealing, lying, cheating, etc etc etc), but then you are told to build this giant ark to save you from a flood… in the middle of the desert. Your neighbors, friends, and even your own family claim you a crazy fool. Then, once the flood begins and you are closed up tight, you must bear witness to the biggest natural catastrophe in history. You hear the cries of every living creature, watch the home you built, the places you grew up in, and everyone you’ve ever known besides your own family be torn, changed, washed away, and killed. You then spend 11 months trapped in this boat-which most likely started to stink of animal and human feces after the first day, and after the first couple days the smell of the dead bodies would have enveloped the boat as well-with a bunch of wild animals, and your family members. Imagine being trapped in an enclosed space with your family for over a year, with no escape route! When at last you are let free, you enter into an entirely different world. And you are all alone. But somehow, you can still worship God! But there are more examples.

 

Another is Joseph. Everyone knows this story as well. He was the youngest, and obvious favorite of his parents, in a family of 12 (including him). After he spied on his brothers as they watched their fathers herd of sheep, they threw him into a pit. His own family sold him into slavery! He then traveled miles and miles across the desert. When at last he reached Egypt, he was bought by Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard. But the Lord blessed everything he did, and Potiphar saw this. He would have entrusted his life to Joseph. But then Potiphar’s wife, after many unsuccessful attempts to seduce him, she got him into trouble with his master. He was thrown into the prison there, surrounded by bad people and the worst of conditions. But even there, the Lord blessed his handiwork. After living there for TWO YEARS, having been forgotten by a servant of Pharaoh’s, he was finally summoned by the Pharaoh to interpret his dreams.

He did this job to such satisfaction that the Pharaoh gave him the highest position of honor other than his own, placed his signet ring (which was how the Pharaoh would sign laws. Nothing was more powerful than this.) onto Joseph’s finger. A series of events occurred, in which Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt for grain in the famine. They did not recognize their long-lost and suspected-dead brother. He found out about a full brother that had been born, Benjamin. He was told that his mother had died, and his father was in bad health. Eventually, God used him to save the entire nation, and through his line of descendants, our Savior was born.

 

Yet another example is Job. For centuries, people have looked to the book of Job for comfort in hard times. Job was a man of God, with a strong faith. The Lord allowed Satan to test Job. The only exception to this testing was the Devil could not take his life. Job lost everything. His wife, his children, his belongings, his health, everything. Shortly after, his 3 friends came to “comfort” him. In reality, they only heaped coals on his head and made him even more miserable. But yet again, we see that Job not only did not curse God’s name, but in Job 1:20, immediately after he has been informed of the great tragedies that befell him, we read that “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” How could that possibly be? This man has just been thrust into hell on earth, and he is worshiping!

 

In the New Testament, we find a whole new set of trials. For centuries, the people of God were persecuted for their faith. Stephen was stoned to death for refusing to renounce his faith. John the baptist was beheaded for preaching the gospel. The main author of the NT, Paul, was beaten nearly to death numerous times, run out of town again and again, imprisoned, the list goes on and on. But every single one of these men were not just bearing this pain. They were worshipful, happy even! They continued to push the message of the gospel forward. Upon them, the foundation of Christianity was laid.

 

After Bible times, there were hundreds of thousands of martyrs who died protecting and encouraging their faith. Every single one of them died willingly, ready to meet their God. (I have not listed any for the sake of time, but all you have to do to find a couple of the stories that actually have been told is look up “martyr” on Google.)

 

We here in America have it amazingly easy. And yet, we complain more then any of the others. When we experience a slight trial, or in some cases a couple of slight trials one atop the other, we get mad. We blame God, we blame each other, we second guess our faith, etc. We have become, forgive me, terrible witnesses of Jesus Christ. Really, compared to decades past, our lives are about as easy as they come.

 

Now, you fellow Christians out there are probably thinking, “Um, CCG, you are kinda leaving out the MOST IMPORTANT MARTYR EVER TO WALK THE FACE OF THIS EARTH!” right? Well, I’m not. See, this is where the truth of Christianity shows. God allowed his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be tortured and murdered for us. We who think that we’ve known suffering, us prideful, self-righteous “people of God”, often overlook the greatest sacrifice ever made. Jesus led a perfect life. Not a “good” life, a perfect one. He faced every trial, every temptation, everything we have experienced and more, and yet He remained sinless. But He offered himself up, gave his own life. He suffered a more gruesome and painful death then anyone nowadays can even imagine. But that is not the worst part. He faced the full wrath of God. His own Father turned His face away. No one has had to face this terrible truth. There is nothing, NOTHING worse than this pain. And He did it for us. He paved the way for us to be with our Heavenly Father for all eternity.

Now, what do we, in full honesty, have to complain about? A couple of temporary trials? Our sinful hearts try to hide this truth from us in our pain. But, unlike the movies from Hollywood would tell you, we must ignore our hearts lies and run to Him, the One who gave it all for us. For only in Him can we possibly find peace and rest forevermore.

Fall Hike!

The last couple months, Sunday has been hard.

I go to church (usually getting there just as, or even just after, it starts), worship and listen to the message, the I get 5-10 minutes with my friends before heading up to Zack’s to open.

Those 5-10 minutes are all I get of my friends for the week, other than those who work at Zack’s with me or the occasional friend dropping by. And today, we visited a new church. I knew no one, and not a single person even said hi.

But yet, I’m happy. How? Well, there are two reasons. The first is I have an AWESOME God, and He is always there. He cares for me, and He knows me better then I do. He will never leave me, and He is my strength. As one of my favorite songs says, “I have a shelter in the storm, when troubles poor upon me…though fears are rising like a flood, my soul can rest securely…Oh Jesus I will hide in you, my place of peace and solace”.

The second reason is that I finally get to go on a Fall Hike with my church’s Youth Group today! The first (and possibly the only) Hike I will be going on this year. And better yet, afterwards we will be playing Ultimate Frisbee, the best game EVER… In the rain! YES! Ha ha

So obviously I’m not excited at all. 😉

–CCG

Happy New Year!!

Hey everybody!

I hope you have all enjoyed the holiday season!

As 2008 comes to an end, we have an opportunity to look back on all of the new memories that will, for the rest of your life, be assigned to this year. You have the new memories for all of America, such as Obama being elected, a woman running for president, the high gas prices, the crash in the stock market, etc.

Then you have the personal memories, some of mine would be moving to Ohio, saying goodbye to old friends (for now, at least) and hello to new, the trips, the riding, my job, joining the Equestrian team, the shows, and everything else.

We are starting a new year, by the grace of God, and we have an all new oportunity to give our lives to Him. This is a new year! Let us rejoise and be glad in it!

Now, I gotta go, the boys are trying to kill each other and I have to brake them up. (Dad’s off buying meet to smoke, Mom’s off at Giant Eagle trying to find some seasonings, and my Grandparents are dropping my cousin, Jason, off at work. I feel kinda bad for the guy, having to work on New Years Eve.)