“God is infinite, and because God is infinite, you and I can be bold and brave in the universe, just the same as the little boy who is brave when his father is around.” A. W. Tozer, Delighting in God
Recently, my wife and I went out for a later than usual lunch at one of our favorite beachside restaurants. Accompanying us was my unwanted sullen attitude, which only worsened as a long line of other hopeful diners unexpectedly greeted us at our restaurant of choice.
Patience challenged as I was, I suggested we leave and find a place where we could walk right in with no waiting, but my wife brushed right past my attempts to avoid the crowd, cheerfully observing, “What else do we have to do this afternoon?” She was right, of course. It’s just that I didn’t want to hear such positivity as she joyfully, and I begrudgingly took our place at the back of the line.
Why my lousy attitude? Simply put, I was under siege by a ruthless army of restless, negative thoughts feasting on my worries of “what wasn’t yet, but might be.”
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 12:25 (NIV)
Despite the crowd, we somehow ended up getting the table we’d both choose if we were the only people there. Sitting outdoors at this time of year overlooking the beach is nothing short of a breath of fresh air, yet my gloominess refused to budge an inch even in the face of our good seating fortune.
All the while, I was trying to tamp my negativity down to prevent our afternoon from becoming a washout. I felt like I was falling in slow motion off a cliff, yet there was nothing I could seemingly do about it even though I knew better, which made it even worse for me. I was aboard a self-pity train headed fast towards nowhere good that I desperately wanted to jump off of but maddeningly couldn’t. Such a tight spot is so frustrating and debilitating for professing Christians to find themselves in, especially for one who writes about my faith as I do. And with that thought, another chain wrapped itself around my leg.
But then something fortuitously happened out of the blue that completely rearranged and refocused my thinking. Or perhaps I should be bolder and use the word “providentially?”
“Do you perceive mere coincidence, or do you discern the hand of God?” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
We had been watching a dove sitting forlornly on a nearby ceiling fan blade. You see, it couldn’t find its way off the seasonally enclosed deck. While observing the weary bird’s dilemma, I had already ironically thought to myself, “It seems that I’m not the only one trapped today.” If misery loves company, then the dove was my company. Suddenly, the bird left the overhead fan blade and landed directly on my head, much to my and everyone else’s surprise and amusement.
There’s something remarkably transformative whenever you perceive yourself as seen instead of unseen, you know? It’s so encouraging and uplifting. Here’s how my friend, Mindi, put it in my “trucks top rescue“ post when she was battling feelings of abandonment during a rough time in her life, “The bird just sat there sweetly looking at me, tenderly reminding me God was with me, watching over me. Instantly my focus was changed from my circumstances to Him. It was a deeply beautiful moment when I truly felt…well, not so alone.” Amen? Amen!
“Never interpret God’s love by your circumstances, but always interpret your circumstances by His love.” C. H. Mackintosh
“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
In that moment of clarity, just as Mindi had experienced, my burdens were left behind as my thoughts also turned away from myself and towards Him. A few short minutes later, with the help of some other diners, the dove also found welcome release from its captivity, as well.
The enemy would have you believe you’re a forgotten castaway adrift on a raft all alone. The truth is just the opposite: the Lord always has His eyes on you because He is always with you, His precious and deeply loved child.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)
“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13 (NKJV)
“’ teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)
This particular day I needed to be reminded of the Lord’s promises. I needed to refocus my attention on Him. Graciously that mindset change was initiated by a dove improbably landing on my head.
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 (NKJV)
As much as I’d like to say my faith is rock-solid 24/7, it’s not. The good news for you and me, though, is that while we have our ups and downs, our heavenly Father never wavers!
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)
I pray this story is an encouragement and reminder for you to turn your focus on Jesus regardless of your circumstances. When you do so, He gloriously transforms your sore earth-bound thoughts into thoughts that majestically soar heavenwards. May you experience that sweet relief in Him!
“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
“You Raise Me Up-Acoustic” by Selah from the album “You Raise Me Up: Greatest Hits.”