Request, Relax, Receive and Repeat not Retreat

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They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

I’ve carried six beautiful children. It’s pretty safe to say I have enough extra skin in the middle section to stretch out and nicely tie into 6 beautiful bows as well now! Why is it so often in the middle section of things that seem to afford us the most problems, fears, anxieties, stress…?! Is it because we are too far from the “shore” to really turn back and we are still yet too far from our destination to truly visualize the light at the end of the tunnel?!

I think God speaks to us in the middle because what’s so hard about life is that it is daily, right?! Between birth and the Kingdom is our middle section and it is going to take daily perseverance to finish the race well. Perseverance in prayer and the Word so that we remember to abide in Him continually as He is the source of all we will ever need and He promises to fill us with as much of His Spirit as we will have (John 3:34)! Eph. 1:19-20 states that it is incomparably great power for us who believe! In fact it is the same as the mighty strength that raised Jesus Christ from the dead! Now that’s the kind of fuel we need in our oars to get us paddled all the way through the middle!

Speaking of oars, in Mark 6:45-52 tells us it was in the middle of a storm in the middle of a lake that Jesus’ disciples were straining at the oars. Jesus walks on water to meet them right there in the middle because He promises He will never fail us.

I’m reminded of when the Israelites crossed the Jordan river during high flood stage on dry ground in Joshua 3! God wanted them to remember how He had saved them and brought them all the way safely across by building an alter out of stones. Joshua 4:3 tells us God told them to gather those stones of remembrance from the MIDDLE of where they crossed!!

God knows how difficult it can be in the middle of the mess and He wants us to remember Who is with us right there in the middle – the great I AM possible that stood in the middle of the burning bush for Moses and Who stood in the middle of the fire with Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego and who Himself hung in the middle of the cross to save us.

The key is to abide in Him like John 15 states. So often like Saul in 1 Samuel 9, we are so caught up stressing in the “middle” looking for our “donkeys”! Samuel invites Saul for a meal, then by chapter 10 he lets him know his donkey’s are fine but that Saul himself is the greater concern of his father. Maybe we could chill about our “donkey’s” long enough to abide in communion at the foot of the cross where all answers are found in Jesus Who cares more than anyone.

Request (Matt. 7:7), Relax (John 15:5, Ps. 46:10), Receive (Matt. 6:33). See how relax is the middle ‘r’ word which is what we do when we abide in our heavenly Father right!!

God has greater purpose than we can comprehend for our middle ground here. He has peace to give that passes human understanding which often comes following the difficult act of obedience. Might we be like Nehemiah rebuilding the wall, which was scary, uncomfortable and hard, though he pushed through discouragement and fear, allowing God to build something greater inside him than the wall he could see. Lets not mistake the peace He gives with the relief we may feel when we retreat. Sometime we are called to repeat rather than retreat. Like Nehemiah… just pick up another brick right there in your middle and keep building in faithful obedience. Often to repeat is harder than to retreat but He promises to be our sufficient strength and all that we need as we abide in Him.

I might have a stretched out middle section but I wouldn’t trade one stretch mark for the beauty He was building within me. I guess He gave me my own personal reminders that God is in the middle. Praise Him!

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19

Independent Read: Psalm 90:17, Phil. 4:7, 2 Cor. 12:9, Phil. 3:10-11, Joshua 1:9, 2 Cor. 5:7, Hebrews 10:35-39, John 15:1-11

 

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