I remember a preacher once suggesting that we strive to live ‘by design’. He was suggesting this, as opposed to attempting to meet obligations, take responsibility etc. On the face of it, that sounds…well, irresponsible! I wasn’t so sure about his approach, yet still, I got a sense of a ‘Be still & know that I am God’ kind of thing. He frequently hosted segments of a late-night worship television program, that got me through many a rough time. He was always SO very mellow.
Along these same lines of thinking, I also remember watching a corporate-type manager speaking about not trying so hard to ‘manage’, but instead let God arrange events more. If I recall correctly, he had begun to practice that office policy, and found it so much less stressful.
Incorporating this kind of living into our daily lives probably would be a tricky balancing act at first. We have deadlines. Schedules. Financial limitations & budgets. People depend on us for provision & help. Etc., etc., etc. Plus, many of us have to work/live in tandem with others who don’t think like this, and would scoff at the idea – your boss, for instance. Some family members. I think venturing forth with such a plan takes courage. Everyone has to figure out their own way, timing & method. To everything there is a time & season…
Well, for myself, I become anxious easily. And, yeah, I know the Scriptures that apply…I still struggle. I was thinking about this today, and envisioning a sort of inner & outer scenario. Within the inner, I am moving about among the people & places that comprise my events of the day, which would seem to dictate a certain amount of my behavior & responses. I see these people & circumstances as having, therefore, a certain amount of ‘control’ over what happens to me. Despite believing that Jesus is Lord of all, this makes me edgy & worse.
Looking more deeply into my own issues – if I truly believe that He is Lord – I realize that the root issue is between myself & God, Who is operating in the outer scenario all around me & I apparently doubt His intentions. In a way, my lack of faith voids His protection, as far as my thinking goes. So I’m anxious.
A thought I have often had, especially when praying about something pertaining to my own need/desire is, will God even answer? So often we hear the principle voiced, that God meets all our needs, not necessarily our wants…and yes, that is based on Scripture…but frequently leaves me not feeling very assured. Lack of assurance gives rise to worry & anxiety. Somehow, I need assurance.
So, a couple of things here…
During an especially bad time of fear, the Scripture where King David writes of praying ‘evening, and morning, and at noon’ came to mind. I began researching some of the Hebrew words used in this verse. (Psalm 55:17) Now, when gripping unease torments, I rehearse these meanings back to myself out loud.
David writes that the Lord will ‘hear’ his voice. In the Hebrew, this particular word means to hear intelligently. Knowing this does a lot for me, because I consider myself intelligent and when I listen intelligently, I’m focused & looking for a way to respond that will help the speaker.
…and in an earlier verse (v.2), David also asks God to ‘hear’ his prayer & supplication. Here the Hebrew translation includes an implied response. I am likin’ that!
Someone once said to me that prayer is our response to God. My takeaway from that was that true prayer does not originate with us. It may seem like it, as we pause to ponder what words to speak & then have a thought or impression…but since in the flesh is no good thing, if the resulting supplication has sprung from flesh…well…who wants that? Instead, it is glorious to know that an entirely different process can & does take place, I believe.
When God sends a word forth, it does not, ever, return void. It accomplishes & prospers. (Isaiah 55:11) Jesus, who we honor & worship as Lord and God, says that His sheep hear His voice. Get the connection? As we respond to what we are hearing, speaking it in prayer or declaration, are we part of that process wherein His ways are higher than ours? Because the word of God is living seed , as we respond in prayer to what He has sent forth into our minds & hearts, are we continuing to sow it? Continuing to facilitate eternal processes? I say this because immediately following the Lord’s explanation in Isaiah 55 of the efficacy & manner of His sending forth His word, we read a joyful summation that includes this:
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree…and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
The fir tree – the evergreen – has always represented endless life. Some may be oblivious to that. But here in this Scripture, that is made clear. The fir, unlike other trees, is not cut off every fall. It continues green! We who know, even, will not always be recognizing the sign before us, when we notice an evergreen tree. There is plenty else, weighty, overwhelming, distracting, to gain our attention! But nonetheless, it IS a sign.
And extrapolating from these Scriptures, I see something else. If I am not mistaken, the fir tree stands as not only a reminder of eternal life in Christ, but it stands also as a testament to the ongoing, ceaseless effects of prayer. I have never before seen this, in these Scriptures, but I believe I do now. We pray; maybe we see an answer, maybe we don’t. We move on, probably forgetting…or anxious. But the words sent forth by God & responded to by us are actively continuing to produce, prosper & accomplish that which He intended. I believe this is going on all the time. We are covered by it & move within it.
…and I point these things out because this conclusion reassures me that one can live more ‘by design’ than one might think.