Relax ! ! !
NOTES FROM THE VALLEY - May 5, 2000
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
TOPIC: RELAX AND TRUST THE FATHER
Reading the Bible has become more and more like visiting an old
friend for me. Old lessons come to mind that have helped me in the
past. New lessons are revealed to help me with some current
difficulty. As I read the old and familiar text, a particular
passage will really catch my attention. Certain words will just seem
to jump right off the page at me. I feel compelled to read them
again . . . and again . . . and again.
And with each reading the words make more sense; their application to
my current problem becomes more clear. The Bible says it's the Holy
Spirit, opening the "eyes" of my understanding. The image I carry in
my heart is of God, my Father, standing behind me, leaning over my
shoulder and personally guiding me as I read His Book. God the
Almighty, Creator and Ruler of the universe, taking the time to be
personally involved with me; to teach me; to help me; to demonstrate
His love for me. Helping me with my homework!
The lesson He helped me with this week comes out of Matthew, Chapter
6 (The Message Translation - personalized for emphasis):
"What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so
preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to My giving. People
who don't know Me and the way I work fuss over these things, but you
know both Me and how I work. Steep your life in My-reality, My-
initiative, My-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll
find all your everyday human concerns will be met."
When things aren't going just the way I think they should be going, I
usually react by talking God's ears off. Lots of questions about why
He's letting things happen the way they are and my opinions about
what He needs to do about it to make things right. (Sound like any
kids you know?). Fortunately when I start acting like that, He just
waits quietly for me to wind down. If any of you are familiar with
the Garth Brooks song "Unanswered Prayer," I'm one of those people
God has richly blessed through unanswered prayer. Instead of giving
me what I think I need, He waits until I'm ready to receive what He
knows I need. And I'm so grateful that He does.
My life's richest blessings, after salvation and my relationship with
Him, have come because of my wife Cathy. As many of you have learned
from our testimony, it took many years and a move across the country
for us to find each other. And for each day of those years and each
mile of that journey, I fussed at God. I can't tell you how many
times I reminded Him of His words in Genesis when He saw Adam alone
and said it was NOT good. I was living confirmation that for Steve,
descendent of Adam, IT WAS NOT GOOD either! But He knew we had to
wait. Wait until the day when He finished His healing work in both
our hearts so we were ready for each other; ready to become
vulnerable and trust in love again.
While I was reading the passage above and remembering the many
blessings I've received through unanswered prayers, God lovingly
whispered in my ear that all the answers I will ever need are waiting
for me in Him. He loves me. He knows every need I have. And He is
ready to meet those needs perfectly. The world says if I have a
need, I have to work harder to get. God says if I have a need, I
should relax (trust Him) so He can give. What a surprise - the world
got it backwards!
What an awesome God. What a loving Father.
I am as always - your brother and His work in progress,
P.S. Articles from MornGlories by Kimberly Cook and Your Life
Support System by Steve Goodier are featured in this edition. I'm a
member of both these internet sites and find the daily devotionals
they offer very helpful. Anyone desiring information on becoming a
member of these sites, let me know and I'll be happy to send you the
subscription e-mail address.
COME TO THE EDGE
(Received from Leianne - Author Unknown)
"But Lord, I don't like it on the edge." I answered.
"Come to the edge."
"I'm afraid of the edge!"
"Come to the edge."
"But what if I come to the edge and I fall off?"
"Trust me. Come to the edge."
"I trust you, Lord."
I went to the edge. . .and He pushed me off. . .
And then. . .I flew.
MORNGLORIES BY KIMBERLY COOK
(A Daily Devotional eMail List)
No unbelief or distrust made him [Abraham] waver (doubtingly
question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was
empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully
satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word
and to do what He had promised.
~ Romans 4:20-21 (amplified bible)
God keeps His promises to us. Sometimes that's hard for us to
believe, when we've been failed by man so many times. Promises today
are easily broken, and lightly given. They don't seem to have any
meaning anymore. The biggest promise of all, the marriage vow, has
become nothing more than a casual 'commitment', easily entered into,
and more easily broken. Parents abandon their families, in 'search'
of themselves, leaving their spouse and children with little or no
remorse.....In a world like this, it can be hard to believe in the
promises of God. And harder to believe that He doesn't lie.
Numbers 23:19 says, 'God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son
of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or
has he spoken, and will He not make it good?' God is worthy of your
trust - He can be depended on to keep His promises, no matter what.
Abraham chose to believe God's promise of a son, when he was 100
years old and his wife was 90 years old. Impossible with man, but
possible with God! He set aside his doubts and believed that God
would keep His word, and God did.
Right now, in whatever situation you're in, choose to cling to and
believe the promises of God..."I will never leave you or forsake
you"..."I am faithful and just to forgive you your sins"..."My God
shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He
who promised is faithful" ~ Hebrews 10:23
Lord, thank You for Your promises that we find in Your word. Help us
to trust You, to turn to You even though promises made by men have
been broken in the past. Strengthen our belief. Help us to let go of
our unbelief as we choose to trust You.
Heal our hurts, help us to forgive those who have broken promises to
us. Remove from us any bitterness that is keeping us from
surrendering to You fully and completely. For those of us who are
struggling, provide for us in a miraculous way. Fill us with Your
peace as we pursue You, Dear Lord.
In Jesus' name,
(Received from Sari Cobb - Author Unknown)
They tell the story of a mountain climber, desperate to conquer the
Aconcagua, initiated his climb after years of preparation. But he
wanted the glory to himself, therefore, he went up alone. He started
climbing and it was becoming later and later. He did not prepare for
camping but decided to keep on going. Soon it got dark...
Night fell with heaviness at such high altitude and there was zero
visibility. Everything was black, no moon, and the stars were covered
by clouds. As he was climbing a ridge at about 100 meters from the
top, he slipped and fell...falling rapidly and could only see
blotches of darkness that passed in the same darkness and a terrible
sensation of being suctioned by gravity. He kept falling.... and in
those anguishing moments good and bad memories passed through his
mind. He thought he would die.
Nevertheless, he felt a jolt that almost tore him in half...Yes!
Like any good mountain climber he had staked himself with a long rope
tied to his waist. In those moments of stillness, suspended in the
air he had no other choice but to shout, "HELP ME GOD", "HELP ME!"
All of a sudden he heard a deep voice from heaven... "What do you
want me to do?"
"Do you REALLY think that I can save you?"
"OF COURSE, MY GOD, OF COURSE YOU CAN"
"Then cut the rope that is holding you up."
There was another moment of silence and stillness.
The rescue team says that the next day they found, a frozen mountain
climber hanging strongly to a rope...............
TWO FEET OFF THE GROUND.
How about you? Are you trusting in something like that climber's
rope? ........Why don't you let it go? I tell you, God has great and
marvelous things for you. Cut the rope and simply trust Him.
FAITH IS . . .
(Received via A_Gift_from_God - Author Unknown)
Faith is: reliance on the certainty that God has a pattern for my
life when everything seems meaningless...........
Faith is: remembering I am God's priceless treasure when I feel
Faith is: depending on the fact that God is Love - not on my ability
to figure out why in the midst of smashed hopes, reversal, and
Faith is: keeping on when I am dog tired, discouraged, disillusioned,
deserted, dusty and dry and I cast on His strength alone.....
Faith is: realizing that I am useful to God, not in spite of my
scars, but because of them.....
Faith is: confidence that God is acting for my highest good when He
answers "No" to my prayers.....
Faith is: accepting the truth that, in spite of the wreckage and
grief I've caused, God who has wiped the slate clean and delights in
Faith is: recognizing that God is the Lord of time when my idea of
timing doesn't agree with his.......
Faith is: not a vague hope of a happy here after but an assurance of
heaven based on my trust in Christ's death as payment for my sins.....
Faith is: remembering that, though my way is dark as night to me, God
can see and guides me unerringly........
Faith is: doing the right thing regardless of the consequences
knowing God will turn the ultimate effect to good.......
Faith is: the conviction the Promiser keeps His promises.....
YOUR LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM
(A Daily Devotional eMail List)
Bring Your Umbrella . . .
One summer, a drought threatened the crop in a small town. On a hot
and dry Sunday, the village parson told his congregation, "There
isn't anything that will save us except to pray for rain. Go home,
pray, believe, and come back next Sunday ready to thank God for
The people did as they were told and returned to church the following
Sunday. But as soon as the parson saw them, he was furious. "We
can't worship today. You do not yet believe," he said.
"But," they protested, "we prayed, and we do believe."
"Believe?" he responded. "Then where are your umbrellas?"
The story applies to all of us. There are those people who leave
their umbrellas at home. Throughout their lives, they are merely
hoping their wishes and prayers will bear fruit, but they expect
little. Others expect their dreams and desires to come to pass. It
is as if they journey through life always prepared for something to
Today, how will you approach that which you are yearning for? Will
you expect your prayers and work to bring about hoped-for results?
Will you bring your umbrella?
From ONE MINUTE CAN CHANGE A LIFE, by Steve Goodier
GOD LIVES UNDER THE BED
(From Deborah at 1GodPrayerChain - Author Unknown)
My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what
I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark
bedroom, and I stopped outside his closed door to listen. "Are you
there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed."
I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique
perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night
something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the
first time the very different world Kevin lives in. He was born 30
years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during
labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in
which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the
capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably
always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the
one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that
airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.
I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever
dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off
to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker
spaniel, returning to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for
dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme
are laundry days, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine
like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied.
He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of
simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on
the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather
our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.
And Saturdays--oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my dad
takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes
land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger
inside. "That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps
his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday
nights. I don't think Kevin knows anything exists outside his world
of daily rituals and weekend field trips.
He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple.
He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does
not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he
eats. He recognizes no differences in people, treating each person as
an equal and a friend. His needs have always been met, and he never
worries that one day they may not be.
His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is
working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his
heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is
begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when
his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.
He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is
pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be
kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free
from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to
cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always
sincere. And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning,
when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God-
-to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for
an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.
In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my faith, I envy the
security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most
willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above
my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the
one with the handicap--I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my
circumstances--they all become disabilities when I do not submit them
Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all,
he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after
dark and soaking up the goodness and love of the Lord. And one day,
when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how
close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the
simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.
Kevin won't be surprised at all.
"For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and
understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a
shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of
the just and protects the way of his faithful ones." Proverbs 2:6-8
Copyright © 1998-2000 by Stephen J. Hall - Weekly letters of
encouragement to Christians written by Stephen J. Hall unless
otherwise indicated. Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley
are never intended to offend anyone. They're meant only to brighten
your day and encourage you along the way. Most of "notes"
and "humor" are a collection of items provided to me by subscribers
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Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
your love - how you built the cosmos and guaranteed everything in
it. Your love has always been our lives foundation, your fidelity
has been the roof over our world. (Psalm 89:1-3 The Message)