Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.—Hebrews 11:1
What a beautiful, hope-inspiring verse. It flows like honey from the lips of whomever recites it and gives comfort to all who struggle with the troubles and tribulations that are guaranteed to come as long as we continue to live and breathe this side of Heaven.
However, when you are in the midst of those troubles, most of us would be less than truthful if we said that we did not ever doubt. Indeed, sometimes our confidence in what we hope for DOES wane. Sometimes we’re NOT so assured that the things we cannot see are fully under the control of a loving God who will use them for our good.
The fact is, sometimes, when life gets hard, uncertainty will often fuel fear instead of hope and, if you are like me, it becomes more about survival—just putting one foot in front of the other—than it does about resting in peace and hope. It becomes more about drifting in seclusion and fear than living in the presence of God and trusting His promises fully and completely.
Truth be told, as much as I love God and as much as I know in my heart that He is always present and always worth trusting, I have still loitered in a self-imposed seclusion at times; wandered aimlessly through shadowy valleys where cares and concerns take the form of dark and menacing shadows hell-bent on blocking the light in my life. In fact, over the past few months, it feels like I have stood frozen and wrought in fear more than I have walked in peace and rested in trust and faith, even though I absolutely know better.
Thank God I know better. Thank God for the proverbial and omnipresent life-line that He continually invites us to grab hold of and uses to pull us back to a place where we can see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Thank God, He never gives up. No matter how many times we drift away and lose sight, He just keeps offering Himself to us over and over and over, repeatedly reminding us that He is right beside us and worthy of our trust.
So, as I continued to occupy that valley between fear and worry and complete trust in Him, God started pulling me back to Himself. And, just as He often does when there is something He wants me to really hear, He began putting the subject in my path so many times and in so many ways that it was simply impossible to deny. It seemed that He used practically every thing I read and heard to assert the same truth. Trust Me, He said again and again.
And, trust me, I had heard quite a few messages in the last couple of weeks. Realizing my spiritual and prayer life was collecting dust, I had recommitted myself to the daily habit of spending my half hour drive to and from work either praying or listening to podcasts by various preachers and teachers. It’s something I had enjoyed for several years and I was hoping that it would get me reconnected and out of this cycle of fear and worry which I had fallen into. And, of course, never one to disappoint, God Almighty, the Teacher of teachers, showed up and picked up right where we left off.
Now, I don’t want to say that He harped on and on about that one thing that I was obviously needing most at this point in time, but I will say He was quite persistent. Days turned into weeks and podcast after podcast, sermon after sermon, in one way or another, all dealt with same subject: trusting Him; living in His presence; walking and dwelling with the Holy Spirit; not fearing; and, finally, believing in His good plan for my life, no matter what.
Everyday. It didn’t matter who was delivering it, the message was the same. Steven Furtick. Andy Stanley. Joyce Meyer. Louie Giglio. Over and Over. I couldn’t hide from it. Though, truth be told, I really didn’t want to.
I wanted nothing more than to honor God and find that place of peace for myself where my trust in Him is unbridled. And, so, on my way home one day, after hearing Joyce Meyer preach on the Holy Spirit, I turned off my radio and began to pray. From the Eisenhower exit to Hartley Bridge, I prayed for God to once again heighten my ability to sense the Holy Spirit as well as my ability and desire to follow His lead. I asked to hear His voice loud and clear and to once again be able to trust that everything in my life would be used by Him. I asked for reassurance that it—that I—really was going to be okay. “God, show me that it’s going to be okay,” I pleaded.
As I rode along praying from the deepest reaches of my heart, I suddenly became overwhelmed with this feeling that I was in danger. Completely out of the blue, I sensed that there were deer in the woods parallel to the interstate I was driving on and that, at any moment, that they were going to dart in front of my car. I can’t explain it, but it was so real and so intense that I began to feel panicked.
My first instinct was to brake and slow down, for I figured that slowing down would either keep me from hitting them or, at the very least, lessen the impact. However, when I looked in my rearview mirror, there was a car practically tailgating me, rendering that plan null and void. Next, I considered changing into the middle lane, thinking that I could perhaps put a little more distance between myself and them, but, yet again, a car was fast approaching there as well.
Finally, I did the only thing I could think of left to do, and I blurted out the following plea, “Lord, please just stop them in their tracks! Stop them in their tracks, Father!”
Just like that, the feeling of looming danger dissipated just as quickly as it had started. I took a deep breath and thanked God for this unseen, but deeply felt occurrence. The sense of danger had been so real, but, thankfully, this peaceful, safe feeling felt just as real. That in itself was enough, yet my impromptu lesson on trust wasn’t quite over. Just as I was exhaling a breath of relief, my eyes were almost magnetically drawn to the woods just beyond the road’s shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There, standing tall, his body half in the woods and half out, was a deer! Head held high, looking in my direction and poised like he had literally been stopped in his tracks!
Though I would have been content with the feeling of relief I experienced a split second earlier, God knew that I needed to see it with my own two eyes. In fact, if you recall, I had just asked Him to come close and to show me that it was going to be okay; that I was going to be okay; and He did just as I had asked! Astounded, I immediately began to gush words of thanksgiving and praise.
Oh, how very much he taught me in those precious seconds and in the hours that followed as I recounted this beautiful experience.
For one, my initial response, as you may recall, was to try and do something myself. I checked the rearview mirror to see if I could slow down and then checked the side mirror to see if I could change lanes. Then and only then did I call out to our Lord to take control of the situation. I don’t know about you, but I do that all the time. I try everything in my power first, when I could save myself a whole lot of trouble by just asking God for help to begin with.
Secondly, I fully believe the woods are symbolic of things that have been going on in my life. Unknown things, such as my health, have been weighing heavily on me and causing angst. But, in just a few moments while driving down I-75, our beautiful Father in Heaven sent me a reminder that just like He controlled that deer in the woods that He was also in control of my health, my future and anything else that I might not be able to see. All I have to do is call out to Him.
Lord, I will never be able to thank You enough for answering me when I call out to You and for being relentless in Your pursuit of me. No matter how many times my trust falters, You never, ever leave my side. Thank you for SHOWING Yourself to me when I need it most and doing so in such a way that I know, without a doubt, that it is You. I shall never forget the image of that deer standing on the roadside, half in the woods and half out, obviously stopped in his tracks just by my asking. Your word says, “Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” And, as always, you are true to Your word. My dear sweet Jesus, I promise to work on trusting in You completely; to remember that You see everything that is going on—even the things behind the scenes—and that, no matter what, you will use it all for my good, all because I’m your child and I love you. Thank you for loving me so and for teaching me to look at everything through eyes of faith and trust. Oh what a difference it makes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen!