Making Sense of the Nonsense

Grief and anxiety can be so powerful that you can melt in the heat of their presence like a dip of ice cream on a 110-degree day.   When the trials and tragedies of life assault you, God can seem so distant that his voice is inaudible and His care and compassion inconspicuous.

When you feel like you’ve been bullied by misfortune or beaten down by fickle friends, you can be blinded by a pervasive sense of loneliness and a warped perspective on life.  This was the case with Asaph when he wrote Psalm 73:

My feet almost slipped; my feet almost slid out from under me. For I envied those who are proud, as I observed the prosperity of the wicked. For they suffer no pain. . . They mock and say evil things; they proudly threaten violence. They speak as if they rule in heaven, and lay claim to the earth.

Whenever you find that you are walking down a path of misery, you need to re-calibrate your compass.  Instead of focusing primarily on your internals, you need to take an eternal perspective on life.  This is how Asaph began to reorient his direction in life: When I tried to make sense of all this nonsense, it was troubling to me. When I finally looked beyond myself, and I quit beating myself down. I looked up to God and I entered His temple, and then I understood the destiny of the wicked (my paraphrase of Psalm 73:16-17)

“Sometimes God gives us a gentle push of courage; sometimes He mercifully numbs us so we don’t experience the full intensity of our pain; at other times He carries us when we cannot take another step on our own (Bruce Carroll, Sometimes Miracles Hide).”

You may be feeling the mental or physical pain of lingering bruises from being abused, misused, or falsely accused; if so, I hope you find comfort in the reassuring words of Psalm 121:

I look up at the vast size of the mountains—from where will my help come in times of trouble? The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains will send the help I need. He holds you firmly in place; He will not let you fall. He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep. What a relief! The One who watches over Israel never leaves for rest or sleep. The Eternal keeps you safe, so close to Him that His shadow is a cooling shade to you. Neither bright light of sun nor dim light of moon will harm you. The Eternal will keep you safe from all of life’s evils, from your first breath to the last breath you breathe, from this day and forever. ~The Voice

Cockpit Savvy

Cessna-172-Instrument-Panel-300x225It rarely happened, but on the few occasions when I received an early morning phone call asking for Sargent Seymour, I knew something big had transpired.  So when the phone rang very early that morning,  I knew it was going to be an interesting day.

When I confirmed that I was Sargent Seymour, the voice barked out an order: “Make sure you report at 0600 hours. You’re on the search and recovery team, and we have a pilot down.”

I was one of the first to arrive at my duty station, and I watched as the other team members began to file in.  After we were briefed, we were loaded on a bus and driven to the foot of a mountain where jeeps took us far as they could go. We then hiked to the crash site where the wreckage of the aircraft was scattered across a meadow.

I later learned that the cause of the crash was either instrument failure or the pilot had become disoriented.  There are times when a pilot will suffer spatial disorientation and he can’t tell up from down.  He may think he’s pulling the plane out of a dive, but he’s actually flying it into the ground.

Experienced pilots know they must trust their instruments and not just their senses.  The primary flight instruments found in many cockpits include:

  • Airspeed Indicator: Indicates the speed at which the air is flowing over the airplane
  • Attitude Indicator: Shows the position of the airplane in relation to the horizon.
  • Altimeter: Measures the altitude of the aircraft above sea level.
  • Vertical Speed Indicator: Indicates the Rate of Climb and Rate of Descent
  • Heading Indicator: The principal direction instrument used in flight.
  • Turn Coordinator: Gives information about the direction and rate of a turn.

Like an experienced pilot, a person needs to rely on more than just his senses—You also need the principles of God’s Word:

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he highlighted the value and benefit of Scripture:

 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Instead of thinking in terms of the primary flight instruments in a cockpit, think of Scripture as your primary faith instrument.  The Psalmist did, and he said God’s Word can:

  • Show you how to live.
  • Give you understanding
  • Guide your walk.
  • Point you in the correct direction.

O Lord, show me how to live according to Your statutes, and I will keep them always. Grant me understanding so that I can keep Your law and keep it wholeheartedly.

Guide me to walk in the way You commanded because I take joy in it. Turn my head and my heart to Your decrees and not to sinful gain (Psalm 119:33-36).

Blueprints and Road Maps

kansasBlueprints and road maps are useful and necessary tools to get you from where you are to where you’re going.  I have the same opinion of the book of James.  It’s a book of divine directives, that will help you negotiate the challenging hairpin curves of life.

There are 5 points of interest that are the keys to everything that James says in this book:  “Submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:7-10).”

These words are good advice and principles to be practiced.  To apply them to your life, focus on the 5 points of interest:

  • Insist: Submit to God
  • Resist the Devil
  • Persist: Draw near to God
  • Desist: Cleanse your hands and purify your heart
  • Consist: A life of humility—humble yourself

These 5 points can be summarized by one statement: The life that’s yielded to God is a life that’s shielded by God.