I love new beginnings. Wrapping up the school year and entering summer, setting some goals and making plans to be more prepared for the fall, tickles my fancy. But even as God guides us in our planning and dreaming, how quickly the plan can become the idol, fears of failure to meet deadlines (even personal ones) and make progress screaming loudly through the contentment and peace God has brought as we've sought him to direct our paths.
It's a battle isn't it? This walk of faith.
As I awoke this morning, I knew I needed to meet with the Lord. Not just show up for my quiet time, say some "proper" words of thanksgiving and un-heartfelt confessions and praise, and then read my "assigned" passages. I needed to commune with my God. Often I find it difficult to wake myself up enough to even know what's going on in my heart in the morning. He prepared me last night by making me a little too uncomfortable with my own self focus, instilling a craving for some forgiveness and restoration, and woke me a little earlier than usual so I could meet with Him.
And how God wove His word together this morning! I'm at the point in the Old Testament where Assyria comes to take over Israel (II Kings 17) and sends them into exile, all according to God's plan. His people have not been worshiping Him rightly for a LONG time. The nasty King of Assyria takes care of Israel and moves on to challenge the King of Judah, Hezekiah, who actually trusts God, has torn down the high places and Asherah poles - false, idolatrous places of worship. Hezekiah is leading Judah toward God. It's really a point of hope after reading about so many kings who "did evil in the eyes of the Lord."
The King of Assyria sends a messenger to challenge Judah with these words, II Kings 18:28-36:
Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew: "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, 'The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.'
"Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig-tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!
"Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, 'The LORD will deliver us.' Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?"
But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, "Do not answer him."
Is this not exactly how the evil one tempts us to despair, to doubt, to fear, to unbelief? How reminiscent of Satan's temptation to Eve in the garden? How often my own heart asks, 'Can God really get me out of this mess?'
After a little pondering of these lies my heart too often believes, my readings took me to Psalm 139: God knows when we sit and when we rise, our going and coming; He hems us in before and behind; He knit us together and knows the number of days ordained for us. Oh, our God knows what's going on with His people! The taunts of too-proud kings of pagan lands or Satan from his den of folly are real, yes, but how silly they seem when we stop and remember our Lord.
The one who knows us, knit us, keeps us.
I don't know the fears, doubts, and trials that are threatening to undo you today. But as Hezekiah directed his people, do not answer them. Rather, lift your eyes and your heart up to the Lord. Pray as David:
Search me and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me;
and lead me in the way everlasting.
God will meet you. He will hem you in.