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News reports are swirling around us as our Election Day nears. Sadly the reports aren’t necessarily factual. Mudslinging seems to be the preferred topic for some rather than offering solutions to national concerns…ditto for the mud we sling at ourselves rather than pursuing peace about our inner concerns.
Remember…the SOLUTION is NOT in the problem:
“Think on what is good and true and noble. And as you practice this, the God of peace will be with you.” Paraphrase of Philipians.:4-8-9
This Scripture may sound simplistic…so simplistic that we can easily pass on applying it to our lives. “Fighting the good fight” of wrestling with the problems at hand…especially the problems within…seems so noble; so valiant. But rather than freeing us from our inner slavery, the wrestling enslaves us the more. What we rehearse becomes a curse not easily broken.
I offer my life as a negative example. My father’s ongoing disapproval of women was the birthplace of my fear-based view of life. I readily picked up his verbal whip to keep myself in line. Knowing I couldn’t look to him for affirmation and protection, fear extended its borders within me. And self-protection became my defense. I had yet to know the Lord as my Defender (Ex. 15:2; Ps. 118:14; Is. 12:2).
My journey into trusting the Father was a looong one, simply because I didn’t have anyone to show me the way, even though I’d been in church since early childhood. There’s much more to learning not to fear than being told, “Do not fear”. Thankfully, the Lord brought Dr. Lester Lee into my life thirty some years ago to put me on the path of learning how to exercise my faith.
Hoping will not make it so. Hoping without faith is groping; like grasping at straws.
“Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for…the EVIDENCE of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
I had to strengthen my faith by intentionally choosing to trust Him (beginning with small matters). First the choice and then my voice echoing my choice…and then practicing believing. My hope was that my choice would bring immediate relief from fear and immediate increase in faith. To repeat, hoping did not make it so. Neither did my fears flee at the sound of my choice. Therein was my battle for faith; tuning out the clamoring of my fears with dedicated trust and pushing through those fears for the gain of deeper faith.
Only the Word held the remedy to going beyond where I was spiritually:
“When you are afraid, put your trust in Me; choose to trust Me” Paraphrase Psalm 56:3-4
“Come into My rest by mixing what you know of Me with faith; with your choice to believe in Me” Hebrews 4:2
“Practice what you’ve learned and the God of peace will be with you” Philippians 4:9 Amplified
His same counsel applies to our national concerns. If we’re fearful; we need to choose to trust Him rather than yield to our fears. We enter His rest by choice; adding faith to what we know about Him. And we give voice to our choice to trust Him through standing for godly values and by voting according to those values. Then “having done all we know to do, STAND” …and trust that the outcome will be good…even if the outcome doesn’t look like our kind of good. Take note of 1 Peter 3:9 Amplified;
“If you would have good days – good whether apparent or not – speak no evil”
Sobering thought that our fears are evil; sinful. (“Anything done apart from faith is sin” Romans 12:23)
May we mix what we know of our Lord with words of faith.
rather than mixing words of fear with what we know of the world

The Lord has a way of cutting through the haze in my life to confirm the leading He’s given me as if He’s saying, “Can you hear Me now?” True to form, after the theme for ED#29 came to me, His nudges came to me from other sources. Very important to note that I didn’t research for confirmation; the echoes just came to me in the course of my day. ‘While taking a short break, I turned the TV on and heard a sermon on “The Best of Life Will Come out of the Worst of Life”. Then, the first e-mail on my new laptop had the same topic.

My theme is a familiar one: “The Solution is NOT in the Problem” even though that’s where we most often search for the way out of what we’ve gotten into. We ponder and wonder; theorize and agonize; doubt and pout (“Where IS God in all this?”) wasting valuable time and emotional energy in mulling over the details of our dilemma.

The waves of life are sure to knock us over if our gaze becomes fixed on our dire circumstances; much like Peter. Remember the Matt. 14 account? When the disciples’ boat was buffeted by waves and wind, they saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter cried out, “Tell me to come to you.” And He said, “Come.” And while WALKING ON WATER !!! – doing what is impossible without God ! – Peter chose to look down at the waves he had already overcome by fixing his eyes on Jesus. When Peter deflected his gaze, he began to sink and to blubber, “Lord, save me.” And Jesus immediately reached out his hand to rescue Peter while saying, “O you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” His same words echo within us when we become faith wobblers.

I’m grateful for “the rest of the story” recorded in Matt. 16:18: “I tell you, you are Peter (Petros; a large piece of rock) and on this rock, I will build by church.” Take notice that Jesus told Peter who he was. He is eager to do the same for each of us. Are we listening?.

When I reflect on my life, the best of times have most often begun with the worst of times, although I usually saw the connection in hindsight. One example (though far from our most dire): With 10 months left before retiring from the Navy, my husband received transfer orders. We were already stationed in our retirement place of choice; bought a home; nursed a ragweed lawn into a dichondra thing of beauty. We were faced with uprooting our family and find tenants willing to rent short term and take care of our home. The Navy would bear the cost of moving us to San Francisco and then back to San Diego in less than a year. I was fuming over our unnecessary uprooting and, more so, at the Navy’s waste.

Where did I vocalize my fuming? Easier question, where I did not. From family and friends to our Senator and House Representative and all points in between. All to no avail. Turns out the transfer orders were from His hand not the Navy commandant.

Enter Wanda, my neighbor on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Wanda fed me the Word and introduced me to the fullness of the Spirit. Her joy in the Lord overflowed into me. And she was FUN too…another skill I sorely needed! Would that I had allowed that valuable experience to inoculate me against doubt for life. Sadly. He’s had to remind be many times over the years to:

“Trust in Me with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Me, and I will direct your path.”
Prov. 3:5-6

My morning devotions found me laughing out loud when a surprising scenario wafted across my imagination. I was reading a devotion titled “Are You Drifting?” And my thoughts were doing just that. But the author’s explanation of the Jewish Midrash brought me back to full attention…giving definition to my drifting. I was having a Midrash Moment.
Midrash – rabbinic literature that provides a “back story” or explains the motivations of God and man, imagining their inner lives..
A midrash might be called an “aha!” but for me, it goes beyond that to “awe-ha” … a peek into God’s sense of humor; a quizzical Spiritual insight;.
The text was from Gen. 2:18-22. Verse 18 – “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” And Verse 21-22 – “And the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam … God took one of his ribs … and He made the rib into a woman…”
Now what tickled my ribs was in the verses in between: To paraphrase Verse 19 – “God formed all the beasts of the field and birds of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would name them. And every living creature was named by Adam.”
Midrash Moment in the making
I started to giggle over the Lord’s wisdom. Can you imagine the upheaval if He had created Eve before the naming of the animals and charged Adam AND Eve with naming the animals TOGETHER. An “Oi vey”, indeed. The atmosphere would have been charged with disagreement and pleas of “No that definitely doesn’t fit.” “Why would you call him THAT???” “How about ____?” (“Oi vey” means “oh, pain” and, guaranteed, there would have been pain a-plenty.) Are you kidding me?” You’ve GOT to see the humor here. Some couples can’t even agree on the name of one child.
I love being in good company, so my thoughts turned to Sarah and her laughter. We have two things in common: laughter and advanced age. I re-read Gen.18:12 and took note that “Sarah laughed within.” And there we parted company, I guffawed out loud.
Laughter is good medicine
“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” – Yiddish Proverb
They both cleanse, refresh and invigorate.

Midrash layman definition: Behind the scenes quizzical insights;
getting in on God’s sense of humor

Thoughts concerning quizzical insights and God’s sense of humor have been tickling the edges of my mind since the last devotional. It became obvious that I wasn’t through with Midrash meanderings.

The niggling was around Adam’s solo assignment (naming of the animals). Can’t you picture the scene if God had given the job to man AND woman? (I have a mind cartoon of the outcome, so I have to chuckle with God on this one,) Between woman’s desire to name each animal EXACTLY right (OBVIOUSLY requiring many questions and suggestions) and man’s bent to “Just get the job done”, Paradise might have been lost before the serpent intruded.

I identify – and my husband would testify – to my relentless bent toward questions and suggestions. The need to explore all sides and get “it” right runs high within me. And his singlemindedness is JUST as relentless. Case in point: His major – only – concern as we enter church is to get the job done. He looks neither to the right nor to the left as he sets out to “kill the bear” (conquer our seats). After that, he is fully available to meet and greet others.

There are some matters in life like “(Just) name the animals, Adam” that just need to get done. (I’m not sure procuring our seats in church is one of them!) There are other matters –as in relational matters – where mutual consideration and cooperation is the path most profitable.

I considered considering another scene in the garden …The Apple Scene (not to be confused with today’s Apple frenzy … the savvy serpent salesman slithering up to the woman to tempt her. Why did he go to the woman? Why did the man eat of the fruit too? There’s a whole lot of Midrash going on behind the scenes. But I’ll leave that as an opportunity for the reader to seek quizzical insights into God’s sense of humor.

There’s enough Midrash to be discovered in the Genesis of relationships to go around on both sides of the marriage or political aisle. (Both parties accomplish more when they reach across the aisle in goodwill. The same holds true in every type of relationship.)

The lost art of relationship, whether marriage or politics; family or friendship; employer and employee; co-worker and co-worker; seems to be trusted partnership. Relationships are meant to provide equal opportunity to prefer the other if both will relent from their wayward bents. In matters relational (the stuff life is made of) mutual consideration is the path most profitable.

“Be kind to one another; tenderhearted; forgiving one another
as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph. 4:32

Postscript to E-motional Devotional #28 – Midrash Momentum – 10-7-12

There was another niggling going on within me as I hit the Send key. And this morning
came the “Aha!” I needed to include Scriptures about mutuality:

‘ There should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation to each other,
but the members should have mutual interest in and care for
each other.” From 1 Cor. 12:25 Amplified

“…may we be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith” From Rom. 1:12 Amplified
So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another.” From Rom. 14:19 Amplified

“I love your writing. You really have a way with zingers, but I think what really matters is the life wisdom you bring to the page. You say hard things, but you make them go down like warm apple pie.” David Kopp - executive editor, Multnomah Books

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