By Elizabeth Spencer, Crosswalk.com
The other day, an online friend asked what primary feeling I'd use to describe the season of life I'm in right now. "Unsettled," I told her.
I'm the mom of a recent college graduate and a recent high school graduate. My college grad is looking to start her teaching career 1,000 miles from me. My high school grad is ticking off the days until she starts her university adventure 548 miles from me (but who's counting?). I don't feel unsettled for my children-not at all. They are responsible, hard-working young women. They are going and doing exactly what I believe they should be going and doing. My unsettledness is not for them; it is for myself. Thankfully, I'm in good company; the Bible is full of people who had every right to feel unsettled sometimes and almost certainly did. Anticipating this, our omniscient God wove into His Word many threads that ground us when life feels up in the air.
If "unsettled" describes you today, too, then here are ten rock-solid pieces of truth to cling to.
1. The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness; and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure." (Isaiah 33:5,6 RSV)
When our minds swirl with unease, we have two primary choices: feed the whirlwind with what we don't know, or look to the stability of our times—who "has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm" (Nahum 1:3)—and claim who we do know.
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God," wrote Corrie ten Boom. And though the whirlwind of life rages on, never be afraid to trust unsure, uncertain times to a sure and certain God.
2. "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17 NIV)
I'm a fall-apart person by nature, so the idea of God holding me together is enormously comforting. We are all like Humpty Dumpty. We have all had a great fall. We have all been wounded in the fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put us back together again. But the King of kings whose name is faithful and true, who rides a white horse, can put us together again. He does not do it, though, so that we are as we were. He takes our broken pieces and our jagged edges and knits us back together as new creations. The initial wound may speak of what hurt us, but the scar, if there is one, speaks of who heals us. Our brokenness may tell what split us apart, but our wholeness tells who holds us together.
3. "Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God." (Psalm 90:1,2 NIV)
The Old Testament Hebrew words translated "to dwell" or "dwell" mean "to sit" or "to remain" and convey the idea of a permanent stay. Dwelling makes me think of being more than doing and of security and steadiness more than an address or structure. God is our dwelling place because, with Him, our hearts are truly at home.
We dwell with God by spending time with Him (it's hard to live in a home if we're never there). We dwell with Him by confessing where we've missed the mark (this is the house equivalent of wiping our dirty shoes on the mat at the door). We dwell with God by showing our real selves to him (I'm very much my "real self" at home...sometimes to my teenage daughter's chagrin).
When we sit or remain with God this way, we fulfill the beautiful promise of Isaiah 32:18, 20a:" My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest...how blessed you will be."
4. "For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared." (Proverbs 3:26 NIV)
The word "confidence" might trip us up if we think of it in terms of self-absorption or an inflated ego. But trusting God as our confidence is not about who or how we are; it's about who and how He is.
Godly confidence does not depend on our familiarity with a situation; it depends on our familiarity with the Savior. God illuminates the way for us through His Word. He sends His warrior angels to protect us. He leads us through the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Others might ask," On what are you basing this confidence of yours?"—echoing the king of Assyria's question in 2 Kings 18. And we answer, confidently, "We are depending on the Lord our God."
5. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
I'm not great at being physically still, so I was intrigued to learn not long ago that a more direct translation of "be still" from the original language in Psalm 46 is "let go." It carries the idea of dropping or slackening.
I like to think of an unclenching of my fists. I picture my hands tightly clutching something: a longing, a worry, a relationship, a project, a problem, a task. God pries my fingers open and asks me to turn my palms over, surrendering whatever was in them to Him. And then, with my hands free, I lift them in praise and worship and offering to Him.
6. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10 NRS)
When I read that "the righteous" run to the strong tower that is God's name, I'm tempted to think that tower isn't for me. If Proverbs 18:10 said "the messed-up" or the "ye of little faith" or "the chronically selfish" run to that tower, I'd be high-tailing it on up. But to say, "Yes, I'm one of the "righteous" feels fraudulent.
The error in my thinking is that I'm deciding if I'm one of the people who are supposed to run to the name of the Lord based on my own good deeds, which are "like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). But the standing that grants me and any of us access to God in His holiness originate in the Righteous One, Jesus.
Just look at a few of the people who found safety in the tower of God after their rags were replaced by the royal robe of Christ's goodness: a woman "living in sin" (John 4); an adulterer (John 8); a thief (Luke 23); a persecutor of believers (Acts 9).
God invites us to His tower. He longs for us to accept His invitation and then run to His saving protection with the robe of His righteousness flying out behind us like a banner.
7. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm." (Psalm 20:7,8 NIV)
I was thinking about the "trust fall" game we used to play in school—a perfect object lesson for the trustworthiness of God's name because the Biblical concept of trust is based on the idea of leaning our whole weight against the person or thing we're trusting.
My natural bent is to lean on things other than God and His name and nature. I trust my reputation or my bank account or my church or my human relationships or my accomplishments. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these, and they may catch me sometimes when I fall back on them. But inevitably, they will eventually drop me. They cannot bear the whole weight of my heart, mind, and soul.
But God can. He can be trusted. He holds out His arms and says, "Go ahead. Lean on me. I won't let you down." And so I let the whole weight I'm carrying slump against Him—and then, lightened of that load, rise up and stand firm.
8. "And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house." (Isaiah 22:23 KJV)
My dad taught me everything I know about tools, carpentry, and home repair. From him, I know that if I'm trying to hang anything very heavy on a wall, my nail needs to be pounded into firm, solid studding, not just powdery plaster or drywall.
Sometimes, I try to hang my security on nails I pound into my own efforts, my own abilities, people around me, financial stability, good works, my "resume." This all looks pretty for a while, hanging there on the walls. But soon, it comes crashing down.
And so I look again for solid studding: for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I pound the nail of faith into these. I rehang my hope on that nail, and it is a solid, firm hope that does not fail and does not fall.
9. "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3 ESV)
When I was thinking about the word "stayed," which in other versions is translated as "steadfast" or "fixed," my mind went, improbably, to colonial women's undergarments. (I told you it was improbable.) "Stays" were those boned contraptions that essentially kept everything in place and supported proper posture.
When my mind is "stayed" on my Peace-Keeper, it's going to be in the right place, with the right posture toward God: upward-looking, reverent, worshipful.
I keep my mind on God; God keeps His peace in me. Perfect.
10. "Lord, you have been our home since the beginning. Before the mountains were born and before you created the earth and the world, you are God. You have always been, and you will always be." (Psalm 90:1,2 NCV)
If God is our home—and He is—then home cannot only be about location—and it isn't. God as our home is so much more about presence than place. As believers, we follow a long line of the faithful here. Abram left His location because He understood home was about the blessing that comes from obedience to God (Genesis 12:1-4). Ruth left her location because she understood that home was about commitment (Ruth 1:16,17). The disciples left their location because they understood home was about following the Truth (Matthew 4:18-20).
And Jesus left His location because He understood home was about relationship; He was willing to make not just a down payment on the most glorious home ever but to pay the full cost upfront and to purchase that home outright for any who desire to dwell there with Him.
Someday, if someone (a fellow mom of older kids, maybe) asks me how I got through this unsettling season of life, I hope I'll be able to honestly answer them, "By sinking into the unchanging, unwavering Word of God. By clinging to the Rock, who is not the "I might be" or the "I was," but the "I AM."
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/pcess609
Elizabeth Spencer is a wife, mom, freelance writer, baker, Bible study facilitator, and worship leader from Battle Creek, Michigan. She writes about faith, family, and food (with some occasional funny thrown in) on her blog, Guilty Chocoholic Mama, and on Facebook. She is the author of the devotional Known By His Names: A 365-Day Journey From The Beginning to The Amen.