Let God Hold Your Hand

“Here, hold my hand”… a parent often says to a little child when crossing a busy street…I think God says that to us as His children when we are in a busy or difficult place in our lives. Also, when children are hurting or they are afraid, one of their first impulses is to reach their hands up for someone  to pick them up. God can and will pick us up too, if we will turn to Him.In fact, that is what the Bible says… “Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Let’s think a few minutes about what this bible verse is teaching us. The first thing is Don’t be discouraged. Why should we not be discouraged? The answer is in the  next phrase is  “I am Your God”. That refers to your personal relationship with God. We need focus our thoughts upon God and all the many things He has done for us. God is with you and wants His best for your life. God is bigger than any problem we encounter in life.

The next part of that verse is “I will Strengthen You and help You.” The Lord is the ultimate and unending Source of our Strength. We have limits to our strength but God is an endless resource of strength for us. When we are weak, He is strong. We need to exchange our weakness for His strength. This is done by trusting Him making Him our focus rather than just our issues or difficult circumstances. Chuck Smith states that “God wants us to learn to trust in Him completely…even when we cannot see any possible solutions.”

“He will help you”…God doesn’t just wish He could help you or hope to maybe help you but He really will help you. Don’t limit your expectations to how God will help you, be open to options you may have never considered as you follow His direction for your life.

“He will hold you up with His Victorious Right Hand.” The Right Hand signifies His personal favor for you. Victorious means win, therefore He will give you personal victory. The key is for us to keep holding His hand and let lead us, step by step and day by day. 


Shortcuts Aren’t Always Short

Shortcuts aren’t always short…I was hiking with some experienced hikers in the mountains of North Carolina. We were on a trail that led across the top of the ridges. We stopped for a break and I noticed that it would be shorter distance to drop off the side of the trail and cross over through a ravine to where we were going for the day. My friends advised me not to, but I told them I would meet them on the other side. It started out okay, but when I got into the rhododendron thicket ( a large concentrated area of evergreen type bush-trees) it was really tough. At one point, I was crawling on my hands and knees with my backpack getting stuck every few feet.I sat there for a few minutes realizing want a dumb, stupid mistake I had made trying this as a short cut.Trying to think positive, I thought I was probably sitting where no person had ever been before…then I look down and saw an old chewing gum wrapper! Oh well, so much for nice thoughts. I finally reach my destination with my torn backpack and flannel shirt, scratches on my face, and leaves stuck in my hiking boots. My friends greeted me with laughter and asked me how I liked my “short cut”.
Sometimes, we all have days like that. We think we know best and we don’t; but we go ahead inspite of the wisdom of others who warn us. Then, we find ourselves in a mess. We need to learn from our mistakes and realize that we aren’t the center of the universe and more knowledgeable than wikipedia. It keeps us humble and that’s a good thing. I have learned to laugh at myself but also to learn from others and not just assume I know it all. I think God planned it that way, so we would trust in Him and to value other people. We aren’t meant to fly solo through life, we really do need each other. 
Don Williams has said …“The Road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from our journey, not our destinations.” Trust me, I learned a lot from my hiking friends and I thankful that they didn’t leave this bear in the mountains that day. Regardless of what situations you encounter this week, remember the Lord is there to help you. One of my favorite Bible verses is “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” (Isaiah 61:2 ). Let Him lead you to a higher place. 


Time to Take a Break…Why Bears Hibernate

Bears go more dormant during the winter months because their regular food supply is not readily available during that time of year. They do this to survive. Although my nickname is “Bear”, I too have found it vitally important to take a break in order to survive and thrive. I am often asked the question “How to you deal with all the things and stressful situations in your work?” I am thankful for the opportunity that God has allowed me to “Be there” when people are hurting or in a crisis. My schedule is often unpredictable and can change in a instant. I’m not able to take several months off like a real bear but I would like to share with you some things I have found to be very helpful to keep in mind when you are in the  middle of stressful times.We all need time to rest. Dr. Archibald Hart did an important study and wrote a book on of the role of adrenalin and stress. One of the big findings that became evident is that if you are constantly going, going ,non stop for an extended period of time; that when you stop it will take awhile for your body to physically replenish the adrenalin necessary for good health. That is why, when you eventually stop and take a day off you may feel down, tired and emotionally drained; accompanied with maybe even a headache.

We all need time to renew and restore our mind, body, and soul. Even Jesus told his disciples after a very busy time in their ministry together “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” ( Mark 6:31). I like what Charles Swindoll said about this, “Renewal and restoration are not luxuries, they are essentials. Being alone and resting for a while is not selfish; it is Christ like. It’s not carnal, it’s spiritual.”

We all need time to recalibrate. My good friend, Glenn Metts mentioned this term while we were hiking in the mountains, We were in awe of the majestic mountains with clear skies.We could see something breathtaking everywhere we turned that day. It’s good to get away for a few hours or a day to change your surroundings and to help you put things in proper perspective. Wayne Corderio is right…”Sometimes how we view our problems oftentimes is the problem.” It is amazing how taking a break can allow us to clarify that in our thinking and recalibrate us back in the right direction for our lives.

Take mini-breaks when you can during a busy day. Take a short walk. Change up your routine a little, maybe drive a different route to work or home. Listen to relaxing music. Park your car in the parking lot further away so that you can walk more. Cut out caffeine late in the day. Go to a different restaurant. Just a short break can go a long way to making your busy day less stressful. These are just some things that this old bear has learned that you can do to take a break even when you don’t have a lot of time to hibernate.  


Surviving in a Crisis: When a Pie-Eating Contest turns into a Pie-Throwing Contest

I was recruited to help out at a local pie eating contest. Being the competitor I am, I “trained” for several days, trying to get into the best pie eating shape possible that I could in a short period of time. I worked on my technique, and developed a steady eating pace for endurance. I even thought about securing a corporate sponsor like Mrs. Edwards or Marie Calendars but evidently,  they don’t live in Tennessee because I couldn’t find them in the phone book. I had studied the rules and was prepared for this big event. In spite of the cold weather, there was a large crowd there that night. Over the sound system, they started with a countdown and GO! I was focused as a race horse at the Kentucky Derby and kept my eye on the prize…I mean pie. I kept my head low to be closer to the pie in order to shorten the distance between the pie and me so my athletic strokes of moving the spoon to my mouth would be more energy efficient, hopefully giving me a competitive edge. Then all of sudden, spontaneous combustion exploded as the other contestants got into a pie throwing contest at each other…There were pies flying all around me but I stayed low and focused. My good friend Ed,  got “creamed”. They stopped the contest and although I didn’t win, I cleaned my pie plate just like my mom taught me as a child…

Sometimes we can end up in the middle of an unexpected mess of a crisis. How should we respond? Here are some ideas that I have found helpful…

Pray instead of Panic. Psalm 46:1 describes it this way…”God is our refuge and our strength , a very present help in trouble.” That should  always the first response for us, that should be our “default setting” like on a computer.It doesn’t have to be a verbal or a loud prayer, just quietly in our heart and soul would do just fine. Chuck Smith said this …” God wants us to trust in Him completely, even when we cannot see any possible solutions.” 

Stay Calm and look at Options as you Respond. It is important not to overreact. Think through your situation. You may need to seek good advice, if possible talk to someone who has had a similar problem and did okay during their experience. This is particularly helpful if there is adequate time to secure advice. It is important how realize the situation for what it is and look at the best options available to you. This is nothing new, even the ancient Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius said “ The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” 

Choose the Best Option and Proceed with cautious optimism. It isn’t always a clear path or a perfect straight line through a crisis. Things are often messy and not nice and neat and cleaning it up can be a process and take time. Trust me I know, every time I eat some pie, I check to see if everything around me is okay…