Sometimes It’s Impossible to Breathe Normally

I travel frequently, so I’ve mostly tuned out the safety routines at the beginning of the flight. One line, however, always causes me to pause and think. Have you heard this before?

In case there is a loss in cabin pressure, yellow oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling compartment located above you. To secure, pull the mask towards you, secure the elastic strap to your head, and fasten it so it covers your mouth and nose. Breathe normally. Even if the bag does not inflate, please keep in mind that oxygen is flowing. Please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others.

I’ve highlighted the part that causes me to reflect.

Breathe Normally.

Yea, right!

If I’m on an airplane, and oxygen masks are necessary, I’ll not be breathing normally. I may still be breathing, but it won’t be normal. I’ll be breathing heavily…very heavily…if at all. I’ll be gasping for air even if the supply of air is plenty.

It’s a great reminder to me. In times of tremendous stress or pressure, I shouldn’t expect to feel normal. I shouldn’t expect to feel completely natural when life makes no sense. I can’t breathe normally, because nothing is normal about life as I currently know it.

What should I do during times like this?

Find my center of gravity – I have to find my grounding again. When life is in chaos, it’s important to cling to what makes sense. Obviously, my relationship with Christ is premier here. The more I can base my life on truth, the more naturally I can breathe.

Surround myself with the right people – Let’s face it; some people are encouragers and some are not. When you’re having trouble breathing anyway, why surround yourself with people who suck the life out of you? Find people who encourage and build you up and cling to them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; even professional help if needed.

Look for small wins – Even on the darkest days of life, there’s probably something you can celebrate. Look for the moments, experiences and memories you can praise. Try something again and rejoice in the minor victories. The road to further success begins with small steps taken repeatedly can consistently.

What do you do when you can’t breathe normally?

I’ve written about airplane oxygen masks before, and applied this script to leadership. Read that post HERE.

Don’t Discount God because of Circumstances

The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. Genesis 21:1

It made no sense.

Sarah was too old.

Everyone was laughing.

They had tried to “help God out”.

But, God did as God promised to do.

In spite of the circumstance.

In spite of the irrationality of the situation.

In spite of those who said it couldn’t be done.

In spite of how long it seemed to be taking.

Sarah delivered a son, even in her very old age.

Don’t discount God because of your circumstances.

God is going to do what God chooses to do. He keeps His promises.

Where in your life are you waiting for God?

Having to Walk by Faith Lately?

We walk by faith, not by sight… (2 Corinthians 5:7)

That’s why…

  • You can’t always understand the ways of God…
  • You can’t always find your way in this world…
  • You often seem confused by the circumstances of your life…
  • You seldom seem to have all the pieces of the puzzle…
  • You struggle to make sense of life at times…

Because you walk by faith, not by sight.

You know what faith is…

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is a substance. It’s not faith in you…it’s faith in God, not in your understanding or your abilities…but in God’s understanding, God’s abilities.

And, remember…

Without faith it is impossible to please God… (Hebrews 11:6)

Having to walk by faith lately?

If so, you are on the right track to finding His pleasure.

By the way, you may want to read a previous post, 10 Tips to Understanding Faith HERE.

Reflection on the Poem “Footprints”

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. Psalm 77:19

...through the darkest days of my life…..where were you God…..I only saw one set of footprints in the sand…..where were you God….those were the times, my child, when I carried you…….

You are familiar with the “Footprints” poem that has been commercialized onto plates, pictures, ties, refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, etc, etc, etc. I once thought it was overused. In fact, I wondered where the Biblical reference for it was. I knew it was sound doctrinally, because I had experienced it so many times in my life, but I didn’t have a reference to back it up until I read this verse years ago.

Of course, the opening Bible verse refers to the famous march through the middle of the waters by that powerful leader we know as Moses. (I wrote more about that time HERE.)

Can you imagine how the Israelites must have felt? They had escaped the years of slavery and persecution to head for what they thought was a chance at real freedom and along came the Pharoah’s finest, ready to put them on the chopping block. Needless to say they were slightly disappointed. Moses summoned God, who told them to go through the center of the sea.

Yea, right! Yet, as strange as that may have sounded at the time, the people enter the “water” on dry ground! I know, it doesn’t make sense, but that is what happened. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me.  (Exodus 14)

Did they see the footprints of God? No! Did they doubt who parted the water? Did they question who dried up the dirt? Well, let me ask you, could you have done it? Neither could they!

They knew that God was being God….again!

Has He ever been God in your life? Can you explain it? Did you see His footprints? But if you submit yourself to God and allow God to do His work in your life, make no mistake about it, you will clearly know He is God and there is no other!

Read the poem footprints again. You probably have it on a coffee mug somewhere. Then recall the many times that He has taken you through the waters. Thank Him for carrying you all the way…though His footprints may not be seen!

He is a mighty God!

Being Still Doesn’t Mean Doing Nothing

I hear people use this verse for the wrong application:

Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I’ve heard well meaning people use it as an indicator that, because we are on the winning team, we will never face another battle. Not true.

Here’s something you need to understand about this verse, before you try to live it.

The verse doesn’t mean you don’t have an assignment. It doesn’t mean the assignment you have won’t be difficult. It doesn’t mean doing nothing.

Consider the next verse:

Exodus 15:15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

In other words…get going! Do what you’re supposed to do! Don’t stand there in fear…MOVE ON!

The Israelites were going to cross the sea. It would be something they had never done before. Have you ever walked through a wall of water, on ground that used to be the bottom of the sea?

Seriously, have you?

The Israelites were going to have to trust God that God would part the waters and dry up the land. Keep in mind, this command was given before the sea had even started to separate. They had to believe that the water would divide. They then had to believe the wall of water wouldn’t drop and fish wouldn’t fall on their head as they drown. They had to believe that crossing the sea was a better option than surrendering to the Egyptians. It wasn’t doing nothing. It was walking by faith.

The verse, then, means that if you are moving at the direction of God…if you are following His plan for your life…if you are being obedient…you don’t have to fear the outcome. You don’t have to worry about the provision of God for your journey. You don’t have to wonder if God will do as God said He will do. He’s got your back! He’s got the ultimate victory. You can rest in Him. You can be still!

Being still doesn’t mean doing nothing!

Have you been “standing still” when you need to be moving?

Quit making excuses and act on what you know God has called you to do! 

The Command: Do Not Be Afraid

I command you…be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

As I read the Scripture, I see little room for the follower of Christ to be afraid (except for the fear of God).

Perplexed; yes. Confused; sometimes. Overwhelmed; often. Angry; when necessary. Distressed; possibly.

Yes, I fully agree, just the fact that the command is there does not mean we will always follow it. Quite the contrary; I have been afraid many times. I fight the worry battle like all the rest. Wasn’t it David, the man after God’s own heart, who said that “when I am afraid, I will trust in you”? Sounds like he may have struggled with fear also.

Still, the Bible is consistent, and it consistently reminds us not to allow fear to captivate our lives. Obviously, when God first gave this command to Joshua, being an all knowing God, He knew that Joshua was about to encounter some pretty scary days. No doubt the enemies of Joshua had ample opportunity to attempt to make him squirm.

Today God knows there will be times that cause fear to be our primary emotion. He sees the trouble before it comes. It was He who MADE the disciples get into the boat and face the raging sea. It is He who allows the storms in our lives to come.

God knows there is plenty in life to make us afraid. Still, the challenge remains, and the command remains to not be afraid! And, in those moments, God know we will need to rely on His strength being perfect when our strength is none.

How are you doing these days obeying the command of God to not be afraid?

Call on the Lord today and ask Him to help you overcome your fears!

Getting Gut Honest with God

I love the story in Judges 6 where God called Gideon to save the Israelites from the land of Midian. Gideon was the weakest of his clan from the weakest clan, yet God chose to use him for a powerful leadership role for God’s people. You might read the story again HERE.

Consider a small part of Gideon’s conversation with angel of the Lord:

(I’ve embellished the story a bit to illustrate the way I view the story. My embellishment is in parenthesis.)

“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor”

“Well, please sir…(I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but) if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? …

…And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us…”

Imagine the scene. An angel shows up, which was usually a pretty scary part of the story, but instead of reacting in surprise, Gideon respectfully questions where God has been lately. He’s not disrespectful, but he is gut honest with the concerns he has with God.

Do you ever wonder where God is when life seems to be falling apart?

Do you ever question God’s involvement when He seems to be nowhere around?

Do you ever think things may never improve?

Gideon had those type questions, and he didn’t cover them up with phony praise, he let his concerns be known.

Yet God’s angel didn’t curse Gideon. Instead, God used Gideon, in spite of his doubts and fears.

“The Lord said to him, but I will be with you…” Judges 6:16 God simply pointed Gideon back to the faith he originally had in Him. That was not the end of Gideon’s fear or questioning, but it was the beginning of his journey back to complete faith.

Perhaps instead of continuing in our own doubts and fears, you and I should get gut honest with God. Maybe we should tell Him how we really feel. I’m not suggesting we become flippant towards a Holy God. That’s never a good idea. I’m suggesting we be honest with the God who already knows our heart and allow Him to restore our faith and strengthen us for the journey ahead. That often begins when we become real with God with who we are, who we are not, and who He is.

God uses people who are willing to humbly surrender their insufficiencies; their doubts and fears, to His sufficiency.

By the way, He knows your heart because He made your heart.

How are you at being honest with God?

4 Activities for When Life is Uncertain

What do you do when life is uncertain?

Trust – God has a plan even when you can’t discern it. Faith is being certain when life is uncertain; believing when you cannot see. It’s much harder to worry when you are trusting. Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 3:5, Jeremiah 17:7

Pray – Ask God for discernment and clarity, but also for patience. Keep talking and listening. Jeremiah 29:12, Mark 14:38, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Wait – God will reveal Himself in due time. Our job is to be still. Psalm 27:14, Psalm 46:10

Act – Waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means acting on only what you’ve been given instructions to do. That’s usually plenty to keep us busy. 1 Kings 2:6a, Isaiah 52:13, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Colossians 3:23

Are you in a time of uncertainty?

Which of these is proving most difficult for you right now?

Which do you most need to do?