Girlfriends in God - June 7, 2012

June 7, 2012
Trusting God with the Future
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Friend to Friend
In an effort to escape the brutal summer heat of South Florida, our family headed to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of our favorite spots for hiking, so we planned a day trip that included exploring a few hiking trails, a picnic and a visit to the beautiful and historic colonial home of Carl Sandburg. We woke to discover the beautiful weather of the day before had dissolved into a soupy mix of drizzle and fog, but we were not about to let a little fog and rain deter us from our original plan. We had been vacationing in North Carolina for years and knew fog is a common occurrence – even in the summer. We piled into our van and made our way up the mountain. The closer we got to the Sandburg home, the heavier the fog became. In fact, when we arrived, the fog was so thick we could barely see the walkway leading to the gift shop where we needed to purchase tickets for the tour of the home and grounds. We decided we would have to come back another day for the tour, but since we were already at the gift shop, it wouldn’t hurt to do a little browsing.

The shop owner greeted us warmly and asked if we would like to purchase tickets for the guided tour scheduled to leave in an hour. Always the diplomat, I responded, “Are you kidding me? Have you looked outside?” The owner smiled and said, “Oh, you mean the fog? It will be gone in a little while. Now – how many tickets do you need?” I don’t like pushy salesmen, even when they are sweet and kind – and maybe a little near-sighted. “I think we will just wait and see if the fog actually lifts,” I responded, convinced the thick fog would last all day, and resumed my browsing.  I lost track of time and was surprised to hear the owner announce, “The tour is leaving in 15 minutes. This is our final call for tickets.” I walked out of the gift shop to discover the fog really was lifting and the skies were actually beginning to clear. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Within minutes, the sun was shining - as if the fog had never existed.

It sometimes feels as if the fog of doubt and fear of darkness will never lift from our lives. The promises of God seem to get swallowed up by the problems we face. We want to curse our crisis – not praise God in the midst of that crisis. The hurt and pain overwhelm our faith, and we lose sight of the fact that this world is not our home and the troubles we face are only temporary. Lift up your eyes, girlfriend. Fix your heart and mind on God – He is with you – and makes every problem point to a promise.

Promise of direction Proverbs 20:30"Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways." 

God uses problems to show us the way. We would walk through the wrong door if He didn’t close it. Years ago, I dated a young man I thought I would marry. I began to pray, “Lord, if he is not the one, just close the door.” The very next conversation I had with this young man ended our relationship and resulted in my taking a church staff position that led me to Dan Southerland.

Promise of correction Psalm 119:71-72 "It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws."

God uses problems to correct us. When our daughter was a toddler, she was fascinated with electrical outlets. Nothing we said or did seemed to deter her … until the day she stuck a safety pin in the outlet. “Ouch!” she cried, holding up her little red finger for me to kiss. She never played with an outlet again.  

Promise of protection Genesis 50:20“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”

A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it keeps you from being hurt by something more serious. I dreaded taking our children to get their immunization shots. I took a healthy child to the doctor and came home with a little one who was fussy, sore and running a low grade temperature. Our pediatrician finally said, “Mary, think of it like this. You are allowing your babies to experience a little hurt in order to prevent them from experiencing a bigger hurt.  A tetanus shot is nothing compared to tetanus itself.”

Promise of perfection   Romans 5:3-4"We can rejoice when we run into problems ... they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady."

Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. I once spoke for a women’s conference with the theme of “Problems into Pearls.” The leader welcomed me and said, “We have to get you some pearls!” Digging in her purse, she produced a beautiful pearl necklace for me to wear. I spoke several times, counseled and prayed with numerous women and tried to meet as many women as possible. When the woman came to retrieve her pearl necklace, I was embarrassed. I had worked up quite a sweat with all of that hugging, laughing, talking. She brushed my apology aside and said, “Sweat is good for pearls. It helps them keep their luster.”

God is at work in and around you.  You may not see His hand, hear His voice or even understand His process, but you can rest assured that you can trust His heart.  Remember, every problem points to a promise.

Let’s Pray
Lord, I am tired of trying to face my problems in my own strength. Today, I choose to fix my gaze on You and praise You for Your presence and power in my life. I will give You praise, knowing You take up residence in the praises of Your people. I will walk through my fear, knowing You are with me. I declare my belief in Your willingness to help me face anything that comes my way. I trust You with my problems, Lord. 
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Read each of the following verses. Choose at least one to memorize and record in your journal.

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 46:1 (NIV) “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalm 63:7-8 (NIV) “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

More from the Girlfriends
Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study How to Find Your Missing Peace for ways to deal with fear and walk in peace. And if you need help with trusting God, get Mary’s MP3 download, Stepping Out in Faith.  Helpful MP3 downloads, CDs and books are also available in Mary’s online storealong with FREE resourceson her site.

Need help learning how to live a life of power and purpose? Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, How to Dress for Successand learn how to live a life of victory. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Thursday, 07 June 2012.