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When You Don't Know What Kind of Hole You are Digging

A pastor friend of mine from Colorado recently sent me this photo. During these difficult days, sometimes, a little humor helps.

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 We all face these days in different ways. We cry. We get angry. We withdraw. One minute we’re grateful for some extra time at home with our families, and the next minute we can’t wait to get back to work and to see our kids off to school.

Three years ago today (April 21), I was sitting in an elders’ retreat listening to our guest speaker share from Psalm 107. I was so moved by what he shared that I wrote in the margin of my Bible, “4-21-17: Elders Retreat,” to help me remember the insights gleaned from this passage. Every year I read a Psalm a day, and guess what Psalm was set aside for my reading today? Psalm 107. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Psalm 107 is a treasure trove of the process of dealing with pain by trusting in the steadfast love of the Lord. The psalms are songs compiled as the Hebrew hymnal used through the centuries by people of faith who often faced times of doubt. Sounds kind of like us sometimes.

This song, Psalm 107, comes complete with bookends and four verses with a refrain and chorus that guide us through a process of facing some of our darkest, deepest days.

The process begins with the first bookend of God’s steadfast love which endures forever (verse 1). How do we face our days of uncertainty? By focusing on what is certain—God’s steadfast love.

Then we move to the four verses, all describing a different scenario of trouble and dismay. “Some wandered in desert wastes” (verse 7). “Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death” (verse 10). “Some were fools through their sinful ways” (verse 17). “Some went down to the sea in ships” only to face “the stormy wind” (verses 23, 25).

Though not the full range of difficulties we face, each description reminds us that in whatever we endure, our human plight is universal. We are not alone.

Here is where the song shifts to the refrain and chorus of crying out to the Lord (whose steadfast love endures forever) and receiving God’s deliverance. In all four descriptions of devastation, “… they cried to the Lord in their trouble” (verses 6a, 13a, 19a, 28a), and “He delivered them from their distress” (verses 6b, 13b, 19b, 28b).

And the song ends with the final bookend, which reminds us to consider “the steadfast love of the Lord” once again (verse 43).

Application? When you find yourself at wits end and don’t know what kind of hole you’re going to dig in your garden, try this. First, shift your focus from the uncertain world around you to the steadfast love of God. Second, acknowledge the reality of your plight, struggle and pain. Third, bring God into the equation by crying out to Him in your trouble. Fourth, wait on the Lord, and see how He brings deliverance.

You are not alone. God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). And we, as a people of faith in our steadfast God, will not abandon one another. We wait on the Lord, and deliverance He will bring.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, ESV).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Trust the Catcher

Letting go and letting God is one of the hardest actions required in the Christian faith. This is especially true when life seems to be spinning out of control.

A friend of mine said he was with his daughter at a bank drive thru recently, and all four lanes were filled with long lines of cars waiting their turn. My friend said it was obvious that the man in the car behind them was getting angrier and angrier at how slow the lines were moving, as he pounded his steering wheel, made hand gestures out the window that left little to the imagination, and seemed to be screaming at everyone in the line ahead of him. My friend turned to his daughter and asked, “Why do you think the man behind us is so upset?” And she said, “I don’t know, Daddy, because there isn’t anything he can do about it.”

Amen. If I’m being honest, I have to tell you that at times I have gotten pretty upset about the COVID-19 Pandemic. Why, O God? The loss of life. The families affected. Our economy limping along. So many who have lost their jobs. The disruption to millions of students. I feel like the man in the long line at the bank. I want to pound the steering wheel. I want to yell out my frustrations. And then I remember what my friend’s daughter said, “I don’t know why he’s getting so mad, because there isn’t anything he can do about it.”

One thing I can do, however, is let go and let God. More than a cliché or a trite little Christian-eze, this captures the truth of the path forward for all of us. It’s reflective of the words found in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

It’s not easy to trust, but if we ever hope to find peace and joy, trust we must. Henri Nouwen tells the story of a group of trapeze artists called the Flying Rodleigh’s. As he sat with Rodleigh, the leader of the troupe, he asked him how the exchange between the flyer and catcher worked. Rodleigh responded, “The secret is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. . . . A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.”

Later, Nouwen reflected on Rodleigh’s words and wrote, “When Rodleigh said this with so much conviction, the words of Jesus on the Cross flashed through my mind: `Father into your hands I commend my Spirit.’ For us it means trusting in the catcher. Don’t be afraid. Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make your long jump. Don’t try to grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.”

Job 11:13 puts it like this, “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him.” I encourage you this day to stretch out your hands toward God. Let go and let God. “Don’t try to grab Him; He will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.”

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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