Strange Relief

1 Peter 5:6-7 (Amplified)
Therefore humble yourselves {demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation} under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, Casting the whole of your care {all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all} on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

Verse seven above was part of a devotional I read earlier this morning. The words affectionately and watchfully comforted my heart. The image of a parent carefully and lovingly attending to a newborn baby flitted across my mind and heart. Sometimes it’s so hard to really absorb that God loves and cares for us this way.

Affectionately. Watchfully.

Would I trust someone who loves me this way? Could I stop living in fear and anxiety about unanswered questions, the future, my relationships and needs if I truly believed someone much more powerful than me, much more capable than me, cared about my life with affection and watchfulness?

I don’t even think most of us can comprehend living this way. It takes a very real and powerful shift in our thinking. It may also take circumstances that are really, truly and unmistakably more than we can manage. Because otherwise we think we can handle things. We press. We pull. We force. We over-think and under-trust.

No, no. We pass emails along that say we can do all things through Christ to our friends and church people. We put scripture on display as part of our home decor. We tell others about God’s plan to prosper and not to harm us.

Yet our hearts are heavy with anxiety. Our minds overly tired from analyzing and figuring.

So, do we really believe that God cares for us affectionately and watchfully?

Do we really believe we are as precious to Him as our own babies are to us, and more so?

Do we really believe God is paying attention? Really paying attention?

Have you ever heard the term mental assent? Basically, your mind agrees but that is where it stops. We can say the right things, probably do a lot of the right things, but our core is untouched. What we agree with mentally has not come alive in our heart and life. Our mindset has yet to be toppled over by belief.

I have a lifetime of topple-over living to experience.

Initially I only had verse seven at the top of this post. But then I noticed verse six. In my backtracking I noticed Peter telling us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He will exalt us. Then he tells us to cast the whole of our care on our affectionate and watchful God.

Got me to thinking.

Am I willing to consider that until I lower my estimation of what I can and cannot do, until I humble myself under God’s mighty hand (power and authority) I will not come up out of the pit of worry and anxiety?

Am I willing to look at my sense of control? My…uh-oh…pride?

See, I don’t see myself as a controlling person. At all, really. But then God whispers to my heart…pulls back the curtain so I can catch a glimpse…and I see fear motivating some of my actioins and the way I deal with my family at times. I see my anxiety and the way I press and push. I think, Well who is that girl? When did I take on these controling tendencies? And how do I stop?

We hardly recognize ourselves in the fog of fear.

We can hardly identify our fear because we think this is normal. This is just life. Everyone sputters and spins trying to control and manipulate outcomes.

Seems true. But I don’t have to live like everyone else. Neither do you. And I belive it’s pretty clear God does not want us to, either. Often, though, we must encounter situations that are simply not going to be managed and manipulated by us. We finally find ourselves pushed and pressed into trusting.

Here is how it might look in real life (at least for me). Maybe there is something you hope for or want or even need. And you have a “movie” in your head of what the answer looks like. So, you are waiting for the movie to start. You are stressing, manipulating, complaining and controlling because the truth is that your trust is really in all of that. Fear drives you because if the answer, your life, doesn’t look like the movie in your head then what will it look like? What will happen? How terribly disappointing will it be? How can you be expected to live in peace and heart-rest when you don’t know how the movie is going to turn out?

I wish I could type the right words that would infuse within us all a core belief that God is truly good. That He affectionately and watchfully cares for us when we humble ourselves and let Him. But I can’t. No one else can do it for me and I can’t do it for another. Believing God is truly good, loving and paying attention has to come in very personal ways. The Bible says it so we say we believe it, but our controlling ways betray us. Some of us don’t trust people to love us so we always want to control them or situations to avoid our feared pain and disappointment. Some of us feel unworthy and undeserving of affection and care in our core, so although we mentally agree our hearts won’t absorb truth. In the end we don’t trust people, don’t trust ourselves and don’t trust God.

But God is not a man. And He’s not bound to the script we have written for our life.

He’s better than that. He’s much more. A deeper, wider and longer lover than our minds can grasp. We can’t absorb His affection and watchful care with our mind. It must be our fearful hearts, the scary core of us, that soaks Him in.

When I spend time in the nearness of Jesus, my core (my spirit) recognizes His goodness. Tears stream down, joy displaces anxiety and perfect love drives out my fear.

Goodness, He’s watching over you and I with affection. I take my place under His mighty hand and let Him write the script of my life. I find a strange and unexpected relief in not planning and directing my outcomes. When fear assails me I look up and see the cover of His love.

I’m humbled and safe in His affectionate goodness.

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