This is Day 2 of the Palms Up/Palms Down challenge. And yesterday was a tough day for many of us. Those of us in Houston watched more than 24 inches of rain come down in certain parts of our city, flooding homes, destroying cars, and damaging neighborhoods. Additionally, five lives were lost in the tragedy, and we mourn with these families.
Yet it was beautiful to see people banding together to help one another in this time of need. People helping people, bringing out boats, canoes, and even swimming out to bring people back in through the storm. I even watched one guy floating families to safety in a refrigerator!
Events like yesterday remind us that we are not in control. We can’t stop the rain; we can’t control the bayous; we can’t keep the water from rising through the streets. All we can do is trust God. And that is difficult! Learning to trust is one of the most difficult things we can do. Simply learning to let go, releasing our need to be in control and relinquishing the notion that we were ever in control in the first place. But that requires faith and trust and acceptance of God’s goodness and might.
Today there was a Psalm that came to mind as I thought about the events of yesterday. I want us to read it and reflect on it before doing our exercise today:
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
What came to mind as you read this psalm? What stuck out to you? For me, it was a reminder of God’s majesty and strength. Because of his goodness, God put the world into motion in a certain way: rain is required to sustain life, and yet with that comes the possibility of flooding and damage and even the loss of life. It does not negate the goodness of God, but it does remind us that God is meant to be our fortress, our comfort, our protector, and our Lord.
…though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…
Today, I want our exercise to focus on turning our anxiety over to God. This weather had made many of us anxious, from the effects of the rain yesterday to the possibility of added rain today to the fears of what might happen if it does. Let’s try to turn our anxieties over to God, knowing that he is our fortress and our hope.
Palms Down: Imagine your cares/anxieties/worries being held in your hands. Complete this sentence: “Today, Father, I am worried about ______________.” Tell God why it worrying you. Tell him about your fears and frustrations, your griefs and your cares. If you are willing, open your hands and release them to God today. Whether it is about your house, your finances, your children, your parents, your job, your health… Acknowledge that before God. Tell God what is on your heart; he already knows. And he reminds us that he cares for us, so we should give our cares over to him.
Palms Up: Turn your hands over, palms facing up and open. Ask God to fill you with peace today and the knowledge of his presence. Ask God to bring you hope about _________________. Remind yourself that you are in God’s presence, and thank him for your time together.
Remember, the Lord is your strength and salvation today. He will watch over your coming and going. May God bless you today.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”