GOD’S ROAD TRIP by Narita Roady

The New Year means different things to us each year depending on what is happening in our life. Sometimes we find it exciting and joyful because there is a new baby, marriage, a new home or a new job. Other times we find it frightening and painful because we face the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, a home, material possessions, financial disasters, an empty nest, or the loss of health. Either way, whatever our outlooks, we are all starting on a journey into the unknown. One that God Himself is sending us on. If you are reading this then you are still here and have 365 unchartered days before you. The years that start with hope and promise are, what can I say; they are wonderful! But those that begin with pain and heartache, now those are another story. Mine as you know is the latter as are many of yours for whatever trials you are facing in 2014. These are the ones I want to focus on. I am reminded of Abraham in Genesis 12:1. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee”
God sent him on a journey and he didn’t have a clue where he was going or what he was supposed to do. He was leaving all that was familiar to him, his home, much of his possessions and his family. In Abraham’s day family meant everything. No one moved across the country to get a job. They were very close knit groups. He was saying goodbye to all that was comfortable and secure to him. This was no small task considering Abraham did this as a senior citizen! He was 75 years old! So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran” Genesis 12:4
Now you might be saying, “Yes, but he had a choice. He could say “no” to God.” He could have told God, “I don’t think so. I am too old, too tired, too set in my ways. . .” I am sure he could have come up with excuses just like all of us do. That ability originates with the “carnality package” we all come equipped with. So while to an extent, Abraham could have told God “no”. The reality is a true follower of God, you really “can’t” tell Him “no.” He went willingly with no hesitation and we should too. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:4, 27
Here we are like Abraham heading out on a journey that we have no idea where we are going, what is going to happen, and what will be expected of us. Considering the fact that we are beginning wounded from some adversity from last year can make the trip rather frightening. The unknown always is. We know “who” fear comes from yet it can still get a grip on our hearts. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
One fear we have is being alone. I understand this one well. I am 60 years old and this is the first time in my life I have ever been alone. We can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. Troubles have a way of isolating us. My Heavenly Father is not sending me on my way this year with just a pat on the head. He is coming with me every step of the way, every moment of the day. As a matter of fact He is ahead of me, as He knows every detail. The unknown is only unknown to me! “And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 He promises me no matter what I “feel” He is with me, forever.
We may fear being in financial or material need. For almost 42 years I looked to Jerry to provide for me. After his death the fear came, “Who will take care of me now?” The electrical impulses of my brain had not even finished sending the message when I realized: all I needed had always come from God, even though he worked through Jerry. God provided for us in all ways. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Matthew 6:25, 30
God is telling us, “I have you covered. Your needs will be met.” I can honestly say I have never done without what I truly need. Yes, I have done with less, much less, but never deprived of my basic needs. I think a close examination would reveal this is true for all of us.
Venturing into the unknown makes us feel vulnerable and exposed, like all the boogey bears and monsters under the bed are out to get you. I can relate to the fear of being unprotected. With Jerry by my side, I never was afraid of the noises in the night, walking in a dark parking lot, or being harmed by anyone. I knew he would always protect me, but my ultimate protection then and now comes from God. Bumps in the night that make my dog growl, need not be a concern because the Lord watches over me all through the night. “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
Where ever I go, whatever I do, He has special heavenly escorts guarding me.
“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:11
The New Year will challenge us with new decisions and choices we must make. This can be quite intimidating. I know it is for me. There has not been one major decision since we married, that Jerry did not guide and help me with. I won’t lie; it’s been scary with just the few I have had to make thus far. “Will I make the right one? Is there anything I am overlooking? How will I know for sure what to do?” It’s very simple; all I have to do is ask God for wisdom! “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 How wonderful that God cares about all concerns in my life, from the smallest to the largest! He longs to give me direction in every step I take, and all He asks is that I trust Him completely. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
As you enter this New Year, are you still hurting and stinging from your losses this past year? Is your heart filled with dread wondering; “What else will happen? What other heartaches will I face? What other sacrifices will I be required to make?” God’s promises can answer each and every one of our concerns.
I need not be afraid of anything the future holds.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? “ Psalm 27:1
When I do fall into fear’s vicious trap, the Lord will rescue me.
“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
Should I find myself weak and wounded from the battle, and I don’t think I can make it, the Lord will strengthen me.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
Even in the moments I succumb to the enemy’s lies and wonder if God has deserted me, leaving me to be destroyed, He assures me this cannot happen.
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6
No matter how my circumstances appear, my Heavenly Father only wants to bless me and bring about the best for me. I may not understand His ways but His plans for me are perfect.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
Is your world turned upside down right now? Mine is. But we serve a God who specializes in turning worlds right side up. We cannot check the “I do not want to participate box” as much as we would like to. He has lessons for us to learn and growth for us to accomplish. My small earthly mind cannot comprehend His purposes that fit into eternity, not this small wisp of time we call life.
In all my tears and distress, He speaks to me. (Narita) “Be still, and know that I am God:” Psalm 46:10a Great loss requires us to learn to trust Him in a greater way; many times, a way that we could never have conceived had we not lost something so dear. I know I must develop a new and even closer relationship with Him. One I never could have, had I not lost my earthly companion. I do not have the victory yet. No, I am deep in the midst of my battle now. I will not pretend. I am brokenhearted and faint. I am simply sharing my “spiritual weapons” the Lord has given me. I am fighting the good fight and I wait upon the Lord as He commands.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
My heartfelt prayers go to each of you that have entered this New Year with devastating losses. I pray His strength and comfort for each of you, and awareness of His loving presence. He will see us through.
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, January, 2014

TEAR DROPS ON THE ALTAR by Narita Roady

I remember the first time I saw them. I know they had been there all along but somehow I had never noticed them. I wondered how many times had I looked directly at them and not seen them? There had to have been dozens of times I polished right over them, never realizing they were right under my hand.
But on that day, they jumped out at me as I knelt before the Lord in prayer: the tear stains on the altar. No amount of wax or oil would remove their traces. They were etched into the wood. How strange. Tears don’t stain clothing, skin or other articles but they had stained the altar. I was shocked at how many there were. Every one of those dull, irregular splotches will remain forever a testimony of those who have kneeled before their Heavenly Father in brokenness and need. They were small silent memorials of grieving hearts coming to the foot of the cross. Every tear drop represents a burden laid before the Lord.
A burden is a heavy load to carry and it grows heavier with time. They just aren’t a physical heaviness but are also emotional, mental and spiritual. That’s why they weigh so much more on us than something that is weighed in pounds and ounces. While we might bear a heavy load bodily for a time, it is impossible to bear a burden of the soul and heart. “For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” Psalm 38:4
The Lord made us that way, for if we could continue under their weight, we would never seek Him.
While many times, sin is the crushing weight behind our burdens that we cannot bear. It may be the sin of another, one that is persecuting us, or a loved one gone astray. While their sins may bring great pain to our hearts, nothing is as massively oppressing as our own sins against God. If left, they can literally squeeze the life out of us.
Other hardships we shoulder may have nothing to do with sin. Sickness and physical problems are a part of life. Facing the loss of a loved one is something everyone experiences at one time or another. Loss of material possessions due to fire, a tornado or floods are certainly not due to any wrong doing on our part. Whether they are a product of sin or simply a result of living, they all come under the same category – burdens. So what do we do with them?
As in all things pertaining to our lives, God has an answer, a solution, and a way to find relief. And as always it is very simple so everyone has the ability to succeed. Are you ready . . . I know you already know this. . . .you’ve heard it before . . . . JUST GIVE HIM THE BURDEN! Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
Then why don’t we? We have various rationalizations for not doing so. A common one is the conscious or unconscious idea that certain problems are too small to bother God with. Nothing, I repeat nothing is too minor to be brought before Him. From the catastrophe to the seemingly insignificant, all are equally important to our Heavenly Father if it concerns one of His precious children. If He is keeping count of all the hairs on your head, there is no doubt your most trivial problems are of utmost concern to Him also.
On the other hand we might think the dilemma is so minor that we can manage on our own. Whether pride or just plain stupidity fuels this idea, God tells us such ventures are doomed from the beginning and we can’t do ANYTHING without Him! I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
Can we take a breath without Him? Can our heart beat without Him? No! Therefore we can be certain we can’t carry even a mustard seed of trouble alone.
Another reason we hang onto our burdens is because we stop trusting God. When pain and suffering are intense it is easy to make them our focus. This leads us along the lonely futile pathway of self-pity and anger. Weariness overtakes us under our cumbersome load and soon we begin to question God. How could He allow this? I thought He loved me! Where is God when I need Him?
We question the One Who made the ultimate sacrifice when we deserved nothing but punishment. We question the One Who has proven His care and provision for us over and over again. We question the One Whose promises never fail. And thus we being our Israelite experience, wandering in our self-made wilderness, sinking further and further beneath a load we are incapable of bearing. How heartbreaking it must be for Him Who only wants the very best for us, and yet we measure His love by our present circumstances! For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
Of course we can’t forget the amazing burden race. Instead of turning it over to God we decide we can out run it! Drugs, alcohol, immorality, excessive spending, over work, religious activity are all ways people try to escape their massive load they continue to stagger under. David experienced this same desire in Psalm 55:6-7. And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and reamin in the wilderness. Selah.
Much like a kitten with a can tied to its tail, where we go our burden follows, and we will only grow more frantic and exhausted. There is no relief or escape.
We go a full circle and come back to the same answer: we can only give our burdens to the Lord! Face it no one wants your problems but the Lord!!! Many might care and a few that really love you might be willing to take them, but none can, only God. The next question is HOW do we give our burdens to the Lord?
As strange as it may sound, the first step is to ACCEPT the burden. Don’t deny it, attempt to defeat it alone, out last it or flee it. After all, how can we get rid of something by refusing to acknowledge the affect it is having on our lives? Acceptance shows we are trusting God. Recognizing that He is in control and whatever comes our way is lovingly sent to benefit, not destroy us. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:6-7
No matter what the situation, there are never any victims or sitting ducks among God’s children. Quite the contrary, His children are much loved and receive only the best. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
As strange as it may seem, after accepting the burden the Lord asks us to GIVE it to Him. So much so that He uses an even more compelling word and tells us to CAST it. That means to literally throw it on Him! This illustrates how strongly He feels about us hanging on to our problems. Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22. We do this by simply praying and surrendering it to Him.
Accepting the burden is a start and giving it to Him is good but to complete our transaction we must LEAVE it with Him. This is where we fail so often then turn to question why He is not relieving us of the load we strain under. Too often we give our problems to God then take them back with claw marks on them! He’s not the problem, we are!
What is weighing you down right now? What burdens are you bent under and stumbling? Admit it, you can’t carry them. God is waiting right now with strong arms to take them from you. Right now, take your spindly spiritual arms, lug them to the foot of the cross and literally throw them at Him. He’ll not only catch them, He’ll keep them.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, October 2012