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Following Bread Crumbs

I’m pretty keyed up these days. The bags under my eyes are growing and the brain cells behind those eyes are slowing down like molecular activity on ice. (Not being a scientist or having high brain function these days, that might have been a totally inaccurate analogy.) As I sat in church yesterday trying to identify my emotions, I realized the process of “working out my faith” is quite similar to a treasure hunt or following a bread crumb trail. You notice the beginning of the trail, which for me is usually a sense of emotional fragility or physical exhaustion and begin the journey. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 What I started to discover was that fear, not surprisingly, was to blame for my inability to relax or nap or stay asleep in the early morning when my brain kicks into gear even though my alarm is giving me another hour to sleep. As I dig below the acknowledgment of fear (sorry for the mixed metaphors, just refer back to sentences 2-3), the focus of my fear is something like “what if we run out of cash in a country that only accepts cash” or “what if I get really sick and am bed ridden with children who need my strength and leadership and direction in a foreign country?” and so on. So, returning to the bread crumb trail, I see that this is not the end of the discovery process. The crumbs don’t stop there but lead me to see next that if I can’t find an ATM or our debit or credit cards don’t work and we are actually totally out of money, God is still on His throne and He is still intimately with us. He is still cherishing and loving me and He is still in absolute control of every detail of my days, my going out and coming in and lying down, even in a high fever. He is trustworthy. The bread crumb trail does not stop there at those theological facts, as if knowledge was the solution. Instead, God invites me to see that functionally, I do not live as if I truly believed that He is living and active and at work in my circumstances to make me look more like Him and to persuade my heart that He is present, working, trustworthy and good. The bread crumbs have taken me far enough along the trail to show me that my intellectual ascent to certain biblical facts about God does not mean that I actually believe them. My fears reveal that I actually believe myself to be the one in control of the successful outcome of my circumstances. They also reveal that I believe the desired outcome of the events is the make or break ultimate goal and determination of my well being. I can see by my fears that my end goal isn’t resting in God but getting what I want. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11 Scotty referred to this glorious paradox, “make every effort to enter that rest”, which is the bread crumb treasure hunt. He offers me rest. In Him I find my rest. But my unrest reveals that I am not with Him, at rest in Him, as I like to think I am by my theological knowledge. I am not trusting His care, His provision or His plans, ways and purposes at work through my circumstances which He has carefully designed and is implementing. I am not actually living in relationship with a living and active God but living as if I’ve found old letters from an ancient culture from which I can glean helpful ideas on how to make my life better. The bread crumb trail leads me to Him. He gives me the energy and courage and endurance to travel the bread crumb trail from my unbelief to clearer sight of Him. He takes this orphan, so set on self-reliance for survival, and will use any circumstance to impress upon my heart that I am His beloved forever child and that nothing can separate me from His love. He uses my greatest fears or my mundane circumstances to take His word and promises and love from being something I post on my refrigerator to the very oxygen I need and must have to live. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

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