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Daily Devotion

Higher Than the Mire

By Laura Bagby
Guest Writer

CBN.comI had been living under a black cloud of fear and anxiety, feeling morose and melancholy. Instead of experiencing peaceful rest each night, I had been lying wide awake, my mind swirling with thoughts of my current job responsibilities, my future goals, my finances, my family's health, and my single status. Inevitably, I woke up exhausted and found that I couldn't remember the last time I had really enjoyed myself, the last time I had spread an uninhibited smile across my face. I was too busy beating up on myself.

Realizing that something had to change, I began to pray. But though I was communicating my troubles to the Lord and trying to meditate on Scriptures about not worrying and giving Him my burdens, somehow I couldn't release my grip on my life so that God could do His work. And here I was working for a Christian ministry, surrounded by other Christians, faithfully going to church on Sundays. Something was really wrong. Aren't Christians supposed to be joyful? Aren't we supposed to be relaxed knowing that God loves us and He is meeting our needs? I knew the answer was yes, so why wasn't this God thing working for me?

Then the answer came to me. I realized I was stuck in the mire of life because I was striving. Now, it is one thing to accomplish goals. Goals are good. We need goals in life. Goals provide us with vision, without which the Bible explains we perish. It isn't always what we do that is a problem, but rather the reason we do it that can eat away at us. God wants us moving, but He wants us moving toward Him, not moving toward pleasing others or even trying to win His approval.

I couldn't drop the ball, I couldn't say no, because I feared that to do so would mean losing approval from those who had meant the most to me. I was waiting for the proverbial pat on the back from the Lord, even while panicking to keep all plates spinning. Ridiculous, right? I should have recalled that I already had God's favor because of Christ. Instead of resting in His grace, I was striving under the law -- something that God never intended me to do.

It was time to come back into the presence of the Lord. I decided to do something that I am ashamed to admit I had not done for awhile: read His Word believing that God really had something for me, that God really was going to accomplish His purposes in my life.

The Bible says that the Word is sharper than a double-edged sword. It can accomplish much because it is life giving. I was willing to take the chance again, although, to be honest, I wasn't sure it would make a difference. After all, reading the Bible wasn't going to make my current responsibilities magically disappear. And I guessed God wouldn't necessarily get me out of the circumstances that had made me fearful either. So what was the point? And yet I was drawn to Him again.

There are times in life when you re-evaluate and say, 'Is this God stuff really true? I know it is true for my co-workers, because I see them renewed and I see miracles in my friends and neighbors. But the real question here is the belief that a relationship with the Ever Living God could make a drastic difference in MY life. Could God give ME the peace I had been lacking for so long?'

I was willing to bank on it, so I picked up that Bible with just a smidgen of faith. I didn't read a lot. I didn't set aside hours and hours of time with the Lord. I didn't do in-depth Bible studies. All I did was set about ten minutes aside to read a little from one of Paul's letters, mostly from Romans. The remaining time I spent in prayer, saying, 'Lord, give me peace. Help me to stop striving. Help me not to be driven by approval.' I then trusted that God heard me and would answer my prayers.

And believe it or not, I noticed a change in me even after such a short time. Every day I found that I wanted to talk to God and hear what He had to say more than I did the day before. And I found that I was sleeping more soundly at night. God comforted my heart. My circumstances didn't change drastically, but I felt better about me. Instead of feeling condemnation for what I hadn't done, I felt His acceptance because of what Christ did in me.

Christ died once and for all for my sins, and I trust in His name to save me. Instead of taking everything in my life so seriously, I am letting God take it and help me see that life isn't so hard after all.

There is another thing that I have learned, and it has to do with destiny. I used to think that destiny was something that happened to you at some later point in your life. I liked to think of it as that eureka moment when your life's purpose was announced with trumpet blare and streamers and you were finally at one with the King of the universe. But this is not the case. As I thought about the life of Jesus and His ministry, it was almost like God asked me, "When do you think the destiny of My Son began?" And then the answer came to me. It wasn't what I usually thought. Normally, I would say, "Well, when Jesus got baptized in the Holy Spirit and began His ministry." This time I realized it was at His birth. Jesus began His destiny at conception. Wow! I never really thought about it before, but it was obvious now.

We are no different. Destiny isn't something out there in the far future. It is already in process. Your destiny is everything in life that God redeems and every step that you take by faith as you follow Him, whether it seems grandiose or not. And that is comforting to someone like me who tends to strain for what lies ahead.

Be at peace that Your Savior is shaping you, that He is marking your steps. He knows where the path diverges, and He knows every fork in the road. And if you get troubled or bogged down in your day to day life, as I often do, take time out to spend with Him. You will find the peace that was missing. He will renew your strength and your joy. His mercies will be new for you every morning.

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