Lydia had two small children, two and four years old. Her husband had just found a good paying job. This was the second time she’d been picked up for violating parole. This time, she’d no doubt be sent to prison and would have to serve a long time. Her mother had helped take care of the children the last time she was in jail, but now she was sick. Who would care for them while her husband worked? She’d promised her husband, no more drinking or drugs. She wanted to keep that promise; she’d gone through the rehabilitation program. She had failed again. She so badly wanted to be with her children. Lydia’s heart was pounding; she could scarcely catch her breath.
I’ve been going to our local jail for the past ten years. I’ve seen hundreds of women and I’ve heard so many stories of failure, panic, fear, frustration, the inability to overcome an addiction, or a life of crime, and the feeling of utter hopelessness, no joy, and no peace.
You don’t have to commit a crime to have these same feelings. Panic is an over-powering emotion. There are even physical signs of panic such as shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, headaches, or a feeling of being dizzy. We’ve all felt the effect of this emotion at one time or another. In the midst of a crisis it’s hard to ‘think straight’, but this time, Lydia was able to recall a few words spoken to her the last time she’d been in jail and had attended a Bible study there.
“The Lord will mold you, refine you and fashion you into the person He wants you to be. He may do this by making you weak, putting temptation into your life, creating panic and havoc so you have nowhere to turn, except to HIM. God is more interested in YOU, than in your crisis of the moment, and He will use your problems as sandpaper to smooth out your imperfections. “
Standing there on the side of the road, like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, Lydia experienced a peace she’d never felt before, her heart stopped racing and she became calm. She remembered that she’d read in the Bible that Jesus is our peace, Ephesians 2:14.The passage in Ephesians 2 is speaking to the Gentiles who had been taught they were less than the Jews. There was a ‘wall of hostility’ which acted as a barrier between them and they did not feel accepted by God. There was no peace. We all have barriers in our life that cause us to be separated from the One, the only One, who can bring peace. Sin is a barrier to peace. Sin has consequences. Sin separates us from the peace of God and causes us to panic when we see ourselves in trouble.
Sin is so much more than breaking the law, or bad behavior. This is a worldly definition of sin. As long as we have an earthly body, we will sin. We have a sin-trained brain! We’re even pretty comfortable with our sin at times, we can easily ignore it. The Bible refers to our sinful nature – ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ Romans 3:23. It’s just so much more than doing bad things! But God is faithful to buff us to brilliance, like gold and silver, when we come to Him, and ask forgiveness. We’ll never look perfect in our own eyes, but we can have peace that God sees us as ‘righteous’. He sees His Son in us!“Therefore there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” – Romans 8:1.
“Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” – Romans 10:11God is making us into something beautiful from a common lump of clay, Rom. 9. He is the potter, we’re the clay. All this molding and spinning and crafting is painful! But, hang in there, if you belong to Jesus and have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, the end result of all this refining by adversity will be a new, beautiful, totally acceptable YOU who will be presented to God without fault and with great joy! Jude 24.
Knowing this truth is what moves us from panic to peace. Trusting God by faith to work in your life and take you ‘the way’ He knows you need to go. He never loses control. He has designed a perfect plan for each of His children, no matter how bad it looks to us. You see, if we could be righteous in our own right – not needing Him, then He would have died on the cross for nothing! Galatians 2:21. What we could not do for ourselves, He did for us.
So, what do I do now? Take a deep breath, breathe in His life, exhale yours, and picture yourself in His presence. And take your eyes off the problem like Lydia did, and focus on your Savior, Redeemer God, Jesus. Self effort comes to us naturally. We always want to ‘fix’ the problem, but give it up, let God fix it. He knows just how to do it! My mother used to say, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on”. OK, do that, as long as the ‘knot’ you’re hanging on to is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Then, panic will turn to peace.
Thank you Lord that we who are your children can come to you and experience ‘the peace that surpasses understanding’.
If you’d like my book, Blogging God’s Word: Seeing Ourselves Through God’s Eyes, - It’s available on www.crossbooks.com/bookstore or www.amazon.com, by the end of September, it’ll be available in E-Book format.