We are being robbed blind and we don't even realize it. Our life is suppose to be one filled with joy and peace and yet we open the doors to many thieves who gladly come in and rob us of these promises from Jesus. We don't mean to do it but so often we feel like we are tied up and have no power to prevent it, but the truth is we are lying to ourselves.
We need to understand that we are lied to by many things but the biggest culprit is ourselves. Our body lies to us all the time and we listen. We know we should be looking after ourselves better but our body convinces us that we are too tired. We know we shouldn't eat so much but our body convinces us that we need that food because we are hungry. I won't get into the science of it but you should look it up; we eat far more than what our body actually needs. But it's not the only thing we lie about.
We also lie about our addictions, that we are trapped and can't get out of them. Whether it's overeating, smoking, TV watching, the computer, pornography, drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, we have a way out but we convince ourselves that we are stuck. We become comfortable with our addictions, the things that keep us enslaved so that, even though we hate ourselves for it, it is the place we feel the most comfortable.
This is also true for the things that we allow into our lives that rob us of our joy and peace. I guarantee you that the things that disturb our sleep the most are not the things that have happened but the things that might happen. It is not actual events and problems but the shadows, the possibilities that might arise. Oh we listen to the words that are preached and taught. We read the promises for ourselves. We try to let them get beneath the surface, to sink in deep, to touch our heart and mind, but it just won't take root. The psalmist of Psalm 23 wrote of these unrealized fears and he stated clearly how he kept them at bay:
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Now don't miss this. The psalmist declared that he would not fear these shadows, or possibilities, because of God's presence. "You are with me" he stated which filled him with courage, not fear; joy, not mourning; peace, not panic. Words alone will not do it for you. Even reading this Psalm will not do it for you. It is only the presence, the realization of a deep relationship with Jesus that is going to maintain our peace and joy.
I love to worship as much as the next person but worship will do no better than reading the Bible if there is no relationship, if Jesus is not real, if you do not trust every word he has ever uttered. Jesus knows us because he became us. He knew exactly what would try to destroy us so he taught:
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)
And it's true, each day has enough for us to handle without adding to it the burden of tomorrow's shadows. Don't you envy those people who seem to be able to throw off concerns for tomorrow as they live in the moments of today? How many times have we laid out plans for things that have never happened? How many nights have we laid in bed and figured out what we will do if this thing fails or that thing arises only for those things never to arrive? What a waste of time, energy and thought. We were robbed those nights of a peaceful sleep, of loving conversation with our spouse, of sweet dreams.
The only answer to these things is a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. The Word is part of that, as is prayer and worship but these must be rooted in relationship. A relationship in which we have cast all our doubts, fears and anxieties, trusting that what Jesus has said is true and trusting that he is able to maintain the peace he has given us. It is not something that just happens, we have to actively pursue this relationship. Every time thoughts of those shadows creep in we have to cast them away by declaring the promises of Jesus. We have to remind ourselves, with every appearance of these robbers, who Jesus is and who we are in him. Dig deep and know his promises. Declare them as you wake up and as you fall asleep. Declare them over your children and spouse. Rise up and take action against those shadows, taking courage and comfort from the presence of Jesus Christ.
There is no need for us to fall victim to the shadows of tomorrow. We are being lied to and the liar is ourselves. We are being robbed of abundant life by mere whispers and shadows that provoke unfounded fear, worry and anxiety. It is time to cast it off as we walk in relationship with Jesus and rise up as the victorious people that we are. We are more than conquerors, stronger than you could possibly imagine and capable of great feats of spiritual strength. Today is a day of joy and peace because this is the day the Lord has made. We will be glad and rejoice in it because nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus and that is all that should matter to us. To God be the glory for the great things he has done, and is doing, and is going to do!