Sustain

golden piano pedals of a concert grand pianoMany years ago, I took piano lessons. I was very young, like 12 or 13 I think. I remember wanting to learn to use the sustain pedal, but I had to learn the basics first. I don’t play a lot on the piano today, but when I do play I use the sustain pedal. The piano sounds bad if the sustain pedal isn’t working properly. The purpose of the sustain pedal on a piano is to let the corresponding strings from the notes played resonate their sound and blend into the next notes to be played. The sustain pedal gives the music a continual smooth sound. It is the pedal to the far right.

The word sustain has many meanings, but the most common one is to keep something or someone from giving way under a load of pressure. The pillars of a building sustain that structure. A person with tremendous inner strength is sustained through tough times.

King David was fleeing for his life from King Saul who was intensely jealous of him. David didn’t always know who he could trust. David was hiding among the Ziphites and they reported him to Saul. David was just trying to stay alive and he penned the words to Psalm 54. Check this out…

Save me, O God, by your name;
    vindicate me by Your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me –
    people without regard for God.

Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me. (Psalm 54:1-4 NIV)

I believe that the Lord still sustains me in times of struggle. He reminds me of the journey. He reminds me who I am and Who I belong too.  He gives me strength that sustains me. He gives me wisdom and insight that also sustains me. I’m not sure I could put one foot in front of the other if He didn’t sustain me.

As I face a new day today, I’m relying on Him Who sustains me. He speaks truth into my life. He leads me to places of peace. He reminds me that He is always present through whatever life throws at me. He sustains me in the face of suffering and struggle because of Who He is not who I am.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Desperate & Downcast

 

depression teen girlI have been on the mountain top and I’ve wandered through the valley too. I like the mountain top a lot better. The mountain top doesn’t mean that all is well with me. The mountain top also doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “all downhill from here”. There are highs and lows to my life journey. When I’m low I’m looking for the Father. When I’m up high I’m looking for Him there too!  I want to walk with the Lord daily no matter what life throws at me – no matter what circumstances I face.

The sons of Korah penned a song that has ministered to me many times. I do have to stop and talk to myself sometimes when I get down or a bit deflated. The person I shave with is a bit hard headed at times! Sometimes a quick reminder of Who He is, who I am and where I’ve been is worth the trip down memory lane. Check this out…

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    ‘Where is your God?’
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon – from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me –
    a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:1-8 NIV)

I’m not going to allow the enemy a foothold. When I stumble, I will get back up and get my feet moving forward. I will lean on the Lord for strength. He has always been faithful to me as I often ignore Him. I want the Power of His love to wash over me like the waves of the sea. I want Him to remind me often of His Presence. When I praise Him and focus my gaze upon Him in worship, my issues get smaller and smaller in significance.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Solid Trust

Trust with blue markerThere are so many things that distract me from following the Lord fully. Over the years, my finances have been big – until something even bigger comes along like a threat to my family or the health of one of my kids. I find that those times require even more trust as fear has entered the equation. Fear is a formidable foe to trust. Fear can paralyze. Fear can suck all my joy away. Fear seems to penetrate the strongest wall of trust. When fear grips me, I’m learning that I must hit my knees before the Lord and give it to Him.

King David had a deep walk with God and he learned to trust deeply even in the midst of fear. Check this out…

1 The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.

    How great is his joy in the victories you give!

2 You have granted him his heart’s desire

    and have not withheld the request of his lips.

3 You came to greet him with rich blessings

    and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.

4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him –

    length of days, for ever and ever.

5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;

    you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.

6 Surely you have granted him unending blessings

    and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

7 For the king trusts in the Lord;

    through the unfailing love of the Most High

    he will not be shaken. (Psalm 21:1-7 NIV)

I want to keep growing my trust in the Lord. Spending time in His Word each day certainly helps build my trust in Him. As I look at King David’s journey it wasn’t without failure and struggle, but trust in God pulled him through some scary times.

I think there are different degrees of fear. When I’m fearful of something that can take my life or the life of one of my family – that is a painful fear. When the fear is of something that is temporary or brief – it’s not nearly as bad. I don’t like fear at all, but sometimes fear makes me sharper and stronger because it drives me to trust the Lord. I’m learning that I can lean into Him and on Him for the simple things as well as the complex situations. He is my Rock, my foundation upon which my trust is built. He has never let me go and He has never let me down. I will trust Him in the face of any fear.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Outcome

 

tug of warI am a bit different than those who live around me when it comes to sports. I live in the deep south where college football is the main topic of conversation pretty much year ‘round. I grew up in Kentucky and basketball was king. I grew up bleeding blue – Kentucky Wildcat blue. We talked basketball all year long. I’ve not lived in Kentucky for 37 years, but I still love college basketball – specifically UK Basketball. I used to go so upset if the Wildcats were losing, I could hardly enjoy the game. I ONLY enjoyed the game if they were winning!  If I know the outcome of the game prior to watching it, there is not nearly as much anxiety or thrill.

The Psalms of David often give perspective on God and His Power. He reminds us that while it may seem like the wicked win – the Lord will prevail in the end. Check this out…

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;

    the nations will perish from his land.

17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;

    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

    so that mere earthly mortals

    will never again strike terror. (Psalm 10:16-18 NIV)

One of the reasons I follow the Lord is because of things that He’s already done in my life over the years. It validates His Word over and over because of His Presence and His Power shown in my life – even in some very dark times. He has never left me or forsaken me, even though I’ve not won all the battles that I’ve faced. I still have my eyes on winning the war. That is the outcome I’m most concerned about.

I’ve seen people who are suffering at the hands of others, but they know that this life is not all there is. They living for a life that we can’t yet see, but we’re promised eternal life in His Word. When I go through trials and struggles and I can’t see how this can turn out good, I must surrender all I have and all I am to the Lord so He can help me make sense of this and make it through the struggle.  The Lord knows the outcome of what I’m going through now and what I’ll go through in the future – He will lead me no matter what.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Crushed In Spirit

Beauty girl cryI can vividly remember the feeling of being crushed in spirit even when I was young as some fellow classmates were killed in a car accident. I remember the finality of their deaths and thinking about how life is a vapor. I can also remember being crushed in spirit 23 years ago spending my first Christmas away from my kids. It was devastating. I look back on moments when my spirit was crushed – I felt my only option was turning to the Lord. He lifted me up. He helped me walk through the waves of discouragement and struggle.

Job is being lectured a bit by his friends whom he’s looking to for a bit of encouragement. He pushes back yet again on them, but this time he reveals his crushed spirit a bit differently. Check this out…

16 My face is red with weeping,

    dark shadows ring my eyes;

17 yet my hands have been free of violence

    and my prayer is pure.

18 ‘Earth, do not cover my blood;

    may my cry never be laid to rest!

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;

    my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend

    as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God

    as one pleads for a friend.

22 ‘Only a few years will pass

    before I take the path of no return. (Job 16:16-22 NIV)

I can almost feel the wetness of his cheeks from tears. It is clear at this point that Job is passing the test because his heart is still pursuing God’s heart. Even in the midst of this mind-numbing suffering he is humbled before the Lord.

I think there is truth in this for me as I journey through times of being crushed in spirit. I needed reminding that the Lord is still in charge of my life. My one goal should be to glorify and honor Him. I really often try to honor myself with my life instead of honoring Him. I am often very self-centered instead of God-centered. He will lift me up properly when I have Him in His proper place. The Lord, Whom I seek to glorify, is also the one Who lifts me up when my spirit is crushed and weak. He gives me strength to push through the pain.

He gives me joy to celebrate the journey.

He gives me victory over struggle and pain.

His reward is far greater than I can imagine here on earth.

I don’t always understand my struggles or the struggles of others, but I know that the Lord is on the scene and available to help all who are crushed in spirit.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Desperate Place

 

Abstract Silhouette PrayingI’m a bit familiar with desperate places. These are places when it seems like the whole world is crashing down upon me. It can be something insignificant to others, but super important to me. Desperate places are where suffering often resides. When I hear that someone is going through a divorce, I’m confident that one or both of the parties involved are either in a desperate place now or they will be later for sure. Desperate places often call for desperate measures. When I’ve found myself in desperate places, I need a radical shift in my thinking to be able to navigate out of that place.

Job was definitely in a desperate place. His life was ruined from his desperate place perspective. He is crying out to God in desperation and despair. He lost his possessions. He lost his family. He lost his health. As he cries out to God, I can feel his emotions and they are raw for sure. Check this out…

15 You will call and I will answer you;

    you will long for the creature your hands have made.

16 Surely then you will count my steps

    but not keep track of my sin.

17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;

    you will cover over my sin. (Job 14:15-17 NIV)

Job is actually practicing some self-talk. I don’t see a dialogue between him and God. He appears to be more monologue – by he’s also pushing back on some of the counsel of his friends. I think he is also trying to come up with creative ways to survive this ordeal or for it to be over.

I was introduced a couple of days ago to a new song that we will be singing at church called: “Here With Me” by Tim Hughes. I’ve been learning the song and the words of the chorus are stuck in my head. Job needed to hear the words of this song.

When darkness deepens

The path unsure

The sun is hidden by the storms

I look to heaven

And cry to Thee

Oh God be here with me

 

In every breath

Every joy and tear

Every passing hour

Let me know You’re near

In life, in death

For eternity

Oh God be here with me

 

When faith is shaken

When fears surround

My feet will stand on solid ground

In every season

My song will be

Oh God be here with me

 

In every breath

Every joy and tear

Every passing hour

Let me know You’re near

In life, in death

For eternity

Oh God be here with me

 

And in that moment

We’re face to face

I will not need these eyes of faith

Forever after, God I will see

That You’ve always been with me

You’ve always been with me

That is a promise worth remembering when I’m in a desperate place.

Pressing On!

Dwayne