Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus

 

I don’t like storms. The thunder and lightening isn’t so bad, but when the wind begins to bend the trees, I start getting uncomfortable.

Yesterday while I was outside, all of the sudden, the sky darkened and the trees started bowing in the wind. I knew a storm was on the way and my heart beat faster.  It reminded me of a day about fifteen years ago.

IMG_20160530_114827687_HDR

We had just moved to our house in the hollow.  There was a dry creek in the back of our house that only had water in it when it rained.  Then it would fill as the water drained from the surrounding hills to join with a creek in the front of our house.

Tornado warnings and several inches of rain was in the weather forecast that day. In the afternoon, the skies became angry looking as the wind whipped through the valley.  Soon the hard rains came.  In a matter of minutes that babbling brook transformed into a raging river and I panicked.

This was the first time I had seen water rise so quickly. There is a bridge that separates our house from the road.  I knew if the flood waters left its banks, we were trapped.   I tried to call my husband at work, but he had already been instructed to leave his desk  for safety and this was before we had cell phones.

100_1855

Nathan touching a critter in the creek that looked like a rock.

My children were ages 2, 6, 8, and 10 and I began to envision us floating away in our house! So I did probably the stupidest thing ever. I got the children in coats, grabbed some crackers and peanut butter, and we dashed out into the rain, thunder, and lightening to aclimb the steep hill behind our house and huddled under a large tree!

Yes, it was a dumb idea, but I don’t think clearly when I’m panicking. I was prepared for us to be there for hours. I have to say, we had a good view of the water activity below. The storm left about as quickly as it had arrived. We had more than three inches of rain in less than fifteen minutes.  The waters crested, left its banks, then receded.

I can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn’t funny at the time.  It was one of the scariest times in my life!  Sometimes anxiety can rise in my heart just as quickly as the creek waters rose that day when I begin to focus on my problems and take my eyes off Jesus.

When I think about the sad affairs of our deteriorating society and country and what my children and grandchildren might face, I become anxious.  Just as I didn’t know then how high the waters would rise  before the clouds dropped the last rain, sometimes  I wonder how bad my problems will get before they get better. Then I begin to worry because I’m focusing on the cares of this life more than I am the Author of it.

Sometimes instead of God removing the storm around us, He chooses to calm the storm within us.

If I spend too much time thinking about my problems, I just get worked up. Worrying is like rocking in a chair. It takes a lot of energy, but gets you nowhere. But if I will lean into Jesus and draw closer to Him during these times, my faith is strengthened as I trust Him and watch Him provide.

I’d like to share some verses from God’s Word, the Bible, that help calm my troubled heart….

  • Thou (God) wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee (God): because he trusteth in thee.  Isaiah 26:3
  • Through God we shall do valiantly. Psalm 60:12
  • But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:19
  • It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.  Psalm 18: 32, 33
  • Call upon me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3
  • I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121: 1, 2
  • Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7
  • What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. Psalm 56:3
  • Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you. I Peter 5:7

If the storm is raging around you right now, I hope you aren’t trying to weather it alone. God loves you and His grace is sufficient to get you through it. Run to Him. He is truly the safest place in this world.

May we keep our eyes on Jesus today,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20160324_080459400

Advertisements

Abby’s Adventures!

IMG_20160510_160625303

Nathan, Abigail, and me. May 2016

My youngest daughter, Abigail, is working at The Wilds Christian Camp in Brevard, North Carolina this summer.  Her dad and I met there.  After we married, we attended couples’ retreats and when our children were old enough to go as campers, they went every year.

Our children commented once that their time at The Wilds had the most positive impact on their spiritual lives second only to their training at home.  David and I always felt like the money we spent for them to attend that camp was investing in our children and eternity and was well worth every penny. David worked there one summer during his college years and our oldest daughter, Anna,  worked there two summers. It is a special place where God’s spirit is free to transform lives.

Abigail went for a week of training and this was the first week for summer campers to attend.  Nathan, her brother, and several of his friends were among the first to arrive.  There will be about 15 weeks of junior and teen campers this summer.  They also have weekend retreats for families, father/son, mother/daughter, music ministers, couples, etc. It is not only a place to give your spiritual life recharged, it is lots of fun!  They have waterfall hikes, tubing, paint ball, crafts, basketball, human foosball, the giant swing, lake activities, a zip line, Cool Beans Snack Shop, and much more all nestled in the beautiful NC mountains.

Abigail will be writing weekly updates about what is happening there.  She sent her first one this morning and it was SO encouraging to me that I wanted to share it with the world.  I wish everyone could be blessed to go there at least once, but if you can’t, Abigail will give you a flavor of what it’s like and what God is teaching her.  Here it is….

Hey! Just a quick update about camp. We’re almost finished with our first week here. It has been amazing! I’ve heard of so many kids being saved or getting right with God in different areas of their life. I always loved being a camper here, and I think I like the other side of camp just as much!

I’m exhausted, and we work long hours (as I’m sure Anna remembers), but I’ve never enjoyed working so much in my life. I get to work in the new renovated snack shop during free time. I did register for the first time yesterday. I really liked it. I just feel so happy to be at camp AND NOT HAVE TO LEAVE ATTHE END OF THE WEEK!  🙂

Honestly, I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to counsel this year, but now I see that this is where God wanted me to be. (Gaye: Let me insert here that Abigail’s application got lost.  When she didn’t hear back from the camp, she called them.  They found her application, but by that time all the counseling positions had already been filled.)  And I love it so much, I might want to do it next year!

During staff training week, there was a fantastic message about pride and humility. A few things that stuck out to me were, “If you aren’t willing to serve in the shadows, you’re not really a servant at all.” He also talked about how God is very jealous for His glory. He won’t use someone who thinks they have it all together and thinks they can do it, because when they succeed, they will take credit for it. God uses people who KNOW they can’t do it, because then they will easily deflect praise back to God.

Humble people recognize that they need God’s help, and know they could have never done (blank) on their own. Something he said in the message was “there is scarcely any limit to how God will work through a man who will not try to steal his glory.”

So…. I think deep down, I really thought I was completely capable of counseling this summer. I have gone to church my whole life, I know my Bible, I came to camp here, and my sister worked here. I SHOULD have been a counselor!

But, God knew better. He knew I needed to learn how to be a servant. Not to be seen by anybody. I’m learning how fun it is to do nice things and extra things (when I’m not “working”) without people noticing. It really does bring joy.
You don’t have to think about if it’s important or not. You just have to do it to the best of your ability for GOD. I will gladly leave the counseling to people who know they can’t counsel in their own strength.

As I continue to work here, I’m realizing just how unworthy I am to point anyone to Christ. Last night I gave devotions in my prayer partner cabin. I was talking
about keeping a desire for God. The more of Him you have, the more you WANT. I tried to use a familiar passage and most of the girls in the cabin knew it by heart and said it along with me. I chose Psalm 1. “But his DELIGHT is in the law of the LORD and in His law doeth he MEDITATE day and night.” Meditation is key to infiltrating God into every part of our life.

Joe Fant used this illustration in one of his sermons that I thought was really helpful. Think of your life like one of those plates that have dividers. You know, the ones with little compartments. I usually fill the biggest compartment with God in my morning Bible study, then I’ll check that off the list, and go fill the rest of the compartments with my “actual life.”

But instead of having God in the biggest compartment, and then having a compartment for work, family, and friends, I need to practice mixing my food like Anna does.  🙂  Have some Jesus with my peas compartment, have some Jesus in my potatoes. Stir it all up and mix it real good until Jesus is inseparably blended into every bite of my life.

And as I taught this devotional, I was thinking about how much I need to be reminded of this. Any time I say something snappy or have a wrong attitude towards a person or a job, or ANYTHING in my life that doesn’t look like Jesus, it’s because I’m not putting God first in my life.

A Christian shouldn’t have to “work” at being a better Christian. If we are really “walking in the Spirit” like Galatians talks about, it will flow naturally from us because it becomes WHO WE ARE. I want to BE a Christian. I want my natural instincts to look like Jesus, because I’m constantly marinating in God’s truth all day long.
I’m sorry that was so long. Not very “quick.” Nathan is here this week! I got to get some ice cream with him yesterday.  We have two picnic lunches every week. Those are probably my favorite because I get to see all the campers. The ones on my aisle are really sweet too. They always yell, “Thank you” at the end as we start clearing. I’ll try to keep updating you guys.     ~Abby

I hope you are as blessed by this as I am. (I know I’m partial being her mommy.) Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you! God is good!

Keep looking up!

Gaye

IMG_20160507_150617051

Abby and me. May 2016