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November Maples

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” ~Proverbs 37:7-8

“The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.” ~Psalm 37:39

“Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” ~Luke 12:32

“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” ~I Peter 1:17-19

There are moments when my mind feels as if it is filled with a great, dark, impenetrable mass, cutting me off from things formerly well-known, readily remembered, and accessible to my usually fairly flexible understanding. Not only that, the very possibility of learning new things and broadening my scope of understanding and thought seems completely impossible at such times. There are other times, though, when it seems as if the full light might begin gleaming in again and I am able to think and discuss in a way that is much closer to my more accustomed manner. Much of the time I seem to be in a dimness in my mind somewhere between the two. Undoubtedly, my level of tiredness is closely tied to the variety of my mental ability; and even though I do not know the exact causes of these things, I do know that the vector-borne illnesses I’ve mentioned here previously are at the root source of this nearly-constant mental dimness and that terrible darkened state that comes upon me when I am more tired than usual.

The feeling of there being a great, dark elephant sitting in my head, impeding all thought, is actually rather a frightening feeling. At such times I certainly feel as if I am regressing, as if I, myself, am trapped within my own self and unable to get out of the milling nothings stirring round and round the muddledness around the edges surrounding the great blacked-out area in the center of my “thinking space”….

It is at times like these when the words of Scripture speak strength, drawing me towards peace. I remember the Most High God speaking to Joshua, bidding him to stand strong and courageous, as he speaks to all his children, for He, the Lord, is with him, even as he is with us because he has called us in Christ. When the fretting and fears arise in my soul from this darkened state of mind–I often remember the kind words of David in Psalm 37: “fret not yourself; it tends only to evil…trust in the Lord and do good…he will act…be still before him…he is the stronghold of the righteous in the day of trouble….” How does one describe that? That God is our stronghold? I do not quite know how to do so; but I know it is because we are enabled to trust him, even as Peter describes: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (I Peter 1:8-9) It is the glory of the Father to give the kingdom to those who believe in and honor the Son. He has given us his Son and his Spirit–and will he not with Christ give us all things?

Here also I must remember that God has called his children to be holy–and that means casting off fear and fretting and anger and pride–that terrible trust in and reliance on our own powers that invades and permeates all of us more than we would like to admit. These things are perhaps laid a little more openly to my understanding at times like those when the heavy, stone-cold dimness comes into my mind, separating me from myself, in a way. I love to think on the words of Peter: “Beloved, I urge you, as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct…honorable…so that…they may…glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 1:11-12) Over and over again, the Scripture teaches that the greatest purpose for our very existence is the glory of God. We need no justification to be. The fact that God has created us gives us a purpose. How blessed are those who seek after the will of God, those who truly seek his glory as their foremost purpose in life! And this is only through the gift of God. And it is a continual war, as the apostle has said. It is so easy to sinfully forget what it is to trust God, to believe in him, to honor him with our minds and hearts and not just with our hands and tongues. But he will do it. He will finish what he has begun in us–and there is strength–and joy–and hope–and life.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” ~Jude 24-25