Sunset at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

God’s never still

I get depressed pretty easily when I think about the state of our world. So many horrible things are happening, and they all seem so far out of our control to fix. The majority of what is wrong, however, is that our culture is having to face the consequences of their choices. The world is broken and makes broken decisions. The problem is that the rest of us, who are trying to live right, usually get caught in the crossfire.

On the really difficult days, it’s easy to focus on everything that’s going wrong. It’s easy to focus on the fact that God seems to be silent. He’s not talking. He’s not moving. He’s not obvious. Sometimes it’s easier just to think that He’s not even paying attention because if He is paying attention, why isn’t He doing anything about it?

If you’ve ever asked that question, you aren’t alone, and you aren’t the first.

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Habakkuk 1:5.

The Lord replied,

“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.

Habakkuk is one of those Old Testament minor prophet books that usually only gets attention if someone is making fun of names. But Habakkuk is one of my favorite books in the Bible. He’s open and honest and genuine and straightforward about what he is struggling with, and he doesn’t pull any punches when he talks to God.

The book pretty much starts with Habakkuk taking the state of affairs of the world to God and asking Him what He’s thinking. He wants to know how long he has to ask for help before God will do something. He wants to know how long he has to watch evil and violence triumph over what is right.

Today’s verse is the beginning of God’s answer.

I’ve said this before because it’s true. I very easily get caught up in day-to-day life. Maybe it’s because I’m objective-focused and my day is made up of schedules and routines. Getting distracted by the everyday is easy for me. And in that distraction, it’s also easy for me to think that God isn’t in my life. I know He is, but when I get focused on the humdrum of the everyday, it’s easy to miss Him because I’m not focused on Him.

And it’s not like it’s easy to see Him in American culture. Not really. Not anymore. Pick a news story that’s big in the media right now, and I’d be willing to bet that it’s not about how God is moving in peoples’ lives.

However, if you read missionary blogs or follow church news in other countries, you might be surprised. It’s easier to shut God out of American culture because as a country we’ve turned our backs on Him. But in other countries, they’re desperate for Him. And because they’re desperate for Him, He’s obvious to them.

And that’s what I thought this verse was about when I first read it: Look around the world ans see what God is doing elsewhere. And that’s true. God is moving everywhere. My best friend has been in Portugal for two weeks, and she’s gotten to see some pretty amazing things that God is doing in peoples’ lives. And honestly, He’s working here too. We just aren’t looking. We’re so focused on what’s happening in our lives today that we miss Him.

But context is important. It’s so important because the Bible is more than just a book of platitudes. It’s more than just a storybook. You can’t pick and choose verses to fit a point; you can try, but that’s a dangerous game. And this verse doesn’t mean what it seems to mean if you take it out of context.

The NLT has a little note made in the margin that says the part that reads “Look around at the nations/ look and be amazed!” in Greek it actually reads, “Look, you mockers; / look and be amazed and die.

Whoa. What?

Paul quotes this verse in Acts 13 when he’s preaching in Antioch. Taking the language from Hebrew (which Habakkuk was written in) and relating it in Greek (which Paul spoke) reveals another layer of meaning — as Greek always does.

Habakkuk 1:5 in the Message is also a little startling:

“Look around at the godless nations. 
   Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock.
Something’s about to take place
   and you’re going to find it hard to believe.”

If you keep reading, you’ll see what God is talking about. He isn’t standing still while the world lives the way it wants to. He isn’t ignoring while the world does what feels good and mistreats people. And whether those people live in the U.S. or in another country doesn’t matter. God can see everything, and He isn’t going to be silent for long.

In the rest of this chapter, God talks about how He’s stirring up the Babylonians who will come to conquer Israel. That was the only way to get through to the people of Israel — let a foreign army conquer them. Allow them all to be taken into captivity where they no longer have their comforts to keep distracting them.

Anyone sense a parallel?

God isn’t always going to fix things the way we think He should. I’m glad. Because He knows the source of our biggest problems, and He knows how to make it right again. We just have to trust Him, even if we find it hard to believe that what He’s doing can possibly ever work out for our good. And on those days when we’re tempted to think that He’s not paying attention (like me), we need to remember that He’s never still. God is always doing something somewhere. He’s always working somewhere.

So don’t be discouraged or depressed. Keep following. Keep doing what Scripture says is right. God will handle the details. And even though we may be stranded in a broken world for a brief moment, we’re not abandoned. God has a plan.

Stone path at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Seeking God’s help is a journey

What does it mean to seek God? That’s another one of those Christian catch phrases church people drop when they want to sound spiritual. It’s a good generic answer for just about any question–“I’m seeking God’s will” or “I’m seeking God’s face.” But what does it mean?

Stone path at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Stone path at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Psalm 69:32.

The humble will see their God at work and be glad.
    Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.

This brightened my morning, to tell you the truth, and it kind of made me laugh. At the moment, my church is starting a 21-day challenge to prayer ( The whole congregation has the opportunity to journal together and share prayer requests with each other, and even though this is only the second day, many people have responded. It’s pretty cool, actually.

And then, seemingly totally at random, I start finding all these verses about asking God for help.  The Holy Spirit makes me smile.

But, in any case, what does it actually mean to seek God?

This is terrible, but the first thing I think about when I think about seeking help is The Wizard of Oz. You’ve got poor Dorothy stranded in a strange Technicolor world (which I’m sure was quite disturbing after coming from such a monochrome place as Kansas), and all she really wants is to get home. She’s got her three strange companions, and they embark on a journey to request help from the Great and Powerful Oz. Of course, just about everyone knows the story. Oz isn’t exactly who his reputation led them to believe, and Dorothy wakes up after all of it and finds it was all just a dream. Whatever. But the concept is there.

Dorothy needed something only the Wizard of Oz could provide — a way home. And she was willing to go great lengths to get to him, so she could ask him to help her.

Seeking God’s help is a journey because, in my experience, it’s rare that God answers a request exactly the way you ask Him to. Many times, God’s answer will sound like “No” and at that point, we give up and stop asking. But “Not yet” doesn’t necessarily mean “No.” And that’s why you have to keep asking. You have to keep on keeping on until the day when the “Not yet” becomes a “Go for it!”

I love the Amplified Version of the Bible. It really details a lot of words and their meanings, and usually I read every verse in this translation before I put it on here. Mainly, I just want to make sure I’m not missing something in the translation. And today, I think I would have missed this.

Because when we talk about seeking God’s help, we think about asking Him for something. But that’s not all the verse (and the word meaning) seems to imply.

Psalm 69:32 AMP

The humble shall see it and be glad; you who seek God, inquiring for and requiring Him [as your first need], let your hearts revive and live!

See that? Inquiring for and requiring Him as your first need.

We’re supposed to seek God, not only asking Him but requiring Him to the point of necessity. We’re supposed to need Him.

Needing someone goes beyond the simple recognition that a goal is outside our reach. Needing someone implies a complete and utter humility. Because if you need someone else, that means you can’t get through life without them.

I’m bad at that because I don’t really need anyone. I like my friends, and I enjoy people sometimes. But I’m really independent. Not that independence is bad, but it does tend to make me rely on myself far more often than I should, especially when I should be relying on God instead.

Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz stayed on the yellow brick road in spite of the numerous dangers they encountered on the way, and they didn’t get off the path until they reached the Emerald City. Were there other paths? I’m sure. But getting off the yellow brick road would have meant navigating would have been up to them. The yellow brick road was the straightest, most direct path to the Wizard of Oz.

Seeking God’s help is a choice we have to make every day, to stay on the path, to keep moving forward in spite of the answers we think we get. And you can be sure that if you get an answer that causes you to rely on yourself, that’s not from God. Because if we want God to help us, we have to put our faith and trust in Him completely.

Seeking God’s help is a journey that makes us realize how much we really need Him. And He has promised that those who come to Him seeking His help in a way that is truly humble will find a reason to be encouraged. Why?

Well, read the next verse (Psalm 69:33):

For the Lord hears the cries of the needy;
    he does not despise his imprisoned people.

Are you on a journey this morning? Are you seeking God’s help? Are you humble about it? Then be encouraged. Because He hears you.