Category Archives: Strength

I’d like Grace Kelly’s face, please

Ezekiel 3:9

I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint.  Do not be afraid of them, though they are a rebellious house. NIV

As I work my way through the listings of the term “fear not” in my King James concordance, I’m now in the book of Ezekiel.  I’ve not spent much time in this book, and this chapter appears to be the record of an encounter with God, during which God is preparing Ezekiel to carry an important message to the people of Israel.

I absolutely love this verse.  The message translates it, “I’ll make your face as hard as rock, harder than granite. Don’t let them intimidate you.  Don’t be afraid of them, even though they are a bunch of rebels.” MSG

I once saw a piece on TV about Grace Kelly’s life.  She was a beautiful actress, and some of my favorite movies are ones that she did with Hitchcock.  During the piece, the narrator referred to letters that Grace had written home to her family when she was first beginning her acting career.  She was lamenting to them that she had a great deal of trouble showing emotion on her face.  I was so surprised by that!  It had never occurred to me that people would struggle with showing emotion, because my struggle has always been just the opposite.

But, God made all of us uniquely, so, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that the ability to show emotion, or lack thereof, was likely on a spectrum, like most things in life.  For some people it is very easy, for others, very hard.  Until that point, I had never considered this to be an ability, rather more like a curse.  I had spent some time wondering how others could be so good at hiding what they were thinking, when my face seemed to betray my thoughts on a moment by moment basis.

As I read this verse, I believe that Ezekiel likely had the same propensity as I to show what he was thinking.  God knows that.  And, he offers — note that Ezekiel doesn’t ask for this — God offers to harden his face for him … and then reassures him by telling him not to be intimidated by the frightening bunch that God is sending Ezekiel to speak with.

This is something that I have not thought of before.  Of course, God can do anything … but I never thought about asking him to help me keep my emotions off my face.

The next time I face a situation like the one described in this chapter … well not exactly like it, because I seriously doubt that God is going to be asking me to eat a book anytime soon … but, the next time I’m going into an intimidating situation, instead of worrying about it, I’m going to ask God to make my face as hard as granite … or maybe, as hard as Grace Kelly’s.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Ezekiel, Old Testament, Strength, Worry

Don’t be so focused on it

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. NIV

I know that this is a reminder not to worry.  But, I find that my perspective is so far from Paul’s at the moment that I’m having trouble relating to it.  I know that he is right.  What is seen is temporary, what we are experiencing is temporary, but, often, it is hard to get your mind around that.

I broke a toe yesterday.  My foot has turned a lovely shade of blue, and it hurts to walk and, just as I’m sitting here, it is throbbing.  Toes are such a small part of your body … how can one small part command so much attention!?!

It strikes me that my toe is similar to the worries of this world … they are small and insignificant in comparison to the whole of eternity, and yet sometimes I get bogged down in them such that I lose sight of the whole.

I know that is the opposite of what Paul is expressing.  I need to adjust my perspective.

I’ll think about that, and also go and find a bag of ice now.


Filed under II Corinthians, Lose heart, New Testament, Strength, Trouble

Don’t let it define you

Psalm 119:143

Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight. NIV

Life here is not easy.

But, at times of trouble, the words that my mom said so often as I was growing up ring in my head, “This can either be something that happens to you, or something that defines you.”

I was a sick kid.  As I write that, I can hear her voice, “You WEREN’T sick.”  She’s right.  I wasn’t sick … I was crippled.  That’s a word that we never, ever used in our house … crippled is a word that absolutely defines you.

I was truly blessed in that my parents recognized my condition early and they did everything they could to fight it.  Now, years later, my affliction is one that is not evident, but, when I was a child, I wore a large, unsightly brace that was impossible to hide.

My parents, especially my mother, never allowed the brace to be the focus … not mine, nor anyone else’s.  They encouraged me to do all the things that kids do, and to not see myself as handicapped … that was another word we didn’t use.

When I would come home from school deflated at having been teased, or fallen down publicly, or whatever it was that upsets a child dealing with a measure of difficulty, she would ask, “Who are you?”  And, I knew that I was to answer with my first, middle and last name.  The next question was, “Who loves you?”  Again, I knew the answer.  She loved me, my dad and my sister loved me, my aunts and my uncles, my grandmother and most importantly, God.  The last question was the kicker, “Has anything really changed?”  And again, the answer was invariably, “No.”

It was a tremendous exercise to keep things in perspective.

She would never allow us (me or my sister) to define ourselves by our circumstances.  We were to see ourselves as she saw us, and as God saw us, worth dying for.

This verse is a reminder of that concept to me.  Troubles, distress, worries are inevitable.  But they will not define me.  My hope, my future and my delight are in my savior and in His commands.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Hope, Old Testament, Psalms, Strength, Worry

You can either feed it, or fight it.

Psalm 64: 10

Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him, let all the upright praise him! NIV

This verse closes a Psalm.  It opens with, “Listen and help, O  God I’m reduced to a whine and a whimper, obsessed with feelings of doomsday.” MSG  It saddens me to think what must have been going on at this time for David to be this upset about it.

But, by the end of the chapter, he has worked himself through to the solution: Rejoice in the Lord, take refuge in him, stand up and take your rightful place praising the one, true God.

Sometimes, it’s hard when you’re in the depths of a worry to find your way out of it.  At those times, as my mom would say, “you can either feed it, or fight it.”

David was a warrior, but, in this case, he chose to fight his fears by focusing on God’s provision.   He chose to rejoice in the refuge God provides instead of despairing in his own current situation; to praise God whose strength is unending, instead of focusing on his own weakness.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, Fret, Old Testament, Psalms, Strength

Psalm 31:24

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. NIV

When my hope and my trust are in Jesus Christ, there is no room for worry.  I can be strong.  I can take heart.  I can face whatever obstacle is ahead.

I just read the translation of this verse in The Message, and I find it so interesting and applicable, “Be brave.  Be strong.  Don’t give up.  Expect God to get here soon.” MSG

Wonderful words to live by!

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Filed under Hope, Psalms, Strength

Exodus 15:2

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.  NIV

Strength is the opposite of a weakness.  Worry is a weakness.  This morning, I looked up “strength” in my concordance, and I found this verse.

It is part of a song that the Israelites sang to the Lord after He had obliterated the Egyptians by closing the Red Sea in over the heads of the warriors.

I love this verse … not only do they recognize God as their strength, but also as the source of rejoicing.  I also love that “he has become my salvation.”  There’s that fresh recognition that they have been saved from a horrible fate by the Holy Father.  In my experience, that recognition is a combination of relief that the peril has been removed, and delighted astonishment that God would care enough to have removed it.  I’m not certain why those two feelings come together … as I think about it, the second likely stems from a lack of trust.

I also love the last part.  The Israelites had other Gods to choose from, but, they chose the God of Abraham.

The Message translates the first part of this verse as an exclamation, “God is my strength, God is my song, and yes! God is my salvation.” MSG

What a perfect thought to start the day.

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Filed under Exodus, Old Testament, Strength