#241 (09/07/06)
Face Your Fears With Faith

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

It was at Columbine, in Colorado, when two students started shooting and killing one after another. And my guest this morning, was next to be shot and she heard the man say to his buddy, we’re out of ammunition and that’s why she’s here.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "

" The Heaven’s Are Telling "

JOSH BATES – “Never Give Up on Me”
JOSH BATES – “King of Glory”

The Message

I don't know what you're going through today, but I am sure there are many people experiencing tough times. All of us are going through times and circumstances and situations where we feel the pain of existence but we have to remember that the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, our Lord, is there to carry us through those valleys, to move us through those tough times and into the beautiful, glorious splendor of His holy city. 

I have traveled throughout my life and I have seen some incredible sights.  I have had the privilege of studying a lot of the archaeological excavations around the world. In fact, my major in college was ancient civilization so I have studied most of them.  I've been to the Acropolis, I've been to the Islands of Crete, and I've been to Israel. I have seen many historical archaeological sites and without question one of the most spectacular archaeological sights on planet earth happens to be a place called Petra. 

Petra happens to be in Jordan. Jordan is a tough place to get to; it's just East of Israel in the Middle East.  I'll never forget the first time I went to Jordan. You drive from Amman, for several hours, until you finally get as far as you can go by car and from there you have to travel by horseback through a long narrow valley that is about two miles long. It's a deep valley where you can't see the top of the rocks and the rocks twist and turn so you cannot actually see the sky above. You are constantly in the shade and the shadows of the rocks and for several minutes you ride until finally you get through the valley and there before you is this incredible temple which actually is really just one big room. It might have been somebody's house, or it may have been a tomb, we don't know.

What is exciting about this valley is there once was a population there which began 600 years before Christ and there was up to 5,000 people that lived there at one time, so it became quite a metropolis.  They carved out of the side of the stones and they carved amphitheatres and they carved homes and they carved the treasury which is the temple that is also known as the treasury. They carved all these spectacular buildings out of the side of the cliffs.  But the only way you can get there is to go through the valley. Our lives are similar to that situation where God leads us and takes us through the valleys because he has a blessing for us, untold blessings that we can't begin to imagine.

So my prayer for you today is that:

  • You may have enough happiness to make you see it;
  • You may have enough trials to make you strong;
  • You may have enough sorrow to make you human;
  • You may have enough hope to make you happy. 

As we travel through life there are a few things we can know. First of all we know that God will take us through the valleys. We all have valleys that we are going through. 

We also know as we go through the valleys we have to be the person that God has called us to be.  Not the person that God has called someone else to be, but the person that God has called us to be. What do I mean by that?

David, before he was King, was just a Shepherd boy.  He came and he faced the philistine giant, Goliath.  The first thing that happened when he prepared to face Goliath is that Saul, the King, came and he said, "Let me give you the best armor I have; take my armor and I'll put it on you and you'll be protected to face Goliath."  Picture the Shepherd boy, with all of this heavy armor, weighing him down and he wasn't able to move. I believe he thought, "God didn't equip me to move and to live like this," so he took the armor off and picked up 5 stones and he faced Goliath with his sling shot.

God has called all of us to be the person that makes us unique, to be able to look in the mirror and see the beauty God has created and say, "I am God's child created for a purpose and for a reason."  As a result of seeing the beauty in ourselves we are able to love others.

Golda Mabovitz was a child attending grade school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She was raised in utter poverty and all of the kids saw her as the outcast and that's the way she spent her life. In fact her life was so impoverished that the school administrators came to her house one day and scolded her parents for not giving her a good lunch at school and not giving her the adequate tools she needed to be able to do her work.  They were immigrants; they couldn't understand a single word that was said to them, so they just served tea and said, "Thank you, goodbye."  When Golda looked in the mirror as a young child she just saw the outcast.  But God had a different plan. 

At the age of 70 she returned to that school, where she was invited to come back as an honored guest. She stood before the group of people who had gathered there and she addressed them, her name was Golden Meir, Prime Minister of the state of Israel.  What does God see in the least of things?  What does God see when he looks into your eyes?

God sees the beauty and the potential and the opportunity to be able to shape and mold a life.  The Good Shepherd leads us through the valleys of life that we might experience the bounty and the beauty that He wants for us. 

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."  What is the greatest fear that we face today?  I believe the fear we face is the lack of faith to keep on keeping on; to keep on striving and trust that God will truly lead us through. 

There is an old story of a man who stepped a little too close to the edge of a cliff looking at the view and he slipped and fell.  As he fell there was a branch and he grabbed a hold just at the last minute and dangling above these jagged rocks below, he yelled out, "Is anybody out there? Is anybody up there, help!"  Pretty soon he heard a voice saying, "I am here." He replied, "Who's there?"  The answer came, "It is God."  The man said, "God save me."  God said, "Let go." The man replied, "Is there anybody else up there?"

That is the way we often treat God. He leads us through the valleys and in our fear we are afraid to let go and allow God to do his bidding in our lives. God says, "Let go and trust me." Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. The evil we fear today is the lack of faith to put our trust in a loving God who won't lead us and dump us in the valley but He will carry us through the valleys. He allows these things to happen to us to make us strong and to create compassion, to create hope, to develop love.

Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. is the author of "Kitchen Table Wisdom" a book that was on the New York Times best sellers list a few years ago.  She is the founder of the Commonwealth Cancer Help Program where they have retreats and people will come there who have cancer and spend a week there trying to discover the presence of God and how He can have a positive impact on their lives.  In her book she tells a story of a man named Itzhak who was a survivor.

Itzhak was liberated from the concentration camps in 1945 and he came to America to work and became a research physicist.  One day he was diagnosed with cancer and he starting going through the valley of cancer. He discovered the Commonwealth Cancer Help Program and went to one of their retreats.  Dr. Remen told him, "What we do here is we show people a lot of love, we hug everybody."  Even though he didn't feel comfortable hugging people he let them hug him and he thought to himself, "What is all this hugging about, what is this love to strangers?" But that is what he did and after 4 days of all this hugging stuff, he had a vision. 

In his meditation he saw a light. The light started in his heart and it grew and it encompassed his whole body and then his friends and his neighbors walked into this light and Jesus walked into this light and he didn't understand it. By the end of the conference he was able to come to the conclusion as to what was going on. Dr. Remen came to him and said, "Tell me about your vision."  He replied, "I said to God, is it ok to love strangers?  And God said, Itzhak, what is this strangers?  You make strangers, I don't make strangers."  Itzhak hit a point in his life where he could love everybody. 

God carries us through the valleys, to break down the barriers which keep us from experiencing His love and being the person that He has called us to be to love our neighbors.

So today, I want you to pray a prayer with me. The prayer says this:

"Oh Lord, give me the self-esteem to believe in myself,
And the vision to see where you want this child to be,
Then give me the faith to carry it through
And the wisdom to know I did it with you."

Mary Stevenson gave us a story that has swept America; it's a perfect illustration of God's love for us. A man dies and he sees his life as footprints in the sand.  He sees one set of footprints until he accepts Jesus Christ as His savior. 

From that point on he sees two sets of footprints until he comes to that point in his life where it was the darkest of days and he didn't want to go on and he contemplated suicide and he wished he was dead. At that time suddenly there was just one set of footprints again.  When he got through that tough time he saw the two sets of footprints one more time and he looked at God and he said, "Where were You when I needed You the most?" God looked at the man and He said, "I was carrying you."

So today I ask you to pray.  Carry me Lord, carry me through these toughest darkest days and lead me through the valleys into that Promised Land that you have for me.

Dear God, You are good.  You are gracious and You are loving and today You are calling us to be the person that You created.  You are calling us to be the person you envisioned as You created a love between a man and a woman and a child was born. You gave me my name. Today I give my name to You.  I give my heart to You, I give my life to You.  I give my burdens to You, I give my struggles to You.  I give my hope to You, I give You my all. Take me Lord, just as I am, and give me the faith to let go when You call.  I love you Lord.  Amen. 

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