Part of the fun of writing these weekly thoughts is to try and find artists that are new to me. This was a great week of personal discovery when I downloaded a recent album from the band Red. The new CD is titled Until We Have Faces but the song that inspired today's iPod Devotional is called "Not Alone".

The lyric begins with a haunting psalm-like lament.

Slowly fading away
You're lost and so afraid
Where is the hope In a world so cold?

Looking for a distant light
Someone who can save a life
Living in fear that no one will hear your cries

(Come and save me now)

Then the tone changes and the song becomes an anthem of hope. Why? Because God has promised we are not alone.

I am with you
I will carry you through it all
I won't leave you
I will catch you

When you feel like letting go
'Cause you're not
You're not alone

I have to be honest and admit I have been pretty mediocre really trusting that God would carry me through great trials. I believed it intellectually. I said the words. But I did not want to surrender control so that God could catch me, carry, and comfort me. Or I was afraid I would be judged if I confessed that I wasn't spiritually feelin' it when the storm hit.

I was led to believe there was something wrong with me when I was hurting. If I am struggling I must be doing something wrong spiritually. Shouldn't God meet this need? What is wrong with me? The answer is quite possible that there is nothing wrong with me. I may simply be in a place where I must trust Him and wait. But that is NOT what I want to hear. Do nothing? Just pray and trust and have faith? I want to DO something. But God's Word says that if I trust Him and have faith I will please Him.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6, NLT)

I acknowledge that can be easier written than done. I can give you a promise that is a good place to start building that foundation of trust upon.

"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28, NLT)

Not a hint of ambiguity there. Jesus does not say if you pray all the time or read the Bible every morning or go to church three times a week He will be with you. He does not say He may or may not be with you. He does not say you just might disgust Him enough that He may leave you. Jesus says "be SURE of this: I am WITH YOU".

I believe that Jesus aches to come along side me (and you) and help us deal with the junk in our lives. His agenda is for me to stop trying to a hero going it alone and trust Him for my sin and growth. And Jesus has promised to be with me each stumbling step of the way. When a dad is teaching his toddler to walk he is patient and encouraging. When the tyke wobbles and falls a loving father doesn't start screaming at his child.

"There you go again! You can't walk three bleepin' steps before you tumble over again. You are hopeless. You will never get this walking thing down. Why am I wasting my time?"

Hardly. The Dad encourages and applauds the effort. He lifts the child back up and exhorts him to try again. He is beaming with each step and not at all angry when the child falls. That is how I view Jesus with my spiritual walk when I understand His grace. He is thrilled with each spiritual step and is encouraging and lifting me up without condemnation when I stumble. How quickly we forget Paul's words to the Church at Rome.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 8, NLT)

And I will be your hope
When you feel like it's over
And I will pick you up
When your whole world shatters
When you're finally in my arms
Look up and see love as a face

Can we trust Jesus enough to quit scuffling in self-effort? Can we trust Him enough to finally surrender and look into His face? Can we trust Him enough to be authentic knowing that in His grace there is no condemnation? A good step toward that kind of faith is to believe and really trust that we are not alone. He promised we are not.