HAPPY EASTER FROM THE TEAM AT JUST LIVING THE THING!
Can we begin to think we know what God is doing, how He is doing it, or why? Can we fathom when He will answer a prayer, or how, or who He may use to answer it?
I saw a Facebook post this week that said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” “That’s a good one,” I thought, but the truth of the matter is; I do it all the time.
You see at a very young age I began to believe that I was the only one who could hold it all together. If I didn’t then everything around me would fall apart. Tall order for a child, but I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders.
This went with me into adulthood, marriage, and parenting. Only in the last ten years have I been able to let go and allow my Lord to take that huge burden and surrender it all to Him. This has been so freeing. Not that I really ever had control, but I had the illusion of control, and some habits die hard.
Being the parent of adult children ages 18 to 20 is very stress-inducing. They can make so many mistakes that could affect the rest of their lives in positive and negative ways. I mostly seem to focus on the negative ways.
But I pray.
When I feel the need to control rear its ugly head, I give it all back to the Father and ask Him to parent my children.
… “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
I look at the verses above and wonder, “What am I thinking?” I do not have the mind of the Lord. I do not know His ways, His thoughts. They are so much more than my teeny tiny little brain could ever comprehend. So, why do I obsess, ruminate, or worry. God’s got my kids. I just need to lift them before the Father who calls them His children. Did you catch that? His children.
Just tonight during a great conversation with one of my kids, I listened as they told their story, but at the same time I watched the beautiful tapestry I could see being woven right before my eyes, by the hand of the Great Creator. Wow, what a masterpiece!
God used some strands of my life, some good experiences, and some painful experiences, but He used them and wove them in a way that was so beautiful and amazing that I cannot look at some of those experiences in the same way ever again. He is answering all my prayers, He is in control.
So amazed by God’s wondrous faithfulness as I am just living the thing!
Recently I felt compelled to obey God in a small, but annoying way.
I was taking a break from an activity and wanted to zone out. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to be quiet and regroup. I pulled out my phone to play a game. I don’t like playing boring games on my phone, but there is safety when I stare at my phone. It is an unspoken sign to people that I don’t want to talk. Please, you know this is form of nonverbal communication. If someone is on their phone, you don’t try to start a conversation with them, show some respect!
Well, I had been feeling like God wanted me to talk to someone. I see her around the same time every day; the exact time that I’m trying to have peace and quiet. One day last week we were in the same room, no one else was there, and since we were both on our phones there was no obligation to talk. It could have been a perfect situation, except I kept hearing that little voice telling me to put down my phone and start a conversation with this lady I didn’t know. It was really irritating.
I finally… partially… obeyed, and while looking at my phone, noncommittally asked how her day was going. It was fine. And there was awkward silence. I held out for about 20 seconds before I was finally all in, obeyed that little voice, put my phone down, and tried to engage some sort of conversation. I had no idea what I was doing or where this was going.
After several awkward starts and stops and long silent pauses, out of nowhere she started talking about her daughter’s health problems, problems with her ex-husband, and all that had been going on in her life for the past year. It was like someone took their thumb off the garden house and her story was rushing out like water that had been held back.
I just sat there and listened.
I don’t know how this fits in to God’s big plan, but I do know that I wished I had cared enough to put my stupid phone down sooner. It’s crazy how technology can save lives, but also distract us from souls. It seemed like this lady didn’t have many people to talk to, and don’t we all know what it’s like to feel alone? And the feeling is amplified when going through something difficult, isn’t it?
In my experience sometimes all it takes to relieve some of that weighty feeling of ‘aloneness’ is to have someone give you their attention, to care, to listen. Often, that’s why we are willing to pay therapists so much for an hour of attention, right? I learned (again) this week that I’m not often called to do “big” things, but that sometimes living this thing means listening and obeying in the seemingly little things. Someone’s heart may depend on it.
I have been facing what seems like an impassable river; one needing to be parted by God Himself. He asked me to cross this river years ago, but I pulled back, afraid and insecure because of all the “what ifs”.
The children of Israel faced two impassable rivers during their exodus and if I were to place myself in their story I see two different ways I can pray as I face my own river.
The Red Sea is the place of panic prayer. The Israelites were angry, afraid, and thinking they were better off in Egypt. I’m no different. All I see are enemies, and no visible means of escape. I cry out to God, but my prayer is laced with fear, anxiety and, unbelief. I know He can, but will He? God parting the waters should have removed all doubt but they continue to wander for forty years in unbelief.
Fast forward to the River Jordan, overflowing its banks, and as impassable as the Red Sea. Even if they could cross, enemies await on the other side.
This is the place of risky prayer.
Do I dare ask God for that much help? Am I somehow overstepping my faith boundaries and imposing on His good graces? After all, I’ve been wandering in unbelief over this issue. Why should God make a way into the Promised Land for me?
As I read the two stories, I notice a distinct difference in their attitudes. At the Jordan, I don’t see the complaining and chaos characterizing the Red Sea episode. There are no bold proclamations of faith; just a subdued group listening for Gods instruction. Their focus is not on their enemies, the raging river, or the lack of a bridge. They are fixed on God, determined to obey this time.
These are the children of the ones who died in unbelief in the wilderness. They are a new generation of believers, allowing God to strip away their reproach. God doesn’t say throw yourselves into the water and it will part, He says wait for the Ark. It will go first.
The Ark of the Covenant going before the children of Israel at the Jordan River is a beautiful and tangible symbol, representing the holy place where God and man come together in prayer and covenant and purity. It holds all that is holy, and is in essence, the image of Emmanuel – God with us. The Ark represents His presence.
My choice for the future seems risky, but hopeful. Old patterns tell me to be anxious and afraid of new ground, reminding me of my past; my failure to step out in faith. But those accusations don’t take grace into account. Believing prayer changes things. And grace gives do-overs.
Emanuel goes before me. He steps into the water first. I am choosing to believe He is able to part rivers and take down walls. I’m trusting Him. This time I will say yes and go forward…just living the thing.