What Did You Expect?

It was totally going to work, and then _____ had to happen! Have you had that happen to you lately — something that ought to have worked out perfectly for you because you were depending on the outcome? But, because it didn’t, you have a situation you’d rather not have to deal with right now.

How many problems in our lives spring out of things that just had to work, and didn’t? Like a surgery, a test, an emergency response, a call for help. I don’t have much experience with these examples, but many of you do. You know what it’s like when it seems like God isn’t there. Or, maybe you believe He is still there, but are dissatisfied with what He’s doing.

How many of us feel that we are at odds with Him because He works, but not by our standards of excellence? Maybe the problem is more with us than we realize, though.

No, maybe the situation that we’re in isn’t our fault, but what if that’s not God’s main focus? What if He’s more tuned into our response to what is going on than we can understand? What do we do then?

If He knows what we’re going through, and He is choosing to be a part of it all, why isn’t He shaping up everything to look and feel better now?

I think the key here could be that idea we have of everything. What is that part that God has chosen to work on? Is it our circumstances or our hearts; our wants or our attitudes?

When I look at a problem I have, I look for what God is doing with the BIG things — what is going on around me — not so much in me. But, are those really the big things — at least as far as God is concerned?

Do we really think that God, when He seems sluggish to us in the matters that are most important to us, that He is not at the same time working consistently in the matters that are most important to Him? Could it be that He is operating in such a way as to turn our hearts to what His heart is after?

Misplaced Dread

The mountains and the valleys of life…Do you ever wonder why they’re there?

I do. I wonder why my time on the mountainous terrain isn’t more extensive and why some of my “valley” seasons can’t be more easily cut short.

Yet the more time I have spent in the valley, the more I wonder why I dread it so — this station where joy rises with the morning and where real worship begins. It is here that I can most effectively take leave of myself and learn what it means to cling to Him while holding nothing back.

It is when I am aware that I am making my ascent — closing in on my next peak — that am most tempted to push and shove; to insist that God get “out of my way” so I see all that I’ve been missing while so far below. But it is in the valley that I become the most patient. I realize that I cannot push God around and I have no reason to expect to get my way. I learn what it really means to say that God is good. And I discover grace is not a luxury, but a daily support I cannot press on without.

Important Work

I wanted to find myself complete — all by myself; for, I thought a girl who lacks is a girl who loses. Loses her chance at admiration, friends, success and acclaim. I lived to prove I had no missing pieces, no empty places on the inside. I thought I was worth knowing, if I could prove it.

Needless to say, I have always felt compelled to perform and impress. I could not understand how it was possible for me to just be me and still expect to have friends.

Why would I worry about this? I don’t have all the answers to that, but I do know the these fears are real for every person at some level. And I think that we experience these insecurities in proportion to the extent that we pursue Christ and the person He has called us to be. If that be true, than what Christ is doing in us is important. It is a job we could not do for ourselves; a work that we cannot even glimpse the end of because all we have to go on is the past.

So we trust God with what He is doing, and who we become as His transformation continues.

The Only Way

So, you just met Him and you wonder what He’s all about: Who is this God who saves people like you and me? What is He interested in and why did He choose you?

God LOVES these questions! He wants us to know Him, and know Him well — to long to understand Him and value Him with all our hearts and minds.

So, start by asking Him — pour all those things in your heart out; to Him every question, every tear, even every accusation you hold against Him are like costly offerings. Yes, all these things qualify as things to give to God. And don’t worry, even if you know that what you hold in your heart is not true and yet you believe it, He will take it all. He will test the substances and purify your heart.

The way to be closer to God is to let Him be closer to you, being confident that He did not save you to then incriminate you with the sins you let Him see, but to transform the girl or guy that still functions as a slave to these things.

Oh, Come Surrender!

Growing in God takes work. Work that comes with the richest of rewards. Yet sometimes we feel like the rewards aren’t worth the work. We see it as an extra expense of time, energy, and commitment. We don’t want to invite anything else into our lives other than what we already have overwhelming us. Focusing on spiritual growth seems to promise the pressure that finally sinks us.

We want a break from all these things that steal our precious emotional, mental and physical resources. We already have a lot going on; who needs more, right?

I know. I’ve been there. And, yet, I’ve since been beyond there too. I have seen God answer prayers for Him to put the life of my spirit on the front burner, while He also made sure that everything else that was simmering in my life wouldn’t boil over and burn me.

Well, contrary to my expectations when I first surrendered my stove top to God, He has been able to do so much more than keep everything going — He has taken care of me and made my greatest needs priority over all the little things I was always harried by trying to keep right. As I relied on Him, He enabled my spirit to grow. As I watched His strength and love on display for me each day, I learned what a joy dependence is when it is known in Him.

An understanding of how life was meant to be lived has come out of this. Every day I learn what it means to live secondary to God, dependent upon Him for everything that I need. I don’t have to rush ahead and make sure I have lined up everything I need for tomorrow. I can rest. I work on what He gives me today, and let Him do all the planning for my tomorrows. After all, tell me who is already there?

What to Do?

When you look at your life and you don’t like what you see, what do you do with it? Is this a question you ask yourself?

I am sure this is a question we all ask ourselves to some degree. A season we don’t understand, or a circumstance that doesn’t comply with our desires for predictability and simplicity can be all it takes to change how we look at life. We can begin to wonder what to make of mysteries we never considered before.

You may be wondering, as I often have, is it okay to question God like this? But, think about it, even when we are questioning Him, we are considering God. Maybe we have never shown such interest in Him before, never dreaming that we would have reason to, yet unexpected circumstances or handicaps of weakness drastically alter our normal inclinations. Count this as a blessing.

God could just leave us exactly as we are, content to let us move on, growing as we see the need, or He could nudge us along to a place we would never have dreamed would be necessary to learn to love God more.

Yet, haven’t we been through enough by now, to know that God knows us well. When He looks at  us, He doesn’t just see what we’re proud of, or what we’re ashamed of, but what is an obstacle to us.

And what are the obstacles that are the most threatening to us and who we want to be? According to Him, they are the ones that come under the heading of false beliefs, doubts, fears, bitterness, anger, un-forgiveness, living without self-control — all manner of sins that are responsible for the separation between us and God.

If you are a Christian, this would include sins that you are no longer condemned for in the eyes of God, but that He still wants to correct in you. Grace is what you live by, but it is also what you strive by — seeking to allow it to take over your heart, and encourage you to honestly subject yourself to God and grow in the glories of His righteousness.

If you are not a believer, than this would apply to the very person that you are; you have not died to the life you live for sin and been raised to life in the Spirit according to the righteousness of Christ. God cannot forgive you until you will see yourself as the person that Jesus Christ came to save — a sinner in need of righteousness from God to cover his sins and declare him to be a new being, conceived of God, and not of the spiritually-impotent efforts of man.

In either regard this news is not very complimentary, but the gospel is not meant to flatter us, but to free us. What we do when we don’t like what we see in our lives is look at ourselves; ought we not to worry more about ourselves than what goes on around us that is beyond our control?

That is what God’s Word would appear to say to us. For, when did Jesus ever encourage His followers to embrace world-change, or take up a crusade when they faced unfortunate circumstances? He didn’t. He wanted to seek Him, and His already-conceived kingdom rather than throwing their lives into erecting temporary solutions to a problem that is solved in Him.

Our world does not need more orphanages, options or outposts, but more out-stretched individuals who realize their need for more than themselves, and nothing less than Christ.

What I Thought I Wanted

How many times can you remember when you thought you knew what you wanted, but something happened to change your mind. Or maybe, like me, at the moment you are thinking about something you were once adamant about not wanting, but have since changed your mind about.

Right now I could actually name a few things I didn’t think I wanted…let’s see: a facebook account, greater exposure to rap music, a solo writing career and a blog. That list is actually a very modest representative of the full-length, many faceted list that God seems to be constantly revising for me.

I don’t want Him to make so many changes in what I value, but I do want Him to make me value Him more. And, so far this extensive modification is doing the trick quite well. Yes, He knows what He’s doing!

He keeps changing what things that I believe to pose no real problem for me just as they are. Yet, I have to regularly ask myself, what do I know about what is absolutely necessary for me?

No, it is not what I’m used to, what I expect, or what I can do — it is what I have in Him.