Whatever God Wants

C162QP34004CBeing a dreamer and loving big dreams, I can quickly become very excited about the future. Ok, that’s a huge understatement! Far too excited is more accurate.

But aren’t we supposed to be excited about the future, anticipating big things, dreaming big dreams?

Not necessarily.

It really depends on whose dreams and whose plans we are banking on. When God gives us plans and dreams and hopes, I don’t think we can do too much to prepare for them. Say you are sure you are to be a missionary. Pray often, read up on it, talk to people, check out countries and ministries, dream big!  But if it’s just your own dream, and you really don’t know what God has for you yet, focus your prayers on wisdom, guidance, obedience. Pray hard for missionaries and the lost, but don’t obsess over your own plan, assuming it’s God’s plan for you.

Whatever God’s plans are for you, it’s going to be a perfect fit for you as long as He leads you to do that. And when He prompts you to move on, well, then that new direction is going to be the perfect fit for that time. Get excited about the doors God opens for you. Don’t waste you time trying to pry open a door you want to open on your own. It’s pointless. All you’ll find is disappointment and heartbreak. The most noble causes are wonderful, but they are also part of

God’s timing and plan.

If your “big dream” right now is being  a stay-at-home-mom, changing diapers, kissing sweet cheeks, do it with all your heart. If it’s a fast-paced career or the mission field, or flipping burgers…whatever it is, do it with all your heart. Do your best. See where you can grow and learn and bless others. When it’s God’s time for you to do something else, don’t worry, He’ll let you know!!

A good friend of mine and I were having a talk awhile ago. I was doing my usual dreaming (my own dreams). I was thinking of all the wonderful things I could do for God…all great dreams, noble dreams. Then I asked her to expound on what she would like to do for God, waiting for a similar list. She wisely said,

“Whatever God wants me to do.”

Amen. Lesson learned.

A Complex Equation

N1007P41006CTrust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I’ll admit, one flaw in my thinking most of my life, has been that life should be easy. We should be carefree. Obedience should be effortless. Keeping focused on God should be a given. Choosing Godly decisions should be easy.

But it just isn’t easy and that is pretty disappointing and frustrating to me.

I do imagine life in the Garden of Eden was easy and most likely heaven will be. But this life certainly isn’t! It is a blessed life though, walking through it with Christ.

I picture myself chained up to a heavy weight. I want it off completely. I want no hindrances, absolute freedom and the ability to do whatever I please. Instead, becoming a Christian,

Jesus carries it for me.

Some days, this is great and I handle it fine. I do know now what freedom is like. Other days I just fixate on the fact that chain is still there. There are still things I can’t do and I’m not OK with it. If I push Jesus away, I’m completely weighed down again. Living life absolutely independently is really not an option. I have no choice but to get over it and fully accept the arrangement I’m in – always needing to rely on Christ. Free, yet not absolutely free until heaven one day. A free person, yet a slave to Christ. My life is mine, yet my life isn’t mine at all.

There’s just nothing easy about reality. Reality is really a daily challenge. All the difficulty, hurt, trials, and pain is absolutely balanced out with the blessing and joy of a redeemed life in Christ. But it’s not a simple equation – it’s very complex! It’s not “life is easy and fun”. It’s “life is quite difficult, and really impossible on my own + Jesus frees me from all the cares and worries of this life = content me.” Now go live life to the full list and love it. Or spend it having a pity party and missing out on some pain and also on countless joy and blessing.

Class over. 

Our Perfect Best Friend

 For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths. Proverbs 5:21

Quite a humbling verse! God knows everything about me, but somehow thinking of Him examining my path makes me uneasy. I have to remind myself that

God is on my side.

He is for me.

Instead of picturing God facing me, stern look on His face, judging my path, I have to remind myself that God is grace. That doesn’t mean He’s any less holy, perfect or righteous. But He stands with me, arm over my shoulders speaking to me gently about my path.

I can ask God questions like, how do I avoid that in the future, Lord? Or I’m picking up a pattern. Will you help me change this? And He does. Or even comment, I don’t know why I do that. I really need help! He is happy to help me in any way I need.

I can rest easy in His presence and be open to His thoughts, convictions, and insights. Not that I will always love His input, not that they will always be my favorite words… but He speaks with love and kindness. It’s not, you’re a failure. It’s more, look my daughter, this isn’t good for you. Let’s work on freeing you from the snare.

We can think of God as our Best Friend, Ally, Counselor and Advisor. The thing is, He is still our Lord and we do need to be obedient to Him. So, we are in this unique relationship, knowing we are completely loved and known and also knowing our obedience and submission is necessary. Our Best Friend always knows best.

God is a friend, no doubt about it. He is for us and is not the accuser of His children. But, neither is He just like a human friend. It’s not a 50-50, compromise in everything friendship. We are mortal, sinful people and He is the Creator of the Universe! He chooses to walk with us, guide us, comfort and always love us. We can take comfort that He examines our paths. And we can decide ahead of time, when we disagree, we go with God’s way. It’s an interesting and amazing relationship He invites us into.

Overcomers

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37 

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10-11

 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. I John 4:4

We are overcomers through our Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us the armor we need to be effective warriors and promises us the victory through Him.

I hear these reassuring words of truth and they are very encouraging and empowering! Yet one of our best weapons is plain and simple

humility.

With sin in our lives and hearts, any courage we receive first and foremost meets our pride. I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s easy to just take these courageous words of God and try to apply them to my own strength. 

But somehow, it’s our humility and admittance of our weakness on our own that is so crucial and easily missed. There’s a reason for armor – it protects something

weak and vulnerable.

That’s us. We’re not doing ourselves any good by feeding our pride and human strength if we head out to battle without that armor! Sure, we may feel more courageous but it’s pure foolishness. Without God’s sword and shield, our haughty, courageous thoughts will only get us killed.

It’s our weakness that God plans to shine through. I don’t think He enjoys helping us defeat the enemy when we then grab all the glory and just get cocky. Let’s keep an eye out as we are engaged in battle and as God brings us victory…

who gets the glory?

Outwardly do we praise Him and speak of our incredible armor that made our victories possible? And inwardly, are we remaining humble? Let’s ask God to reveal any pride we may be purposefully or even unintentionally feeding. Humility is where our power lies and it is a daily, hourly challenge. God will help point out areas He is addressing and correcting if we ask Him to reveal that to us. And yes, that will be a sure start to our practice of humility, no doubt there!

Planting a Dream

It’s great to want to be used by God to accomplish His purposes. I know He looks for willing hearts and lives that are open to His plans and His dreams. He values our decision to be obedient and submissive to Him.

It’s pretty easy for me to dream my own big dreams. Yet, when we dream without God’s input…we seem to find only pain and disappointment. That’s why I became a reluctant dreamer! Other people just stop dreaming altogether and settle for the nightmares of this world.

God’s dreams are even bigger than we can imagine. But they often start imperceivably. That’s why it’s so important to have wise and mature Christian friends and advisors to bounce our ideas and hopes off of. They will help us identify which plans are our own and which plans are God’s.

We can save ourselves so much frustration and disappointment if we ask God to plant His dreams in us. While we wait, we learn about Him, share Him with others and learn to serve as He leads. This alone is a wonderful and blessed life! Is it really just excitement we are looking for?

I think so. Sometimes I think I’ve just been an excitement junkie more than anything. Can you relate? Whether it’s my competitive nature, or pride or the need to feel important, I don’t know. It’s been great to realize though that God already has an exciting plan for all of us when we see life through His eyes. I don’t have to envy other people for their exciting life. The people involved in God’s wondrous plans are no different than you or me…they have just given God full control of their lives. It’s really quite freeing to admit that without God, I can do nothing. But like Matthew 19:26 says “with God all things are possible.”

So how does God prepare normal, everyday, sinful people to be outstanding men and women of faith? How does He prepare us for all He has for us? The soil of our hearts is dry, barren and full of rocks.

Out comes the heavy duty farm equipment. It can easily take years to remove all the huge boulders of sin and thorny briars of selfishness and pride littering this field of our heart. God tills the ground with His truth and supplements the barren soil with nutrients, strengthening our weak character and morals. It takes time, lots of time and lots of patience. He works out an irrigation system, the Holy Spirit, so water is plentiful and always available. All the while…we may feel nothing is happening. Does God care, we wonder. Does He even know I’m here? Yes, of course He does!

And then when we aren’t sure any more what God is planning, we begin to reap the first crop…that of peace and contentment. Peace that He knows best, contentment that what He has for us is the best plan.

Now the field is ready and lo and behold, it no longer matters to us what the plan is as long as it’s God’s plan. Our impatience is tilled right out of us and we find we only care that God is present and takes care of us. We don’t need to DO anything, we need to RECEIVE whatever He has for us, His dreams, His plans. Now we are ready to see the amazing happen.

A soul at peace is  a soul ready for planting.

Can We Outwait God?

WaitI’ve been a Christian for over 30 years now and throughout that time I know God has been teaching me, molding me, and helping me understand him better. But the last few years I’ve come to know him much better.

It’s not that God has done anything different. He is unchanging after all! All through these years, he has been a constant companion, counselor, friend, and good father. But most of my life, I managed to block out many of the ways he was teaching me and reaching out to me as that constant friend and advisor.

Even so, I still learned a lot despite my stubbornness – he is the Almighty God after all! He knows each of us better than we do ourselves. He made me and you! He has all sorts of interesting ways he draws us to himself – through his Word, even if we are reading it as a boring textbook, through human relationships, both the good things in them and the lack thereof, through our successes and failures in work and in all parts of our lives, through our struggles with wanting more out of life and finding all the world offers really doesn’t satisfy. He speaks to us in the beauty of his creation and also in the grief of its fallenness. He speaks to our very hearts with conviction and correction and sweet words.

Basically, he’s always speaking to us because this is his world, his life and he’s everywhere! Should that surprise us? He is always communicating with us far more than we will ever be able to fully understand. But, how wonderful to finally realize this and start to enjoy even more such an amazing friendship with the God that loves each of us enough to die for us.

So what changed, you may ask. Why now can I say this after so many years of God seeming distant and inaccessible?

I changed.

God is doing what God has always done and will do for eternity – reaching out to us, loving us, drawing us toward himself as much as we allow. I just wouldn’t allow him to draw me to him much of my life. I didn’t understand he cared that much for me. I had  accepted his salvation but was still living as a slave when he had adopted me as his child and wanted to treat me as such. I couldn’t accept all he offered because I  couldn’t comprehend how amazingly he does love me, and every person. Once we accept him as Lord and Savior, he holds out his hand to start a grand adventure with us. But, he doesn’t force us and if we cross our arms stubbornly and sit down instead, we do miss out on many things.

That’s what I feel I did. He was always with me of course, but it’s like he said, OK, lesson one is

you have incredible worth, you are valuable and well-loved.

And I said, I just can’t believe that and put down my traveling gear, refusing to budge. Here and there I would pick it up and start to walk but lesson two seemed to be, God saying,

we’ll go my way.

That sounded too risky. I wanted to choose safe, well-worn paths, nearby destinations, no risk trips, so I just set my traveling gear back down and waited for him to relent and let me make the plans. One big lesson I did finally learn is that we can’t outwait God. If we think we can get our way by throwing a fit or holding our breath so we pass out… I can tell you first hand, he won’t relent!

He won’t agree with us that we are worthless and he won’t agree to our small, fearful plans. So that is the long story short of most of my Christian life. I’m sad I’ve been so stubborn, but the great thing about God is once we resolve things with him,

he does forgive us

and gladly works with us to make up that lost time so we do get where we are supposed to be. I don’t have to regret over 30 years of stubbornness because in the these past years, he has been giving me many of these “missed” experiences and lessons in speed form. And, guess what…? It’s been amazing and I have loved traveling with God and getting to know him better.

Trusting God

reachinghandAs much as I wish trusting God was a simple one-time decision that once made was never questioned, I find it’s more of a on-going decision I must make hundreds of times a day. My human nature constantly fights against trusting God. The world challenges me and mocks me for making such an all-encompassing decision. To the world, it’s foolishness, complete absurdity, insanity. How could I really give up total control of my hopes, dreams, rights, and image to another? Why risk being let down, disappointed, wronged,  and used?  If we’re over the age of three, we already know people break our hearts, fail to see our worth and use us selfishly. But let’s not forget, we do the same thing back to them! How can we truly trust this God that requires we submit to him in every way? What about that expression that we should not “put all our eggs in one basket.” Shouldn’t we diversify, have many back up plans and escape routes, look after ourselves first and foremost?

With all of this in the background, I am not that surprised that

truly trusting God 100% is difficult.

It’s not impossible, but neither is it our natural human bent since sin entered the picture back with Adam and Eve. What is important to God doesn’t always line up with what is important to me. I am so fearful of finding I’ve chosen to be a slave to a cruel master. My survival instincts and all the bents of sin influencing me scream,

“Take care of yourself!

Look out for yourself!

Only you know what you want!

 Look at your history, all the times your heart was broken, treated poorly, stepped on, and overlooked.”

Dare I trust everything to one being that is completely unlike myself? Can I be faithful in situations that appear that he has failed me? Can I trust him unconditionally and absolutely when I don’t understand and feel I’ve been wronged?

Yes, I can trust God.

Every day, sometimes many times a day, I must remind myself of this. I hope eventually it will sink in and I can be at ease completely in his hands. He is completely good. He is love. He’s my creator and in him alone I find my worth. He knows my heart and protects me, even from myself. It really doesn’t matter what my circumstances are like or how grim life seems, he will never let me down, accidentally forget about me, change his mind about me or rejoice in my suffering. I have no other model for this relationship with God, I only see it in a human framework, from a broken human existence, assuming human limitations.

Reality is I have met the perfect friend, father and lover. The more I invest in him, the more he proves he is absolutely real and faithful and good. I don’t regret anything I’ve risked putting in his hands.

The more “enslaved” I become to my God, the more free I find I am.

I have complete security in this amazing God. Life isn’t easy, but it is good. He is good. Nothing I have done or could do can keep God from loving me and finding worth in me. My worth is tied up in his perfect character, not in my frailty and failures, nor in any other person’s opinions.

When we decide to ask Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, he trades out our old hearts for a new one. From that point on, he works to subject everything about ourselves to him. It is scary at times, but he proves time and time again, he is trustworthy  I never regret submitting more and more to God’s control and keeping. If for a time it’s unclear, I only need to persevere to find God truly is more amazing and faithful than my heart and mind will ever fully understand while on this earth.

God can be trusted. You can trust him. I will trust him.