I came across this quote and thought, “How true!” Perhaps it reveals a glass half-empty philosophy or the belief in Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”
Even so, the quote seems to capture the narrative of my life whether it was an unexpected move, a door closing to a ministry where I believed God called me, or in my everyday schedule when a day set aside for writing turned into listening to and praying for someone else.
Reminder to self: God is the author and perfecter of my faith. He is also the writer of my life story. When life happens as I imagined, I have the illusion of being in control, but when things don’t go as planned, the truth sinks in. I am not in control. God is ruling and reigning over all. Then I have a choice either to become anxious or to trust God as He re-writes my story.
He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul Psalm 23:1-2
As the fallen leaves
Clog up the creek bed,
Yesterday’s mistakes, today’s tasks, and tomorrow’s worries
Obstruct my soul.
Raking away the debris,
Jesus clears the path of the stream
Opening the way
For His living waters to flow.
Two blind men desperately cried out to Jesus. The crowd tried to hush them because they believed the blind men were too insignificant to bother the teacher. But Jesus heard their cry for mercy and stopped. He asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32)
No matter how loudly the voices are seeking to silence you, Jesus hears your desperate plea. Your need is not insignificant to Him. How would you answer if he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
We are inundated with the improvement mentality…. clean up and fix up. Our fascination is evidenced by the numerous TV shows addressing this issue. Whether a house or a wardrobe, at the end of the show’s hour, a dramatic transformation occurs. Although the changes are impressive, I believe these shows can foster a lack of contentment in our own lives. When we focus on what needs repaired, we may subtly become dissatisfied with ourselves, our lives and the people nearest to us. How easy it is to point out areas for renovation in others using our words to chisel away at another’s rough spots. Not intending to, we can even plaster over our own hearts. Since there is always one more thing to improve, it is a never ending process. Perhaps, we may even start thinking that God cannot be pleased with us or love us until we are completely repaired.
Another problem may arise if we focus too much on external improvements and neglect matters of the heart. Like the Pharisees, who Jesus rebuked, we can appear like a whitewashed tomb, clean on the outside but lifeless inside. If we decide to begin an improvement project, Peter describes the correct emphasis, “Your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gently and quiet sprit which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:4)
Although our sanctification will not be complete at the end of an hour, God who promised to do this is faithful, He will do it. Hebrews 10:14 assures us that Jesus has made perfect forever all those who are being made holy. We can rest from our labors knowing Jesus has already done everything necessary for our transformation.
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, exists an area called the doldrums. In the days of sailing, it was a dangerous location because of the absence of trade winds which could cause a ship to be stuck for weeks without any movement or progress.
On occasion, we may feel stuck in the spiritual doldrums. In the middle of our journey, everything stops and we are left waiting until the Lord brings a wind of change into our lives. The life of Abraham (in Genesis Chapters 15-17, 21) portrays the drastic consequences of one who acted in his own wisdom and strength instead of waiting for God’s fulfillment His promises. We don’t want to follow that route.
So what can we do as we wait for the Lord’s wind of change? Seek His face, give thanks and worship Him. One way to focus on Jesus is by writing our own songs of praise. Here is one of my own psalms using Psalm 143 as a starting point.
Open the heavens to my desperate cries for help
Your silence is my undoing
Don’t keep your face hidden or delay any longer
For I am lost without your presence
The enemy stalks me
Crushing my hope
Making me sink into darkness
My spirit is weary
My heart has lost its wings to fly
I think back on yesterdays
Your many gifts of loving care
I open my clenched fists
To feel the rain fall upon a parched heart
I will hide myself in you
For you can never be shaken.
Finally, in the Lord’s time, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters…He rescued me because he delighted in me (Psalm 18:16, 19). We are no longer stuck in the doldrums but moving forward in His Spirit.
Niagara Falls is magnificent…millions of gallons of water pouring over the precipice hour after hour, day after day! Sometimes I imagine the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives like this.
Recently, however, I contemplated another picture of God’s abundance. In San Antonio, Texas, the Edward’s aquifer supplies water to over a million residents hour after hour, day after day, yet this source of water is vastly unseen. Although less spectacular, this water brings life to dry, barren places. Have no doubt; God’s Spirit is powerfully working today. Even though our Almighty God may manifest Himself in ways more splendid than Niagara Falls, on other occasions, our El Shaddai carries out His will like an aquifer, steadily supplying his power and grace through the lives of believers, reviving parched hearts and lives.
Everyone wants to look good doing the hard things. Like the Renaissance artist who paints seemingly effortlessly, I wish living out my faith looked like that. But it doesn’t. I am more of a sweaty creative. I think I understand what the end product of glorifying God should look like so I zealously begin. I earnestly believe I am listening to God and following Him, but life seems so messy. I cry out for more of His wisdom and keep following Him as best as this dark path allows, but still this is not easy and by no means effortless. I have lots of questions for God – most of them starting with why or when. I beg Him to show me what to do and how to do it to make my life a beautiful mural with all the colors and proportions just right so it will best showcase His glory. Still my life does not look like what I think a faithful follower of Jesus “should” be. How can there be any beauty in all this struggle? At times I get angry at God but like Jacob I am not letting go of Him until he blesses me, like Peter I have nowhere else to go. Eventually, I cease striving and relinquish my limited vision to His perfect design. After all, since God is the master Artist and I am His workmanship, He alone decides how to best manifest His glory. Who am I, as the clay, to resist the Potter’s hand?