When We Are Afraid Our Enemies Are Winning Part 2

I’m back at that quote by Angie Smith from Monday’s blog because I have more questions. Here’s the quote again, in case you forgot. “We are reminded that even today, the perceived inability of others has no relevance to the ability of God, nor can it change the sovereign will of God.” (Chasing God, by Angie Smith)

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My question is this; What happens when we believe God has the ability to change circumstances, situations or people and He doesn’t? We know His ability doesn’t depend on other people. Yet He remains still. I know He can but He won’t.

He can take away this illness. He can change people’s hearts and attitudes. He can open doors. Yet He doesn’t. Although we try and stuff the doubts down, repress the anger and frustration, it still hurts. The stinging I feel deep in my chest is real. Although it has nothing to do with my health.

I was reminded of the story of John the Baptist in my devotions the other day. Beth Moore, in Portraits of Devotion writes about John sitting in prison, sending word to Jesus, asking if he really is the Saviour. “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”(Matthew 11:2-3)

Why does John ask this, when only days before he baptized Jesus? He knew who Jesus was. John was probably confused, discouraged and maybe a little bit angry. What was he doing in prison when he was supposed to have a great ministry going on? I like what Beth writes; “Like John, have you ever found yourself waiting and waiting on Christ to come through?”

Most of us have been in John’s position at some point in our lives. Would you agree that it’s one of the most painful experiences ever? Why is that? Because it’s personal. Or it feels that way. You feel like God has abandoned you. That you don’t really matter. You are not unique or cared for after all. It makes the original hurt even more agonizing. Like rubbing salt in a cut.

I get mad. It feels like I’m being played. I’m just a pawn in some big game. I’m angry at God for not moving, not doing what I want Him to do. When He can! That makes my wounds sting even more.

I’m mad at circumstances. Things out of my control. I’m upset with myself, because as Christians, we aren’t supposed to be feeling like this, right? We’re given the cliche answers. Sin came into the world and so we live in an imperfect world. Life will be hard. Things this side of heaven will never be as we want it to be. Blah, blah, blah. It doesn’t make me feel any better. It doesn’t change my situation or circumstances. Yeah, you bet I’m angry.

So where do we go from here? That’s an excellent question. I’m not sure I have the answer.

Staying angry with God doesn’t work. Been there, done that. Don’t get me wrong. I believe God can handle our anger. Our questions. Our fury. So go ahead and let Him know how you feel. Ask your questions. Scream out your frustrations. He’s got it. It doesn’t scare Him away. You are not too bad for Him to come near. You are not too hard to handle. In fact, I think He’s right there beside us as shake in our anger, as we scream out in pain. He lets us have our temper tantrum, justified or not. He lets us get it all out. Because for some of us, only then, can we hear Him.

That still small voice. Like a soothing balm. The gentle caress. It’s only when we are all cried out, shouted out and emptied out that we let Him draw near.

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Is this right behaviour on our part? I’m not sure, to be honest. But sometimes it’s what plays out. It is what it is. And from what I understand about God, He doesn’t work inside the lines we put in place. He deals with each of us, right where we are. As author Bonnie Gray, likes to say, AS IS. So if we need rebuking, He will do it in a way that we can handle. Jesus didn’t hesitate to rebuke some of his disciples and others when it was warranted.

Other times it wasn’t what was needed. As Beth Moore points out in her devotional, Jesus did not rebuke John for his doubt. Because Jesus knew John’s heart. John’s heart was pure, devoted but it was a little hurt at the moment. Confused. A terse rebuke wasn’t called for here.

This is what I love about this story of these first cousins. Jesus’ handling of John in this moment is a beautiful portrait of loving kindness, understanding and dealing with a loved one in a manner that is totally appropriate for the situation. I can’t help but think that in today’s church, a good number of people would be telling John to ‘suck it up and stop doubting.” Repeating the old cliches. Instead of dealing with a wounded, hurting heart. A man who knew who Jesus was but needed a little reassurance, not reprimands.

The other thing I love about this story, is it’s about a leader who has doubts, and is wounded. God always deals in real life not fairy tales. Leaders doubt. They get hurt. They get confused and don’t always understand what God is doing. You know what? That’s normal. It’s okay. It doesn’t make them less of a leader. What is wrong is that many people refuse to accept this about their leaders and it forces them into a corner of faking it. John doesn’t keep his doubts a secret. He sends his followers to Jesus, and in doing so, lets them in on his thoughts. Again it’s Jesus’ response that makes the difference. He doesn’t tell John, that he should know better because he’s the guy who was supposed to prepare the way. He confirms and reassures John’s doubts. Then the choice is left to John.

It isn’t a happy ending for John. He never leaves prison and is beheaded. It wasn’t that Jesus or God could not free him. They could. It wasn’t God’s will. And that’s hard to understand. But there is no doubt in my mind that John fulfilled his calling. I like how Jesus dealt with his emotions. I like that Jesus never forced John to do or believe anything. It was left entirely up to John. I believe John decided to trust Jesus for who He was and lived out the rest of His days in faith. I don’t believe that John didn’t have bad days in there. I do believe that God saw John through every second of them. That he was close by even when the temper flared or despair seemed to overwhelm.

So although I don’t understand why God doesn’t move or change things and it makes me mad, I know that He is trustworthy. That even in my questions and anger, He is there.

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When We Are Afraid That Our Enemies Are Winning

“We are reminded that even today, the perceived inability of others has no relevance to the ability of God, nor can it change the sovereign will of God.”   – from Chasing God by Angie Smith

There are days that we need this reminder more than others. If I might add on to this excellent quote from Angie Smith, it’s not just the inability of others that can’t stop God’s will but also the ability of others. What people can do. Wicked people. Those people in our spheres who can and do, mess with our lives. They do all kinds of evil. Their ability to create havoc in our worlds is scary. Even when we do our best to stop them or keep them out, it’s amazing how they still can mess with us. At times, it’s beyond our control.

If you’ve served in ministry at all, you’ve probably experienced this or at the very least witnessed it in someone else’s life.

Work places and schools can be rife with manipulators and bullies too. As parents, we deal with it not only in our own lives, but in the lives of our children.

Family can also be breeding ground for this type of behaviour. Because they are family, we let them get away with unacceptable behaviour. A sibling or cousin’s ability to do or not do can be very disruptive.

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It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about other people, their motives and their actions. The possible scenarios that we can dream up make us dizzy. It’s easy to forget in our anxiety and apprehension, that none of it matters to an all-powerful God. The God who created heaven and earth. The God who defeated death.

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People, their thoughts and actions, or inactions, has absolutely nothing to do with what God is capable of or what He wills. He calls the shots, regardless of people, good or wicked. Circumstances or outcomes never surprise Him because it’s what He’s commanded. It’s His sovereign will.

I might also add that my ability or inability “has no relevance to the ability of God nor can it change the sovereign will of God.” There are times when we think it all rests on us when in fact, it doesn’t.

There are days that I think that if I don’t do this or say yes to that, the world will fall apart. Literally. My family will suffer. My kids will be scarred for life. My friend won’t discover the love of Jesus. I will never meet my calling.

The truth be told, I can’t be the saviour of anyone, not my children, friends or family and especially myself. I can’t fix it so the ending is what I want. Jesus is the one and only Saviour. God is our Redeemer. He knows the big picture. I only get to see a pixel or two.

This should be knowledge that we can rest in. It should take the pressure off. But we want so much to control our destinies. Isn’t that what we are told from the time we are little? We are in control of our lives, our futures. But isn’t that contrary to what the bible says? What God wants for us? We wonder why we have trust issues. Submission issues.

We have a choice. To believe we control our own lives, our destinies and pursue that control. Or to release control over our lives, our people, both good and bad, and trust that God can and will do. No one, not even the vilest of villains, can stop Him.

I admit there have been times when my faith, my heart, fails me here. Days when it feels like the bad guys will always win. When I honestly don’t have the heart to fight anymore. What’s the point? I can list the many times wicked people have prospered. And me? Well I don’t feel like I’ve moved from the annoying spot I’ve been sitting in for too long a time.  What about you?  Can you relate?

This is when I want to make my move and take control. Because obviously God isn’t doing anything. This is exactly when I need to stop and remember my short-sighted pixel view. When what I believe should coincide with how I act. I’m reading Barnabas Piper’s new book, Help My Unbelief. I’m just a few chapters in but it’s really got me thinking. He’s talking about having knowledge about Jesus versus having a relationship with Jesus. This is where the rubber meets the road for me. How I respond reveals what kind of belief I have. Belief in knowledge or belief in a person who I have a relationship with. Who I trust and believe He cares for me.

When my heart fails me and I want to quit, this is when I need to cry out like David did about the injustice of it all to a God who really does hear me. Where I need to trust and believe that He does indeed hear my cries of injustice. That I trust that even if I can’t see results, they are still happening or will happen at some point. Where I believe that God will require justice and I don’t necessarily have to be around to see it. (Might be nice but then again….)

It’s also when I need to trust that he’s not only listening to me rant, but that He’s concerned for me, my heart and my feelings. He cares for me, not just what’s happening to or around me. I am His daughter and like any good Dad, He loves me, is concerned for me and wants what’s best for me.

It might be exactly the spot where I need to remove my hands, sit on them and let the ability of God reign.

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BRAVE: Why I Don’t Have To Be Wonder Woman

Summer is here and our routine has gone out the open window. I haven’t written a word in two weeks. The pressure to perform and keep up relentlessly nags at my heels and pokes my brain.

Gotta, gotta, gotta….I thought summer was supposed to be a time to chill? Instead the refrain Gotta do, gotta keep and gotta go, roll through my thoughts and days. What’s up with that? Unfortunately it’s a byproduct of our incessantly busy society. A world that says that being still and unproductive is sin.

Gotta keep the kids busy! All day, every day, all summer long. Sometimes it is necessary to keep some children stimulated and busy for a time. I have such a child and my sanity stays with me if he has time to learn new things and within safe boundaries, go wild. The rest of the time is spent amusing himself by reading, building with his Legos and playing outside with friends. Keeping kids busy one hundred percent of the time is pure craziness. I just can’t keep that up. I only have so much energy to expend on shuttling and entertaining kids. I can only take so many people. (Introvert!) It also takes a small fortune to keep your kids busy!

Gotta do the usual routine; housework, baking, writing, etc. Because a lapse might mean we are just plain lazy, right? It might indicate something is wrong with us if we can’t keep all the balls juggling while adjusting to having children at home all day, all summer long. If my house is a wreck and I didn’t blog this week, it’s unacceptable.

Gotta do all the summer fun things that are advertised, plus keep up to what the Jones’ are doing on Facebook! Go to all the summer festivities and theme parks, beaches and museums. Keep that car or van gassed and revved to go! But don’t forget, we gotta keep the house up, dinner prepped, and the kids busy too! (But not on the computer, tv or video games. That would be a bad parent thing.)

Summer is already making me tired. On my keychain is a Lego Wonder Woman mini figure. I picked her as my superhero. In a family of boys, it is important for mom to have her own superhero. But I am not Wonder Woman. I can’t keep all the balls rotating.

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Come to think of it, I don’t even think Wonder Woman did it all. She worked with what she was given. She didn’t try to keep up with Hawk Girl or SuperGirl. (Sorry if I’m mixing DC and Marvel!!!I) They had their own gigs. She had hers. She focused on what she did best. I don’t think she saved the world by day and cleaned her house by night. It probably took a back seat to the criminals she chased and lassoed. After all the bad guys could get away but the dust and dirt, well they’d stick around for as long as they could. Priorities. I believe Wonder Woman had them. Mine get skewed as I listen to the cacophony in my head.

My problem is I get caught up in the gottas and forget the priorities. Like my kids aren’t going to be little forever. Resting is a command not an option. Taking care of my own needs and desires makes me a better mom. We were never meant to do it all or make our kids do it all.

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Wonder Woman, I’ll never be. We may eat hot dogs three nights out of four. My house will never be the cleanest or tidiest on the block. We won’t go to half the summer attractions out there and my kids will lose out according to society because they aren’t involved in every single activity we can fill our days with. That’s okay.

The bravest thing I can do for me and my family is to teach them they don’t need to be Super or Wonder anything. That the gottas can go take a hike. To use what we’ve been given and do our best. That dropping a ball is not the end of the world. It could be the beginning of a much clearer focus. That the kind of wonder that this world really needs can be found in the contentment of being present in the moment, even in the middle of a dirty house on a boring summer day.