Posted in Lingering with the Word

When the Rubble Overwhelms

“Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.'” -Nehemiah 4:10

I’ve felt this way. I’m sure you have, too. You look at the task before you and can’t even imagine removing all the rubble within your lifetime, much less rebuilding the wall. God’s people wanted to give up before they even began. Sometimes we do, too.

But if God has called us to do something, we have to set our minds to do it, and if we perish, we perish. Queen Esther gave us those words. Until we go to face the king, as she did, or start picking up heavy rocks, as God’s people did under Nehemiah’s leadership, we will not know how much we can accomplish, what the outcome will be, or how God will use our obedience. Focusing on the size or danger of the task can cause paralysis. Instead, we can concentrate on picking up that first rock . . . and then the next . . . and the next . . . until our God says, “Well done, Child. Time to stop.” That’s when He will show us what a difference He made through us.

Lord, You helped Your people to accomplish the tasks You gave them. Please help us to do so, too. Please make a difference through each of us for the good of everyone around us and for the glory of Your name. Amen.

Posted in This Morning's Message

Nehemiah’s Prayer for Favor

“Remember me with favor, my God.” -Nehemiah 13:31

At the start of my most recent reading of Nehemiah, I learned something interesting. Bible scholars believe this book wasn’t just Nehemiah’s historical record of an event; it was also his private journal. I learned this just before I read the book, then noticed that there are many places where Nehemiah switches from chronicler to journaler. What I loved most about this was that his journaled thoughts about this event were often sentence prayers. Nehemiah journaled the way I do, recording what he wanted to remember and pausing to reflect and pray about those things. Perhaps you journal this way, too!

Today’s insight is about one of those journaled prayers. At the very end of the book, Nehemiah prays, “Remember me with favor, my God.” In the context of the book, the story of Nehemiah helping his people, God’s people, to rebuild the wall and reestablish Temple worship in Jerusalem, this prayer is one of release and surrender.

Here’s a quick summary:

Nehemiah had given up a cushy, albeit dangerous, life as cupbearer to the king in order to take on the impossible task of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall in order to keep recently returned residents safe. With God’s help, Nehemiah led the people to succeed in record time under severe duress, but then God’s people neglected their duties, abandoned the Temple, and married their enemies’ children. That’s right – the priests’ kids actually married the kids of the people who tried to sabotage the rebuilding of the wall! Nehemiah must have felt a deeply frustrated, what’s-the-point hopelessness. Perhaps he even felt that he had failed.

Instead of wallowing in failure, however, he wrote a matter-of-fact report of what he’d done, gave God the glory for helping him to obey, and asked to be remembered with favor. Nehemiah had done what God told him to do. He had given God his best efforts. He left the results in God’s care.

Father, thank You for Nehemiah’s example. Please find me faithful to do the tasks that You have given me even when I feel inadequate or sabotaged. Please glorify Your name through my efforts and, when I’m done, please remember me with favor. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Posted in Wildflower Thoughts

Just Keep Chewing

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

Since my husband and I adopted three children last year, people sometimes comment that maybe we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. They’ll shake their heads and say they don’t know how we do it. We don’t know either, we just know that day by day by day, our family is blending, our girls are adapting, and we’re all still breathing. Our God is working miracles.

On days when I feel overwhelmed, though, I’ll sometimes hear those voices in my head. “You’ve bitten off more than you can chew. This is going to get the best of you. You cannot do this!” That lying voice is my cue to take a break and get some rest, to intentionally seek the strength I need. “Jesus often slipped away to be alone so He could pray,” (Luke 5:16, NCV). I need to do that, too.

There are four things I’ve learned to remind myself whenever I think about biting off more than I can chew:

  1. I bit off more than I could chew because God led me to. My husband and I made our home available to children in need of a permanent home and family. The girls we adopted are gifts from Him, handpicked by Him for us—and us for them. Little by little, He’s helping us all to adapt. Daily He’s showing us how this works.
  2. If I never bit off more than I could chew, God would never have the opportunity to show His strength in my weakness. Whenever He leads me to do something that feels overwhelming, that’s my cue to pay attention and watch Him work—through me! Yes, it’s tiring, but it’s also exciting. A God-given challenge is a privilege and a blessing.
  3. Though this may be the biggest big bite I’ve ever taken, this isn’t the first time I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. God has led me through many challenges; He will lead me through this one, too.
  4. If ever I physically, as opposed to metaphorically, bite off more than I can chew, I have the choice to spit it out and throw it away or just keep chewing. If I just keep chewing, it probably won’t be pretty and it will be awkward and uncomfortable, but eventually my teeth will break the food down, so I’ll be able to swallow and continue eating my meal. Challenging tasks are just like that. Life gets messy and awkward and uncomfortable and less than beautiful (though I suspect God finds it even more beautiful), but eventually everything settles down into a new normal—and everyone who has been involved or been watching can rejoice at what God has done.

Father, thank You for the blessing of big bites! Please give us the determination to just keep chewing. Provide Your strength, wisdom, humor, and any other resource we need to continue on. Remind us of our calling and Your faithfulness. Display Your glory as You work in and through us. We love You, Lord. Amen.

Posted in Parachute Prayers, This Morning's Message

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do

My name is Janet. I am a perfectionist. I wish I could say I were a recovering perfectionist, but that would only be wishful thinking. It isn’t for lack of trying, though. I’ve read many books on the subject. Perhaps you have too? If so, you know escape from this, um, malady is quite elusive.

God’s been talking to me about this today, though. Bombarding me with thoughts from every source. I think maybe I’m starting to catch on. Perhaps if I share some of these thoughts with you, one or two will stick with me . . . so someday I can be perfect! (You see how defeating this tendency is?!) But someday I will be because God is perfecting me. He just isn’t done yet, and I keep trying to hurry Him up.

Today’s barrage began with these verses:

“The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them, and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” -1 Samuel 10:6-7

These were Samuel’s words to Saul as he prepared to crown him Israel’s new king. Saul wasn’t anybody, and he was far from perfect, but God chose him, and God’s Spirit changed him. Had Saul embraced this change, God’s Spirit within him – God’s guiding Presence all around him, he would have done no wrong by doing whatever his hand found to do! Unfortunately, he let being a king go to his head and chose to go his own way. Things went badly for him after that. But for a longing-to-recover-perfectionist, these words are quite freeing. So long as God is with me, His Spirit within me, my heart devoted to Him, I don’t have to fear making mistakes. I can do whatever my hand finds to do for Him, and God will use it somehow. In fact, I trust that even if my attempt is misguided, He’ll recognize my heart in the right place, redeem the intent, and use it anyway! He is able to do that because He is God.

After reading that passage in Samuel’s first book, I found these words in a devotional:

“God’s grace changed me, so over time I stopped thinking about all the things that were wrong with me and I started thinking more about all the things that were right with Jesus. I have since discovered that we become what we behold, and as I beheld Jesus, I started to become more like Him because God’s Spirit was at work in me.” -Christine Caine, Unshakeable, p. 46

God’s Spirit changed Saul. God’s grace changed Christine. God changes you and me, too! But when grace changed Christine, it taught her to refocus her thoughts. I love that she learned to stop thinking about all the things that were wrong with her, thinking about all the things that are right with Jesus instead. To me, this sounded like a new Parachute Prayer. Let’s call it the Parachute Prayer for the Perfectionist! Whenever we catch ourselves trying to fix ourselves, we can praise God for Who He Is instead. In time, He’ll do the fixing. Our job is to behold Him and wait.

Next, I came across this verse:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

I gave myself this lecture in my journal:

“Get off the performance treadmill and embrace grace! Focus on Who God Is and all He has done. Worship Him instead of berating yourself. He will gently change you. Let Him do the work while you wait and worship and do whatever He leads you to do. ‘Wax on. Wax off.’ Some day it will all make sense.”

For those who don’t understand the waxy reference, it’s from the movie, The Karate Kid. The kid wanted to learn karate. His teacher had him wax his car. He didn’t understand, but he obeyed. Later, it proved to be a valuable part of his training. Sometimes God works with us in the same way. We do whatever he leads us to do; He does His mysterious work in us.

And finally, our pastor preached from this verse as he wrapped up his Trust Issues series from Psalm 23:

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” -Psalm 23:6

Now I’ve really enjoyed this series and took careful notes all the way through, even today! But God was still talking to me about perfectionism, so I got two messages this morning at church. I’m mostly going to write about what God was saying to me. To illustrate his message, our pastor chose a picture of a girl hiking up a mountain. The photographer focused on the back of her head, shoulders, and backpack, so it felt as if we were following her. All morning, God had been telling me to focus on Him instead of my imperfections, to do whatever he led me to do. That picture and verse made everything clear to me in a unique way.

Because my husband is in the military, we’ve moved many times. This means there have been many times that I have gotten into a fully loaded car, pulled out behind my husband driving a fully loaded truck, and followed him across the country, always with a child or two or three, and sometimes a dog in the seats surrounding me. And when we started doing this more than twenty years ago, we didn’t have phones with GPS’s on them to tell us where to go. My husband had the map; I followed him. In fact, because I wanted to get where we were going and have a terrible fear of getting lost, I followed closely. I matched his speed. I stayed in the same lane. I got off the road if he got off the road. I focused on the back of his vehicle, knowing it would lead me where I wanted to go.

When we follow Jesus, our Shepherd, this way, His goodness and love follow us. In fact, our pastor said the Hebrew word means they literally chase us. In my mind, being perfect is being Christlike which is being perfectly loving and good in every circumstance. Therefore, instead of me pursuing perfection, I follow Christ – with the intensity of one who does not want to get lost! – and then the very thing that’s been eluding me all of my life will begin to chase me – as Jesus leads me home.

If I try to be perfect, I will fail. If I follow Jesus wherever He leads, God will eventually perfect me. And I will dwell in His Presence forever. You can, too!

My name is Janet. I’m a child of God. I want to be whatever He wants me to be, so I’m watching to see what He’s doing and where He will lead. I know He’s working through all things for good, to benefit His Kingdom and glorify His Name. I am thankful He’s invited me – just as I am – to be part of His work.

Father, You’ve given us so many reasons to take our eyes off of ourselves and to put them on You. You are worthy of our worship and of all of our thoughts. Please help me to remember today’s lessons. Expand on them as You will. And use them to help others who struggle as I do. I thank You, Lord. Amen.


You can read more lessons I learned from moving in my book, Home Is Where God Sends You, available from Amazon. My book on Parachute Prayer is available there as well.

 

Posted in This Morning's Message

What’s Your Hurry?

“Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched.” -Joshua 4:10-11

I have to be honest. Technically, this isn’t this morning’s message. It’s a message from a few days ago. I’ve just been too busy to write out my thoughts. This is kind of funny considering what the message is. Read on to learn why.

As I read the account of Israel crossing the Jordan to enter the Promised Land at last, my thoughts were snagged on the phrase hurried over. I pictured myself taking my children by their hands and urging them to cross the street quickly so impatient drivers on either side of the crosswalk wouldn’t have to wait . . . you know, in case they decided not to.

Then I wondered why the Israelites felt a need to hurry. After all, God was the One holding the water back. I’m pretty sure He could have done so for eternity if He had wanted to, accomplishing everything else He wanted to all at the same time. And since holding the water back so His people could cross safely was His idea in the first place, there was no reason for the people to hurry across. I wondered if hurry meant something else like they immediately did what God told them to do. I decided to look it up.

According to the Key Word Bible, though, the Hebrew word translated here as hurried over means ran, as in raced. The Israelites were not immediately obeying; they were running to get across that river as fast as they could!

But why? Only Joshua, Caleb, and adults who were children at the time of the Exodus could possibly have remembered their first miraculous river crossing as God’s people, but perhaps recalling what happened to the Egyptians who tried to follow them gave them incentive to hurry everyone across.

Or maybe the sight of all that water piling up and towering over them made them nervous.

Or maybe they didn’t trust in God’s ability to hold the water back for however long it would take.

The Bible doesn’t give us their motivation, so we can only speculate. But my takeaway for today is that when God gives me a task to complete, I can trust Him to help me complete it. He offers all the resources I need, even time, so if I feel pressured to hurry, I’m not trusting Him to provide.

Yes. God wants me, and you, to obey immediately. But He also wants us to give Him our best work. Pulling our kids along by the hand as fast as we can is not necessary when God says, “Time to cross.” In fact, if a sea shell catches my eye, God will probably be delighted if I stop for a moment to stoop down and examine it, especially if I take the time to thank Him for pointing it out and then share my find with my kids. Better yet, we can stop right in the middle and look up at the awesome wall of water God is holding right over our heads, knowing we are safe because God is the One Who Is holding it back. Taking the time to praise Him at the busiest time of day is a powerful way to worship and practice trust.

Father, sometimes I get into such a hurry that I lose sight of what’s most important. Frantic in my own efforts, I carry an unnecessary burden while You do the real work. Help me to remember that You are all-powerful; You are in control. I can go about my business, the business You’ve given me, in the confidence that You will provide all I need. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Posted in Wildflower Thoughts

Receiving the Rain

“As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” –Isaiah 55:10-11

On my youngest son’s most recent visit home from college, he took time to plant a garden in our backyard. He carefully researched which plants would grow together best, including a fun mix of flowers and vegetables which he told us were known to cooperate with each other. The Luffa Gourds have been my favorites. I’d never heard of such a thing, but I got to watch two tiny plants sprout from little, bitty seeds and climb all over the trellis Seth built around and above the garden for that purpose. We yielded the biggest harvest from these. We also had a bumper crop of Marigolds, Sunflowers, and cucumbers and might have enjoyed a bit of corn had the last remnants of Harvey not come through with destructive determination even in his waning strength. The Luffa Gourds were unimpressed. They’re still trying to sneak into the neighbor’s yard as I type this.

Before Seth left, he gave me strict instructions for the care and feeding of my new plants. I was to water them at least twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening before and after the hottest hours of the day. I did well at first. Sadly, I became ill a few weeks into the project. I continued to do my best, but every now and then I missed a day or two. When I was able to get back out there, I’d see some of the plants beginning to shrivel. Texas heat in summer can be a bit harsh, you know. I’d give the plants a healthy soaking and celebrate when they began to thrive again.

This is the analogy that God has given us regarding His Word. He sends it as rain for our spirits. And He never becomes ill or misses a day. His Word is available to us all the time. We just have to choose to soak it in, saturating our minds and hearts daily, strategically misting between soakings.

And when we do, our spirits will bud and flourish, yielding seed for the sower and bread for the eater. More seed equals more produce. More bread means more people are fed. The more of God’s Word we take in, the more His Spirit can do through our lives and the more our God will be glorified, we will be resourced, and others will come to know Christ.

All we have to do is read our Bibles and let God’s Spirit go to work. More water; more Luffas. More Scripture; more accomplished in and through our lives for Christ.

Father, thank You for Your Word. Help us all to read it faithfully, letting it revive our souls and prepare our hearts that Your Spirit can accomplish Your Will in and through us. Thank You for the promise that Your Word will achieve the purpose for which You sent it. Help us to receive it with joy and gratitude each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Posted in Lingering with the Word

The First Denial

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’” -Mark 14:30ESV

On hearing Jesus’ statement that they would all fall away, Peter and the remaining disciples all declared emphatically that they would be loyal to Jesus no matter what. Peter went so far as to vow that he’d be faithful even if everyone else was not. This, of course, is when Jesus told Peter he’d deny Him three times before the rooster crowed twice.

I’ve been giving this passage some thought, and I’ve decided I don’t think Jesus meant this as an accusation. I don’t see Him pointing His finger in Peter’s face and shaming him or the other disciples. And I don’t really think that He was expressing disappointment in Peter and the other disciples either; He knew them better than they knew themselves. How could they have ever let Him down if He never expected them to stay faithful? In fact, for this reason, I’m not even sure Jesus’ words to Peter had to have been a set in stone prophecy. (Stay with me here.)

What if . . . really . . . what if, instead of becoming defensive, arguing with Jesus, and adamantly declaring his loyalty a second time, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (v. 31), what if Peter had stopped to think about Jesus’ words? What if, instead of saying never, Peter had said, “I don’t want to do that. Lord, help me!”?

Maybe, just maybe, Jesus was making a simple statement about Peter’s character as Jesus knew it, letting Peter know what would emerge from his nature if Peter refused to listen, learn, and change. If that was the case, then maybe, just maybe, if Peter had paid attention and taken Jesus’ words as a warning to heed, maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t have denied Jesus at all. Peter’s refusal to do so was his first denial—a denial of the truth about Himself that Jesus had graciously revealed—a truth that quite possibly could have been changed had Peter accepted it and asked for Jesus’ help.

I wonder if maybe this is why Jesus later asked Peter three times if he loved Him. (See John 21:15-17.) This passage is often referred to as Peter’s reinstatement. Through the dialogue, Jesus takes action to forgive Peter by restoring their relationship and recommissioning Peter to serve. I’ve heard it taught that perhaps Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times because Peter denied Him three times. I know that Jesus used different Greek words for love within the dialogue, both translated the same in English. And I’ve heard a few different explanations about why He may have done this.

But . . . what if . . . also . . . Jesus simply wanted Peter to slow down this time before giving an impulsive answer, before making a declaration that time would prove he didn’t really mean?

Jesus loved Peter. He told Peter what he needed to know about himself, so that he could be aware and make better, more informed choices. So that Peter could change. When Peter denied the truth about himself, resulting in his denial of Christ, Jesus graciously gave him another opportunity to see and process truth, so Peter could grow into the person God intended him to be.

Jesus does the same for us. He warns us, so we can make better choices. He reinstates us when we fail. He loves us and patiently leads us, helping us mature into the people we were meant to be.

Lord, You know me better than I know myself. When you reveal character flaws that could lead to sin, help me slow down and listen. Help me change, so my actions will honor, not hurt, You. And thank You for loving, patient, restoration whenever I fail. I’m following You, Lord. I love You. Amen.

Posted in Lingering with the Word

How Not to Harden into Salt

“But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” -Genesis 19:36

I tend to feel a lot of sympathy for Lot’s wife. Having moved many times, I can relate to the longing to look back. Even when I’m ready to move, to experience a grand adventure in a shiny new place, once there, I miss friends and familiarity. But Lot’s wife was forced to move quickly with no time even to pack. God’s command to not look back would have been a challenging one to keep. Only complete trust in His goodness even in harsh circumstances could have enabled Lot’s wife to follow through.

Thankfully, God hasn’t commanded all of us to never look back. We can cherish the memories of past seasons of life. Maintain some traditions. Keep in touch with friends. We only run into trouble when looking back tempts us to go back or keeps us from moving forward. Life is a journey toward eternity. If we stop or try to go back, we’re not letting Jesus lead us onward through the next phase of our trip.

Childhood. Youth. Early days of marriage. Parenting preschoolers, elementary schoolers, teenagers. Launching children. Enjoying the empty nest.

I really liked my empty nest.

But God is filling it back up!

There are days now when I face down stubborn or wipe yogurt spills up off the couch and pause to look back . . . with longing . . . at the quiet, ordered life I was able to enjoy for a few years.

There is no going back, though, without turning into salt. And deep inside I know, the time for quiet, ordered came too soon to last for the rest of my life. I don’t know how long I’ll get to live on this earth, but forty or fifty years of quiet and ordered just might have driven me insane. I’m thankful God called our family into this new thing. I’ve lost all control, but I’m eager to see where God is taking us all.

Back to thoughts of turning to salt. When water dries up, it leaves a mineral residue. The Bible refers to Jesus as the Living Water. It also says that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, but could it be that when we stop following, the Living Water flowing through us evaporates as Jesus tries to lead us on? He calls us forward, but we stand still, looking back determined, baking in the harsh sun. Eventually we stiffen up, harden . . . until nothing is left but a residue of salt.

When hardships and challenges come, we must look beyond them to Jesus before us and follow Him on through. We’re on a journey to Heaven where the best is yet to come. Looking back may give the illusion of comfort, but our hearts, our lives, will harden with that choice. Best to stay close to Jesus, practicing trust in His goodness, come what may. He is the One enabling us to follow Him all the way.

Jesus, please keep us moving forward, following You through each new phase of life. When we reach our destination and see Your name glorified above all, we will be so thankful we did not choose to turn back.

Posted in Random Reflections

Choosing to Find Neverland

Our family watched Finding Neverland the other night. I love that movie. This was the third time I’ve seen it.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you go watch it before you read the rest of this post. Just sayin’—I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.

Finding Neverland is based on the true-life story of how J.M. Barrie came to write Peter Pan. At the beginning of the movie, Barrie befriends four young boys who are playing at the park, their widowed mother watching nearby. As Barrie gets to know the family, he finds ways to make their challenging life just a little less challenging—and fun! They, in turn, inspire him to write. The movie is a happy—sad—triumphant experience.

This time through, though, I became both fascinated with and frustrated by one character in particular—Barrie’s wife. Viewers will get the impression that the marriage was troubled from the beginning, but they aren’t told how these two flawed human beings came to be a couple. Viewers are shown that Barrie hasn’t given up on the struggling marriage, however. As his friendship with the widow and her sons develops, he tells his wife all about it. Then he invites her to get involved. He suggests they invite the family to dinner. Seeing the possibility of an advantageous social connection, Barrie’s wife agrees. Barrie and the family have a great time, but Barrie’s wife declares the evening a disaster. Boys behaving like boys are not the stuff of fine society.

As she becomes frustrated with her husband’s choices and disappointed in the direction their life seems to be taking, Barrie’s wife begins to withdraw and complain. Viewers often see her sitting alone in her room with the door closed. An affair is implied. Finally, she leaves Barrie altogether.

“Scandalous,” jests Barrie.

I felt a sense of tragedy.

I couldn’t help but wonder how things might have gone had Barrie’s wife been more receptive to the unexpected intrusion into her life. What if she’d set her inhibitions aside and joined in the fun at her proper dinner party? What if she’d taken notice of the widow, both as a friend and as a fellow human being in need? What if she had tried to see what her husband was inviting her to see? What if she’d embraced the adventure?

Perhaps in the end a marriage would have been saved, four orphans would have enjoyed the blessing of a new mother and father, and Barrie’s wife would have shared in the joy of his success as a writer—which, ultimately, would also have blessed her with all the social connections she craved. Instead, she quietly slipped out of the story with an embarrassed apology, seeking something better somewhere else.

Barrie’s wife told him she felt left out. But Barrie and the boys never excluded her. When the unexpected arrived, she chose to exclude herself. I wonder if we sometimes do the same.

What if, instead of feeling left out, we look for ways to join in? What if, when life takes an unexpected turn, instead of withdrawing in fear and fighting for that which we think we need, we choose to turn our whole selves right into the chaos, to see where it will lead? What if we let life overwhelm us in order to see God’s power at work—to learn that with His help we’re capable of so . . . much . . . more? What if we live surrendered, a life of letting God lead?

I’m coming to believe that God doesn’t delight in meeting our expectations for this life. Instead He’s always challenging us to let Him do immeasurably more. He lets us choose whether to accept this challenge or not, but when we do, He blesses us with joy and triumph as we glorify His name.

  • Where is God leading you that you hesitate to go?
  • Are you feeling left out as His Kingdom rolls on?
  • How can you join in?

Father, help us to know when You are inviting us to embrace something new and help us to do so—even if it seems we’re giving up a treasured dream as we do. You’ve promised immeasurably more than we can imagine, but we have to be willing to trust and follow where You lead. Please bless us with courage, strength, and a sense of adventure as we battle our fears. We know You have good plans for us if only we’ll stay engaged. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Posted in Lingering with the Word

When God Chooses Not to Rescue You

psalm-20-4

Moses had it good. He had a wife, a couple of kids, and a steady job that gave him plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors—alone. It gave him time to ponder, reflect, and pray. Moses was content, I’m sure.

Then God showed up in a most flamboyant way. “Moses, I’ve got a mission for you. I want you to go to Egypt and rescue my people. They are suffering.”

Moses didn’t say no, but he offered every excuse he could think up as to why God should go away and choose someone else. God said, “Moses, I chose you. Go!” (This is my simple summation. You can read the Bible words for yourself in Exodus 3:1-4:17.)

Fast forward a bit. (See Numbers 11.)

Moses is now leading God’s rescued people through the desert to the Promised Land. The people are tired and cranky. They are especially unhappy with the food, so they start to complain. Moses decides he’s had enough. In fact, he has a meltdown. A mo-ment. (You know the kind.) In utter exasperation He goes to God, not with a polite request, but with a bold demand for relief:

“Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’  I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.  If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” -Numbers 11:11-15

His prayer made me laugh. My interpretation: “Lord, I don’t know what I did to make you angry, but surely it doesn’t deserve this slow and tortuous sentence of death by whiny toddler-adults whose lives I am not responsible for. I’m done. Kill me now.”

God chose to ignore that request. Instead he sent Moses some help.

I find that comforting. Sometimes God gives us hard assignments, missions that will push us to our limits and then some. We may be tempted to quit. If we choose to continue on though, knowing it’s what God wants us to do, we may start giving God all the reasons we can think of as to why He should choose to pass the assignment on to someone else. Then we may start begging for rescue, and if that rescue doesn’t come, we may start feeling picked on and betrayed.

But God doesn’t rescue us from the assignments He’s given us. He hears. He sees. He knows how we’re feeling and how deep the struggle is. But He wants us to finish the work, and He knows that deep inside, we really want to finish, too. (Come on. Admit it. You know it’s true.) We want to end triumphantly, hearing our God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21). And so, instead of rescue, God sends some kind of relief.

Psalm 20:1-2, a psalm David wrote for facing battle, says, “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.”

God answers. He protects. He helps. He supports. He gives us all we need to carry on. There’s no rescue required. We don’t need rescue from the missions He gives. We just need some God relief. We need to remember that when He sends us out on assignment, He helps us complete the task. Instead of pulling us out of the distress of it, He helps us through to victory.

Psalm 20 continues along this theme. Verse 4 says, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” When our plan is to complete the mission, to help others and honor His name, He’ll give all the help we need for that plan to succeed.

Lord, victory is the desire of my heart, for their good—and mine—and for the glory of Your name. Thank You for seeing my struggle and for sending all the support and strength I need. I will carry on for You. You are my God and I love You. Amen.