Tag Archives: trust

I don’t have to like it…

Standard

the-boy-4

Recently God and I were locked in a battle of the wills.  (Of course you know who won.)  As I squirmed under his thumb, I felt him speak to me in that Fatherly tone that he often uses with me.  He said, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to obey.”  

Now clearly I would be assured of a greater blessing if I submitted with humble faith to the thing that I didn’t understand.  But God and I were beyond the point of tender prodding and gentle leading.  I had gone through all my whining “Whys?” and settled into a defiant pout.  Now all he could do with me was to pull the “Because I said so” card, the Parental Ace.

I go through this with my own children sometimes.  They whine, “I don’t want to brush my teeth.”  You don’t have to like it, you just have to obey.  “I don’t like peas.  I don’t want to eat them.”  You don’t have to like it, you just have to obey.  I don’t always explain my reasons to my children for the very purpose that learning to obey a parent will help them learn to obey God when he is also silent about his motives.  Sometimes children just need to trust that the grown ups know more than they do.  And sometimes I need to trust that God sees things that I don’t see.

I’m still not happy about what I know I’m supposed to be doing.  I still don’t understand it. But I have grimly set my face towards obedience, like Jonah plodding towards Ninevah with whale vomit pooling in his shoes.  I don’t have to like it.  I just have to obey.

Last night I prayed, “Lord, change my desires.  Give me your desires.”  And immediately I felt my cold heart begin to melt a bit.  This is going to take some more praying and more submitting of my desires, but I think I’m learning little by little.  I still don’t understand, but I choose to obey.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/slightlyeverything/6086714262/”>slightly everything</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

Second Guesses Don’t Count

Standard

Every once in a while I second guess myself.  Most of the time I am totally sure of my impulsive self (get it?).  Most of the time my actions are completely congruent with my vision for my life, where I think I should be going and the kind of person that I’m trying to become.  But every once in a blue moon the stars align and I’m hamstrung with self-doubt, paralyzed with indecision.

This cosmic even usually occurs in a Walmart within the first week of arriving back in the United States.  We have Walmarts here where I live, but they aren’t the same.  They are purely functional.  If you want a plastic spatula, a laundry basket or a bag of Kitty Litter then a Costa Rican Walmart is your place.  All the basics are here.  Walmart is just a grocery store on steroids.  For example, they have an entire aisle of yogurt and another complete aisle of coffee products and milk in unrefrigerated boxes.  Here I never feel paralyzed with indecision because my choices are quite limited.

I’m still so frustrated with my reaction to shopping when I go home.  The minute I set foot in a big store like Target or Walmart I feel the count down to a migraine beginning.  It’s a race against the clock.  I better go in there with a list or else I’m doomed.  This star-crossed shopper has been known to leave the store without buying a single thing simply because I couldn’t make a decision.  I know it’s time to leave when I hear my decision-making brain cells start to sizzle with the over load of information.  Sensing fear, Self Doubt sees its opportunity and pounces on the weakest of the herd.  It takes me down like a predator to its prey.

I found the Emergency Exit… in the middle of a forest.

This happens in my Spiritual Life too.  I don’t know how many times I’ve prayed, “Lord, you have to make your will SUPER clear to me, ’cause I’m not hearing you so well right now.”  I make a move in one direction and doors start to open.  I usually take this as a sign that I’m on the right path and keep moving along that route until I hit a wall or come across a fork in the road.  Usually I live by the philosophy that if you don’t hear anything new from the Lord then you just keep doing the last thing he told you to do.  No new instructions mean “keep on keeping on.”  Stay the course.

But sometimes I’m pushing on doors and they are opening smoothly when suddenly I’m griped by that old self doubt.  I second guess my decisions.  “Oh my word, this might actually happen!”  I gasp.  “Am I ready for this?  Is this really what I want?  Is it too late to back out of this commitment?”  I get cold feet.  This thing takes on a life of it’s own!

That’s when my prayer switches from “God lead me” to “God give me courage!”  Of course I want him to stop me if I’m wrong, correct me if I’m off course, and keep me from making a bad decision.  But when self doubt and fear come knocking on my door, I need courage to stay the course and not go running back to what is familiar and safe.  I commit my way to the Lord again and pull out his promises to strengthen my resolve.

“The steps of a Righteous Man (Woman) are ordered by God.”

“Direct my footsteps according to your word, let no sin rule over me.”

“A man’s steps are directed by the Lord.  How then can anyone understand his own way?” 

Then I breathe deeply and resolve to Keep on Keeping on until I hear differently from the one who orders my steps.

Firewalking

Standard

Bear with me if you’ve heard this one before (or just skip to the very end and read the last 2 paragraphs).

A long time ago in Ancient Babylon there were 3 Hebrew teenagers.  Now because we aren’t in Ancient Babylon I’m going to take some artistic liberties and give these boys modern names. Let’s just call them Chad, Mike, and Ben.  They were captives serving the King of Babylon.  They were chosen to be servants instead of being killed because they were smart, good looking, and came from noble families back in Israel.  They should have show gratitude to the King for sparing their lives.  Instead, they refused to eat the food he sent from his own table because it had been sacrificed to idols and that was morally repulsive to a Hebrew.  For their moral courage, God gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds in addition to favor with the King.  They were given important government jobs in Babylon.

Time passed, and one day the King of Babylon got a wild idea.  He constructed a huge golden statue of himself, set it out on a plain, and required everyone to come and worship his statue.  He ordered everyone, “When you hear the band start to play music, bow down and worship my statue.”  Chad, Mike and Ben knew that this was wrong.  So when the music started and everyone dropped to their knees there were 3 boys left standing.  The King called Chad, Mike and Ben in for a talk.  “Now because I like you boys, I’m going to give you a second chance.  When you hear the music, bow down to the statue.  Come on guys, be team players, you’re making me look bad.  Just bend your knees, that’s all I ask.  Otherwise I’m going to have to throw you in a fiery furnace in front of everyone just to show who’s boss.  Then what god will rescue you from my anger?”

The boys replied, “We don’t need a second chance.  It will be the same as before.  We only bow to the God we serve.  And he is able to save us from your hand and the fiery furnace.  But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or bow to your statue, O King.”

That pissed the King off in a big way!  He ordered the furnace turned up seven times hotter than usual.  It was so hot that the soldiers ordered to throw the boys in the fire dropped dead from the heat.  These three boys fell into the flames, bound hand and foot.

Suddenly, the King jumped to his feet in amazement.  He shouted, “Hey!  Weren’t there three guys that we tied up and threw in the fire?  Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods!”  So he called them out of the fire.  When they walked out alive everyone crowded around them to examine them.  There was not a hair singed on their heads and they didn’t even smell like smoke!  The King burst out in praise to God, the God who rescued Chad, Mike and Ben.  And he ordered that everyone worship the one true God too.  The End.

Here’s my point in telling this story.  Very often we pray that God would rescue us from the flames of whatever trial we are facing.  But sometimes he doesn’t.  Sometimes God wants us to go into the fire.  Sometimes God wants to rescue us IN the fire instead of rescuing us FROM the fire.  But there is another option too.  Sometimes it is God’s will that we die in the fire.  The history of the world is full of people who have died for their faith, martyrs.  And Chad, Mike and Ben were OK with any of those 3 final scenarios.  Any of them.  They said, “Even if God doesn’t rescue us, we will still worship him.”

So yes, God can rescue you FROM the fire.  He can meet you IN the fire.  Or he can ask you to DIE by fire either physically or metaphorically.  It’s his choice.  Are you all right with all of those choices?  Would you stand firm in your commitment to God even if it looks like it’s not going to have a pretty ending?  Is God still worthy of your worship even if he doesn’t answer your prayers like you wanted him to?  Walking through the fire could be your finest moment with God, because he won’t let you go there alone.  If he calls you to the fire, he will be with you.  He promised.