JESUS WEPT…TOO

01abaa8689658eaf373af1ec9b42b72cI was listening to MercyMe’s “Even If”, which gives voice to those times when we suspect that God may not be especially interested in helping us out of whatever trial we’re going through. We know He can. We believe that He is able. He just doesn’t seem willing.

This has always been a challenge for me to process. My example of grace and a willingness to help was not especially positive. Here’s an example: Several years ago, my car caught fire around 2:00 am. First, my step-father woke me up to tell me my car was on fire. When I asked him if he’d called the fire department, he said, “I thought you’d want to do that.” (The man didn’t have enough ambition to even register on the passivity scale!)

Over the next week, my mother was quite emphatic that the car needed to get off the street because it was an eyesore and she was worried about what the neighbors would think – which was ironic because it was likely one of the neighbors who set it on fire in the first place, such was the neighborhood. One day, she told me that one of the men I’d contacted had called to say he was actually interested in taking the eyesore off my hands. My delight was short-lived, however, when she refused to give me his phone number so I could call him to make arrangements. (Don’t ask…my brain is still locked up over that one!)

So, you can imagine how I felt about God when I thought he wasn’t willing to put an end to a bad situation or to give me hope when I felt there was none. I knew He could and believed He was able. The only conclusion for me was, naturally, that God didn’t want to help me. And that put a wedge between us, which left me feeling unlovable, which wasn’t fair to God.

I know better now, as I’ve been a parent for 26 years. If I tell one of my daughters “no”, I have sound, loving reasons.

Still, I think there are plenty of times when we say, as in the song, “it is well” with my soul, but with a hint of disappointment and even resentment in our voice. A sort of “Gee, thanks for nothin’, God.” Because it’s not really as well with my soul as I let on!

A little over five years ago, I survived an emergency eight-hour open-heart surgery to save my life from an ascending aortic dissection. My mind and body haven’t been the same since, and no one really knows why, which means no one knows how to “fix” me. Of all the issues I’ve had, chronic pain has been the most life-changing for me. I hurt most of the time, and it’s completely altered the way I do anything outside the house. So for five years, I’ve been at a loss as to why God left me so very different than I was before the surgery. As grateful as I am that I survived, the condition I’m in frustrates me!

In Pain and Providence, Joni Eareckson Tada wrote: “God uses chronic pain and a146a1b41e18c40cad6493ade0abef21 (1)weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependency on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away.” Don’t doubt for a moment that I’d prefer to come to the same end without the chronic pain! But she’s right.

Paul came to the same conclusion when he wrote: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it (the thorn in his side) away from 69628e65940954f9ad4d517b8ca2d026me.  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.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NIV)

Here’s the thing, though: I forget that at all times, God loves me and wants what’s best for me. I have to remember and be confident that I am the way I am – and not the way I want to be – because God wants me this way right now. I mistakenly assume that because I don’t like it, it’s “wrong” or “bad” or, worse, “punishment.”

The key, I’m learning, is to get on board with God’s new game plan for me. The best thing I can do is to trust that God loves me and will give me the grace and strength to get through whatever situation He chooses to leave me in. It would help if I could resist the temptation to label my situation as “good” or “bad”. And it would serve me well to to just roll with it and be open to God’s guidance. It’s that surrender, that acquiescence, that God wants.

It’s important for us to remember that Jesus understands this anxiety and frustration f6769b615b03aefe414a06588ec985d5that we often have with a situation we’d like to change. He wept when he felt deep compassion for those who loved Lazarus and had buried him. It pained him to know that it had been necessary for Him to allow for that grief in order that He demonstrate His power by bringing him back to life. And certainly, he cried desperately for God to find another way to redeem humanity that would be so much less painful than crucifixion on the cross and bearing the weight of so many sins. But we know that God did not permit that cup to pass from Him.

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God knows and Jesus understands. It’s up to us to trust, accept and allow God to use us for His kingdom the way He chooses to.

“The truth is, in this world it’s a 100 percent guarantee that we will suffer. But at the same time, Jesus Christ is 100 percent certain to meet us, encourage us, comfort us, grace us with strength and perseverance, and yes, even restore joy in our lives. Your Savior is 100 percent certain to be with you through every challenge.” 

― Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty

OPEN WIDE!

There are times when I am perfectly content to do nothing more than to physically blend into the fabric of my chair and let the world pass without me.

Then there are times when I am passionately consumed with possibility.

Most of the time, though, I am innocuously somewhere in between the two. I’m sure I’m not the only person who grew up learning to keep their standards low. If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed, right? What made that easier for me was that I didn’t think I deserved much. Furthermore, I was always prepared to have whatever I was given, taken back. It seemed everything I was given when I was growing up came with strings and conditions. It only follows that I quit hoping for or asking for anything. I’m confident that I am not alone in this.

That’s really something to reconcile with a God who has good plans for you and wants to give freely and abundantly as a measure of His grace, isn’t it?

I remember one Christmas, my husband had no idea what I wanted as a present. I wasn’t helping much because I couldn’t think of anything I thought I really “needed” (or “deserved”). I was – quite appropriately – at the Dollar Store when John called me. He told me he knew what he wanted to get me. A Kitchen Aid mixer. Did he have any idea what those things cost?! No way was I going to “let” him spend that kind of money on me. Then I realized that this wasn’t just about me. I couldn’t reject his thoughtfulness. This was important to him, so I accepted. And I cried – right there in the Dollar Store.

Which brings me to what I’ve been pondering lately. God has promised His children good things. I’m one of His children, but I don’t expect good things. Which must be as much of an insult to Him as it would have been to my husband if I had refused to accept the oh-so-expensive Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas. Even worse, I know that God sacrificed a lot for His children to have good things. Not that we won’t have what we think of as “bad stuff” along the way as well, but He obviously intends for us to have a joyful, abundant life. After all, we’re His children. What sort of reflection of His glory are we if we live a dreadful, miserable, small life?

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So I’ve been thinking…. What might happen if I dared to open myself to the possibilities of what God wants for me? What if I began to pray for a heart and mind that would be receptive to whatever He has planned for me? What if I were to get out of His way and allow Him to remove the things that keep me from what He wants for me? What if I asked Him to open my eyes to the absolute wonder of what He’s already given me?

Does that mean I expect a life of wine and roses? Absolutely not. That would be incredibly naive. But when I consider all that I may be missing…. I really have no idea what to expect. I know, though, that it will be important to trust that His plan is good – for me and for His kingdom. It will be important to not label anything as “good” or “bad” if I’m going to be confident that it’s all in His hands and that He’s working all things for good: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

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The thing is, as a human with the limitations of a human mind and imagination compared to God’s, my focus is on what I can experience – wealth, happiness, contentment. Those are the things I can list and measure. But I believe God has bigger and better things to give me, things that delight Him, that reflect His glory and further His Kingdom. But it’s difficult to hand God a blank sheet of paper without offering a helpful list of the things I think I need when I believe He has things to give that I wouldn’t even know to list myself.

As we see when Satan tempted Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness, wealth, flesh and power are the least of our Lord’s concerns. Realizing that Jesus didn’t come as Messiah to wear a physical crown and lead an army of armed soldiers was challenging for both His followers and His opponents. Instead, He came for our deliverance from a very different oppressor, to offer us an eternal deliverance. He offered something permanent and steadfast.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

So here’s what I want to do. I want to pray for and anticipate those things that I lack the imagination to anticipate. I want God to remove from me all the things in my mind and heart and spirit that block the way for His will in my life. I want to be gods-plansopen to His unique will for me. I want to be prepared soil for new fruit. I want to avoid the temptation to tell God what I think I need and open the door wide as I say, “Show me what you’ve got!”

I’ve lived my life expecting very little, often being prepared to have it taken from me. I have no idea what to expect, but His word says it’s good, so I want it – without limitations, conditions or pre-conceived ideas. I pray for my heart and my mind to be properly prepared to receive it. I pray that I will recognize it and be willing to receive it when it comes. And I pray that it makes me a more valuable part of His kingdom.

This should be exciting!

 

THIS MIGHT HURT A LITTLE

I found it! I found the quote that says what I’ve been meditating on but couldn’t quite put into words. But C S Lewis managed to articulate my meditations well.

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Not that I don’t have moments when I do doubt if God will bless me. I do. However, what I’m realizing is that I hope to be blessed the way I want to be blessed because I think what I want is what is best for me. And that’s a two-part issue: As a human, I believe I already know what’s best for me and, as LaRonda, I am not always confident that God wants to give me good things.

I’m slowly accepting that God does love me – always and anyway. That’s grace. I wasn’t raised with grace or mercy, so it’s been hard for me to accept that God loves me always and anyway. Often, I feel inherently unlovable enough to not warrant grace.

As I mature into my faith, I’m accepting that what God wants for me is good, better than what I can hope for myself. But I’ll be honest. I often cringe when I trust God. Why? Because I know it might hurt! Don’t pray for patience; just pray for everything to go your way instead. Right? 🙂

I was absolutely terrified last month as I watched our checking balance deplete with no hope of improvement in sight. What if God meant to bring His will to fruition by means of us losing everything we had and turning our lives upside down? (I know it sounds dramatic and tragic. Welcome to my head!)  I was certain that I couldn’t bear to go through something like that. And I couldn’t understand why I was being put through such a trial when God knows I don’t have the emotional foundation for something like that.

Everything turned out fine, and my faith in God as my provider was exercised and strengthened. But it wasn’t fun. So what I believe I need to do is rely on what I know of God rather than my feelings. And that’s what I’m in the process of doing right now – getting to know God by reading His word and visiting with Him in prayer and quiet more than listening to what others have to say about Him. (And you’re welcome to come along for the ride!) I’ve been to church and Bible studies, so I know many of the stories; but I’m finding that there is no substitute for letting the Holy Spirit tell me what I need to know about my God, letting God reveal Himself to me intimately, personally. I just need to become confident that He is gentle enough to meet me where I am – even if it’s on edge of an imagined cliff or on the shore of my own Red Sea – but still willing to stretch my faith when He knows I’m ready for it – like that teacher in school who constantly told me that I wasn’t living up to my potential. (I was quite satisfied with mediocrity, thank you very much! It took less effort than potential.)

Ultimately, I know that I need to believe that it won’t hurt any more than it absolutely has to and that His grace is sufficient to carry me through the pain if it’s necessary. I suppose growing pains should be expected. There are plenty of examples in nature to show it’s even necessary in order for a creature to become what it was born to become. It’s going to take a lot of trust for me to do that. And honestly, like living up to my potential, it’s a little scary to consider. But the option of depending on myself really isn’t a preferable option, is it?

PAIN IN HIS PLAN

I’ve struggled with this post. I even deleted it after I posted it once. I worried that it was too whiny. But it’s honest, and I know I can’t be the only Christian out there who has felt this way. And I know that God can use times like this to draw us closer to him. So here goes….

The last month has been a lesson for me in trusting God and God only. My husband had been unemployed for over two months and had failed to qualify for unemployment benefits yet. I was out of of options and found myself in a situation that I absolutely could not manipulate, adjust or change at all. And I felt I had no one to turn to because I wanted to honor my husband and not shame him, but he was quite frankly contributing to my sense of helplessness. That left me alone with God to be my comfort and help. Which is fine, except that I really needed to hear someone tell me everything would be fine.

So I prayed for my husband to overcome whatever was holding him back from doing what he needed to do for his family. I prayed for myself to have peace and patience while I waited. I prayed for God to make a way. I was holding out hope that not only would my husband finally get qualified for unemployment benefits, but that we would receive the lost weeks of benefits as well. I knew God could make a way, and I hoped that He would be abundant since our resources were thinning out quickly. (It’s comforting to have money as a back-up plan, isn’t it? But God was weaning me from depending on anything but Him, it seemed.)

Well, God didn’t show off with abundance; it was more like daily bread. My husband got approved for unemployment, but only for that week going forward.

I struggled with this for over a week. Knowing that I had no control over the situation, I had trusted my husband to do what he could. Now I love him dearly, but in this moment, he wasn’t really hadn’t been a source of comfort. For two months, he allowed the situation to deteriorate. I had continued to put my trust in a God who promised He could redeem situations. When He gave sufficiency instead of abundance, I felt let down. I felt like God didn’t want to do what I knew He could do for me. I questioned His love for me. I had needed to see His power, His blessing, His unquestionable presence. I desperately needed to know that He would take care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself and I didn’t have anyone else I could rely on, and I felt He had done only what He absolutely had to in order to be faithful.

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But, His provision had been sufficient. The next need was for full-time employment for my husband. Again, God answered with sufficiency. He will start a part-time job with no benefits in a week.

Through all of this, I’ve asked God to help me see things the way He sees them – me, our resources, my family, our situations, Himself. I believe He’s doing that, but it’s painful. God’s showing me that his grace is sufficient, and that “sufficient” isn’t a bad thing. But more significantly, He’s knocking down the support beams I built myself in order to make room for the support beams I believe He wants to provide – stronger and more dependable, more eternal. But demolition is painful and scary.

afb1629838ea1fc4119011f85ba367eaAll the support I’ve depended on throughout my life has been shaky with a poor foundation, but I’ve clung to it desperately because it is all I’ve had. My trust in others has been tenuous at best. My trust in an intangible God who shows grace always and anyway? There’s the challenge. But what an amazing foundation to build my faith on if I can only hold on during the necessary demolition!

 

ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED IN GOD?

I wish my faith in God was more consistent. I struggle with putting my confidence in Him because I can’t seem to separate how I see Him and how I see other people.

When you’re in relationship with people, you need to trust them. And people can be so disappointing. We’re not perfect, we’re often selfish, and I think disappointment can be expected. But what do you do when you’re disappointed in God?

It seems so wrong to admit that I’m disappointed in my heavenly Father, but I am. I’ve been trusting Him to come through in spite of the failure of anyone else. I’ve believed that He could redeem what’s been lost. I’ve tried to trust that He could not only meet my needs, but exceed them. Yesterday, I was relieved to learn that He met my needs, but that was it.

I’ve been at a low point, needing to see God work in my life. I’ve prayed fervently for even a small hint that I could count on Him to take care of me when I felt no one else was. That’s the way it should work, right? Even if the world fails you, you can trust in God when you’re His child?

Consistently, His word tells us to take heart and be confident in Him. We’re told that He will never leave us or forsake us. Then why do I feel so disappointed in Him?

I think my disappointment comes from having a different idea of what I need than God has.

Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds me that “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

This requires me to make a shift from trusting in what God can do to trusting in who God is. For me, the two have been the same. If God loved me, I reasoned, He wouldn’t let me be uncomfortable, scared or depressed. He would meet the needs I believe I have – namely, financial.

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The needs I see for myself are physical – food, shelter, employment, clothing. I see bills that need to be paid. But God’s thoughts and plans are higher and longer-term than ours. My thoughts are also far more self-focused. I don’t know what His plans are, but I’m certain they’re far more extensive than mine. They may even require my discouragement in order to get me where He needs me to be – as opposed to where I want to be.

I also need to change how I see myself. I’ve been so focused on how entitled I was. And because I felt entitled, I was disappointed. I can’t let disappointment define me or someone else. God hasn’t called me to pass judgment or to sentence someone else for disappointing me. He has called me to have a heart after His own, one that requires love and forgiveness. And it requires that I trust in His plan even when I don’t understand it or it doesn’t seem to serve my needs.

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RISE UP AND STAND FIRM

For a devotional today, I read Psalm 20. It was incredibly encouraging!

Psalm 20:4 says, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

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I really like that part! Who doesn’t want God to give us the desire of our heart? Who wouldn’t appreciate having all their plans succeed?

But there’s such a temptation to limit God, isn’t there? I look at my present situation and think, “If only God would….” I see my immediate need and pray that God will meet it. But what if meeting my immediate need in the way I think is best isn’t what would glorify God? Then God becomes little more than a Santa Bunny, there to make all our dreams come true and give us a pony if we beg long enough.

First of all, God is so much bigger than we let him be. He is able to do all things and to give us an abundant life. Too often, we settle for a little blessing because we’re in a hurry, when we could have a greater blessing and a genuine heart overhaul if we would only trust and wait on his timing.

The second mistake we make is in expecting his blessing to glorify us rather than Him. We don’t really mean to, but it’s our nature to be self-focused most of the time. God loves us dearly and wants to bless us, but he owes us nothing. The way I see the scripture, he has a victory planned – but for “his anointed” and for His kingdom. I believe all of God’s children have been anointed for something. His anointed have been set apart for a sacred and divine purpose. It is the anointed who will bring glory to the kingdom of God:

Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call! (Psalm 20:6-9)

When you are anointed and you go to battle in the name of God, there is nothing and no one who can stand in the way. God has already established His victory. The only question is when and how. And what are we to do as the enemy falls in defeat? Rise up and stand firm!

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What an awesome God we serve when His name is stronger than chariots or horses, whispers or doubts, or whatever weapon the enemy chooses to use against us. We’re not told to put our faith in our checking balance or our relationships. And we’re not told to fidget and worry. We’re told to rise up and stand firm.

I pray that today I can do that. I pray that I can put my worries in God’s hands and let the victory over my circumstances be for God’s glory not mine. And I pray that I can simply rise up and stand firm.

JUST ONE OF US REGULAR FOLK

For most of my life, I dreaded reading the Bible. It seemed so boring! All those doth sayth’s and verily’s can really get to a person after a while. God always seemed to be smiting some tribe or another.

But at some point in the last year, I had a refreshing perspective of the Bible.

First, I realized that this is a collection of some of the most flawed people you could imagine. The fact is that they were just like us!

Second, I realized that God loved them dearly and used them in mighty ways in spite of, or actually through, their weaknesses. Jonah was kicking and screaming while God used him; but he used him! Abraham and Sarah got ahead of God’s timetable and decided to take things into their own hands and “help” God.

Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re bursting full of God-ordained potential, but you don’t feel like you have a starting place? You’ve been sent on a mission without a road map or a timeline? You don’t know when to start or where to stop. Maybe you think you heard God wrong! You know there’s a big plan for you, but the plans are anywhere from sketchy to questionable.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the patience for that. To me, that’s a whole lot of nothin’ that leaves me standing in the middle of nowhere looking like a confused Minion.

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I want a plan, an Excel spreadsheet, a T-shirt…something! Because if I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, I don’t know if I’m doing it right or not.

But if there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s this: God is as merciful as he is sovereign!

He can take whatever mess we’ve made and still work things to fit His plan because His word never returns void. And it never gets readjusted. He didn’t look at Ishmael and say, “Well, that’s not what I was thinking, but it’ll work.” No. He didn’t listen to Jonah and say, “Fine! Someone else can do it instead.”

So rest assured that if God has planted a seed in you, it will grow to fullness in His time and in His way for His purpose. You might go kicking and screaming. You might try to “help” him. You might even try to get ahead of the game and do the wrong thing. But you cannot make an irredeemable mess of what God has spoken over you.

Just remember who ends up getting the glory here. Oh, God’s going to use you and the talents he’s given you, but the glory will be His. After all, where’s the glory if he lets you do what anyone else can do without his help?

 

MY CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL STORY

In a couple of weeks, Chicken Soup for the Soul will be selling it’s latest book, The Miracle of Love. Thanks to God’s goodness, I had a story they liked enough to publish. This is my second in 10 years, and sometime I’ll share the other one with you. But I want to share this one now because 1) I’m super excited about it and 2) it will tell you a little more about me. I hope you enjoy it!

A DREAM COME TRUE

I looked down the petal-strewn gauntlet. It occurred to me that this was either the dumbest thing I’d ever done or the smartest. Either way, it was certain to be the most memorable. This was my wedding day.

At the other end of the aisle stood the man who had asked me to marry him. He looked terrified. I could see sweat glistening above his eyebrows. Then it occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t terror he was feeling as much as the humidity in the sanctuary. This was unquestionably the hottest, most humid day Missouri had seen this year.

The church was one of the most breathtaking places in town, primarily because it was one of the oldest. I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me that the cooling system hadn’t been updated. However, I didn’t know that it still relied on a swamp cooler. I learned that day that swamp coolers take a great deal of time to cool the room, and this particular swamp cooler had not been given enough time to compete with the miserable heat and humidity of the day.

So there I stood, sweating in a wedding gown that cost more than my first car and high heels that I never would have worn at any other time and would never wear again. Those sitting on the left were complete strangers to me and were undoubtedly concerned about the groom’s mental capacity to enter into legal contracts such as marriage. And those on the right were good friends, most of whom were already quite confident that my mental capacity was questionable.

They weren’t the only ones who were concerned. They couldn’t be thinking anything I hadn’t already considered. Will he be able to settle down with a family after being a bachelor all these years? What will happen to my daughter and me if this turns out to be a mistake? Are we insane? I pondered that last question the most.

There wasn’t much about our courtship that was ordinary.

My four-year-old daughter Sophie and I lived in Kansas, and we were pretty much on our own. She’d begun to ask when she would get a daddy and insisted that he would drive a truck because that’s what the father of every other child in daycare drove.

My groom, on the other hand, had always been the single uncle who played with His nieces and nephews while their parents enjoyed adult conversations. In Minnesota, 415 miles away, John had been alone for a long time. He’d never been married and he had no children.

We had only two things in common. First, we each felt we were missing something without a spouse. Second, we both knew Rob and Tracy. I had gone to high school with Rob, and John had gotten to know the couple in college. And it was those relationships that would be key to the future of John, Sophie and me.

In Minnesota, summer had finally given way to fall. John lay in his bed and prayed, “Lord, will I always be this lonely? Isn’t there someone out there for me?” This prayer played over and over in his head as he fell asleep. Once asleep, he had three separate but connected dreams.

In his first dream, he was dating a woman with a little girl. In his second dream, he was standing at the alter with Rob as his best man. In his last dream, he was opening wedding gifts with his wife on one side and one of his sisters on the other.

Later in the week, John called his former college roommate.

“Rob, I had the weirdest dream, and you were in it. I was dating a woman with a little girl. We got married, and you were my best man!”

“Well,” Rob grinned, “I happen to know a woman with a little girl, and she’s looking for someone.”

The next time I saw Rob, he mentioned casually that he had a friend who was single and might like to meet me. At the risk of inflating my ego, he left out the details of the dream. After all, who needs a prima donna who thinks she may be someone’s dream-come-true?

“Seriously, Rob! He’s in Minnesota, and I’m in Kansas. What are we supposed to do?”

Rob wasn’t worried. “Oh, you meet, you fall in love, and you get married.”

Nine months later, John and I stood on opposite ends of the aisle at the beginning of a new life together. And my daughter would have a father – the first man to tell her how incredible and beautiful she was.

In less than 24 hours, the three of us would drive to Minnesota, where I had no job and knew no one except John. I took a deep breath and began my walk down the aisle. I knew only one thing with relative confidence: I would agree to absolutely anything if it got me out of this dress and these heels!

Twenty years later, I’m happy to say that God planned a successful marriage. It hasn’t been a simple marriage – certainly not one without many challenges – but those challenges have strengthened our love and appreciation for each other.

FREAK OR FIGHT?

Yesterday was rough. It was one of those days when you begin to feel hopeless; nothing is ever going to be fine, much less good, again. And, as usual, it comes down to our finances. I feel horrible admitting that my faith in God is measured by my checking balance, but that’s the truth of it.

See, when my account balance gets lower, my fear and anxiety increase. When my anxiety and fear increase, my faith in God decreases. And I know that’s when my faith in God needs to increase. I know the verses about fearing not and casting all my cares on Him. But I’m still scared.

This is the crack in my spiritual armour that I mentioned a few posts ago. This is the moment of truth. What will I do? The way I see it, I have two options: Freak or Fight.

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I’ve already freaked. I cried, worried, and what-if’d my way down a few rabbit holes. I’m still broke. And I’m still anxious. This is what I’m comfortable with. I think I probably come from a long line of freakers. My mom certainly was one.

OK, time for a quick side story! When I was about 23, I made the horribly desperate (the decision was both horrible and desperate) decision to move back home. It was a bad neighborhood, and within two days of living there, someone set my car on fire when trying to steal the radio – which was sad because it was the only part of the car that still worked well. At 2:00 am, my step-father, Frank, woke me up to let me know my car was on fire. When I asked him if he’d called the fire department, he answered, “I thought you’d want to do that.” (Now you know Frank.) The car was consumed by flames by the time the fire department got there, and my mom was screaming, “What are we going to do?! What are we going to do?!” (And now you know Mom – the Freaker.) Since the only pressing business for the morning was getting me to class, and since we had a city bus system, I decided I’d get up in time to take the bus and went back to bed. That’s what I was going to do.

So back to the question of whether I should freak or fight over our finances today. Freaking out is sort of satisfying and gives me something to do, I suppose; but it doesn’t really help, does it? And I know that every minute I take my sight off God, it pleases Satan immensely. Satan loves nothing more than to see me be anxious and fearful because that means my trust is not in my heavenly Father. I guess that means that I may as well put on the Armour of God, starting with the shield of peace.

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I know my heavenly Father is loving and gracious and good. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. His burden is light. He has unlimited resources that we can’t even fathom. Our financial situation is no surprise to him. He already has a plan for me and my family because he’s already gone ahead of us and made a way. I have no idea how things will turn out, but I don’t suppose I need to know because I know the One who is making the arrangements for things to turn out well. (I just hope his plans for us don’t require us being penniless up to that moment when he “suddenly” performs a miracle to demonstrate his glory, ya know?)

So, today I take a stand that I will fight and not freak. I will remember Matthew 6:31-34:

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Today I will cast my cares on God. I will put my concerns in his hands. And I will hope I will be smart enough to leave them there! After all, He knows me, He sees me, and He loves me. And he’s a God of  ‘suddenly’ and of Red Sea miracles.

ENOUGH FOR TODAY

I’m learning that God wants a trusting heart.

Yesterday was challenging! We had just left home to go to visit my husband’s mother in Nebraska. Now understand that my husband has been unemployed for two months and he has yet to get any money from unemployment because of one mix-up after another, so I was already worried about getting the bills paid. Then, about 30 minutes into our 6-hour drive, I got a text from my boss that there was a problem with our payroll and there was no paycheck in my account yet. And then, I noticed that our escrow payment was $100 more than usual!

Fortunately, within two hours, my paycheck was deposited and the over-payment on my escrow was corrected. So we’re good for now.

And that, I think, is the key phrase – We’re good for now.

In her book, Calling Jesus, Sarah Young writes, “Many of the situations that entangle your mind are not today’s concerns; you have borrowed them from tomorrow.” When we recite The Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to “give us today our daily bread.”

Jesus understood how important it is to take things one moment at a time, one day at a time. He even said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  (Matthew 6:28 NIV.)

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I need to remember that I don’t need to worry about anything because my Lord sees me, he knows me, he loves me and he already knows how he’s going to meet my needs.

It’s easy to trust when your circumstances are good; not so easy when things look scary and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Then we remember that God already knows what’s going to happen next. He already has a good plan for us. So keep a peaceful heart and wait for it. Stop worrying and start worshipping!

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