(Not) The Way I Want It

I attended a women’s gathering at church this past week. They are doing a series on the fruit of the Spirit and this week was a discussion of peace. I haven’t been to any of the others, but when I heard the topic, I figured this was one that would be good for me right now.

We talked a bit about our anxieties and one woman shared how she used to worry all the time about how much money they had and how she’d pay the bills and whether God was really going to provide what they needed. Then some major changes occurred in her family and she was finding she had more than enough money for everything they needed–but she was still worried all the time. The focus of her fears was no longer money, but the fears were still there. I really identified with what she said next, “The problem isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of trust.”

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV)

Rest? Quiet? Strength? Oh, that sounds so nice! But trust? I don’t like that one nearly so much. That one is hard. That means I have to let someone else choose for me. I’m very picky. DH calls me “high maintenance,” like Sally from When Harry Met Sally. I just want it the way I want it. I don’t like to consider that it might actually be better another way.

God,

I know I can’t do what You do. What I don’t know is why I keep trying. I can’t run the world. I can’t keep peace in my family–I can’t even keep peace in my own heart. But You offer me peace, if I just ask. I don’t like to ask. I’d rather be the stubborn toddler and insist, “Me do it!”

You ask for repentance. You want me to turn away from the actions and attitudes that steal my peace and keep me from finding rest. Lord, I’m sorry that I act as though I’m the one in charge–like I’m the queen rather than the King’s servant. Even though I know Your ways are better, even though I’ve seen again and again how You take what looks to be a terrible situation and turn it completely on end to be a great blessing, my default belief is still that You wouldn’t want to do that for me.

Please, God, help me to trust what I can’t see and I don’t understand. Let me find peace, not because of my own perfect planning (because it’s not), but because I have You. Remind me that I know You, and You are trustworthy.

Fester, Fester, Fester … Rot, Rot, Rot.

People who know me in real life–but don’t know me well–might be surprised to learn that I really dislike confrontation. The thing is, when it’s something that doesn’t matter much to me, I’ll fight about it all day long. I can argue until I’m blue in the face about music or syntax or the movie we watched last night. And I’ll probably win–even if just because my opponent gives up. But the things that really matter to me, the things that stir my soul, these are the things I have trouble fighting for. I don’t like to fight when I might lose. So I get scared to make the effort when it really matters.

I have a little, but important fight in my life right now. I don’t want to do it. It makes me angry. If I lose, my life may have to change in some pretty significant ways. Because of that, I’m very tempted just not to fight. To “let it go” and sweep it under the rug. Only that’s not really letting go; that’s holding on and letting it build up and continue to fester until my anger eventually explodes out, hurting me and everyone else involved.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:17 & 29, NIV)

God,

You know I am not Your most gracious and tactful servant. I choose my words poorly–or don’t choose them at all–when something important needs to be said. I’m scared to stand up for what is right today. I want to just go hide and say nothing is wrong. I want to pretend that’s being at peace with everyone, but I’d be lying. I don’t have the courage to do this on my own. Please, fill me with Your Spirit. Let the words that come out of my mouth be full of Your love and grace. Let me say things that are good and useful.

I don’t want to be afraid that I’ll do something wrong, God. I don’t want to be afraid, period. I want to be strong because You are with me. Thank You that You will give me everything I need today. Thank You that, even when I’m not feeling prepared, You are preparing the way. I believe these truths, Lord, please help me overcome my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

How to Be Rich

I’ve had real trouble being nice to people the past several days. Nearly everything everyone did just seemed to annoy me. I had my own agenda and whatever else was happening, it was getting in my way. Lying down to bed one night, I realized I didn’t feel very loved and cared for. Instead, I was feeling empty and worn out and tired of doing stuff for other people when it didn’t seem like anyone was doing anything for me. Me, me, me. I was focused very much on me–even when I was trying to do stuff that was supposed to benefit someone else, it was all about how I was the one working so hard on it, being so creative about it, or generally how it was still all about me.

This selfless thing is really a kick in the butt.

God,

It’s so easy for me to forget everything You’ve already done for me, everything You’re doing every day. When I get bogged down and focused only on what I’m doing, it’s like I just can’t see past myself to the blessings You shower on me–the love You are always showing me. Yet, even in these moments, when I’m complaining that my own little world is not as I want it to be, You still pour out Your love into me.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. Psalm 145:8-9 (NIV)

Even more than just loving me, though, You pour Your power into me, giving me the strength to pour love and grace and compassion into the lives of others. You call each of Your kids to be gracious and compassionate. Yet You don’t simply make such a pronouncement and leave us to do Your bidding, You have compassion on us. You know we can’t do it on our own, so You provide the resources I don’t have so I can.

Thank You, God, for loving me. Thank You for giving Yourself to me, even when I am looking no further forward than myself. Thank You for walking with me, even when I wander off on the way I think is right, even when I wander down roads I know are wrong. You are still there for me. You are still loving me, showering me with grace, calling on me to show Your love to the people around me–even when I don’t know how to be loving on my own.

Please, help me to remember to move in Your power when I am weak. And help me to remember that “when I am weak” is really all the time.

On the Water

I’ve been struggling today. While I had a few moments alone in the car, I recognized a lot of areas in my life that leave me feeling uncertain, tentative, scared about what happens next. Like building blocks in the hands of toddlers, these anxieties pile up into a teetering tower until my focus is consumed by nothing more than trying to keep my balance.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31, NASB)

As I read this familiar story, I wondered if I would even have made it out of the boat. People can’t walk on top of the water. Anybody knows that. The surface tension is simply not strong enough to bear the weight of a person in the space of a footprint. Yet the laws of physics don’t limit the One who created them.

God,

Like the airplane we saw preparing to land, still hundreds of feet up, yet the kids were amazed by its size, You are so much bigger than I expect You to be. Maybe for the same reason. I see myself failing and falling, but instead of reaching toward You, I try to doggy paddle until I’ve found my footing. If Peter had little faith, what does that mean for me?

I need You, Lord, in every area of my life–in all the big and little things that I wonder whether You even care about. Yet You are concerned with every detail that makes me, because You are concerned with me. You may not care whether I choose to wear a blue shirt or a red shirt today, but You care about how I’m feeling because of the choice I make. Help me to remember how important I am to You. Let me recognize how important it is to bring to You every little thing that leaves me feeling breathless and shaky, because I need Your perspective. It’s hard for me when I don’t understand, but help me to trust that You can see and know more than I ever will. And help me to stand strong in Your promise that You bring all things together for our good, no matter how good or bad they may look at the time (Romans 8:28).

It’s frightening for me to pray that, God. I worry that something big and bad is going to happen next that I especially will need Your grace to handle. I forget so easily that I need Your grace to handle EVERY day. I’m just not naturally gracious. I need You working through me in order to do all the things You call me to do. I need you for even the simple things like stepping out of a boat, so You can do miraculous things like allowing me to walk on water.