Tag Archives: matthew 6

Laughing Along With Sarah

plansChickens are really noisy but I think I might prefer the noise to the silence. (Read my last post, A Tangled Mess and Chicken Thoughts to understand what I mean.) The tangles are working their way out though.  However, each provides questions for which I have no answers. Do you have a list of questions that you don’t have answers to? Are you left wondering how God is going to work out the impossible promises He has made for you?  Is God pulling you out of your comfort zone into the faith-filled unknown?  Let’s see…yes, yes, yes.  God does some of His most profound work in the silence when we don’t have all of the answers.  It’s where we, or better yet He, is really able to get to the heart of the matter…for me, I am finding, it’s a matter of the heart.  And sometimes the heart just doesn’t understand…

It’s appropriate I suppose that Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’m digging into matters of the heart. Coincidence, timing, societal influences, who really knows? What I do know is that everywhere you turn there is talk about love and my intention is not that this turn into some God-loves-you-Valentine’s-Day-post. If you’re struggling with the question of God loving you this is not the post for you.  Please read Love Is In The Air.

I get that God loves me. I know this and I rely on this daily. That box has been checked. But my heart is crying out right now and what it’s crying out for is the need for a plan (says my type A personality.) There is no problem that can’t be solved with prayer, a good plan, and a checklist. (Again, my type A personality). Right now I have no plan and the only item on my check list is Pray. Not a bad list but the song that comes to mind is, “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action.” (Possibly not an appropriate song choice in this instance but please forgive my chicken-pecked thought process.)

Sometimes faith is doing.  Sometimes faith is sitting still and answering questions honestly with “I don’t know.”  For me, the second is (obviously) the harder of the two. What I do know is that I am not in control, no matter how many times I try spin it some other way. God has never asked my advice or opinion, although I have given it freely at times. He doesn’t need me to tweak His plan.  What I am being reminded of, learning on a whole new level,  is that when God draws you out in faith, you don’t always get to see the full blueprint of the plan. Most often you don’t see the full picture, that’s why faith is, well, faith. It calls us to stand fast on God, not the circumstances we find ourselves in. This is living in freedom, although my heart doesn’t always see it that way.

I would love to tell you that I am living bravely in the Matthew 6 promises and not worrying about a thing. The reality is while I am living in them, it looks more like a panicked clinging to them while constantly wondering how. In these days I find my  heart easily aligned with Sarah in a story from Genesis 18.  Maybe you can also relate…

God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son. But try as they may it wasn’t happening in a timely fashion, so they helped the plan along a little bit.  Instead of Sarah and Abraham having a son, Sarah’s plan became to have a son through her servant Hagar. She convinced Abraham of this and a short time later Abraham and Hagar indeed had a son, Ishmael.  Then, having taken the plan into her own hands instead of leaving the heavy lifting to God, Sarah becomes jealous and things get a little messy (Doesn’t this usually happen when we try to go it alone and make something happen? Things just don’t work out the way they should.) Sarah forces Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. But we serve a God who is full of mercy and grace and second-chances for allowing us the opportunity to get His plans right.  Despite their own failed attempts at growing their family and fulfilling His promise in a round about way, God reiterates his promise to give Abraham and Sarah a son. This time he gives them an indication that it will happen within the year.  Sarah, who is now very old, is eavesdropping on this conversation between Abraham and three heavenly visitors.  (Unfortunately although I could pretend otherwise, I totally get Sarah’s response to this reiterated promise.)  Sarah laughs.  Here she is, hiding behind the tent flap and she overhears this bit of news and she laughs to herself, thinking of all the reasons that it is impossible for she and Abraham to have a son. Sarah doubts God in the reality of her world. But it gets better. The Lord calls her on the carpet asking, “Why did you laugh? Why are you questioning my power? Is anything to hard for The Lord?” And Sarah’s response? She denies her behavior, saying “I didn’t laugh.”  Sarah plays dumb. Does she not realize who she is dealing with?  God knows her heart, her desires, her dreams, and her struggle to believe.  I can just see her, wanting to disappear under His gaze, her cheeks burning with embarrassment.  First she doubts and then she denies it…matters of the heart.  But guess what? Sarah and Abraham, at the age of 90 and 100, have a son.  God delivers on His impossible promises.

Human and flawed, I can easily find myself with Sarah, listing all of the reasons that the impossible it just that…impossible. Laughing in disbelief at dreamer’s dreams, afraid to believe it might be possible.  But our God is so much bigger and I think sometimes it is so easy, in the face of our realities, to forget that. It becomes easy to become impatient in the face of waiting on His timing, to take matters into our own hands, to try to fix it.  But I am reminded of some of my very favorite verses…

Moses told the people, (as they faced the impossible situation of the Red Sea on one side and an advancing Egyptian army on the other) “Don’t be afraid.  Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.  The Lord himself will fight for you.  Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14)  Stop! Knock it off!  Quit trying to save yourself and do the impossible. Are you going to swim?  Are you going to fight? It will not turn out well for you. God has a plan so get out of the way and let Him work!

God has a plan.  If I can hold on to that certainty – and sit on my hands, my heart will be stilled and quieted in the one item on my list – prayer.  That is a promise…

A Tangled Mess And Chicken Thoughts

magicRadio silence…and where to begin.  There are so many thoughts flying around in my head right now, so many changes around the corner.  I can’t even begin to fathom.  I have this tangled up knot of thoughts and feelings and emotions and “what ifs,” and worries, and fears, and dreams.  I have been trying to untangle it, following each thread to see where it may lead.  Then I have these stray thoughts that go flying through my head like chickens, squawking and flapping and making a huge ruckus, distracting me from the progress I had been making on untangling the other mess. (I don’t know why chickens.  I am telling you, I am a wreck.) You see, this is what happens when you set a “wow” goal at the beginning of 2015 and find that God isn’t going to waste anytime getting to work – on you and for you.

Let me back up and see if I can untangle at least one thought line for you. I don’t usually buy into New Year’s Resolutions.  Mine usually occur in the back-to school-season. (That’s when I make my grand plans for all the Good Things I am going to accomplish as we transition from summer chaos to school day chaos. Er, I mean school day orderliness…sorry random thought thread.) But this year I did kind of jump on the band wagon with a nod to setting a “wow” goal.  And that’s when the wheels began to come off of the comfortable I had set up for myself and the knot started compounding exponentially and the chickens came to roost. (Read A Reflection…A Resolution for my “wow” goal inspiration.)

Have you ever felt like you were a spectator in your own life? Over the past week that is exactly where I have found myself. I gave my “wow” goal to God at the beginning of the year and figured we would have a nice, steady, 12-month, slow and measured movement to it’s completion.  Instead, I have found myself quickly face to face with “wow” and God. Major career change, a brand new business opportunity-maybe, and this huge blank slate (optimistic) or hole (pessimistic) that I don’t know what I am supposed to do with.

I know (in my head) that to live in obedience we go when God says go. Abraham didn’t know where he was going but God told him to pack up and move out and he did. (And this wasn’t just taking a walk around the block. He had tents and animals and people and all of their stuff that they packed up.  He left behind everything that he had known, aka comfort and safety.) Abraham was on a need-to-know basis with God which meant only seeing as far as the next step and even that was cloudy for him at times.  That scares and exhilarates me at the same time.  This is what faith and complete dependance on God look like.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I want to respond like Abraham, I feel more like Jonah. Jonah didn’t want to go. I was ok with just kind of going.  I wanted both, safety and following in faith and I had lots of excuses, just like Jonah, about why I couldn’t just step out.  But when God say go, you go.  And if you don’t He will take every excuse away and kick you out anyway.  So now I am kicked out and I don’t know where I am going.  Make sense?  It makes no sense and perfect sense at the same time. That’s why I am a tangled up mess with chickens running around in my head.

Who knew that God moving could be so terrifying?  But there is another side to this.  And this is the side that has kept me from losing it altogether and quiets the chickens.  I am not alone and this is not my plan to figure out. Outside of my comfort there are amazing things waiting for me.  God-things are waiting for me!

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”(Matthew 6:31-34)

These are Jesus’ words meant for comfort and instruction. His promise to us.  I am learning to live in what author Nicky Gumbel calls “day-tight compartments.” One day at a time.  As Corrie ten Boom put it, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow; but it empties today of strength.”  We are called to change our ambitions and priorities and take on a new set that are both exciting and challenging: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Being on a need-to-know basis is shaking up everything that I knew and 2015 is going to be an adventure. This…this “wow” thing that is beginning to take shape is not at all what I thought or expected, but it is leading me directly into the presence of Jesus.  There is so much more…more to say and share and discover but it’s still all tangled up.  Will you adventure with me and see what surprises lie in the great unknown?

How is your 2015 going?