It’s that time of year, where we lay down plans, hope, dreams, words, verses, resolutions and goals for the next year. In fact, last year on this day, I remember our family doing just that! And the funny thing is that all our lists (except for Tabor’s) are packed away in boxes in Colorado. It will be fun to read them, when we finally bring the rest of our stuff here. We will likely laugh at ourselves over some of them.
I know I will.
Friends and family have told me before–often enough that it’s rather become part of my character with them, who I am–that I don’t know how it will all work out, but God will either change it or help us through it.
Yes, I am a planner. And I like to know. I like to understand. And there is nothing inherently wrong with walking out our journey this way. My heart and motives have been pure.
But I should have seen this coming when the verse that stood out to me a year ago would be this: James 4:13-15
Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’
And my word for the year, actually two words, were these: steadfast and BE.
I have actually learned both–to the point where I have begged God to let us DO and to move us from this place of stuck. But He had more to teach me in this place.
And I stubbornly did not want to learn it.
I’ve hit a hundred walls, but yesterday’s was probably the worst. I just reached the point of doubt, not faith. I felt unloved, uncared for and left behind. I cried. I prayed. On my knees, I surrendered. Yet, I went to bed with swollen eyes and a knot in my stomach.
It’s not that God had not provided for our daily bread. He had! It was more that I was seeing the writing on the wall for the next few days. It was a bitter pill. Timing–would we be able to pay our rent on time? How will we get through January without a job?
But again, and you see this I’m sure, God often doesn’t provide for our needs early. He provides just when He intends to and no sooner. He provides faithfully. He provides abundantly.
And I threw a fit over it all not lining up with my plans, regretting that we came, when it would have felt safer to have stayed in Colorado–having income, a home, insurance and so much more. Chris reminded me over and over that the Lord has brought us here to College Station and has confirmed time and time again that we are right where we should be. He said to me that the Lord has this, has US. And the Lord did and the Lord does! We have more than I could see or give credit to…to my chagrin.
I wonder if people, who faithfully followed God, ever doubted. We often get to read about the belief side, the trusting part of it…but what about their doubts, fears, sorrow, frustration, anger, even? Where is that in the stories?
Well, I believe that it is there and just not shared…or maybe they had struggled early on in other situations and learned God’s ways better. Perhaps even, they were given the gift of faith. I have had such gifts before. And even in this journey, I had just enough faith to put myself out there. But when the time lagged and the silence became pronounced, I truly began to doubt it all.
The lesson for me this past year has been this…don’t say what I don’t know. And I don’t know much! Trust in God and His character. Ask Him to lead. He will lead. Then follow where He says. There is no going back…only forward.
How? You might ask. How will He lead? Well, it is a process for each of us. And I believe that it is as individualized as our languages and dialects. He will make it plain through His Word, His people, circumstances and even an inner feeling of being led or prompted. But, and this is important, these very things can also be mis-guided…taking His Word out of context, placing people above God, giving circumstances too much credit and selfishly trying to control(sometimes we are prompted to control things, no?). Do you see then the quandary?
Then you pray. And you pray some more. It may not unfold perfectly. In fact, as joyful as I feel over seeing a little more light than I did last night, I feel bruised. I told my friend that I feel like we are sliding into home face-first.
We have our rent now. It will be paid in time. And Chris has a second interview Tuesday afternoon! Praise be to the LORD!
But you must know I am internally grateful and thankful. I bent down and thanked God, lifting my hands to Him. Even so, externally I felt(feel still) bruised and sore from the last leg of the journey.
Suddenly, the Lord highlighted a verse for me this day…He spoke it in my spirit.
Therefore, since we are surrounded…surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.
He just began the verse for me. He knew I got it.
We are surrounded! We plan. But we also must throw off what is hindering. And sometimes, my friends, what is hindering is what we plan. And we must throw off our sin that is entangling. Oh, I have a boat-load of that!
Then we run the race THAT HE MARKED OUT for us. He marks it. Sometimes it is a day at a time. Sometimes, we see a little more…but no matter what we see, we should plan with pencil. And a boat-load of trust in a loving God and Father, who holds our very times in His hands. He is good, my friends. He IS! Even when I am not. He is perfecting my faith still…and will be ’til I die.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Blessings on your 2016! May He enrich you in every way to run YOUR races well.