Thursday, February 26, 2015

148: faith in what?

He could not do many miracles there and marveled because of their unbelief.
"Do You not care that we are perishing?" "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"

I write to myself. I remind myself of who I ought to be. I say these things to attempt to keep myself surrendered under His hand every day when I want to inwardly rebel.

Faith in what? Faith that He will be glorified by your life even if it goes according to His plan not yours. Faith that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Faith that man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps, even if those steps do not follow what you thought His path was going to be for you. Faith that when He lets Jairus' daughter or Lazarus or even Himself die, when He allows those He loves to mourn, that He does not let even a sparrow fall without His notice. Faith that He is the resurrection and the life, and if He lets something die, it is not without His seeing or being able to resurrect if that were His will. Faith that confesses we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and faith that prays Your kingdom come, Your will be done.

Faith that gives oneself over to His will, whatever that may be, with no holding back and no bitterness when you see a friend walking the very path you had once chosen for yourself. Because that is not His will for you.

Your ways are higher than my ways. I will believe in the goodness of Your plan.

"Keep looking Himwards--He alone can lead thee;
Nor count from choicest friends thy way to glean;
He knowest best where He Himself doth need thee,
    And He can lead thee by means unseen."
--J. Danson Smith, as quoted in Mrs. Cowman's devotional

No, this is not just about singleness.

It is about believing in our God.

see the tree on the left that looks like the "fuzzy black thing" from two posts ago?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

147: scary scary word

Partway into this LadyM's Distractions blog venture, I started struggling with the Lord. Most of it centered around prolonged agony singleness, but some of the background for the struggle included events my family had endured that had messed up our little unit pretty bad. So I've been struggling and questioning and getting bitter over and wrestling with this idea of God's sovereignty versus our foolish choices, outside circumstances, and fallen world.

But like I said, most of it came down to the issues of "Why am I not married?" "Why didn't I get to be married at 21 like I had expected?" "I need my own home, but I can't have it. *grumble, grumble*" "God, I really want someone to encourage me spiritually." "I want someone to hold me. That's how YOU made me." "Lord, why can't I just have someone to talk to? I'm lonely. Didn't You say it's not good for man to be alone?"

Anyway.

I am thankful I belong to a God who lets us wrestle with Him.

"Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You;
Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments." (Jeremiah 12:1)

If I were to go back and counsel myself, I'm not sure I would feed myself any platitudes, true though they may be. I think I would tell myself to do exactly what I did. Wrestle it out. Better to wrestle it out in the presence of the Lord than to ignore the questions and pretend like everything was okay when it was becoming increasingly not okay.

I would say to myself, "Wrestle it out with the Lord, and then, (to quote Jen Hatmaker from the If 2015 conference) 'Give your heart permission to trust Him.'"

After I sweated it out, I was stripped to the point of making a decision--either to trust or continue to question.

I THINK, by God's grace, I have chosen to trust.

At least for today.

I have chosen something else. It's a scary, scary word. But it's something that as soon as I started transitioning over to it, I wished I had done so years ago.

I chose "acceptance."

I started accepting that I am single, and may be indefinitely, and may be forever.

I couldn't do the wait on the Lord thing anymore. I couldn't WAIT for what God had not promised me.

With acceptance has come the freedom to examine my life as if it's not on the cusp of change. That's how I've always lived my life--as if I could get married soon and will need to alter my habits to accommodate another person so . . . I'm waiting. But if I'm accepting that my present life is my life? Then I have the freedom, and the responsibility, to create new habits and paint my world the way that I want it to be, because change isn't around the corner.

That thought process is probably unique to me, but that's how this little brain works.

The funny thing is, even in the acceptance, I feel hope and freedom to pray for a husband. Acceptance didn't take that away.
 

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about the faith I have to keep coming back to amid this acceptance.

Monday, February 23, 2015

146: nature

In Him we live and move and have our being.

From my desk I see a hawk fly across the blue sky.

The wind blows on the palm trees, and the bunch of leaves at the top of the long giraffe neck's trunk looks like hair pushed to the side.

I drive to work and the grass is so green it looks like a painting.

I drive home, and against the sun-setting sky, the tree branches look like fuzzy black things.

In Him we live and move and have our being.

Life. See it. In the quiet. Feel it. The beauty.

Common grace.

Thank Him.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

145: but if You had come


The Bible lesson at school today was from Lazarus. And this is what I heard:

Mary and Martha sent to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. They wanted Him to come heal Lazarus. But Jesus did not come. 

God had a bigger plan for Lazarus than healing him. God had a bigger plan than doing what Mary and Martha wanted.

So Jesus stayed away and let Lazarus die.

Did I hear that? Sometimes God has a bigger plan. Sometimes God says "no." Sometimes God is putting together an undeniable display of His glory.

I've been struggling the last few days with not getting something I wanted. It wasn't even something I thought God didn't want me to have.

So I say to the Lord, "I believe Your plan is good." And for the breath of a moment the skies clear and I can envision God doing His great work regardless of my recent hope and disappointment. For a moment I believe, and it is enough. Then the heavens close, and I repeat the words again. I do not feel the rapture of God's goodness, but now is the time to walk by faith, not by sight.

I believe Your ways are above my ways, and I believe in the goodness of You and Your plan.

I wonder if maybe these closed doors aren't the rude slamming in my face that they sometimes seem. Maybe they are more like God ensuring that I stay in His plan. I am moving forward like I ought, and He is making sure I don't unknowingly stray off His unknown path for me. His staff guiding me.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done.

Keep reminding myself. Keep believing. Keep looking heavenward.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

144: for my future husband if he's reading this :-P

Happy Valentine's Day, love! I am thankful for you and pray that I always will be.

Tonight I had my third annual single girls Valentine's Day party. We ate lots of good food. I seem to surround myself with people that know how to bring yummy snacks. We cut out and decorated 70+ sugar cookies and the girls seemed to really enjoy themselves. We also shared with each other how God shows His love to us. Mine was through the prophets. One girl said through nature, another said through how God answers her prayers through other people who don't even know her needs, and another said how God speaks straight to her heart. Then we took turns praying for marriages we knew. It's amazing how God designed this thing called marriage to be a reflection of Christ and the church and how bad a reflection so many "Christian" marriages are. Darling, I know marriage must be very hard, but oh how I want to do it well. I want to do it well together. I know marriage isn't about the romance, but would you think it healthy if we try to maintain some level of romance throughout the years? I used to think that as long as you endured, you were a witness. And I still believe that to some extent. But I suppose it's the difference between someone that struggles through the Christian life versus someone who radiates love for God and a full acceptance of God's love for them. Perhaps the latter is a little better of a witness? Or at least a more compelling witness? I know marriage isn't about making us happy, but, love, if I'm going to marry, I would dearly like to garner some measure of happiness from being around you. :) Anyway, we also watched a Hallmark movie called "The Wish List." I like mushy Hallmark movies. I can hardly imagine what it's like to fall in love and to fall in love enough that you want to MARRY someone. And yet, somehow they do it over and over in movies. :-P
My love, if God brings You to me, if I ever meet you and we choose each other, then I hope we are happy together.
May God preserve you from evil and bless you this Valentine's Day weekend,
Your own,
Michelle

Friday, February 13, 2015

143: oh wait, is that what Christians are supposed to look like?

The other day on Facebook, two of my friends posted the same controversial meme. One person posted it and then asked in the comments if people would join her in praying for the object of the meme. Another person posted it, and a high-emotion conversation started in the comments.

I am used to seeing debates on Facebook, but that day I saw the stark contrast between the two reactions: prayer for the "enemy" vs. heated debate over the issue. And I thought, "Oh wait, is that what Christians are supposed to act like?"

During a staff meeting, I found out that our girls' basketball team, normally victorious, had lost by a hair the night before. The coach and one of the girl's moms shared that they had encouraged the players to do as the Bible says: rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Yeah, it's hard to lose, said the coach, but we need to be glad for the other team (which apparently does not often win).

I am used to people being upset, frustrated, rehashing and complaining. But listening to the coach talk, I thought, "Oh wow, that's what Christians are supposed to look like, isn't it?"

When I get glimpses of sisters and brothers shining with the light of God's kingdom, I am taken aback by its brightness. I am reminded that the kingdom of which I am a part has an order that purposefully contrasts with the kingdom of darkness. "Rules" like be patient and pray for your enemies are so easily ignored in favor of excuses of "I am tired" and "Let me tell you how wrong they are." But until I actually follow the simple guidelines of this kingdom of light, like actively love, actively serve, actively pray, am I actually walking in the light? Or am I sitting on the sidelines surviving, leaving the actual walking to others?

May the Lord grant us more glimpses of the bright light that comes with walking in His kingdom.

"For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

142: a more superficial reason not to have a singles pity-party

I believe it's called torturing yourself.

Don't tell me I'm the only one that does it.

Ok, maybe I am! I look at that one Facebook picture of a sweet new family, babe in arms. Then I, on purpose, go to another friend's page and look at her sweet new family photo, babe in arms. And then I go to another friend's page, just to look at a pic of her and her new husband, then another friend's page.

A nervous niggle in my mind keeps me from entering into the intended deep, heart-rending pity-party I was trying to create for me-myself-and-I.

All those pictures I was talking about? One family. One family of girls where that whole getting married and having a family thing was dragging on years past when I'm sure their mother had expected. And then, BAM!, within like two years, four sisters succumbed to matrimony like dominoes in a pre-ordained line-up.

My pity-party gets forced to the back burner because, knowing my luck, just about the time I moan and groan and think "poor me," I'm going to be the one dressed in white with a veil and what will I be forced to do then? Laugh at my lack of foresight? The joke will be on me.

It makes it harder to bemoan the future when God is standing right there with His plan in hand, knowing exactly what comes next, listening to me acting like I know what's around the corner and already decrying it.

Call it pride, but the fear that my pity party is going to come back to bite me is one of my more superficial reasons for not indulging these days.

I don't know when the domino is going to fall. I have no promise from God that it is going to fall. But if it does, I don't especially want to be caught whining that it's never going to happen.

And if someday my prince doesn't come? Well...there are other blog posts for issues of trusting God, submission to His hidden plan, promoting marriage regardless of personal relationship status, etc.

Northanger Abbey internet meme, for the Austen unenlightened