(This is a repost from 2010 – in the midst of some heaviness of heart and life. Just felt led of the Lord to share it again and am praying for each one of you who will read it.)
Do you ever think you’ve settled into something with the Lord, submitted to Him over it, only to turn right around and grab it back or go back to your old ways? That’s what I’ve been doing lately. I will put on His armor, stand myself behind the Shield of Faith, make up my mind to Trust God for the day, put on my garment of expressive praise (Isaiah 61:3), and head joyfully into my morning. But at the first sign of something not “going my way”, before I can even process what’s happening, I’ve thrown off that cloak of praise and put on a heavy and burdened spirit.
Soon, I’ll change back to praise, and then back to heaviness… over and over so many times that I remind myself of that Quick Change Act from America’s Got Talent several years ago. It was fascinating to watch someone quickly change their outfits in the blink of an eye, but changing the covering of my heart this quickly is leaving me grumpy and frustrated and an open target to discouragement!
What I’ve been processing lately is the fact that there is a fine line between believing that God blesses his children as they walk in obedience to Him, and expecting Him to do it in a certain way.
Does this make sense? We believe God to be and do all He says He is and will do. Because we believe it, we also expect Him to act on the Scriptural Truths about Him. But in our day and place in this world, I’m beginning to think that we believers seem to have put God’s “blessings” into categories, and ranked them according to what we prefer. In doing so, I realized that I am a spoiled child of God. I want what I want when I want it, and if I don’t get it, I pout and cry. I think, no, I know this is one of the things God is wanting to work out of me during this time.
This is so heavy on my heart because I’ve actually heard myself say things lately that I KNOW are not true to the way and nature of God. As much as we know, James and I are walking in obedience to the Lord, yet if you looked at our lives, very little seems to be working out for us right now. We are so thankful that he has a job, but our family is not together, serving the Lord with him. Every effort made on behalf of selling our house has thus far failed. We are empty of resources. And on top of that, James was on his way home to see Nathan in a ballgame last week and had a wreck on the interstate.
To every one of these situations, I have made a list of blessings from the Lord. I see that He has been SO good to us. He is taking care of us. He is feeding, clothing, sheltering, protecting, loving, strengthening, and sustaining us. His timing is perfect. I know that. He is Jehovah Jireh. He will provide for us. He protected James in that wreck, and James walked away unhurt – his truck was damaged, but not James. God even provided a vehicle for James to borrow until the truck is fixed. Blessings, blessings, and more blessings! I look around me at others I’m praying for, and realize how blessed I am. I truly am so thankful!!!
Here’s my problem: I’ll praise Him for these gifts in one breath, then fall apart in the next. And I think it’s because in my “thoughts”, the way the Lord would bless us in our walk of obedience and faith is to work everything out quickly and nicely once James had a job…so we can all give God glory for the beautiful unfolding of His plan! I thought He would quickly sell our house, put us together as a family, keep us from having to deal with additional difficulties during this already difficult period of our lives, and provide a place for us to live and serve Him happily and joyfully all of our days.
I “thought” He would bless us in that way because He promises to bless those who are walking with Him. But as I process this, I’m reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9 (Msg)
” ‘I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.’ God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (Msg)
Oh, how wrong I have been! Several times this week the Lord has brought me to scriptures about humbling yourself under the mighty Hand of God. I realized that humility and entitlement can not exist simultaneously.
It’s humility God wants from His children. An attitude of entitlement is an attitude of a spoiled brat. (And we all know how UN-pleasurable it is to be in the company of a spoiled brat!) An attitude of humility is an attitude of realizing we deserve NOTHING, seeing EVERYTHING as a gift from God, and thanking Him in ALL things.
God has blessed us. Please let me make it clear – He has overwhelmingly blessed us and been so very real and wonderful to us on this journey. I truly don’t mean to moan and complain. In comparison to so many, I have nothing to complain about. But I’m just keeping it real, and I’m saying all of this to get to the real point that I’ve been digesting lately.
See, I thought that if we were walking in obedience to the Lord on the path He put us on, there wouldn’t be so. many. roadblocks. I knew there would be life-trials and faith-building times, but I never thought there would be so many huge deterrents all piled in one portion of the path. Usually when we face such large deterrents, we begin to question our calling. “Did I hear the Lord? Did He really call me to this path? Am I missing something? Am I not obeying Him fully? and on and on…”
I’ve asked God those questions many times and the answer continues to be a resounding “YES! You have heard Me correctly. I have called you to Cleveland, MS, to serve me in the FBC and in the town. You are not missing anything right now… except a consistant level of TRUST in ME!”
My friend, Amy (of Amy’s Fall-Mix), shared something with me a few weeks ago that has made all of the difference in the world to me and the way I can now view the Lord and our situation. She had just finished studying the book of Acts in Community Bible Study and summed up what she learned. It went something like this:
When we look at our circumstances and start to question our calls, think about Paul. He hit one roadblock after another – arrests, prison, shipwrecks, trials, rejection… nothing seemed to “go right” for him on the paths God called him to walk. But that didn’t mean that Paul wasn’t called to those paths. Instead of complaining and questioning his call, Paul continued to boldly walk the paths God set him upon, and he did it in the strength and of the Lord. Paul didn’t have an easy way at all. He had very little relief inbetween major difficulties. However, God used Paul in a way that has, is, and will continue to impact countless lives in every generation.
The serving the Lord and impacting the generations may come from being on a road full of blessings of a different kind… and not the “obvious” ones we tend to look for and to expect. Did God bless Paul? Of course He did. He gave Paul salvation, an intimate knowledge of God, the awareness of God’s presence, protection, deliverance, victory, wisdom, strength, help, the meeting of his immediate needs, friends…etc. Paul was obedient. God blessed Paul. But Paul’s life was not an easy one.
When it’s all said and done, I’d rather walk a path full of daily roadblocks forever, if it meant that my life would be used by God. I just need to remember this the next time a discouraging road block is thrown in the path, and not be so quick to throw off my garment of expressive praise! I don’t want to win America’s Got Talent with my quick-change act! I want to win “Jennifer’s Got Faith” with my wardrobe of consistant praise!
I’m praying for you, my friends, and will close with a verse for all of us:
“Your God has commanded your strength [your might in His service and impenetrable hardness to temptation];
O God, display Your might and strengthen what You have wrought for us!”
Psalm 68:28 (Amp)