My initial plan was for this post to be written and published Thursday or Friday of last week. I wanted to use this post to discuss a prayer on my heart, a lesson God was teaching me. However, while praying about and thinking about my post’s content, I felt God guide me toward waiting so that I might also include the BIG way He was planning to show up and answer my prayer (i.e. show His power and love). So, I waited…because I’m smart like that.
Before I get into the aforementioned lesson, let me ask you a question which God has really been pressing upon my heart lately: do you only believe in God, or do you actually believe Him, too? In other words, do you truly believe, deep down, that He not only can but WILL fulfill His biblical promises in your life, just like He did for Mary or Moses or Joshua, or even Jesus? After some careful, honest self-reflection, I found that I leaned way more toward believing in God, but when it came to believing God, believing He will do for me what He says He’ll do, I doubted His promise fulfillment in my own life. It wasn’t that I thought He couldn’t do what He said He could do, it was just that I doubted He’d do those things for little ole insignificant me. I mean, I totally understand why God parted oceans for Moses…he’s Moses for crying out loud! But Lindsey? Who am I that God would move mountains, part oceans, burn bushes for me?
As I’ve told you before, I struggle with a negative outlook at times, especially during challenging times, which unfortunately dampens my faith and hinders my trusting in God’s plan and hand. This is something I’ve recognized about myself for many years, and it’s something I’ve longed to correct but felt unable to do. I recently began reading Believing God by Beth Moore, and if you struggle in this same area, I HIGHLY recommend it (even if you don’t struggle with trusting that God will do what He says He’ll do, it’s a fabulous resource). In this book, Ms. Moore posits the question I asked you earlier about whether you’ve stopped at believing in God or matured enough spiritually to believe God and His promises. Because I was spending time reflecting on where my belief truly fell, I started noticing how I approached God’s promises, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t liking what I saw. At all.
Back to that lesson I told you about earlier. In order to really up the celebration factor for our daughter’s recent fifth birthday, my husband and I decided to surprise her with a weekend trip to Branson this past weekend. For most of you, this will seem like no big deal. Branson is only a little over two hours away, and we were only planning to stay two nights. But for us, for our little family, this was a BIG, stress-inducing deal (especially for me). Not only does our sweet girl’s food allergy situation present a really big challenge when eating out (and when eating in an unfamiliar town), but she’s never really slept away from home. She’s a HUGE fan of her own bed, and even in it, sleep it not always her friend. (Just so you understand the magnitude of this, she’s now five and we’ve slept solidly through the night maybe 15-20 times…total. In her whole life. Help me, Jesus.) My gut reaction was to give in to the fear that this trip might be exhausting and difficult and just cancel the whole thing. However, God’s really been showing me the danger of living a life where my decisions are based on my human fears and limitations, so we kept the trip on the calendar and pressed forward.
Fast forward a couple of days, past days devoted to praying my burdens over to God instead of trying to plan out every single movement myself (“Do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes.” Proverbs 3:5-7). Fast forward a couple of days where I had to remind myself literally as often as eight to ten times a day that God was in control and I wasn’t. That He was planning each minute, each circumstance, and not me. Fast forward a couple of days so that you’re in the midst of a trip that turned out far better than we could have ever expected. Did I know exactly how we were going to get our daughter to sleep each night before we got there? No, I did not. But God did. Did I know exactly what she was going to eat for each meal while we were there? No, I did not. But God did. And, friends, hear this: not only did He make sure her needs were met, but He went above and beyond (because that’s how He rolls, if you’ve not noticed). Where, besides Chick-Fil-A, was the only other place in Branson that we found where it was safe for her to eat? AT OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THAT WHOLE CITY!! Are you hearing this? Not only did we find a restaurant with menu items (plural…itemS!!) that would feed our child, but we found them at the restaurant that is our go-to, can’t-miss stop each time we’re in Branson!! God is so good! And do you know what else? We slept. Was it the most peaceful, uninterrupted sleep of all time? No, but it was fine. It wasn’t perfect, but it was progress. It was progress that was, without a doubt, God-ordered and constructed. As it turns out, I don’t have to have it all figured out ahead of time. God was right. If we trust Him, if we put our faith in Him and His promises, He. Will. Deliver.
During this time of trip prep and a mentally tiring cycle of feeling worried, turning that worry over to God, and blocking it from my mind, I revisited the story of Abraham in Genesis 12. In the first verse of that chapter, God instructs Abraham (Abram), saying, “Go for yourself [for your own advancement] away from your country, from your relatives and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” After promising to bless Abraham and protect him and his future descendants, verse four tells us that “…Abram departed, as the Lord had directed him.” Think about that for just a minute, what this exchange really entails. 1. God visits Abraham. 2. God tells Abraham to leave every single thing (He even lists them!) that he’s familiar with and go where God directs. 3. Abraham does as he’s instructed. Okay, hold the phone. I don’t know about you, but if this happened to me, I can PROMISE YOU that I’d need a little something extra between 2 and 3 that included the tiny detail of WHERE I AM GOING!!! What in the actual world?! Look at the faith and trust displayed by Abraham in just these verses. God doesn’t tell Abraham each step to take. God doesn’t tell Abraham the game plan or the big picture or even a tiny hint toward what He has in mind. But does that stop Abraham from trusting God and stepping out? Not one bit. Unlike me, Abraham’s faith and trust exist stronger and bigger than his desire for understanding or planning. He (again, unlike me) didn’t need to know the next step or where he’d be one week later. He didn’t ask God why. He just went. Without question and with nothing but trust. He believed God.
And, friends, this is exactly how God wants us to be, too. In Isaiah 42: 16, God promises His guidance: “I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness into light before them, and make uneven places into a plain. These things I have determined to do [for them]; and I will not leave them forsaken.” Put yourself into God’s shoes for a second. Can you imagine our reactions if He were to tell us each bump in the road we’ll face between now and heaven? We’d freeze up. We’d be so overwhelmed and disheartened we’d miss every single blessing lying in our path. So instead, God does for us what He did for Abraham: He encourages us to trust Him; He promises to be with us continuously; and He guarantees that He’ll never forget to guide us to that next blessing and through that current/next hardship.
As another surprise for our daughter’s birthday, we got her a new “big girl” bike. The morning she got it, we took her to a nearby trail so that she could ride it. People, you do not know patience at the level it took to survive this jaunt on the new bike. Without training wheels, she would have literally fallen slap-dab over from the utter lack of speed. For someone like myself who really values getting things done quickly, this was less than enjoyable. However, with some practice and after seeing that her dad really was going to be able to keep up with her (good grief!), she finally began to pedal at a decent speed. When it was all said and done, that little birthday girl rode over three miles! And she did all of that with only one fall. Her mistake was in failing to trust that her dad was by her side, like he said he’d be. Instead of keeping her eyes on the trail in front of her, she turned her head to search for him because she’d gotten worried and started to doubt that he was right with her. Then, when she turned her head, she turned her wheel, and suddenly her success turned to accident. After we got her tears dried and got her back up on her bike, I said to her, “Just ride your bike. Dad is going to be right where you are. He’s not going to forget to guide you. You look where you’re going and don’t worry about what he’s doing.” As soon as those words were out of my mouth, I heard God say to me, “How about doing the same thing yourself.” Here I was fussing at her because she wasn’t believing what her dad said, and that’s exactly what I was doing. I was planning a surprise trip and stressing over things I had no way of controlling when all I had to do was take that one step forward like Abraham and trust God to come through with the rest. Friends, our Dad is right there. He’s not going to forsake us or forget to guide us. He’s not going to let us be misled. But we have to trust Him. We have to make that forward progress, even over the bumps and uneven patches, and trust that He’s still right there with us.
I know that right now, some of you are facing something you don’t understand. You’re up against something that has you confused and worried. You don’t know what to do next or where to go from here. The good news is that God does. Take it from me, a major planner and someone who needs desperately to have figured out every detail before anything even happens. That’s not faith. Reasoning and self-reliance aren’t faith. The Bible doesn’t tell us that our reasoning and ability to solve our problems is what activates God’s power. It tell us, instead, that it’s our faith–our trust–that allows God to work most in our lives. And yes, sometimes that’s really scary because it means we don’t get to control it all. But you know what I think the future holds for me, now that I’m making every effort to let God lead? I think the future holds a lot more joy and a lot less worry and stress, and that sounds amazing. “But what joy for all who take refuge in Him!” Psalm 2:12.
Dear Lord, thank You so much for bearing my burdens for me and for creating a relationship in which trust is rewarded and valued. Help me, Lord, to trust You more. Help me to rely less on myself and to choose to put aside my worry and just take one small step at a time in faith. Second Samuel 22 tells me, Father, that Your ways are perfect, Your promises are true, and You are my shield and my protection. Press these truths onto my heart and mind, Lord, so that I desire closeness with You more than I desire to reason out and rationalize my life. Like Your Word promises, Lord, I know you will make me “sure footed as a deer” and that You will make a wide path for my feet. Thank You, God. Help me to believe You so that in the midst of the trials of life, I step back and give You the reigns. You are a loving God, and I thank You so much for loving me enough to be my Guide, my Protector, my Shield, and my Refuge. Help my trust in You to be seen by others so that they, too, might glorify You with their lives. Thank you, God, for hearing my prayer. It’s in Jesus’s name that I pray. Amen.