Monthly Archives: May 2016

When God Says No

What do you do when God closes the door on the thing you most felt called to do? The thing that made you think, “Yes! This is what I’m made for!” I had great hopes to go back to Texas and serve at STEP (Skills Training for Emergency Preparedness – you know, the place I would disappear to and not post for weeks) again this year, but it was apparently not God’s will and He shut the way. I’ll be honest – it stung, and bad. I cried off and on all day when I heard that I wouldn’t be going. I find myself dreading the fact He might be taking STEP out of my life for good.

It makes me question. Did I go wrong somewhere? Did I put STEP higher than God? I know (and I’m not proud of this) I put it above my family this year. Am I still too immature to be entrusted with a position on staff? Is this a consequence for something I did, or is it a “No, I have something better in mind” moment?

But here’s the truth I have to swallow: regardless of how many questions I have for God, He does not owe me an answer to a single one of them. Nor is He required to take me where I want to go. And though the truth may seem harsh, at the same time I have His full assurance that He loves me and He knows what’s best.

So the only real question that needs asking is this: If God takes away the most meaningful ministry I’ve ever been involved in, can I be content to serve Him somewhere else? Do I trust Him enough to let go of the place and people I so love working with and be okay if He never puts it back in my hands?

Once again, it really boils down to surrender. I may be convinced that serving at STEP fulfills my role here on earth, but if I can’t surrender it completely to God to do with as He sees fit then I’ve no business being down there at all. So maybe God said “no” in order to humble me. It doesn’t matter how much I feel called to do something if He chooses not to give His permission and shuts the door against my prying knocking. Am I willing to give Him that right to do or deny my desires as He sees fit?

In the long run, whether or not I ever get to go back and serve in the future is irrelevant. What matters is what I do instead of STEP this year. I don’t know what that will look like in detail yet, but here are some good starters:

  • Seek God and keep Him first – Getting up early to spend quality time in His presence, keeping scripture-reading and prayer in balance so I don’t neglect one or the other. Earnestly seeking God’s will and submitting to Him daily.
  • Right the areas of my life where I’m at fault – Prioritizing investing in my family and the friends God has blessed me with here at home instead of letting them fall by the wayside. Examining myself to see where else I may have gone wrong and confessing and dealing with it.
  • Strive for, and pray for, maturity – Targeting the weaknesses in my character that I’ve allowed to run rampant (laziness, etc.), and with God’s help taking steps to overcome them and build stronger character.
  • Encourage others – Writing notes and building people up at home just like I would be doing if I was at STEP. After all, it’s needed everywhere in this world, not just at rather intense four-week-long programs. Doing what was the biggest joy-giver and fulfiller while I was at STEP last year anyways.
  • Enjoy where I am – Appreciating the joys of home instead of wishing I was somewhere else. So really, contentment. After all, it’s not like my life has no purpose without STEP.

I hope that’s an encouragement if you’re facing a closed door in your own life. Don’t forget that “in His presence is fullness of joy” and seeking God as often and as long as possible is a wonderful way to find comfort in the face of heavy disappointments.

Categories: Ponderizations | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thanks

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

This past while as I’ve been pondering the topic of joy and simultaneously pouring out my chaotic thoughts to God I discovered an important part of prayer that has become essential to my own joy. Thanksgiving. You see, when I come before Him with a heavy heart and lay at His feet all that I’m confused about and waiting on and needing answers to and neglect to thank Him for what He’s already doing and what I know He will continue to do, I stay anxious and troubled when I come away.

I think the Psalmists knew about it too. How many of the psalms begin heavy-hearted and then halfway through they turn around and begin recounting God’s goodness and end in hope!

So that is my challenge to myself and to you. As you wait on God’s provision and His direction and His strength, remember to lay your burdens at His feet – but do it with a thankful heart. You might be surprised the difference it makes. 🙂

Categories: Ponderizations | 2 Comments

In Your Presence

I’ve been reading from “If” by Amy Carmichael off and on recently. It is a convicting little book! There have been several sections that stomped my toes, but one in particular sticks with me. On page 35 Amy writes,

If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

And then as a sort of footnote she adds,

For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.

What is my cup filled with? As I go along my way and something jolts me, do I only spill sweet water?

Sadly, no. If I’m out of my “normal” territory I’m usually more careful; but at home where I’m comfortable? Specifically in the arena of interruptions to my stuff, I can be impatient, even irritable, and brush Matthias (the most likely person to interrupt me) off quickly in order to go back to my own thing. And I don’t like that. I don’t want that to be who I am.

Recently I’ve been seeing more and more that I am not the person I’d hoped I would be by now, and crying out to God to change that. I’ve tried to reform myself and it’s never very effective – and besides, I don’t want to have to mentally imprison myself just to make myself behave. (If you’ve been where I’m at, you know exactly what I mean by that.)

As I was asking God for patience it finally occurred to me – duh, patience is a fruit of the Spirit! My problem isn’t just a lack of patience. My problem is a lack of abiding in the Spirit who manifests Himself in my life through patience, love, joy, etc.

It’s not that I have been skipping time with God altogether, but I haven’t given it as much priority as I should. It started with (probably) depression-induced exhaustion leading me to stop getting up early. I couldn’t (I thought) drag myself out of bed at 5 or even 6:30 anymore. I just needed a little more sleep. I’ve taken up reading my Bible at seven, or after my day has already started, maybe for an hour or so – instead of first thing in the quiet of the dawn/pre-dawn hours. By then my mind has already been over a thousand topics and Matthias is up and about and liable to burst in and want to talk or play in my room. I either have to interrupt my time with God or chase him out, and neither option feels good.

I realize now that the problem isn’t my brother being too free with when he comes into my room (he needs to feel welcomed and loved) – the problem is I gave up taking the time before he’s awake like I used to. So, while I still enjoy my time in God’s presence, it’s not as deep and long as I wish it were, and my ability to focus is impaired.

Clearly I need to make the effort to abide more deeply in God, but on my recent lazy schedule it simply won’t work well. I can’t change Matthias’ needs for attention and love. What I can do is order my day so that his regular needs do not clash with the most important relationship in my life. So last night I set my alarm for 5 AM and when it went off I rolled out of bed despite my body’s complaints. Once I got up I actually didn’t feel too tired. (Ha, and the circles under my eyes were less obvious than usual, ironically enough. Maybe I’ve been sleeping too much.) So, I might lose sleep in the long run. Sometimes I have a hard time going to sleep right away. But having to go to bed early is a small price to pay for deeper intimacy with the great Creator of all things, and it’s spending time in His presence and letting His Spirit fill me that will change who I am.

 

Here’s to many more precious early mornings, and I hope you’ll all forgive me if I decide to start going to bed at 8:30.

 

(My song for the day)

Down at Your feet, Oh Lord, is the most high place;
in Your presence, Lord, I seek Your face, I seek your face.

There is no higher calling, no greater honor
than to bow and kneel before Your throne.
I’m amazed at Your glory, embraced by Your mercy,
Oh Lord, I live to worship You.

Categories: Ponderizations | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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