Time to Get Out of the Boat

April 19, 2010

I have all these thoughts swimming around in my head…flashes of insight vanish as quickly as they appear…scrambling to put puzzle pieces together, trying to feel some sense of control even though I know that’s exactly what I’m NOT supposed to do!

I’m back to STOP – BE STILL – what are you so afraid of???? Oh, that’s right…with all these thoughts swimming in my head and not on paper, how can I, much less anyone else gain anything from it?  Well…here we go… 

The last few months I have been in situations where individuals have confided in me about certain struggles in their personal relationships.  I have found myself saying over and over, “I know exactly how you feel” because I’ve lived the scenario in some form or fashion…I understand their fear, pain, and frustration all too well.  I hesitate to give my opinion because I’m not a professional counselor, but I can offer encouragement – I can offer support – I can listen…and so that’s what I do.  But that’s just it – it’s all ME.  Is that what God wants?  Or does He want more?   

Last week I was sharing with a friend and he asked when I was going to start a women’s group.  The simple question generated such an overwhelming emotion it’s difficult to describe… immediately tears were streaming down my face – I couldn’t stop them! My heart was burning and it felt so big, it didn’t seem as though there was room to contain it in my chest.  Quickly, I tucked the emotions aside and moved on with my day. 

A couple of days later I was having breakfast with the same friend – listening as he described details of a recent trip.  As he was sharing, he was flipping through a workbook and settled on understanding the difference between a Calling and a Burden.  Not something I’ve ever recognized as necessarily as being separate.  I’m going to paraphrase here…but the jest of it was a calling is God’s Will and Design for my life and is permanent, whereas a burden is usually temporary (kind of a take it or leave it thing) yet something we’re very passionate about.  And as we were discussing the differences, the tears started flowing AGAIN! Nothing was going to stop them…well, except for my stubbornness born out of fear. 

Later that day, I was having dinner with my daughter.  She was home for the weekend and as God would have it, she wasn’t running here and there to meet with one friend or another – she was spending time with me and we were sharing – it was great!  Before I realized it, I was telling her basically everything I’ve just written in the prior paragraphs.  And once again, as we were sitting in the restaurant, tears were streaming…down both our faces. 

Yesterday afternoon I was flipping through the TV channels and settled on a sermon about courage and fear.  As I listened to a message, the events of the past few days played over and over in my head.  The pastor was right…we can’t always control our emotions, but we can control our actions.  Fear is a natural, healthy emotion – it’s when we allow fear to dominate us that we find ourselves in trouble…and isn’t that usually when our focus is on the situation and not God?  The pastor used the story in Matthew 14 to drive the point home…in spite of his fear, Peter stepped out of that boat on faith – while he was focused on Jesus he was safe; it’s when he started worrying about the wind and the waves that he began to sink.  

So my challenge is really no different from any other day… when will I believe the trick to overcoming whatever obstacle (perceived or otherwise) that lies in front of me only has to do with my willingness to believe God has a plan, He’s got it covered, and wants me to succeed?  Will I stay where I am out of fear?  Or will I to be like Peter and step out of the boat and move forward in faith?

Big Things – Little Things – All the In-Between Things

March 25, 2010

I wonder how many people read a daily devotional and think, “Wow! This was written just for me!” Last year as I started on my new path of spiritual growth, a friend forwarded a daily email devotional – the name caught my attention right off the bat, “TGIF – Today God Is First” pretty clever, huh? I’d love to say I read them every single day, but the truth is sometimes it seems like I’m catching up on the entire week! 
 
ANYWAY, there is a point coming…a couple of weeks ago my supervisor gave notice he was leaving the company.  Needless to say I was happy for him, yet disappointed to see him leave.  I found myself trying to put the puzzle pieces together…desperately wanting to know how the new picture would look.  Those thoughts quickly shifted to my position within the company, what I thought I needed to be fulfilled and successful…see a pattern?   

Thankfully, God gave me the nudge I needed through the daily devotional…as I read, my mind was still focused on workplace events and emotions were…well…let’s say…a bit elevated, when I found myself staring at a quote that stood out like a flashing neon sign! I don’t know who Dr Sam Peeples is, but he’s on to something…
 
“The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am.” 

Well, well, well…that little quote opened a can of worms…I quickly realized I was focused (yet again!) in the wrong direction…on some level believing I needed certain things, worldy things, to be successful and stressing over fear of the unknown.  Hello????? Even as I write these words I’m amazed how easily I lose focus.   

Do I still lose focus?  Absolutely.  But ya’ wanna hear the good news?   And this is the really cool part…I’m relying on prayer…not the “this is what I’m supposed to do” kind of prayers, but real conversation prayers….my little one-on-one God sessions…every single day, several times a day…for big things, little things, and all the in-between things.  And as I draw closer to Him, I’m hopeful I’ll start revealing not just the way I am, but the way He wants me to be.

God’s Got it Covered…if You Let Him

March 10, 2010

While I’m not consciously saying, “No God, I don’t need you on this one – I’ve got it covered” my actions scream it from the rooftops!  The kicker is, even though I’ve begun to have numerous conversations with myself saying, “Trust God with…” now that I look back, for the most part those situations generally have not tested my faith where I feel most vulnerable – letting someone close – close enough to hurt.  And yes, even though I realize my trust is supposed to be in God first because, as humans it is our nature to hurt, disappoint, etc., my actions still fall back to old habits.  Maybe He’s patiently teaching me through example that for any relationship to be successful, He has to be the center and focus.

 

How will the messy picture I’ve been trying to fix turn out?  Good question – I find comfort though in knowing it’s going to be a masterpiece because it’s God’s painting, not mine – maybe the when and how depends on how willing I am to move out of the way.

 

The good news is that I’m learning and growing! Pieces of His picture seem to be unfolding faster and faster…it’s easier for me to….well, for lack of a better word…realign to Him.  Sure, I stumble just as much as ever…I’m just not spending so much time trying to control outcomes before I realize those attempts are futile.