Do you ever get discouraged? Frustrated when things don’t go the way you expected them to? A little bent-out-of-shape when things don’t seem fair? I’ve been feeling this in a very specific area of my life lately and sorting through the implications. What happens when our best effort is not good enough to produce the results we were hoping for? Are we a failure? Was that goal not sanctioned by God? Is it a matter of timing?
My insides (heart, mind and spirit) are pretty-well balanced most of the time, but still, when there is a problem, my mind immediately runs through logic and reason to find a solution. That is good; God intends us to use that very pathway for countless things every day. But what about when this said goal is a journey you and God have embarked upon together? The discouraging thing before me is one that I’ve been praying about for years now, yes, YEARS. And God gives me headway sometimes and other times, not-so-much. And I can say that because my best efforts, all the logic, reasoning and learning applied do not change the results. It is not just an effort issue, this thing is literally beyond my control. What happens with those things that we CANNOT change no matter how much we WANT to? What then?
Isn’t this exactly why we get all huffy and bothered? We feel we have a right to this thing, that in some way it belongs to us and we are being denied access to it. There are so many things that we see as belonging to us or owed to us, and you can tell what these things are by the emotions that surge when they are denied. Trouble is, they are legitimately necessary things, profitable things, and things that most people would agree are entirely our responsibility. What of that house we own? Don’t we have a right to have a decent house? What of transportation? Isn’t it not only necessary but a responsibility to have reliable transportation? A friend of mine has no vehicle and no way to secure one, yet she must work. What then? That was my dilema more than 20 years ago now and I rode a 10-speed (yes, this dates me) to work and ashamedly parked it round back. Are we owed these things?
What about the people in our lives? Don’t we feel a right associated with them? After all, they belong to us, don’t they? Or do they? I had to wrestle with this when my son Jake has walked through the valley of the shadow of death. There came a point when I wondered if God would take Jake, if my time on earth was done with him and I could not bear the thought of it: “He’s MINE, God.” Any lessons I’ve learned have been hard won, I’ll tell you. Yet God revealed this truth to me on a deep and abiding level: if I was gifted to be Jake’s mom for only these 13 years, then that is a far more wonderful gift than I could have ever deserved. My boys belong to God. They were His idea, His creation, and He graced me with the responsibility of raising them. It is a joy and privilege to the boys’ mother for whatever days they have on this earth, but I have no rights to them. I would be devastated to lose any of those I love; my life would change dramatically. Yet they are not owed to me; I have no rights to them. Even my health is not my right; it is a gift and a generous one, I might add. We believe that all of these things belong to us, are ours to use or squander. And if any of these things are threatened, we feel a surge of anger, frustration or even indignation. How could God even think of challenging those things? How could He be good if He does?
Which brings me back to today’s struggle, which is small compared to what I’ve named above. Nothing I have is mine; it is His. I am His creation, start-to-finish. His idea. My personality, intellect, physicality, emotional make-up, everything was His idea, His resource for me to steward. Even the time and place I live was set by Him (Acts 4:13), the family I was born into, the assignment of where I get to live now. He can change that with just a thought on His part. How incredibly vulnerable we really are and we do not like it! We love to consider all the things we have accomplished, all the ways we have improved our life and lives around us. Yet we could not even think the way we do, function with reason and logic, be sane and healthy, even exist in the environment in which these things happen, were it not for His provision. This does not release of us responsibility in all those areas, no, far from it. We are stewarding His resources, which is an awesome responsibility and one we take far too lightly. We wonder how we should like to spend our day rather than perhaps how He should like us to spend our day. Our day. You see? Possession of even the time I exist in. It is given to me to steward, but it does not really belong to me.
So I am reminded today to trust Him in this journey we are on. He has called me to press on, to continue to apply my best efforts in this area in which I feel discouraged, and to trust Him with the outcome. Once again I remember what Dallas Willard said so succintly: “You cannot shoulder the burden of outcomes.” (This applies when one is deliberately and consistently trying to follow God in this thing.) God again reminded me that it is not how far I have to go but how very far He has brought me. He is giving me the desire to press on and build something in this area; were it not for His sustaining power I should fail miserably and fall into my own despondency and hopelessness. But I shall not; not today, and hopefully not tomorrow. I have to trust Him with tomorrow – but today I have heard Him clearly: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalm 121:1 And tomorrow, I shall do this same thing again.
I am looking to You, Father. You are my only help, even to want the right things, to desire things that please You. I surrender all of that to You, all that is me and I trust You to lead me in whatever way that pleases You. You are my everything.