This entry is unique because I am typing it after the fact. I wrote it out the other day. I had thoughts that needed to come out on paper and I didn’t have access to a device. My thoughts came much faster than my hand was able to write, so please be gracious if it doesn’t flow very smoothly. Hopefully the heart of it will come through and help you in some way…
Today, I burst into tears because when I went to pay for for the yogurt I was buying, it ended up being $12 instead of 2/$3 like I thought. Earlier that morning my garage door broke and I took it in stride. A Real Estate deal has potential to fall through after months of working on it and I was trusting God to help it work out as it should. But apparently, it’s the yogurt that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This has happened often enough in my life that I have learned to pause and try to trace back my violent over-the-top reaction to it’s roots.
I think I am turning things over selectively. Only those situations I know without a doubt I cannot control. But selecting the yogurt that’s on sale is something I should be able to handle. And on another bratty note–why can’t I just catch a break? Don’t I deserve to have something go my way for a change? I mean, honestly, I’m working my tail off to turn my junk over to the care of God, can’t I at least get my yogurt at a reasonable price?
I was starting to think that this was all about control. Typically, in the same way that “Jesus” is always the right answer in Sunday School, “control” is my go-to defect at the core of most of my problems. But actually, I think it’s something more this time: Expectations. I have placed expectations on God for how He should respond (or reward) me for my choices and actions.
If I do this, then He should (fill in the blank with something amazing/wonderful).
- “If I” surrender this Real Estate deal to His care, “then He” should make it end in a flawless sale process.
- “If I” devote 20 years of my life to vocational ministry, “then He” should protect my family from the betrayal that can come from the very people we serve.
- “If I” teach my kids and raise them in the way they should go, “then He” should make them go that way.
When I put demands and expectations on God and catch myself thinking this way, I remember a message I heard from a wise pastor several years ago. The message was based on Daniel 3:18. You probably know the basic story of “Daniel and the Lions Den.” Well, before King Darius threw Daniel to the Lions for not bowing down to his gods, there was another King who also insisted that the people only worship the idols made of gold. And it seems like kings in that day had a fetish for throwing people into places for disobeying, because a few years earlier Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had a similar problem, only they were threatened with a fiery furnace. They refused to bow to anyone or anything but God himself and told the King, “We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into a blazing furnace, the god we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” EVEN IF HE DOES NOT.
Even if I don’t sell that house. Even if the job ends and I lose all my friends. Even if my kids wander away from what I taught them. Even if I fast and pray and beg and devote my days to bringing my prayers before God and STILL don’t receive the answer I want, “THY will be done” is always better than “MY will be done.”
I don’t always know what’s best for me and I certainly don’t know what’s best for someone else. So, I still pray. And I often ask again and again and again for a specific answer. But I am learning to hold the outcome loosely, with a heart that trusts that God loves me and hears me and has a bigger, better and more pure plan than any request or expectation I send His way. Even when things don’t turn out the way I wish they would or think they should, I will still bow to Him alone. I will trust that He has a plan that is broader than my sliver of understanding.
And in case you don’t know the rest of the story–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were indeed rescued. They were thrown into the blazing furnace, rescued by an angel, and the “fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched and there was no smell of fire on them.” The king was so impressed by their God that he gave up his “pit-throwing” ways and declared that from then everyone should worship the God of Shad, Mesh and Abe, and anyone who said anything against them would be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble. Um…I think He might have missed the point, but I guess ya gotta start somewhere! Daniel 3:19-30)