Tag Archives: plans

God IS

Sometimes life is hard.

Sometimes life is unspeakably beautiful.

I AM WHO I AM

Most of the time, the categories and seasons of this life aren’t so mutually exclusive. And somewhere in the middle, in the midst of the everyday that refuses to be so easily defined, I often feel like a hot mess of back-and-forth, up-and-down, I-don’t-know-which-way-is-up.

The inner tension and turmoil can become unbearable as I try to process and make sense of and unpack this life as it changes and unfolds.

There is so much that I just plain don’t know or understand.

The more I flesh out questions that don’t have easy answers, the more I try to make sense of how my life intertwines with others, the more I try to understand God’s plan, the more I realize how little I actually DO know and how far I have to go.

And it’s in those moments that I come closest to understanding the reality that I’ll never actually get there.

At least not this side of my eternal reality.

Because the “there” that I seem to be aiming for, that seems to exist only within the confines of my own brain, that demands nothing short of near-perfection and getting every little thing right all the time, doesn’t actually exist.

It’s a twisted perception that assumes if I just had this or were just better at this or could just improve this, life would suddenly be as it should be.

But that’s just not right at all.

And the weight of the error in that sort of thinking is downright crippling.

But on the other side, there is relief and release when I can come to grips with even a dim understanding that I’m not supposed to have answers to everything and that I’m more-or-less supposed to feel helpless and out of control.

Because the hard and unpleasant and I’m-not-even-sure-how-to-live-with-it truth is I am helpless and out of control.

I don’t call the shots.

I don’t control this life.

No amount of over-analyzing or self-evaluating or hyper-spiritualizing will EVER change that.

Yes, if I identify areas in this life that need work, by the grace of God and by the power of His Holy spirit within me, I can be changed. He can and will continue to sanctify me, to make me holy, to conform me to His image.

But I can’t get there by a sheer force of will or by maintaining the ideal schedule.

As I consider the future … having dreams and setting goals and making plans … it’s easy to become so task oriented and short sighted that I fall into the trap of thinking if I just make the plan and do the work, I’ll achieve success. Or conversely, that if I want something and don’t do anything about it, I’m just not driven or ambitious enough, and might as well accept failure.

But interruptions and inconsistencies and inconveniences are just part of life. That’s where God so often chooses to work. And the more I try to do all the right things or to have all the right answers, the more my focus ends up back on myself and my gaze slips from HIM.

This life still isn’t and never will be about me.

And when my eyes are rightly fixed on the Lord, when I’m seeking Him first, while I don’t have all the answers and I certainly still lack understanding, somehow perspective is restored and I can rest in the reality that I don’t make my own path straight. I can dream within the context of desiring more of Him (for myself and for others), but I don’t control how that plays out in this life nearly as much as I think I do.

So this is where I once again admit that I just don’t have many answers at all.

That this life is most right when my eyes are steadily and assuredly fixed on Christ.

That this life is more about seeking His presence than seeking all the right answers.

That this life is so much better when I trust the details and directions to His plan and His way.

That this life is not for me to make sense of because I’m not in control of it.

But in the midst of the unknown of this life, the one thing that I do know, that I can say with absolute assurance, that is beyond comforting is this:

God IS.

In all of His sovereignty, goodness, and holiness.

He’s the Great I AM, in control of this life and this world from beginning to end.

God IS.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
Exodus 3:14 (ESV)

5 Things

5things - railroad crossing

1. I took this photo last night when my roommate, B, and I were stopped for the slowest. train. ever. on the way home from dinner last night. I kinda love it.

2. If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have noticed that I posted a status about dreams not too long ago. Basically, I’m considering writing a post or two about dreams/hopes/plans for the future. I’ve never considered myself much of a dreamer, but lately, I find myself dreaming about and considering “big” things for the future a lot. And it’s a little uncomfortable.

I suppose I’m hesitant to become what I consider a dreamer because I don’t want to leave the Lord out of my dreams for the future or not give Him room to move and re-direct in their midst.

Something about naming a dream and putting a hope for the future into words makes it seem like a real thing, too. As in, if it’s truly a dream or desire I have, it might require action on my part, and it may not be easy. But maybe the Lord gives dreams … or at least works through them? Maybe there’s something to delighting yourself in Him and being given the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)? Maybe the closer we move towards Him, the more our hearts align with His, and the dreams of our hearts reflect His heart?

I don’t know. I don’t have a schedule for this yet. And I’m sure I won’t get it right. But I’m interested in talking about it and exploring it if you’re willing to come along for the ride.

3. Remember that baby dedication I mentioned in last month’s “5 Things” post? Well, my friend (and favorite photographer. no lie. except for these boys. they still top my list.) let me use her good camera (uh, I was a little nervous, but it was super fun!) to take a few shots of the event, and ended up using a few in this post of my favorite 9 month old (I promise she’s incredibly cute!!). Check it out. And take a few minutes to look at some other photos while you’re over at her blog. Beautiful, right?!

4. This verse has been swirling around in my heart and mind ever since I read it a couple of weeks ago…

“They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.”
Nehemiah 9:17 (ESV)

5. According to the official WordPress count (which means feed readers aren’t included…), I’m ONE blog subscriber away from 100. I know. Numbers don’t mean that much and that particular number is not really anything to write home about. But if you read my blog with some degree of regularity, would you consider subscribing to receive updates via email? (note: I blog twice a week.)

If so, see the sidebar to the right, type in your email address, and click the ‘Yes, please!’ button. If I make it over 100, I could even be convinced to have another giveaway to honor the occasion.

And just for the record, I so appreciate each and every one of you! Whether you subscribe or not. Whether you comment or not. I’m just grateful you read here and pray you walk away encouraged and filled with truth. So there.

Just Keep Going

just keep going

Sometimes I read stories of and/or watch those a few years younger than me, those just out of college, who seem to know exactly what they want next, are sure of their calling in this life, or are passionate about one particular cause. And instead of taking time to consider how to best execute their dreams, or getting caught up in a cost-benefit analysis for their proposed plans, or worrying about how finances will fall into place, they just get to work and do something or go somewhere.

They seem so young, and sometimes their actions seem a bit impulsive and carefree, but they’re already doing what they love and living out their passions and dreams.

When I consider their path versus my own, it’s easy for me to fall into the ugly comparison trap of thinking I’ve somehow missed something, or in the very least that I’m behind.

That because I didn’t have the focus or the dream 5 years ago, I didn’t get it right.

That because I don’t have the life now that I envisioned then, something didn’t go right.

That because I still don’t have a clear vision of what this life should be about, I’m still not getting it right.

But if my one passion and drive is living for the Lord and glorifying Him through loving Him and loving His people, so what?

As I spent the entire month of October over a year ago fleshing out through a 31 Days series, this life isn’t about knowing exactly what comes next.

Yes, God calls some people to very specific tasks that last a lifetime.

But for the rest of us … we just keep risking. trusting. following. loving. going.

By faith. Eyes fixed on the perfect Author of this story. One step at a time.

Of course I’m not going to have it all figured out yet … or likely ever this side of heaven.

This life isn’t over and that’s not my job.

My job?

It’s to just keep going.

I will likely make hundreds of more wrong turns and try hundreds of more things … some of which may succeed, others of which will almost be guaranteed to fail.

But this God, this Jesus, whose way is perfect stays the same and never fails.

He’s got this world from beginning to end.

This day … this life … is His.

He’s got this.

So just keep going.

“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

The Victor’s Grip is Greater

Victor's Grip

Some days, the what-ifs and I-don’t-knows of this feel overwhelming. Even a little dark. Like swimming through murky waters just below the surface. I can’t quite see my way out.

Questions of the alternatives hang in the balance.

But maybe I’m supposed to sit with the tension, the conflict, the trial, a little longer. Each day realizing even more that this is out of my hands. It was never really in them anyways.

The facade of control crumbles.

The attempt to manage and maintain fails.

But the message from Sunday’s sermon on James 1 rings loud and clear.

“Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV)

The trustworthy Words of the Lord are light in this darkness.

I can hear Him saying…

Trust Me. Be Steadfast. Rest. Find Joy. Not in your ability, but in Mine.

And I find myself desperately asking for wisdom (my word for this year). Because I just can’t do this on my own. I can’t even fix my gaze on Him without His power, His strength, His presence drawing me in, drawing me near, drawing me deep.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5 (ESV)

The burden to figure-out this life is not mine to bear. There’s really very little to figure-out. He’s already done that. He’s already planned, battled, and won.

The unknown is frightening and fear’s grip can be great, but the victory is secure, and the Victor’s grip is greater.

{Day 23} The Beginning of the End

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established … The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:3, 9 (ESV)

A couple of weeks after I wrote in my journal about trusting anyways … through the frustration and the discouragement … I received an email from my placement coordinator that would ultimately be the beginning of the end of this whole application process with the missions organization.

After just submitting several completed medical forms, but still unsure of how my information/application was being evaluated on the other side, I contacted the coordinator about the prospect of placement. She still hadn’t sent me any opportunities to consider (which we had previously discussed), and I was curious (and perhaps a bit impatient…).

I was not prepared, however, for her response suggesting that I consider changing the “face” of my ministry from what I had initially expressed interest in and what I had been communicating with the organization about for months at this point.

She closed her email by suggesting that I think and pray about it.

When I finished reading the email, I felt like the wind had been knocked out me. I literally had to stop and catch my breath.

What was I supposed to do with that?!?

{Day 18} Ping-Pong Thoughts

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV)

From the journal . . .

Feeling unsettled in the aftermath of the interview, I’m having one of those days where it feels like my thoughts are playing ping-pong from all the if-this-then-this but if-this-then-that planning going back and forth in my mind that just will. not. stop.

It’s exhausting.

I’m fairly certain I could whip up an impressive multi-column, color-coded masterpiece of a spreadsheet to map out these hypothetical plans if I was so inclined. But I’m not. Yet.

And the only place in the plans that brings any peace is complete surrender to HIM.

My spreadsheets have nothing on the artistry of His Master Plan anyways.

So I force myself into quiet. Even though I don’t feel quiet, even though I don’t feel peace, I start to pray.

And as the words come out of my mouth, somewhat forced at first before beginning to flow more freely from my heart, as I recall Scripture, as I recall His goodness and faithfulness.

It may not all be perfect, it may not all make sense.

But I can know rest. Because I know Him.

And I can release the details of the spreadsheet to Him. Because He never really asked for my help with the plan to begin with. He just said to follow.

{Day 9} I thought I wanted…

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Proverbs 19:21

From the journal . . .

I thought I wanted a dramatic “can’t miss it, this is the rest of your life in ministry, exactly what you should do and how/where you should do it” sort of call to action from the Lord. I thought I wanted Him to set me on the path and send me on my way.

But that’s not how it’s happening (at least this time). That’s not how God is working (at least for now).

That’s not this life.

It’s different than what I expected, yet in many ways, this is so much better.

And even as I continue to adjust and readjust and let go of expectations, I still choose to follow Him.

Yes, it’s sometimes uncomfortable and often unknown.

But it’s trust. it’s relationship. it’s faith practically expressed. it’s moment by moment. it’s everyday.