I have been writing everyday about the One Year Bible. I am trying to make it short but what can I say? I have the gift of words! Hahaha! I am blown away by all the things that God is teaching me right now. Through scripture, the world around me and my relationships a theme is surfacing that I wanted to camp out on. In the OT we see story after story of God promising His followers something and then the followers solving their own problems, sans God. They reach for what they want. They solve their own problems. And so do I.
My friend, Katy, who was discipling me through a tough time, told me a story that she heard from Pastor Doug. (I want to be sure everyone involved gets proper credit. So Katy told me and Doug told her, get it?) (ok, good) The story goes like this…..(also, this is a bit like “telephone” so the details may be wrong)
Someone was on a walk and he came up to this dog. The dog approached him, tail wagging so he reached out to pet him. Then later on the walk there was another dog but this dog was stand offish. The dude wanted to pet the dog anyway so he reached out to pet it and the dog bit him.
Katy was telling me this story in the context of not reaching or grabbing at things that I think God wants me to do, but to wait and let them be given to me. I am an Enneagram 3 (Achiever), so not going after stuff is not a strong suit of mine. I was meeting with Katy because this grabbing for stuff had gotten me in trouble and I had hurt a lot of people.
This idea has been marinading in my mind since than. Surfacing when I felt that urge to “make” something happen. Checking me when the pragmatic thinking took over. Reminding me of God’s sovereignty when I questioned if I should exert my own strength, or wait for God.
Reading through the One Year Bible has brought all these lessons back to mind. Go on a quick journey with me. Yes it will be long. Stop acting like you are shocked that this post is long! What are we doing here?
Adam and Eve. Eve decides that the serpent might be right and that she wants the knowledge of God. So she reaches out and takes the fruit and eats it. She ignored the blessing God gave her (the entire garden of Eden) and wanted what He had not given her.
Sarah and Abraham. God tells them they will have a child. Sarah gets impatient and decides to solve the no child problem with Hagar the unwilling surrogate.
Rachel and Isaac. God tells Isaac and Rachel that Jacob will be the one God chooses to fulfill the promises with. Rachel gets impatient waiting for the blessing for her son, Isaac picks a favorite kid and wants him to get His blessing. It culminates in several people grabbing at plans to make things happen.
Jacob. Well our dude Jacob has a habit of trying to get what he wants without waiting for God.
On our little journey there we see story after story of people grabbing for what they want instead of waiting for God to do what He says He will do. And if the this tendency is in them, we can bet its in us too.
So whats wrong with knowing what God has promised and working to get ‘er done. I am for sure going to always be the one that says, “If you know God said it, do it!” Love your neighbor? Just do it! Flee from sin? Just do it! What about these more nuanced things like, “God I want to do ________.” What about the desires I have?
Here is the conclusion I have come to. When you want something to happen there are two things you can employ. One is your faith and the other is you can just grab it.
Your faith causes you to rely on Gods character and hold to the principles God has put in place to protect us. Lets say in my heart I really want to participate in a ministry that does really good work. I talk to my husband about it and he says, “Hey, I love that you want to do that but I feel like the timing is off because the kids need you at home right now.” My faith tells me to submit to my husband and that God knows the desires of my heart. So I pray to God about it, and tell him I want to do this ministry thing. And then I learn to be patient and in the mean time I serve my family well. Eventually, because God answers every prayer He either changes my husbands heart and makes a way for me to join this ministry or He changes my heart so that I don’t want to serve there anymore. If He changes my husbands heart then my husband steps up in a joyful way to cover the bases while I serve. He is proud of me and prays for me helps me serve the Lord. If God changes my heart then I see the value in staying home for the time being. I do it joyfully and am honored to be given this job. I don’t feel like I am missing out, I feel like I am living my best life.
My other option is to grab it. I want to do it so I say yes without prayer or asking my husband. My husband questions me and I tell him to get over it because I am serving the Lord and he needs to step up. I scheme and fudge and tell half truths to get what I want. I say, “Oh I’ll be gone for 30 minutes,” when I know full well I’ll be gone 2 hours. While serving in the ministry I hurt people because I step on toes because I am in a rush to get stuff done so I can get back home before my husband gets more annoyed. I really can’t be present in the ministry because I am on my phone trying to be sure my friend picked up my kid. I get mad at the friend because she is running late and my kid is left at the ball field alone. I am annoyed with it all. I wonder what the point of any of it is. Why did I reach for the second dog?
In both cases I am still going to heaven when I die. God still loves me, and will not desert me. His promises still hold true. But one leads to abundant life and one leads to strife. God is teaching me that He really does truly see me and hear me. He wants to bless me and use me and have me do things that are beyond anything I could dream up. He wants to give them to me and not have me reach for them in my uncontented sin. As I continue on this middlemarch journey He is teaching me that I don’t have to grab, I can wait, and let Him work things out for me. I love you Lord, thank you for teaching me to stop grabbing at things that are not mine.