Today’s reading is Acts 1-3:15.
“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:7)
I can’t tell you how excited I was this morning at 5 AM when my alarm went off announcing the fact that it was time for me to get up only a few short hours after falling asleep. To be honest, it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed to turn the alarm off, and for a moment I seriously considered hitting the snooze and going back to bed, but my heart wouldn’t let me… and neither would my bladder. (Thank You Lord.) As I sat in the cold bathroom reading my morning devotion, that I honestly can’t remember a word of right now, the fog of sleep started to drift lazily away from my head and I remembered just why I was getting up so early this morning. My writing challenge starts today! God has challenged me to find Him in my life every day; then write about how He applied His word in my life during the day. After remembering that getting up wasn’t quite so hard anymore! So as my heart rushed to my desk, my feet stumbled sleepily out to my bible and computer waiting expectantly to both be opened and used at this early hour. The stillness in the house was bliss for a busy mom who is always on the go. And as I cracked open this brand spankin’ new ESV Bible it begged to be snuggled into the rocking chair behind me with a blanket over my cold legs, so I agreed that we should move to a slightly cozier spot where this new book and I could get a little more familiar.
For years I’ve held onto the hope that I would be able to read through the entire bible at some point in my life, but I have yet to do it. Then not so long ago I heard a story of a man who read through a new bible every year. As he read he would make notes and comments in the margins of the bibles, making them his own, creating a kind of documentary or record of his life and how those scriptures had applied to him at the moment that he was reading them. Then after the year was over he would then gift those bibles to his children to keep as a legacy, a piece of their father’s life. That story struck me in its genuineness and romance; in the significance of a father’s handwritten heartfelt thoughts captured between the margins and those beloved words of our Savior, what a gift for a child to receive! Today, I’ve gotten to start my own adventure. My new little three dollar ESV Bible already has two and a half pages all marked up! So many notes in just one short day! But OH what a story it already tells. The scriptures themselves also tell of a new beginning! (How cool is that???)
Acts chapter one starts with an ending. It starts with Jesus leaving earth and ascending into heaven with the instruction to His followers to “wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). I just find that funny that this story starts with waiting… and yet so does my story today. Well, sort of anyway. I’ve been waiting for a lot of things to happen in my ministry, waiting for God to act, waiting for God to provide, waiting for the answers to my multitude of questions, and honestly looking for all of it in the wrong places. I completely lost sight of where my focus really should be! I was so focused on the ministry and the waiting and the providing and the questions that I forgot about WHY I was seeking those things! God really used the stillness of this morning to remind me that it really doesn’t matter as much what I do in that quiet time with Him, as long as it’s a quiet time WITH Him! I’ve been still and I’ve prayed lately, but it wasn’t to get to know Him better, it was to get my questions and requests heard and answered in a timely manner… in MY time.
This weekend the most amazing thing happened to me! Someone turned the lights off on me while I was in a public restroom. I know, you’re thinking that’s amazing!?! But it was; not for what happened, but for how God used it for me. I’ve been busily planning my very first conference where I will be the speaker all day long. Thirteen hours, it’s intimidating beyond words. Not only am I teaching, but I’m planning too. Phone calls, ordering supplies; you name it I’ve been working on it! All the while freaking out about HOW I’m going to get all the people to get it all done like the vision God’s given me for it. I’ve been freaking out about what He wants me to teach. I’ve been freaking out about where this conference will take place and who will be there. Basically, I’ve just been plain old freaking out. So much so that it’s been leaking into my family life as well!
Case in point Friday was grocery day for me. I had planned my menu for the next two weeks including breakfast, lunch, dinner even some snacks! Every square on my planner was filled. Then I transferred my shopping list into my phone complete with costs and everything. I had ALL my shopping bases covered. I had my plan and I was going to follow it to the letter… until God threw the proverbial wrench into the works.
I was an hour and a half into my three-hour trip when my phone died! I’m not even kidding you I could almost see my battery running out as I held my shopping plan in my palm. And when that screen was plunged into darkness my plan flew out the window and I was forced to shop blind. I was forced to roam the aisles searching for things that I remembered being on my list, and HOPE that I didn’t miss anything that I would need for my fully planned menu. I’ll admit, there were several times that I stopped on the side of an aisle, bent over my daughter pretending to talk to her and prayed desperately for God to lead me to what I needed. I felt like I was flailing in the dark, groping for clues to where I was supposed to go next, buy next. My groceries cost much more than what I was expecting, but I also came home with more than I needed too. And if I did forget something, I can always improvise; I’m really good at that.
Well, Saturday, in the public restroom I was again praying about the groceries. Wracked with guilt about spending so much and having so much trouble trusting God to lead me to the things I needed. I was sitting there silently pleading with God to help me understand while doubts about my shopping decisions and conference plans swirled through my head. When suddenly the “last” person to leave the room thought she was the LAST person in the room. So she turned off the light and I was suddenly plunged into… light! Although I sat in darkness the LORD was my light. He said to me, “One step at a time”. And He reminded me, I need to let go of my determination to know ALL the details and TRUST that when I get to that step He will lead me in the way that I should go. That I need to continue walking toward that sliver of light coming through the crack under the door and trust that it’s the direction HE wants me to go in.
As much as I desire the comfort and control of having every minute planned, I must leave space for the Holy Spirit to work! I must leave space for trust and faith. Otherwise I’m simply crowding Him out. And you know what always happens? MY plans fail. My plans fall through. My plans frustrate me because my plans aren’t happening. When I pray “Thy will be done” and then determine to do my own thing without ever consulting Him first disasters occur; and I get frustrated and angry. Which spills onto my family and they had nothing to do with it!
I have to let go and let God do what He needs to do. I have to allow Him to hold the remote and let Him pick what I watch… or let Him take my phone and let Him pick what we eat and determine how much it will cost. And I have to trust that He loves me enough to choose food that will be good for us and perfect for our schedule. I have to trust that He loves me enough to make sure that it will cost exactly as much as it needs to. Point of fact, my groceries cost precisely the amount of money that I had with me at the time. I didn’t want to spend all the money I had on groceries, that had not been my plan at all, but God was making a point. The point He’s been trying to make for weeks now. The point I pray that I have fully grasped now after my experience in the dark bathroom. The point that I am NOT in control and that I need to relax and simply enjoy the ride. This isn’t work, it’s not a job, it’s a relationship and a really wonderful one at that! I need to stop stressing and start trusting… but it’s so hard!
I like my independence. I am proud of my ability to take care of myself. I like the fact that God has called me to be a teacher. But I think I’ve forgotten one of the biggest and most important parts of being a teacher. I don’t have to know all the answers, I only have to know how to direct the students to where to find them.
One step at a time
I don’t need to know all the answers.
I don’t need to know all the steps.
I don’t even need to know all the ingredients.
I only need to know God and His goodness.
I only need to know that GOD is there with me in the darkness.
I only need to know that God IS there holding my hand and guiding my steps and making them firm.
I only need to know that God is THERE speaking to my soul even when my ears can’t hear.
I only need to know that He is HERE loving me even when I can’t feel it.
Beloved, GOD IS HERE.