When God Throws an Air Ball

Some times God throws the perfect layup—a perfect opportunity. We see what we assume is His will from a mile away. We’re grateful and we’re ready to go. Then suddenly, it falls short.

And we wonder, What is God doing? What went wrong?

A friend of mine’s husband has been without a job for almost three months now. The long anticipated return call finally came. The job he had most wanted came through. Could he start next week?

The following Monday, he arrived early, checked in with his new boss and prepared to go to work. Looking sheepish, the boss pulled him aside. Something came up, he said. Something in the paperwork, something that my friend’s husband thought had long been resolved, they were sorry, but he couldn’t work there.

The news crushed them. Everything had seemed so perfect! What had gone wrong?

It isn’t always a job. Perhaps you met the “perfect” person, but then the whole relationship fell apart. Maybe you’re expecting a baby and you’re so excited, but there’s a miscarriage. Maybe you’ve planned the perfect wedding and then find yourself standing in front of the justice of the peace.

Whatever it is, sometimes God throws the perfect layup, and then it falls short. 

God doesn’t always offer personal explanations, but Scripture is always the light to our path. In this case, a story from David’s life gives insight into the confusion.

David was a young shepherd, probably about 12-years-old when Samuel, the prophet, came to his father, Jesse. Samuel announced that one of Jesse’s sons would be the new king of Israel. Obediently, seven of Jesse’s sons marched in front of the prophet, but each time God said, “He is not the one.”

Perplexed, Samuel asked if Jesse had any more sons. Jesse admitted there was one more, a scrawny shepherd named David.

When David arrived, God told Samuel, “This is him! This is the one I want you to anoint as the King of Israel!” Quickly, Samuel did as he was told.

Logically, we might imagine that Samuel pulled a crown out of his bag, put it on David’s head and marched him to the castle. David should have begun ruling right away! But that didn’t happen. In 1 Samuel 16:13, Samuel turned around and went home. In the very next chapter, we find David back in the fields with the sheep.

I wonder if David asked God, “Why? Why do I, the King of Israel, have to go back to the sheep pen? And how long do I have to wait, God?”

Many years down the line, David did rule over Israel; he was the best king Israel ever had. God called David, “A man after my own heart.”

The Bible never tells us exactly why God made David wait for so long. We do know that in those waiting years, David was filled with the Holy Spirit. He wrote many of the Psalms during that time, singing and sharing his praise for God. He made many good, godly friends in that time too.

We will not always agree with or even understand God’s reason for toppling perfect plans, altering the natural course of things or seeming to change His mind. At times, it may seem like He has misled us. David must have felt that way after being anointed king and then sent back to the fields. Later he was called to the palace merely to serve King Saul by playing the harp.

Even after David took the throne, there was never any explanation as to why God anointed him and then sent him back to being a shepherd. If David had been king right away, perhaps Israel would have avoided many wars and a lot of blood shed. David never would have been hunted by Saul. But the end of the story is that David became a man after God’s own heart and God abundantly blessed him.

Even when things don’t make sense, the end of the story is always that God is working things for our good. He is always faithful and all that He does in our lives is out of His lovingkindness. As we learn to wait through the confusion, we will become men and women after His own heart.

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Strength in solitude

We all know the Bible verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” And most of us are honest enough to admit that stillness doesn’t describe our daily lives. And most of us will also willingly admit that we crave a little more peace in our lives, in our homes, in our jobs, in our world. And lastly, we’ll admit that we’re kind of afraid of stillness and peace. Won’t that be lonely?

I’m not here to chide you, or to offer a solution. But I want you to think about something with me.

Remember David and Goliath? The tiny, boy shepherd challenged a seasoned warrior. With a mere sling, he hurled a stone which sank deep and deadly into the giant’s forehead.

Where did David get that courage? Where did David find the inner peace with potential death and failure? What made David so sure that he heard God right?

I mean seriously, if I thought God told me to charge into battle against a giant twice my height, who had already intimidated my country’s entire army, I might think I was crazy.

But David was a shepherd. His life, to that date, had been spent in solitude. On quiet hillsides, with only curly headed lambs to talk to, David lead a simple, introverted life.

I wonder, is that where David got his strength?

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.

David’s courage didn’t come from memories of valiant battles or brilliant strategy. His gumption didn’t come from the witness of others, telling him, “You can do it!” David’s determination came from personal memories of God’s faithfulness and a settled relationship with a good, gracious God.

I believe David soaked up God’s company while he sat, perhaps a little lonely on those Judaean hills. It was also the sweet psalmist of Israel who said, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Sink your teeth into those quite, lonely moments. They will furnish you with peace and confidence.

Here is a wonderful exhortation to experience peace: Haven Journal

October! Fall is the new spring

I finished my quiet time this morning, pleased with the four full pages of prayer in my journal. You see, I’m trying to sort this simplicity thing out. I’m trying to find MY calling, MY truth, MY way – you know the “special purpose that God has for each of us.” The reason we be.

I worry that I’m not using MY talent, the gifts God gave ME. What if I’m not writing in the right venues, what if I need to put down my pen and DO something. I grabbed Brave’s leash and headed out the door the welcoming promise of October.

Here is October, barreling down on me, and I’m no more sorted, planned, completed, figured out or purposeful than I was before. Or before that, or before that. So, I kept my prayer going.

God, what am I going to write about this month? What can I share with others in October to help them be wary of the Predatory Lies so pervasive in the world?

And finally, God interrupted me.

Love, will you ever quit talking? Even our special times are filled with your words, your pages. Isn’t this supposed to be a conversation?

You do well to point out the lies that you believed and to warn others to be clothed in my armor and to be on their guard and to stand firm against the lies of the devil. But, what then? If you are standing against something, shouldn’t you also stand for something? If there is a lie, there is also a truth. If you know truth, you won’t fall for the lie.

I am the way the truth and the life. You must know me.

Understand this, I already know you. Yes, I love to hear your prayers, but you cannot tell me anything I do not know. I know your needs before you feel them, I know the pulses of your heart, I know when you sit and rise and, Dear One, I know your very soul. It is my breath.

But you don’t know me. If you spend the rest of your life sitting in my lap, querying me about myself – my goodness, my glory, my love, my wisdom, you will never know me fully. Shouldn’t you set your heart to the task of knowing me, even as I know you? (1 Cor. 13:12) It will take your life time.

So, hush. My friend, David, a man after my own heart, learned this. It became his life’s pursuit and the intention of his eternity.

“The one thing I ask of the LORD—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” Ps. 27:4

So, I will hush. My new intention, life plan, purpose and pursuit is to listen and see before I speak or write. To attend to my Savior and to see Him in His glorious October. This month, I will share with you where I find truth. Together we can revel in His presence.

P.S. I will be posting once a week in October.

Lucky You!! Chrissy’s Thoughts

Guess What?! You get to hear from someone else today! One of my very dearest friends, Chrissy Lawson, agreed to share her thoughts on tough love with you today.

I met Chrissy when my husband was stationed at Fort Bragg. Both of our husbands were deployed at the same time. God kindly orchestrated for Chrissy and I to work together at GNC on the base. What a blessing! Through Chrissy, I met April and through them I met Jackie and the four of us have grown in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ ever since, albeit, long distance.

Several years ago, I was actually privileged to watch Jesus woo Chrissy to Himself. Since that time, God has developed in her a heart so fully His that I have to admit, sometimes I’m jealous! I know you will enjoy hearing from her today. Please leave your comments and share your experiences with tough love in your family.

Chrissy’s thoughts:

Tough Love….

harsh or stern behavior, often thought cruel by the recipient, with the end goal of their higher good.  (Abby’s definition)

Is tough love biblical?

 

How many times were the Israelites disciplined by God?  Too many to count it seems.  Did you ever read the biblical accounts and thought, “man, that was harsh!”  I have found myself saying that every once in a while.  It’s only when we truly see the character of God that we can comprehend why he did what he did.

 

King David had wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He gathered the chosen men of Israel to go get and bring it back from the Philistines. They put the Ark on a cart and Uzzah and Ahio were leading it.

“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. David became angry because of the LORD’S outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.” 2 Samuel 6:6-8

 

Doesn’t that seem a little overboard?  God killed someone for touching the Ark. If you understand the character of God, then you understand why he did this. You see, he is HOLY, perfect and righteous. He gave the Israelites clear instructions on how to move the objects to worship him.  When David wanted to move it, no one stopped to think, “hey lets read the directions first.”  Instead they picked up what they wanted and moved on.  If they would have just looked to God first they would have seen that under no circumstances were they allowed to touch the Ark. God wasn’t lashing out at them, he was acting according to who is his.  He demands perfection and obedience to his law.

 

This incident, it led David to read the instructions and do it right the second time.  God’s laws were respected this time around.

 

Psalm 78 very clearly illustrates God’s patience and tough love with his chosen people.  The Israelites forgot so quickly the miracles that God performed all around them.  He freed them from captivity, killed the Egyptians who were trying to kill them, fed them, gave them water from a rock.  Yet they still questioned and tested him.  He became furious and allowed other  nations to capture and defeat them.  They would cry out to God and he would save them.  Isn’t that tough love?  He is the best father you could ever imagine and yet the Israelites grumbled against him!  He became furious and allowed their wicked hearts to do what they wanted and allowed the consequences.

 

But when they turned back to him, he opened his arms to them.

 

The prodigal son is a great example of a “softer” tough love.  The son asked for his inheritance early, before his father had passed.  The father did so and allowed his son to take off on his own.  When the son became so hard-up that he considered eating pig slop he realized what he had left at home.  He came home to a father with open arms.  Of course this is a parable about God’s relationship with the sinner.  But do you see that as parents we can give our children tough love?  God did it to his chosen people, and today, if our hearts are hard he does it to us.

 

When it comes to the serious things: drugs, alcohol, dishonoring and disrespecting parents, I think we should implement tough love. After much grace (which God did over and over again) we need to say enough is enough and do something about it.  Maybe it’s intervention, maybe it’s throwing them out of the house.  We need to pray and trust the God of all creation to watch over them.  We put our children in HIS hands.  When they turn from their destructive ways we open our arms and welcome them home!

 

When our children are simply rebelling and want their freedom, again I think we need to give them tough love so that they can grow.  Allow them to step out (age appropriate of course) and grow.   When they come home give them grace abundantly.  Isn’t that what God gives us?  When we mess up and then turn to him, he forgives and forgives completely.  You can’t parent without discipline and grace.