What I Thought God Wanted

A man stood before God listening intently; he wanted to catch every single word of instruction.

“Do you see that boulder there?” God asked. “The one on the very edge of the precipice. I created it and placed it exactly there with you in mind. This is your mission, your calling. I want you to push that boulder.”

“That’s all God?” The man glanced down at his puny physique and felt a flush of shame redden his cheeks. It doesn’t seem like a very important job, he thought. At the same time, doubt clashed with his indignation. What if I’m not strong enough to move that huge rock, he wondered.

“That is exactly what I made you to do,” God affirmed. “I will always be with you. Don’t worry, you can do all things through my strength.”

So the man set his shoulder against the stone. Day in and day out, night after long night, he pressed on. Over time, his shoulders broadened with sinewy muscle. His skin grew dark and tan at first, then weathered and ruddy. His shoulder bruised. Once or twice, he pulled back and looked at the massive rock. It hadn’t moved a millimeter.

The voice of doubt reached a fevered pitch in his mind: I’m failing. The one, seemingly insignificant thing God gave me to do and I can’t even manage that. And where is God? I thought He was going to help me—be my strength! Maybe I didn’t hear Him right. Maybe He’s not even pleased with all my work. I only wanted to be obedient. I’m sure someone else could do a better job.

Just then, he felt a presence behind him. His Lord stood there, quietly assessing the tired man and the stone. “I’m sorry, God,” the man whispered. “I couldn’t move it even one tiny bit.”

Jesus reached out a scarred hand and tipped the man’s face up to look Him in the eyes. “What are you talking about?” He asked gently. “I never asked you to move the stone. I only asked you to push it.”

My pastor told that story in a message about finishing well. He quoted Paul in 1 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

My hearted perked up with his words. I’ve felt like that! In particular, I have prayed and prayed and prayed for my husband to love the Lord with all his heart and to lead our family spiritually. (I’ve also employed some unsuccessful tactics like pleading and bribing.) Now, 15 years later, I’m tired, I feel like a failure and I want to quit.

As a Christian wife, I know that my most important assignment on earth is to help my husband become the man God created him to be. God brought us together; He created me to be my husband’s helpmate. Sometimes this appointment seems mundane and unimportant compared to world-wide evangelism and other lofty callings. Other times, it seems like much more than I can handle; it feels like I have sweated and struggled to no avail.

As I listened to the sermon, I felt Jesus’ presence. I turned my heart to listen.

“Daughter,” He said. “I never told you to change your husband. I assigned you to be his helpmate. You put a great burden on yourself when you expect a specific outcome or result. You are only to obey me—be his helpmate. I will be the one to move and change him in my time. But, do you see what good has come of your labor? You, yourself have grown strong. When you were tired and weary, you learned to rest in me. You’ve gained some calluses and bruises, but now you are wiser, too.”

Whether it be our hopes and dreams for a certain type of marriage or something else, our lives and sanity depend on understanding specifically what God has called us to do. He has not called us to bring about an outcome, only to allow Him to use us in the process.

“So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” Colossians 1:28-29 (emphasis added)

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To Write or Not to Speak

I know I said I was taking a hiatus, but my heart keeps breathing thoughts that I have to write somewhere. I can no less write than sleep, eat, be. And I might as well finish out this week, right?

I have decided to step away from my keyboard simply because I believe I’ve gotten too casual with words. “Living” out loud here, publicly on a blog, it’s easy to forget the vastness of my audience. I take thoughts from my journal and burdens from the bottom of my heart and without even the mid-step of airing these dangerous words to a close friend, I publish them for the world to see.

The most shocking thing to me about my mistreatment of words, is that I just studied James – James, the quintessential herald of the tongue’s flaming potential. I have been told, “You don’t need to express every thought you have.”

My husband once told me that he would talk more if I let him get a word in edgewise.

My mother warned me that I confide too broadly, that I don’t need to share my secrets with every new or passing friend.

But I want to live raw and out there. I want to talk through my sloppy mess-ups. I want to share my pain and salve other’s scars by assuring them of empathy. Where do I find this balance? Where is the line between living vulnerably and being too guarded? What is the proper use of words?

One organ that does not require a regular workout, and will not improve your health in any way, is your mouth. Proverbs repeats the warning numerous times, “A wise man keeps his mouth shut.”

On the other hand, God spoke the world into existence and Jesus is called the Word. The entire cannon of Scripture is God’s written, love letter to us. And often he wrote words we don’t want to hear. And He did bear the very essence of His heart on those pages.

I think the caution must be taken like medicine. There will be different doses for varying illnesses. Someone who struggles to share their heart and closets their secrets, will one day discover that those secrets decay and leave a mass of rotten bitterness.

However, I fall in the other category. One who is quick to speak is often slow to listen. Where there is an abundance of words, folly abounds. I think a prudent woman (I’m reading about this character trait) measures, weighs and considers her words before she speaks (or writes) them.

I like being impetuous. I like being colorful with my language and unhindered in sharing. But I have a heavy responsibility to use those qualities wisely – especially in the context of my words.