When You Think You Know Better

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OK, Lord. You said to go this way to find the green paradise You have for me, and You know best. It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere good though. I mean I don’t even see any green leaves or tall grass or anything. But I’ll trust You.
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Wait! Are You sure this is the way? There’s something dark and scary up ahead – definitely not the bright green You promised. Isn’t there another way?
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I think I’ll go this way.  I see something green up ahead. That seems so much more logical. Maybe I just heard God wrong. 
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It even looks smoother going this way. Surely God meant for me to go this way.
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See? Green leaves. That’s more than I saw the other way. But they’re so little. I know there’s more ahead. I’m going to keep going.
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Hmmm… maybe not so easy after all. But I KNOW there’s something up there that will be worth this climb. Nothing worthwhile is easy, right?
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Arrr… this is harder than I thought. God, where are You? Why aren’t you helping me?
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Whew, made it!  Now to see what I’ve worked so hard for.
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That’s it?? That’s all there is? 
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Maybe I should have gone God’s way, after all.

Sometimes Muddy Water is a Good Thing

 

Emotions churned inside her as she bowed before the Lord in prayer.

“Jesus, I don’t know what’s happening inside me. It’s such a mess. And I don’t even know why. Everything seems to be going well right now – job, family, health. So why all this turmoil?”

“Just a little cleaning up.”

She frowned, not understanding. How can cleaning up make her feel bad? She thought about it for a while. What exactly WAS she feeling? So many emotions all mixed up inside her. Pain and confusion from her teen years that still plagued her. Doubts that she was actually hearing from God and that it wasn’t just her imagination, and fear that she would lead others wrong as she began speaking out for Him.  Depression that seemed to cling to her no matter how hard she tried to fight it.  Very low self-esteem, more like no self-esteem.  The list seemed endless. She struggled to put a name to it.

“Muddy water.”

Muddy water?

She thought of her small garden pond. She enjoyed going outside to sit by it each day and watch the fish swim around. The pond looked beautiful – clear shiny water with green flowering plants growing in and around it. From time to time she would add a little water to compensate for the water that had evaporated.

She remembered a time she had not gone outside to the pond for several weeks. When she had finally made it there, she had been dismayed to find the water level to be as low IMG_20180510_000206722as it was. So she had taken the hose and watched as the water refilled the pond. Almost immediately the clear water had gotten cloudy as the running water churned up the dirt that had settled at the bottom.  Within minutes she could see leaves and pine straw swirling around in the very muddy water. Yuck. She decided to keep the water flowing and as the water flowed over the top, it had taken the mud, leaves and pine straw with it until all that had remained was clear clean water. Her pond was beautiful again, only this time it wasn’t hiding a bunch of dirt and debris at the bottom.

She made the connection. She might look good on the outside, but deep inside her heart,  a lot of dirt and debris had settled over time. Jesus had turned on the hose in her heart, filling her to overflowing with living water!

Amazed at the way He helped her understand, she thanked Him for the work He was doing. It might not look so good at the moment, she thought, but when He gets done, my heart will be clean and clear and truly beautiful!

Under Pressure

Continuing the story begun in You Want to Be a What?, continued in Wrestling with God (continued from You Want to be a What?) and in Caught in the Middle, a Continuation

She listened in amazement, then frustration.

So, he’s under pressure about this priesthood thing? Really?

It had been several months since he informed her that he thought he was being called to be a priest.

She had spent those months rotating between hopeful trust in God, depression, and anger. It was affecting her whole life, and he was surprised to be feeling pressure?

“What kind of pressure?” she asked him.

“I don’t want to be a priest.”

“So don’t be one.”

“But what about the call I feel?”

“Then be one.”

And around and around they went. It was causing a strain on their relationship. She didn’t know how far to let him into her heart or how to look at him. Romantically? Platonically? She wished Jesus would hurry up and settle this, or help them to get past it and just enjoy their friendship.

Eventually she started sensing that he was pulling away from her, like he didn’t want to IMG_20180420_185546747spend time with her anymore. He didn’t explain himself, or even acknowledge it, so she went once again to the Lord about it.

“Oh, Lord,” she called. “I have a question.”

“Go on.”

“Why is he acting like he doesn’t want me around anymore?”

“He’s afraid of his feelings for you. He needs time to adjust. Give him time. Don’t become impatient with him. Keep loving him and he’ll be back.”

“Does this have anything to do with the seminary?”

“Yes. He’s afraid of leaving. He’s afraid that he might become too deeply involved with you to want to leave.”

That makes sense she thought. But she didn’t like it. What about her?  What if she became too deeply involved and didn’t want him to leave? God had said he wasn’t going to be a priest. So maybe she should just do what He said – be patient and wait it out. Or maybe she had been hearing wrong all along and he really was going to become a priest. Maybe he was hearing from God and she was only hearing from herself.

She sighed. He had made one short trip to the seminary already, and another longer one was scheduled for the next summer. How in the world was she going to navigate these next six months?

to be continued…

You Are the Nightlight of the World

Feeling sad and discouraged, she read the words in Matthew 5: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  (v.14-15)

Really?

Where was that light when an old friend told her, “I don’t need Jesus. I don’t want Jesus.” She had been too confused to respond. How could anyone not want Jesus?

Where was that light when she visited her siblings? The discord she found there had worked its way inside her until she had gotten drawn into it. OK, maybe not as deeply as they were, but still. Where was her light?

Sadly, she read Matthew’s words again and thought, if Christians are the light of the world, I must be a nightlight. And I don’t seem to be doing a very good job at even that.

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That next couple of days, she kept getting the message to persevere. To take things one step at a time and not compare herself with others. She sighed. She’d rather be a bright light in the lives of those around her, but if the best she could be was a nightlight, then she’d persevere in being that nightlight. Yet, deep in her heart, she continued to struggle. How could Jesus be happy with her when her light was little more than that lamp under a bowl?

Years later, she received a letter from a friend.  In it, he described a vision he had had. He had seen a small girl, standing before Jesus, head down, ashamed because she feels she’s disappointed Him. He saw Jesus lift her head and tell her…

“I’ve told you time and time again – I love you just as you are. I didn’t create you to be a flame that bursts forth with brilliant light. You are my glowing ember and you will warm the hearts of many, many souls.”

Astonished, she knew this had to be from God. She had never told this friend about her struggle with not being a bright enough light. As peace replaced the struggle in her heart, she thanked God for this friend’s courage to share that message with her. And she thanked God for caring enough to let her know that being a low level light – a nightlight – was exactly what she was made to be, and it was OK.

“God, after all the times I ignored Your reassurances out of fear and doubt, You never gave up. Thank You for loving me enough to find a way to get Your message to me loud and clear. You’re amazing!”