Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Dear Outraged One,
Things are not always what they appear to be. They might look one way to you. If fact, they might look so clear to you that you would believe you had the only possible interpretation. But if you would ask me, I can help you see them in a different light. Like that warning label. It seems so clear and might not make sense to you since you love sleeping on your tummy when you’re being held. But if you ask me about it I could help you see that it’s not about that at all. It’s not a personal attack against you, but rather a protection against a danger you had not known existed. So come to me when you have questions. I love answering them for you.
Someone who loves you
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence. As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.
She studied the pieces on the table in front of her. So far she had matched several blues together, surely part of the sky. And the greens were probably the grass. She wasn’t sure about the yellows or reds yet, but they could wait.
She picked up another blue piece and compared its shape to the ones she’d already matched. It didn’t quite fit with them, but if she used a little force, she could get it to fit. If it was blue, it had to be part of the sky, right?
“That’s what you do with your life, too,” came a still small voice inside her. “You try to fit the pieces of your life together to figure out the big picture.”
She thought about that.
“You’re right,” she agreed. “I do tend to try to make things that happen in my life fit together to form a picture. Is that wrong?”
“No, not as long as you do it for fun. Just keep in mind that you may not be fitting them in the right places. Like that blue piece in your hand.”
“This sky piece?”
“If you think that’s what it is, fine. You can work with it as if it were. But what if it’s a water piece, like part of a lake?”
“Hmm… I think I get it. I can have fun trying to fit it where I think it goes, but be open to the possibility that I might be wrong.”
“Right. If you get stubborn thinking your way is the only way, you’ll miss the big picture. And if you try to force pieces together that don’t belong together, you’ll get something totally different than the amazing picture I’m making with your life.”
She took another look at the blue piece in her hand, then at the puzzle pieces on the table. Maybe she should put it to the side and wait to see where it really fit.
After all, she wanted to see the completed picture how it was meant to be seen. Right?
She turned around slowly and two men with warm smiles on their faces. The older man was tall, average weight, and thinning gray hair. The other man was younger with dark hair and eyes.
“Umm..” she started to stammer not having any idea how to explain her presence.
“Can we help you?” asked the younger man.
Shaking her head, she looked past them to the door. Seeing her look, the older man chuckled. “No need to worry, We won’t hurt you.” He walked over to her with his hand outstretched. “Hi. I’m the Pastor here. You can call me Toby. This here is my son, Jude. We’re actually glad you’re here.”
“Um… sorry for intruding. I just needed a place to hide.”
“You won’t find a safer place. Would you like to take a walk with us? We were just heading out to the lake.”
Lake? Here, in the city? Confused, she followed them down the hallway. They passed several closed doors before Toby opened the one at the end of the hall.
“No way!” she thought as she saw what was on the other side of that door.
It opened into a large garden full of colorful blooming flowers, luscious green grass, and mighty fruit-bearing trees of every kind. A dirt path wound its way through the garden exiting at the far end. And in the distance, she could see the blue glint of water. Where in the world was she?
Toby and Jude chatted as they walked, trying to draw her in by asking her questions. They asked about her job and family as well as her concerns, cares, and dreams. Not wanting to reveal the sadness inside her – being a preacher and preacher’s son, they would be sure to try to “fix” her – she covered her feelings by answering flippantly. They didn’t seem to notice her tone, and were intensely interested in everything she said and even seem to care about everything that concerned her.
They arrived at the lake and climbed out onto a pier that jutted out over the water. Sitting down, they were all quiet as they drank in the peaceful beauty of the place. Bella began relaxing as the peace soaked into her wounded soul. She had never experience as much love and acceptance from anyone as she was feeling from Toby and Jude.
After a long while, Toby turned to Bella and said, “Why don’t you tell me all about it. Just start at the beginning.”
Still covering her feelings, she continued to be flippant. “What beginning? When I was born beginning?”
Toby looked at Bella for a long minute, then said quietly, “Start at Disneyworld.”
Bella paled. Trembling, she asked, “How did you know about Disneyworld?”
“It’s my job, my gift.”
“My sisters were molested in Disneyworld. I might have been too because I was there. I can’t remember. All I know is something isn’t right inside me.”
She tried to listen to Toby as he began talking but her feelings were overwhelming her and she couldn’t hear anything but fear and doubt and condemnation. Eventually Toby’s words began to get through to her as he spoke louder and louder. When they were loud enough to drown out all her thoughts, she caught his eye and said, “OK, I can hear you. You’re preaching!”
He smiled and said, “Yes, I tend to do that.”
“I think we should leave now,” she said, wanting to avoid any more discussion.
“Sure, if you want to.” They stood up.
“I’m glad I chose to hide in your church,” she said as they walked back towards the church. “This is a good place.”
“I’m glad you accepted my invitation,” he answered. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you like.”
“Thanks, but I’m fine. I need to go.” As much as she loved being there, she was also uncomfortable. If he knew about Disneyworld, how much more did he know?
“As you will. But just know that you’re welcome back anytime. We’ll always be here.”
They escorted her through the house and back into the foyer. Reluctantly she waved goodbye and went out the front door. She didn’t know why she was drawn to this place that both refreshed and terrified her. But she knew one day she’d be back. And when she did, she knew Toby and Jude would be waiting for her with open arms.
This story, based on a dream I had years ago, is designed as an allegory. Here are a few analogies you can find in it.
The sidewalk was crowded with people – most going about their business, some feeling lost, and a few trying to connect with other people. Life is crowded with people also. Most are going about their business, not really paying attention to those around them. Some people feel lost in this world. And a few people try to connect with others to share God’s love.
Bella was surrounded by people and ended up getting hurt but chose to be in denial about how serious it was. We live in a world surrounded by people and will eventually get hurt. Many of us also tend to live in denial of the pain we have rather than allow someone else close enough to help us. At least I know I do.
The church was bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside, and contained a beautiful garden and lake. The spiritual world, heaven, is much bigger and more beautiful than it appears to those on the outside.
Bella found refuge in the home of Toby and Jude. We find refuge in God the Father and Jesus the Son.
Toby and Jude were intensely interested in everything Bella said, and cared about all her concerns. God is intensely interested in us and cares about everything we care about.
Toby knew about the pain Bella felt deep in her soul, regardless of how flippant she tried to sound. God knows the pain deep inside us no matter what we do to try to cover it.
Even though Toby and Jude wanted Bella to stay, she was free to come and go as she pleased. We have the same freedom in God. He desires us to stay with Him all the time, but won’t force us.
Now your turn. Does this story relate to your life in any way? What are some other analogies you can see?
She opened her Bible and read Matt 16:24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
She had heard many interpretations of what this cross might be. Chronic illness, death of a loved one, difficult people in your life… They all sounded reasonable, but something about them bothered her. And they didn’t really apply to her life at the moment. Did that mean she didn’t have a cross?
So she asked the Lord.
“Do I have a cross?”
” Well, I’m not sick. No one has died. And there are no difficult people in my life.”
“It’s not what you think.”
“So what is my cross?”
“The ability to understand.”
“I thought that was a good thing.”
“To a degree it is. But you want to know and understand every spiritual thing.”
“You’re not capable of understanding everything. You’re limited by your human brain. Besides, even if you could, it wouldn’t be wise. There are some things you cannot handle yet. And sometimes knowing too much would cause you to mess up what I’m doing. You would be tempted to take over instead of relying on Me.”
She thought about that for a few minutes.
“I can see how knowing everything could be a bad thing. It could feed my pride and I would be trusting my understanding instead of trusting You.”
“So how do I carry this cross?”
“Deny your desire to understand everything. Accept and enjoy what you know and don’t fret about what you don’t know. Learn to use the knowledge that you have. Trust Me for the rest. And relax. You’re not carrying this cross alone.”
“No one carries their cross alone. I promised to always be with you, in every part of your life, to care for you and help you. That includes carrying your cross.”
“Is the cross the same for everyone?”
“Oh no. Just as every person is different and unique, every cross is different and unique.”
“Wow. It’s amazing that you can help everyone at the same time in so many different ways. I can’t get my head wrapped around how big You are.”
“See? That’s what I’m talking about!”
And she did.
(If you haven’t read You Want to Be a What?, you may want to read that first to provide the context for this dialogue.)
God, we need to talk.
Did You send my friend over here today on purpose?
Is she right? That I need to release him to You before You can work in our lives?
Does that mean You’re planning something for both of us? Or is this just for him?
What do you mean?
If you take him to serve You, You have a plan for him.
Then what about me? I’m involved too.
Yes, you are.
I need You as much as he does.
Yes, you do.
I want Your perfect will for me as much as he does for him.
That’s nice to hear. But what are you really saying?
I don’t want to be left behind.
And I’m upset. You told me it was OK to go out with him. To talk to him. To let my feelings grow.
Yes, I remember that.
So why? Why tell me that just to take him from me?
Did you plan this to show me I can love again? If so, You could have shown me that when You gave me someone to keep.
Did you call him away to show me how much I love him? If so, You could have let me discover that on my own.
If this is to show him something, then that’s even worse because that’s using me. Downgrading me, like I’m not important. You love me and promised to take care of me. You can’t just use me like that.
If You’re doing this to push him in a different direction, then I want some definite guidance, too.
If You’re going to split us up, then I want a reason. It makes no sense to put us together, encourage us grow close, just to separate us. That’s mean, and You’re not mean so I can’t believe that’s what You are doing.
Whew. I was worried there for a minute.
Why are You doing this?
Do you trust Me? You’ve been saying you do. Do you really?
I’m thinking about it.
I’ll give you a moment.
Trust is hard but I believe You love us and want what’s best for us. So yes, I trust You.
Here’s another question: Do you really want My perfect will?
Definitely. You’ve already shown me many times that Your will is better than mine.
One more question. Will you really give Me everything?
I’ve already given You everything.
OK, not everything. Not him. You want him? He’s Yours.
Wait! Don’t take him just because I’m giving him to You.
Lord, here’s the bottom line. I will accept whatever You want for me – for us – with one condition: that I know it’s Your will. I don’t have to have a reason. I just need to know that it’s Your will and not our misguided decisions.
Are you finished? Is it My turn to talk?
I love you and want what’s best for you, just as I love him and want what’s best for him. Trust Me. Keep going out with him. He’s OK. It’s OK. You’re in my will.
Soooo… do You want him to be a priest?
Then what in the world is this all about? What do You want me to do?
Continue what you are doing. Listen to Me. Relax. I know what’s going on and I’m in control. I will take care of you. I’m on your side. Will you trust Me?
to be continued