“Uh oh,” she said as she picked up the next tiny plastic piece. “This one won’t fit.” She dropped it into a growing pile of malformed pieces and picked up another one. “Perfect!”
Usually the repetitive task of fitting the tiny pieces into their places on the sticky grid gave her mind a chance to relax as it daydreamed about problems and goals. But this time as she placed the well shaped piece carefully on the grid, a thought interrupted her wandering mind.
“When you don’t let God trim off your rough edges, you won’t be able to fit into His design as well. Not only won’t you fit within your boundaries, you will bother those around you.”
She stopped to consider that. “It’s true we all have baggage we bring into our relationship with God, things from the past we hang on to even though we no longer need them just like this tiny piece still has a piece of its manufacturing process attached to it. And I know I fight each time He wants me to let go of something. Maybe there’s a bigger picture to Him wanting to trim me. Maybe sometimes it’s not so much about me as it is about His bigger picture,” she thought, freshly determined to be more cooperative the next time He starts trimming.
She got back to work, still musing on the importance of being trimmed. Then another thought entered. What about all those other pieces in that pile of malformed pieces. There’s more than one reason a piece can’t fit correctly on the grid.
She picked up the black piece. Totally misshapen.
“Like when we refuse to let God do anything in us. We are still saved – still a piece – but pretty much useless in the design.” She thought about what she had been like when she entered her relationship with God, and she was very glad she wasn’t anything like that anymore. Transformed was a very real fact in her life, unlike that poor piece.
And the tan one?
“Hmmm,” she thought about the two pieces clinging to each other for a few minutes. “My relationship with Jesus is a very personal one. When I walk with Him, I have to do it alone. It’s just me and Him. He wants me to cling to Him, not anything else. He can surround me with others just like each of these pieces are surrounded by other pieces, but I cannot insist on having someone in the same place I’m in. It just doesn’t work.”
She put the malformed pieces back into their pile and picked up the next perfect tiny plastic piece. As she placed into the design, she breathed a prayer.
“God, form me to fit the spot You have chosen for me. Help me to let go of what holds me back so that I can become part of Your big, amazing design.”
And her heart swelled with peace and contentment, knowing God heard her prayer.
(Disclaimer: I am not promoting this brand of diamond painting. Actually, there’s another brand that I find superior to this one, but this was the only brand that had this specific design and so I went with it.)
Walking used to be easy. In fact, it was so easy, she pretty much bounced with each step. She loved to listen to the birds and watch the squirrels scurry about as she walked.
But after a long time, she noticed it was getting harder and harder to walk. She no longer had a bounce in her step. Each step took deliberate effort. It felt like she was walking into a strong wind. But there wasn’t any wind. Or like she was wading through deep water. But there was no flood. So what was slowing her down, making her work so hard to keep her forward momentum? She had no idea. All she knew was that she had to keep moving if she wanted to make it back home.
Much more time passed, and she was still struggling. In fact, it was now so hard to move it took all her concentration. She had no interest in the birds or squirrels. Each step took every ounce of determination she had as she slowly forced it forward. She held her arms up in front of her as she bent forwards, hoping that by shifting her center of balance, she could get gravity to help move her forwards. But even her arms took effort to keep them in front of her.
Bent almost double now, sweat pouring from her body, she wondered if she should just quit. It would be so easy to stop moving. Staying in the same place wouldn’t be so bad, would it? It was nice here. She thought of her home. It was nicer than where she was, but was it really worth the effort? What if the effort cost her more than she had? What if she died trying to get home? What good would her home do her then? Maybe staying in this place was best after all.
She had just about stopped moving when she heard a whisper coming from deep within her. No, not quite a whisper. Just the hint of a voice, really. So quiet she almost missed it. “Keep going,” was all it said. But with the voice came a strong sense of longing to finish this walk and get home – a feeling that someone was watching and cheering her on. Not understanding but willing to trust it, she started moving again.
It took tremendous strength and even more willpower to take the next few steps. She was so tired, she could think of nothing except shuffling her feet forward one inch at a time. But after a time, she realized she was getting stronger. She could see muscles in her arms and legs where previously there was only flab. And her feet were beginning to move a little easier. Instead of an inch, she was able to go several inches with each step. Then a whole foot at a time. It was like as she got stronger, whatever had a hold on her began to break off piece by piece. Soon she was able to straighten up and walk with her hands swinging by her sides again. Moving quickly now, she was delighted to see her home come into view.
As she turned into the driveway, she noticed she was once again bouncing with each step. Squirrels scampered around the nearby trees that lined the long driveway. And she heard a bird singing somewhere over her head.
Sighing with pleasure, she was so glad she had not given up. Yes, all that effort WAS worth it! She was home!
Dear Little Adventurer,
Just look at those little feet! So tiny, yet they have all the bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons as adult feet – everything you’ll need to walk, run, jump and dance when you get older. What potential in such an amazingly small package! I can see them pedaling a tricycle, heading full speed to destinations that aren’t important as you exalt in pure motion. I can see them lifting you up to reach something just out of reach. I can see them running without restraint as you race to your father’s embrace. And I can see them kicking wildly in a pool, soaking everyone around you. What fun you will have with them!
Your marvelous, perfect feet! I wonder where they will take you one day. Will you be a dancer? A mountain climber? A marathon runner? Will you use them to help people in need? Will they take you to exotic and exciting places? I can’t wait to hear about all the journeys your feet will take you!
Above all, I hope they keep you on the path of the One who loves you most – and if they happen to stray, that they will bring you quickly back.
Someone who loves you
Psalm 44:18 Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.
Psalm 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.
Proverbs 4:26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my granddaughter. But they are also letters God is writing to you. Reread them, replacing the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!
The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section. Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life. I’ve added links at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!
As wonderful as the beach is just as it is, random surprises, which I think of as treasures, keep me from taking it for granted. A large sculpture left by someone for others to enjoy, a thought-provoking crucifix fish skeleton, or a beautiful feather are a few I’ve found. The only thing about these surprises is I had to be walking down the beach to find them. If I had just plopped myself down in the nearest spot and stayed there the entire time, I would have missed them. And it’s very possible that even if I had been walking, if I was doing so with a bad attitude like when I’m angry and fussing at God about something, eyes focused on my feet and refusing to look around, I still would have missed them regardless of their size.
Life is full of surprises also. Unexpected money in the mail, the announcement of my first grandchild, or a trunk load of plants given to me by my brother were especially fun. These surprises help keep me from taking my life for granted and provide a welcome diversion from the less fun aspects of my life. I bet you could think of examples in your own life. God loves to scatter these surprises as evidence of His love but we need to be walking the path He’s asked us to walk in order to find them. If we keep to ourselves and refuse to leave our comfort zones, we might just miss something amazing He left for us to enjoy. And we need to keep our eyes open as we walk. Some of the surprises will be hard to miss, but others are a lot smaller and can be easily overlooked. How fun would it be if we viewed every day as an opportunity to go on a treasure hunt!
They will enjoy the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the shores. Deuteronomy 33:19
I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3
Thinking back on all she had learned, she felt frustrated. And a little bit sad.
She knew God loved her.
She knew He was with her every moment.
She knew He was looking out for her and had a purpose for her life.
She knew He was faithful and trustworthy and powerful.
So why, with all this knowledge, was she unable to apply it to her day to day life? Why was she so ready to doubt? Why was just trusting Him so hard?
“Lord,” she prayed. “Tell me how to transform my head knowledge into heart knowledge. How do I trust You?”
“By doing what I say. By trying and falling and trying again.”
“That doesn’t sound fun.”
“It’s like learning to walk. You will learn slowly. And sometimes it’s painful. But you have to do it. It won’t happen automatically.”
“Why can’t it?”
“Because I didn’t design you that way. If growth came automatically, it wouldn’t mean much.”
“I guess that’s true. Some of the things I value the most are the things I worked hardest at. At it would be easy to take faith for granted if we never had to think about it.”
“Exactly. And every step you take towards deeper faith pleases your Father greatly.”
“Well, I do want to please Him in everything I do. I guess growing faith fits right in. OK. So how do I take these steps?”
“Put into practice what you read and…”
“All of it? Really? I’ve read so many conflicting ideas and suggestions and beliefs.”
“Listen for Me when you read. You’ll know then what to put into practice.”
“I think I do recognize You sometimes as I read. It’s like my heart does a flip or sometimes grows warm. Or sometimes the words jump off the page at me.”
“Yes, different ways, to keep you on your toes.”
“Is that it?”
“No, You must also put into practice all that I say to you. And yes, all!”
“Even the hard things? And the scary things?”
“You don’t need to fear. I won’t tell you to do anything that you’re not ready to do.”
“What if I make a mistake in hearing from You? What if I think You said to do something, but I heard wrong?”
“That will happen at times. Stay humble, come to me, and I’ll take care of you. I’ll either cover for you or I’ll show you how to fix it.”
“But if I’m going to be wrong sometimes, how can I trust enough to act on it?”
“Don’t doubt but believe. As you act, as you practice taking these steps, you will get better and your faith will grow stronger. ”
“And You will be with me?”
“Every step of the way. I will not let you down.”
She thought about what He said. Although she wasn’t thrilled about the falls she would make over time, she was always thrilled when He spoke to her. And this time was no exception. “Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me and for Your amazing promises! I will practice as You say. And I look forward to the day when my trust in You is no longer just in my head, but has truly taken up residence in my heart!”
She read Ps 37:23-24 in The Living Bible (TLB):
“The steps of good men are directed by the LORD. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the LORD holds them with his hand.”
Hmmm… she thought. Who are these good men?
Paul says when we are saved, we are washed of our sins and we become good in the eyes of God. So these good men must be the saved. That means I’m one of the good guys.
“He delights in each step they take.”
The thought of a baby came to mind – one that was just learning to walk. And the delight on the dad’s face as he watched his son take each hesitant step.
God, as my Father, delights in my steps? That’s hard to believe because I sure don’t delight in them. I’m a baby in my faith and am just learning to walk. The steps are slow, often painful and awkward. But God delights in them, and He will always delight in them no matter how old I get.
“If they fall, it isn’t fatal…”
Wow, good to know. Because I fall a lot! My salvation does not depend on how well I walk, but on how well Jesus walked.
“for the LORD holds them with his hand.”
Jesus is right here, all the time, holding my hand as I continue taking steps. I’ll never be separated from Him because it’s Him holding my hand, not me holding His.
Whew. This takes a lot of pressure off me!
She thought for a few minutes. So what I think God is saying is…
Relax! Don’t beat yourself up for your failures, but enjoy the whole spiritual learning process, because I do! I’m with you every step of the way!