It’s so easy to lose focus. So easy to get wrapped up in all the wrong things. So easy to worry and try to take control of the situation, and try to figure it out all by yourself. Oh, wait. That is the hard way.
Why won’t I just trust God? It’s not a cliché’, it’s what he asks us to do. Sometimes the last thing people want to hear when they are going through something tough is one more programmed answer: “You will get through it”, “There is a reason for everything”, or “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”.
While all those things may contain truth, they don’t really help. What people (myself included) need when they don’t know what to do, or don’t know how to go on, is to pray.
Okay, so that is vague. What do I pray? How does that help? I am praying but nothing is changing!
What to pray: Ask God to show you his Will, meaning: what does he want for your life? Not what you want God to give you, but what HE wants. Because we may not even realize the possibilities, and what God can do with us, but God can. But we have to let go of that plan we have devised for our lives.
It makes me think of the story Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s about a little boy who raises two dogs and teaches them to hunt raccoons. His grandfather shows him how to make a trap that lures a coon into reaching for a bright shiny object. When the coon tries to lift his paw out of the hole with the shiny object, it gets stuck on some angled nails because the coon’s enclosed fist would be too big to pull it out of the trap. The coon was too stupid to drop the object and then just pull his hand through, so he was trapped. I see myself, with my hand in a hole, holding on and refusing to let go. We have to really, really let go of that shiny thing we think we can’t live without, or we will just be trapped. Trapped in our own selfishness, greed, and stubbornness instead of letting go and seeing where else God will take us.
My hangup lately? Looking at houses. What? How is there anything wrong with that? I look at these houses I want, bigger, nicer, plenty of room for our kids and any more we may have. Here is the problem: I am trying to make things happen on my own. I am looking to the world and material things as the next “step” in our lives. We don’t have to have a bigger/better house. I mean, yes, it would be helpful, especially if we are blessed with any more children. BUT, is that in God’s will for my life? Maybe he wants to bless us by NOT spending more money on a house and me being able to stay home with my children. Or, maybe we need to reach out to a neighbor. Or, maybe a bigger house would just be a stumbling block for me, getting even more caught up in the material things. I have a tendency to find a way to make things happen, and not consulting God about them. I research, and calculate, and find a way. Just because it works out, doesn’t mean that is what God wanted for my life. What God wants: For me to know Him, follow him, serve him. I need to start asking myself if that is what I am really striving for.
There will always be something we want. There will always be something we need. We tend to have the mindset that if we can just get to a certain place, then we will be okay. But the thing is, we will never reach that point until we get to heaven. I think here we need to take a cue from Paul:
Phillipians 4:11 – “…. for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
And those nagging worries- I need a bigger house, to pay my bills, feed my kids. Jesus helps us out there:
Matthew 6:25-34“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Or single cubit to your height? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
So when I start to worry, calculate my own plan, and get caught up in the daily grind, I need to stop. Stop, and pray, and ask God what he wants for my life. Because if I just hold on to my shiny objects and worry myself into sickness, I am missing out on all the ways God can use me. And when God uses us, we learn. And when we learn, we can share with others. And if we are sharing with others, then we are taking the focus off ourselves, and giving the glory to God.
Lord, help me let go of that shiny thing.