It started with a birthday party invitation and ended with a two-hour wrestling match with God while I drove to Kentucky. One of my children received an invitation to a party by a friend his age. Some siblings were pouting that he got to do something fun and they didn’t. There was whining and fussing and “It’s not fair” and the invited child, who had been so excited, had the joy dimmed by the attitude of the siblings. I’m sure that never happens at your house…
Long talk about “Rejoicing with those that rejoice and mourning with those that mourn.” Strong encouragement to not quench the joy of others. Big words from Mom about no quota of good things–just because someone else gets something good or has something good happen to them doesn’t mean there aren’t any good things left for you. I hoped it would stick. This was beginning to be a habit with my kids and I wanted to nip it in the bud.
Suddenly, the shoe was on the other foot. It’s easier to mourn with those that mourn when you’re in a hard place. When suddenly I was called on to pray for a miracle for one in a situation similar to ours–to rejoice with one who was rejoicing, when something amazing was possible–a true miracle that would ease a hurtful, awful situation–I was having to try to rejoice with this person. My thoughts were NOT rejoicing. I mean, I was glad for them, but what I was thinking, was more along the lines of “Pray for a miracle for them? I’ve been praying for a miracle for us for a year and that hasn’t worked out so well yet. They’ve only been in their situation for a couple of weeks? Shouldn’t our miracle come first? We seem to need it worse. We’re getting to the end of our rope.” Wasn’t that lovely of me?
I had plenty of time to think and stew on it. I had a two-hour drive in the van whose air conditioning had just gone out. Two hours on the interstate rocketing along at 70 miles an hour, hair whipping around, having to shout over the trucks to be heard by my cranky, hot children; sticking to the van seats, sweat dripping down my back… a lovely environment to pray. So we wrestled, me and the Lord. Fortunately He doesn’t seem to mind. “It’s not fair. Does everything have to work out easily for them, even their difficulties, while our difficulties are not resolved easily and seem so…difficult? Why can’t our problems be resolved that fast?” Somewhere around hour two I thought I’d heard this before.
Oh yeah. This morning. I sounded like my whiny kids. “Yeah, but this is our house, our career, our livelihood, not roller skating and a birthday cake.” Great. Now I’m the whiny kid. The Lord gently brought to mind all the ways He has sustained us the last year: monetarily, emotionally, and spiritually–the connections we’ve made, how He’s strengthened our marriage, how we’ve come to lean on Him far more.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Struggle, wrestle, surrender, let go, be at peace. Sigh. OK. Got it, at least for now, for today, for this issue. God works in everyone’s life differently. How He swoops in and rescues me from my pit may not be the way He rescues you from your pit. And, well, we don’t get to choose the rescue method, or (often) even the pit of despair life deposits us in. I can either be grateful for the way He chooses to supply my needs, or I can be like a pouty child, because the way He chose didn’t seem as blog-worthy, or fast enough, or as cool as the way He chose to supply your needs.
He may supply your needs in the storm by speaking “Peace, be still” and the storm immediately ends. The storm may rage on while He asks you to get out of the boat and walk on water to Him through the storm. When I start looking at how the needs were met instead of by Whom; when I take my eyes off of Jesus and look at the wind and the waves, I start sinking into fear or depression, or covetousness–a whole laundry list of attitudes that really boil down to selfishness. I’m looking everywhere but to Jesus and the nail-scarred hand He holds out to me. Instead of walking on water with Him, I’m choking on lake water in a storm.
I’m reminded of Peter, wonderful, outspoken, brash, impetuous Peter who was brave enough to get out of the boat. Remember later, when Jesus told Peter of his end? That his life would end painfully as Jesus’ did? Peter looked at John and asked, “What about him?” Jesus’ reply was classic “If it’s My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
So…I am praying for a miracle for a dear one, hoping this will work out and ease a huge burden on their family. I’m asking Jesus to help me choose to follow Him humbly every day. Sometimes every hour. I’m asking for the faith to get out of the boat and walk on water through the storm with my eyes fixed on Him. Asking for the strength and grace to not trust my emotions, to not glance wildly at the circumstances, the bank account, or the economy. I’m asking for His hand to hold as I walk through the storm, and I know that He extends it to me and says “Come.”