lessons from the carseat.

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(photo cred: unsplash)

a few months ago, i wrote a blog post about how god used one of my favorite kiddos to teach me a lesson. to speak to me using my own words to a child. i think maybe this should become a series because mostly i’m just like a little child pretending i’m grown + have no need for a father. for this series, let yourself imagine a graphic drawing (or actual photo) of me in a carseat in the back (long legs n all) and god in the drivers seat mostly shaking his head and in all probability – cursing while i act like… well… a child. moving on….

this morning, i took my nieces on a VERY urgent donut trip (as is every donut trip). it was pouring rain but worth the trouble so we went to the store, were driving back to the house to eat them and my niece inquired whether i had gotten her chocolate milk. i had not. i didn’t realize she wanted any and told her that. she wasn’t thrilled and was feeling pouty about it. i told her that i was sorry, that i didn’t know she wanted it but that we got DONUTS and we should be happy with what we did get and not unhappy with what we didn’t. the pouting proceeded as did my mature attitude about it ;). a few minutes later when we were closer to home, i tried to get her attention to explain to her why it was unnecessary. she was having none of it (touche, sister. when i don’t get chocolate milk, i’m not pleasant either). i told her we were taking another loop until she had a better attitude about the fact that she GOT chocolate donut (WITH SPRINKLES!) and not being sad that she didn’t get chocolate milk. i explained that i knew it was disappointing and sad but that sometimes we don’t get things we want but that we can’t just pout about it. we should focus on what we DO have and not on what we DON’T.

then it hit me. (the donut did. from the back seat. she threw it at me. ok i’m lying.) i’m so guilty of this.

god is trying to tell me, “hey kid. i know you want the CHOCOLATE MILK. I GET THAT YOU ASKED FOR IT AND I SAID NO. i HEAR you complaining and i SEE you pouting. (no seriously… every day i’ve been telling god “hey…. still not happy here. still not my plan. thanks, bye”) but you get a CHOCOLATE DONUT. WITH. SPRINKLES. for god’s sake (literally), be happy for the things i HAVE given you and AM doing in your life. stop pouting or we’ll take a few loops around until you get it.” and still, i demand my own way. i think that if only i had the thing that i asked god for and want, i would be content. if i had the chocolate milk or the job that i want or the boy or the situation, that i’d suddenly be okay. and maybe i would. temporarily. but god is looking to sustain me long-term. he has a far greater plan than the chocolate milk and the chocolate donut. he is doing a more wonderful work (however terrible the means) than i could think up. while it’s difficult to trust him (especially for my wayward self), i have to live every day walking confidently in what IS and clinging to his promises of what eventually will be. here’s to enjoying the chocolate sprinkled donuts of today and hoping for the chocolate milks of the future. or some such theologically deep thing. below is a quote from cs lewis to make up for all the damage i did above. you’re welcome.

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” //  cs lewis, the weight of glory.
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shifting sand

life is uncertain. be alive for any number of days and you know this. one day you’re pregnant, the next you’re not. one moment you have someone you want to marry, the next day you’re single. one day you have a father, sister, mother, brother, friend, the next day you’re attending their funeral. you expect to go to work and now you no longer have a job. you expected this friend to be forever and now you no longer speak. the uncertainties work in reverse as well. the infertile with a baby. unexpected to live with a hopeful diagnosis. jobless for years to a dream job. we are constantly inundated with situations we’d never choose, could never imagine. but what if all our hope is in the imagined things, the things desired and planned for? we are like fools. we are depressed, disheartened, disillusioned. we are a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears (james 4:14). we are simple, silly builders building our house not on the rock that is steady, unwavering, forever, but on shifting sand (matthew 7:24-27).

life’s uncertainties can be riveting, exciting, fun. they can be heartbreaking in the worst ways. they can change the way you view others, the way you view god. you can lose your faith over the gap between what you planned for your life and god’s apparent will for it.

the beauty is that in these moments, we can cling to the rock. we have this sure anchor, firm and secure (hebrews 6:19). he does not change like the shifting shadows (james 1:17). he will not budge, will not break. god is the only trustworthy place to take your dreams, to take your damaged heart. in the midst of one of the hardest seasons of my life, god is reminding me that he is my safe place. know how i found out? because when “the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house…it fell with a great crash“. the house i had so lovingly built, decorated with knick knacks of my own making and that i had invited people into has come crashing down around me. a crash of sizeable proportion. one that has left me temporarily homeless, clinging to the wreckage. i pick up my prized plans from the pieces of what’s left and i have been trying (without success) to put them back together.

for the past few months, i have lain in the rubble. comfortable with the likeness of what i wanted instead of joining the Builder in what he’s building for me in its place. he is not building the house i thought i wanted but the one i actually need (and i’m sure, will actually be what i truly wanted after all). my sights are set too low, my faith too weak. contrary to boasting in tomorrow, in what city i will go to or what job i will have, i should instead be content to follow in his will day by day (james 4:13-15). i’m not there yet but every day i pray i rest in him more. “as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” psalm 61:2

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(for a more eloquent, shorter, and far better analogy, read this quote from c.s. lewis’ mere christianity)