When Shane and I got married we went apartment hunting. The lady showed us one apartment that I loved. There was a big window in the living room and a cute, bright green wispy tree right outside the window. It was pretty. The lady showed us another apartment. We walked in. It smelled cleaner. The carpet was newer. The cabinets were newer. It was a nicer apartment. I walked right to the big window and looked for the green wispy tree. There was not one. Instead there were 3 or 4 air conditioner units on the ground. I wanted the other apartment because I liked the view better. Shane wanted the newer one. That is the one he chose for us. I was sad.
So, we backed up my dad's red pick up truck, unloaded all 4 of our boxes and moved in. I was always disappointed when I did not see the bright green wispy tree. About 5 months after the day we moved in, I looked out the window and saw something I had never noticed. 1,2,3...14,15...What? I walked outside and looked around. Are you kidding? It looked like Fangorn Forest. Spring had come. It was like over night all the dead trees came to life and were in full bloom. I went back inside. There was not a bright green wispy tree outside my window. There were at least 15 trees and they were all filled with leaves.
God used that lesson to teach me that my focus determines my attitude. Last week I was mad in my heart about some situations God has placed in my life. Really. Mad. Not just frustrated. I am learning that when I play the "Why is this happening to me?" game it never ends up productive. When I start to play the "You are..." game things start to change. Here are some of my favorite things about who God is.
You are light. In you there is no darkness.
You are good. All the time.
Your timing is perfect.
Your plans are perfect.
Your ways are perfect.
You never change.
You cover me with the shadow of your righteous right hand.
Your name is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.
You never give us more than we can bear.
You are enough.
You rejoice over me with singing.
You keep all of your promises.
You do not lie.
You cannot lie.
You give peace that the world does not understand.
I plan my steps, you determine my course.
You never leave us.
You are alive and you speak to me through your word.
Last week was one of those weeks when I had to get out of bed a couple nights and get down on my knees. The longer I laid there and thought about what I was mad about the madder I got. I had to get out of bed and on my knees (with a bad heart I might add). It was one of those times you can't really talk to anyone else but God. No one else could change anything except Him. Anyone else will give you advice filtered through their opinion. They will take the situation at face value and agree that it is hard and you have a right to feel how you do.
Some upcoming circumstances felt hard. I did not want to give the sacrifice it would require to walk through them. And God had clearly placed them in my life. I did not want Him to change my heart or my attitude. Shane and I have committed our lives to God. We want to serve him in things that are lasting. Last week I wanted to go back on my commitment because it brought me to a hard place.
I prayed mostly wishing things would change, not with a heart of bold faith. It is amazing that God takes whatever we bring Him and works with it. It is so easy for me to get caught up in the one thing I don't have. It takes my focus off the bigger picture that I am part of a plan. His plan. His timing. His provision for my life.
One of the greatest gifts of being a child of God is getting to experience unexplainable peace when you shouldn't have peace. That is what God gave me last week. One of the situations I was so mad about was replaced with peace. And God took care of me. And blessed me. And blessed Shane. And blessed my kids through it. And blessed a lot of other people throught it. And brought glory to His name. And reminded me that sacrifice and obedience always bring blessing.
In Genesis 16 God meets Hagar on the road when she is running away from her hard times and misery. He tells her to go back and face her challenges. He says, "I am the God who sees you." She obeyed, went back and was blessed.
It is amazing how quickly Satan will come in and try to steal your joy. How he will start to whisper lies and plant thoughts of doubt in your head. God has taught me lessons this week about his faithfulness, and Satan has placed thoughts of, "Well, you know, something bad is going to happen tomorrow when you go in to have that baby. Get ready." I am glad that God's word is stronger and more powerful than those lies. Than those thoughts of fear and worry that want to creep in. That he is good, all the time. That nothing filters into my life that has not been filtered through his loving hands first. That he can fully be trusted to work out His will in my life. That it is hard sometimes. That the reward is always greater than the sacrifice. That his plan always prevails. That he uses everything to bring Glory to His name.
Last week when I was praying God told me His grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in weakness. I wanted to keep my focus on the thing I did not have. When I looked up and decided to listen to him I got to experience the joy of all the good things He had planned.
I learned a few months ago that not only does God love me, but every single day he shows his love to me. And days go by where I don't even stop to notice how he is showing his love that day. I hope today is a great day for you. There is a lot to be joyful about.
"Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Ps 34:5