I find that there are times when I keep myself conveniently occupied and busy in ministry work – serving, connecting with people, preparing messages, studying, etc. From the outside point of view, these all seem to be good, constructive, kingdom building activities and they most certainly can be! If I’m going to be brutally honest, however, sometimes these external activities can be a distraction for me to conveniently neglect the uncomfortable internal work that I can feel God pressing me on to be a stronger, deeper and more committed follower of Jesus. With that being said, I don’t think we need to neglect the outside work of ministry to grow internally – but if we don’t follow the Holy Spirit, sometimes the outside work can be a convenient distraction from the inside work that can be uncomfortable that God wants to do in our hearts. Perhaps God wants our external interactions and living to be a consequence of our rich interior fellowship with God (interior designing for exterior living)
I know that the title to this blog is kind of a silly question because I think that we have all been disappointed with God at some point in our lives – maybe disappointed with an event, a prayer, a situation, a desired outcome that didn’t happen, etc. I was thinking about what it means to be disappointed with God and I remembered Martha and Mary’s statement to Jesus about how if Jesus had been present that their brother, Lazarus would not have died. Martha & Mary were pretty ripped up from their brother’s death and when Jesus showed up on the scene 4 days late, maybe it was like rubbing salt in their wounds, maybe.
But when we read this story, Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead before He did anything – and what He did far exceeded the expectations of Martha and Mary. From a human viewpoint, resurrection from the dead trumps a physical healing. But Lazarus’ sisters were disappointed with Jesus and Him being too late until He obliterated their disappointment with His resurrection power.
I have a couple of thoughts that we can carry into our daily living from this story about being disappointed with God:
- God isn’t finished – life is a journey and process, so whatever seems permanent and finished could merely be a comma
- Don’t hold onto grief and disappointment more than you hold onto God
- God is good and loves us even when we don’t get what we want or seem to need
When I bought my first car, I didn’t understand the importance of changing my oil consistently which of course led to some big problems. I also didn’t understand (before doing this “experiment”) that it’s not possible to “toast” whipped cream under a broiler. There are LOTS of other examples of things that I haven’t & still don’t understand.
But here’s something to consider, it’s not necessary to understand everything to do what is right. Here are some examples:
- I may not understand why a person is being stupid rude (maybe they had a rough day, or got some bad news, etc), but my lack of understanding doesn’t have to prevent me from being kind.
- I may not understand why something bad has happened to me, but my lack of understanding doesn’t have to sabotage my trust or faith in God.
- I may not understand why God has chosen a particular path for me, but my lack of understanding doesn’t give me the license or permission to be disrespectful of God’s choices for me
There are some things that we will never understand on this side of heaven & perhaps that is exactly the test that God has chosen for us – so let’s not base our behavior solely on our understanding 🙂
I hate it when I’m driving through an area, talking on the phone & then I hit a dead spot where there’s no phone coverage & I drop the person with whom I was talking – HATE THAT!!! But I’m getting trained to anticipate where those dead zones are & if I’m being alert, I’ll forewarn the person on the phone that I’m coming into a dead zone & I may accidentally drop them, but I’ll call back when I’ve got more “bars”
Sometimes, I think we’re like this with God – we feel like we have full bars with God during a really wonderful prayer time or during some fantastic worship or with a great Bible verse. And then as we go through the day, life happens and it seems like maybe we “drop” God or hit a prolonged “dead zone”. Here’s something to consider – in the Bible, it says that God never leaves us. If we understand this well, we appreciate that God is with us no matter how we “feel.” So just because we may not feel God in the same way as in a prayer or worship time, that doesn’t mean that God’s not there. Rather, let me propose that God is just as present when we feel God as when we don’t feel God. Perhaps its more of an issue of our awareness and recognition. Furthermore, maybe God wants us to experience Him in lots of different contexts – just something to consider on this happy Tuesday 🙂
Our culture applauds strength & independence and these are good things to have – they can serve us well in lots of different ways. The tricky part for us humans is that we tend to struggle with the practice of balance. For some of us, independence & strength are the fortress in which we live, sometimes at the expense of fellowship with others and experiencing the amazing and indescribable power and wisdom of God. I’ve made it my goal to know & be close to God. With this decision, I get to adventure through various weaknesses in my life so that I can begin to experience God’s immense but gentle strength, God’s tenacious and faithful love, along with God’s wisdom that far exceeds my puny mental gyrations. In the end, I’ll take God’s strength, fellowship & communion anytime – it is far superior to any comfort from my own strength or independence. God’s ways are higher than my ways 🙂
I read this morning about Adam & Eve getting tricked by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. I found it interesting to consider that the serpent tried to create a doubt in Eve’s mind about the goodness and intentions of God. In the serpent’s conversation with Eve, he made it sound like God was holding out on something good by not allowing them to eat from this one particular tree.
I find this to be an interesting trap that the devil continues to use on us to this day – that when God says “no” to something, that God is holding back something good from us. Let’s consider that if God says no to a situation or request that we’ve made, God has something better than what we would’ve settled for. When God says “no”, we can trust that God is protecting us from something awful and has something significantly better in mind for us 🙂
As a mom with 3 wonderful kids, I’m super high on my kids. I think they’re amazing, funny, intelligent, kind, wonderful and they can almost walk on water, almost ,) With that being said, I’ve noticed that my gentle efforts to wake them up every morning are sometimes not as effective as something less gentle – we call this the defcon 5-1 approach 🙂
While it’s unfortunate, it is also true that we sometimes learn the best and grow the most through hardship and struggle. Even though I want to insulate my kids & protect them from every single hardship & struggle, this isn’t always what is in their longterm best interests. Perhaps God sees us with the same perspective, knowing that we often grow and mature the most when we wrestle with hardships and struggle. Perhaps this is why James says that we’re to be grateful for adversities – ouch!
Sometimes I try to put myself in the shoes of Peter when he asked Jesus about trying to walk on water. I think it took alot of guts, bravado and possibly faith to get out of the boat & walk to Jesus. The rest of the disciples in the boat were probably scared, incredulous, amazed, astounded and possibly jealous that Peter could be so bold. Nevertheless, it would seem to me that they had to stabilize the boat when Peter was getting out of it, so that it wouldn’t tip over (ever try to get in or out of a boat without the help of a pier???). It took some teamwork to help Peter get out of the boat. Once he started to walk on the water, everyone including Peter were probably shocked out of their skin. But I think that Jesus had a smirk & maybe a bit of a sly wink.
When Peter started to sink, all bets were off and everyone except Jesus started to freak out. Seems like this is often the case with me – I love the beginning of any adventure & the rush of adrenaline that goes with the initial momentum. But when I sense adversity or hardship, it’s easy to get distracted from keeping my eyes on Jesus and focus on the various struggles. That’s where the sinking feeling starts. So here’s some encouragement: no matter what the circumstances, your feelings, adversities, hardships, struggles and what may seem impossible, we must give ourself no choice but to focus on Jesus. All other focuses can drown us in failure, sadness, discouragement and struggle.
I just want to take a brief moment to thank you for reading this blog. I know that you have a never ending list of choices for your reading so I’m particularly grateful that you have taken some time with me. Additionally, I especially want to thank those of you who have left comments, who’ve encouraged me & also for those who have subscribed to receiving this blog.
Thank you for going on this journey with me, for your patience & for being gentle. In our cyber world of social media & relationships over the web, thank you for not being judgmental, harsh nor condemning. Thank you for getting to connect 🙂
I’ve been thinking a little bit about walking hand in hand with Jesus and then I read this morning in Ps 73:23 that God holds my hand. This feels really soothing, safe, assuring and secure to think that Jesus holds my hand. Then I also remembered that when Peter was drowning from his water walking experiment, Jesus reached out His hand and rescued Peter. Finally, I was also thinking about how the angels took Lot by the hand when he lingered in Sodom when God was ready to obliterate this city. The stories of Peter drowning & Lot lingering show me that God is personal enough to take my hand to keep me from drowning in various storms & to keep me from being destroyed by my own stupidity.
Thankfully, Jesus takes us by our hand, day by day & moment by moment 🙂