I always hear people say that God is able, that He is all-powerful, that he can do ANYTHING—nothing is too big for Him. And I have always felt frustrated, because I BELIEVE that, and yet my faith doesn’t always produce the results I want. A few days ago, I had the biggest light bulb moment as I was working through Beth Moore’s study, “Breaking Free.” My problem is not that I doubt God’s power or ability… My problem is that I doubt his GRACE. I doubt that He could ever use me in any big and meaningful way. I doubt that He would choose or appoint ME for any special calling in His kingdom. I’m convinced He will wash His hands of me and find someone else who stays on track more faithfully than I do.
That’s it in a nutshell… I am arrogant enough to believe that I am the ONE person whose mistakes and imperfections are too big for God’s grace to handle—that I am the ONE person whose sins can’t possibly be COMPLETELY covered by Jesus’ work on the cross—that I’m the ONE person who has messed up so much that God has just said, “Forget her! I can redeem ANYONE— including murderers like Moses, David, and Paul and use them mightily for My kingdom… but NOT HER—she’s hopeless and not worth my time.”
That is arrogance, my friends. My way of thinking makes it all about ME, when in reality—EVERYTHING is all about God. I will never do great things in life because of who I am or what I do or don’t do… I will do great things only because of who HE is and what HE does through me. Getting this truth into my very core will mean FREEDOM for me – and for anyone else who feels like they’re just running in place and getting nowhere.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness…” 2Cor 12:9
I like to take shortcuts. If there’s a shorter path, an easier road, a quicker route—I want to be on it. Only recently have I begun to realize that I may be short-changing myself in the process. The other day, I was nearing the end of a power walk, and I was anxious to get back to my car a few blocks away. At the far end of our main street where I was walking, there are no crossroads for the length of several blocks. I saw the pedestrian crossing far up the road, and then I saw the diagonal short-cut (otherwise known as jaywalking) that would get me to my car so much faster. It’s a small town, and I’ve jaywalked more than I’ve followed the rules here, but something that day made me decide to do it the right way and not take the shortcut this time. I no sooner had made that decision when a car came spinning out of a gas station parking lot—the driver not even pausing to look and instead looking down at a cell phone—and flew at breakneck speed through the exact spot where I would have been “jaywalking.” As I continued to walk toward the pedestrian crossing, my heart was still pounding a bit as I considered the “what ifs.” But I was also blessed along the way by the sweet fragrance of lilacs along my path and the sight of two sweet little chipmunks playfully chasing each other through the grass next to me. As I walked, I was humbled by a sense of God’s wisdom. I thought about how many times my impatient need to take the “short cut”—instead of following God’s wise, but longer journey—has led me right into the path of danger. Maybe not physical danger—but spiritual, emotional, or financial danger. How many times have I gotten myself into a mess that could have been avoided? How often have I missed out on joy and beauty and personal growth because I cut corners and rushed into something instead of savoring the blessings and lessons God had for me along the path HE had picked for me? When will I learn to FOLLOW instead of foolishly running ahead?
Ever try to steer a canoe from the front seat? It doesn’t work! All you do is exert a ton of energy to weave to and fro, and you get essentially nowhere. If you’re smart, you’ll let the person in the back seat steer and guide the canoe while you just keep a steady pace. Then, too, it’s also smart to put the strongest, most powerful person in the back – when you do so, you can actually feel the surge of power from the person behind you propelling the canoe forward while you take a break to rest your weary arms. So…who’s steering your canoe in life? If you’re floundering and exhausted, it’s probably because you (like me) keep trying to “steer from the front” instead of trusting God to do what He does best – provide guidance, direction, and incredible power to move you forward to the places He has called you to be. Remember – “He’s got your back.” Why do I keep forgetting that?! No wonder I often feel drained and discouraged. Today, God, help me put one foot in front of the other – keep a steady pace – and let YOU do the steering.
A few years ago, when I was bitter and angry that my life had seemingly blown up before my eyes, I remember a wise counselor telling me this story: “I had a car that was always in need of repair…I was always fixing something, patching something, wiring something on – it was always in the shop, and I was always aggravated, distressed, or stranded somewhere. Yet it never occurred to me to just BUY ANOTHER CAR. Until one day, the whole motor just blew up in the middle of my driveway, and I had no choice but to start fresh with a new vehicle. It only took a few weeks of peace and no problems for me to realize how foolish I had been… struggling and striving to hang onto something that was no longer working for me instead of just letting go of that disaster and choosing something new.” The same is true in our own lives. At times our life can become such a wreck – either from own poor choices or from unfair and crushing circumstances – that we are just like that broken down car, limping along on our last leg, barely surviving. We pray for relief, but things only seem to get worse…..But maybe that’s part of God’s plan to save us. Instead of allowing us to cling desperately to the remnants of our broken life, always patching things up but never really healing, He may instead gently and lovingly allow our life to “blow up” in our face so He can give us something new and far more wonderful to move forward with. Yes, sometimes our darkest, most excruciating moments go on to become our greatest victories. (Surely, we can look to Jesus as an example – the greatest victory was gained through the ultimate pain and despair.) So if you’re there in that darkness today, take heart and hold on….your “new car” may be waiting for you just around the corner.