Snakes

“God’s idea of good and our idea of good can be two completely different things.”

Over and over I’ve heard this statement – even tried to condition my heart to believe it at times.

I understand the concept – sometimes the things that we think are good for us in the moment are actually not good for us at all.
“No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast,” is the goodness and love of parents not wanting their children to waltz into childhood obesity. Kids might think their parents are cruel fun suckers in the moment, but in time they will see that by being fed nutritious, not-so-desirable breakfasts, they were actually being cared for by the ones in charge of their well-being.

…there’s a balance to everything though…

There’s truth and thankfulness in the fact that there have been prayers sent up for things I thought I desperately needed, and the Lord didn’t grant my wish in his kindness – open doors, changes in scenery, relationships.
In his kindness, the Lord didn’t ‘make things work’ with my longterm high school boyfriend who I swore could never be detached from my life. In his kindness, the Lord didn’t make a way for me to be shipped to another city for the college experience I thought that I was missing out on.

But a lot of times we miss it – I miss it.

We tell the brokenhearted high school girl that “God is loving her” by taking her boyfriend away, and she hears “God wants me to be alone. God doesn’t love what I love. The things that I care about are wrong,” instead of “God has something SO much better for me down the road and he couldn’t let me settle for this. God sees my future and knows what I need.”

We tell the stuck-in-hometown girl that God is being good to her by keeping her home for college and she hears “God doesn’t want to provide for me. God came through for everyone else and must have forgotten,” when God was totally saying “Hey girl, you’re going to hate college and quit anyway. I have the best adventure planned for us – please trust me!”

 

With the particular situations I mentioned, I started associating complete surrender with being stripped to the bone with nothing left but God.

God’s idea of good – loneliness, losing things I loved, betrayal from friends, lack of provision.

Jesus promises that he will not give us a stone when we ask for bread, or a snake when we ask for fish. I was asking for more of Jesus – a deeper relationship, more knowledge of who he was – GOOD THINGS – and it seemed like I was handed the flounder I was praying for, coupled with 4 hefty snakes for good measure.

I’ve spent a lot of time with hands full of snakes the enemy has given me, trying to convince myself that they’re all particularly long, rare species of fish that the Lord will explain and teach me about later.

If we being evil wouldn’t throw our children into a pit with a copperhead and say “After this trip to the hospital, you will learn that I’ll never leave you,” why would the Lord do that to us?

“God’s idea of good and our idea of good can be two completely different things.”
It suggests that our concept of good is actually better, and that the painful, hard things ‘from God’ will just have to be carried and explained at a later date. It suggests that when we anticipate good things, we’ll actually be unpleasantly surprised most of the time, being shaken to the core, but eventually at peace with the season we’re in.

I was recently giving a particular thing back to the Lord (you know, that whole ‘keep your hands open’ concept) – I was literally flinching as I listed all of the things in my hands that I was deeming the Lord’s.
In the middle of my flinch, the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and said “Hey – you’ve given these things to me like a gazillion times – if I was going to give you bad news, don’t you think I would have done it by now?”

Expecting snakes, receiving fish.
Expecting everything to be ripped from my hands as he whispers “Nope, you can keep that one. You carry it so well. I’m going to make it better than you’ve ever hoped.”

When we surrender, it’s not submitting to a violent stripping – it’s giving Jesus permission to bless us beyond our greatest comprehension.
If you’ve walked through seasons of surrender and felt like you’ve lost everything – know that it’s not the end.

My mom would always make us go through our stuff in the designated ‘toy room’ about a month before Christmas. We HATED getting rid of toys, but as we grew older, we understood that we were only getting rid of things we didn’t use anymore to make room for the things we really desired.

He knows what we really desire, and longs for us to have enough room when he brings perfect gifts our way.

 

PS – A picture of anything but snakes because EWWWW they’re those most terrible things in the world.

giftgift

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Storyteller

I’m the girl that has to read the last few pages of a book before I’ll commit to reading it at all.
The story has got to end well. I’m not going to invest all of my time, energy, and emotionalness into a journey that fizzles out at the end.

I remember picking up a Karen Kingsbury book my senior year of high school.
Plot line: A picture perfect family from Florida adopts a little boy and gives him an ideal life. The problem? Biological momma forged the father’s signature on the adoption papers. He’s now out of jail after 4 years AND WANTS HIS SON BACK. Oh God.. 3 chapters in, I frantically flipped to the back of the book to ensure all of the emotion and near heart connection made with the characters would be worth it.

It was, and I finished the book. (I also decided I was NOT going to college to be a social worker, like I had planned to do up to that point.)

I’m ALSO the girl that will ask about the ending of a movie before I watch it (and give movies with bad endings very bad reviews).

 

I can’t google and IMDB my life.. it doesn’t contain pages 239, 240, and 241 that I can quickly take a peek at, just to be sure. (That’s pretty difficult for a girl like me, insistent on happy endings)

There are stories in my life that don’t seem to end well – I’ve been betrayed, heartbroken, let down by leaders… I have unanswered questions and gray seasons that I haven’t made sense of yet.
In new, unknown things, I find myself anxious to be further along than I am, crossing my fingers for things to unfold in a particular way. I need to know it will be worth it – hold my breath until the happy ending.

Here’s the issue – I can spend so much time holding my breath that I skim through a lot of the story instead of soaking in every page. I can get through page 134, disappointed because I have no way of knowing the final outcome. Page 134 might be full of beauty and wonder and adventure, but anxiety will dim all of that pretty quickly if it’s allowed. 

Reading life page by page is scary – there are ups, downs, twists, turns, and no guarantees. BUT we have a promise that it will all be worth it. We have a promise that redemption has the final word, and that every twist and turn will be worked together for our good. Jesus is an incredible storyteller who always finishes what he starts – he won’t quit writing, he won’t give up or get bored with your story. Even the bleak moments have a way of making the finale more wonderful – each defeat is only a stepping stone into greater beauty and promise. 

We have to be brave enough to trust the one writing the story – even if things don’t work out like we planned, they will be bigger, better, soaked in redemption, and always worth it. Sometimes things turn out the way we hope – but we are free to enjoy the ride getting to the outcome instead of just hanging on for dear life in the backseat. We are allowed to loosen our white knuckle grip that wants to control and make things happen. I quit needing to make things happen myself when I believe that he’s making them better than I ever could. 

Let our hearts be strengthened in knowing that we are in the middle of the most beautiful story ever written with the happiest of all endings imaginable. Every detail has been established with so much thought and care, and we are safe to trust the author. If you’re in a low or an unexpected twist, it isn’t the end, it will only enhance the climax of the story when everything comes together seamlessly. 

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