Friday, February 8, 2013

Stepping In and Stepping Out

A few weeks ago, late in the morning, my friend gave me a call.  Actually, he called me and then I called him back.  I had my phone off and was in bed feeling sorry for myself when he called.  I wanted to stay in bed all day.  It was that kind of day.

He was calling to see if I was okay.  I sent him a text the night before.  I was tangling with a very disappointing situation and I was a bit overwhelmed at the time I sent him the text.  Usually, when I'm dealing with a crisis, I'll text a few friends and ask them to pray for me.  It's not easy to do, because I tend to question my own personal strength during those times.

Anyway, I called him back and during our conversation, my friend said it best:

"Sometimes we go through stuff; sometimes we just step in it."

And sometimes I just keep stepping in it, and it smells.

But each day is a new day, and with it comes other challenges and victories.  I'm guessing it'll be more of a challenge, but I'm up for it.

Since then, not much really has changed.

While it would appear on the surface that God continues to not answer me, He actually does.  He gives me a lot of answers to a lot of questions that I don't remember asking.  Ever feel like that?

Yet, the BIG question seems to remain unanswered.

It's just that His timing is not mine.  However, I couldn't really say that a few days ago.

The other day, I was talking to another friend, a different friend, who is going through a tough time.  I said, "You know, God may not answer my prayers, but I know He'll answer yours."  I couldn't believe I blurted that out, but that's what I had come to believe.  In fact, at my men's bible study, I shared that and I never saw so many "I can't believe you said that!" looks in one place.

But that's how I the time.

But, I've learned a few things, though, and it's funny how God answers my questions:

So what did He say?

Well, if I trust Him, I'll have joy.  Duh...heard that before.

If I'm patient, I will lack nothing.  Yeah, bullet.

Patience is not about getting beat up while the trials hit you.  Yeah...easy for you to say.

Patience is all about how to act while waiting for God's deliverance....


Patience is all about how to act while waiting for God's deliverance.  

Didn't see that coming.

And I then found out that patience is also a fruit that grows and develops under trial.  It also grows when the stuff you step in gets thrown on top of you.  Sometimes that stuff accelerates the growth of that fruit, but the best part is that fruit, when fully grown, doesn't taste like the manure that was used to fertilize it. It's a wonderful end result.  Eat an orange and tell me otherwise.

How do I develop patience?  Fortunately, I don't have to get doodoo all over me.  I can gain it through trust.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking.  "I need trust and then I'll have patience, but I need patience to have peace, and peace to have trust, and blah, blah, blah..."

It's like a spiritual double-dutch jump-rope.  You just don't know where to start and when to jump, and then you just go full-board, and your legs get welts from the rope beating that you receive.  

I know the feeling...I lived in the 'hood as a kid.  Double-dutch was a championship event in my neighborhood.

Jumping rope is a process.  First you start with a short one, by yourself, then you trust two people to hold a longer one on each end while you jump and hopefully they won't whip it around at 500 rpm and try to kill you.  Then with a little practice (and timing) you can do to the two-rope thing.

Peace is like that short rope that we start with by ourselves.  We actually have peace within us because Jesus left it with us; it was His peace that He gave us.  He actually said it: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  Peace is not acquired through our money, stuff, resources, talents, friends, social connections, number of friends on Facebook, et cetera.  It's through trust and patience (more on that in a bit).  But He also tells us to not LET our hearts be troubled, and to NOT be afraid.  The Amplified Bible says to stop allowing ourselves to be agitated and disturbed, and to not allow ourselves to be fearful, intimidated, cowardly, or unsettled.

How do we become agitated and disturbed, and to not allow ourselves to be fearful, intimidated, cowardly, or unsettled?  Through that wonderful gift we're born with, the gift of reason, and we use that gift of reason to try to figure out why things are happening to us.  We frustrate ourselves over the why rather than focus on the Who.  So, one thing I can do to help myself is to give up reasoning, which destroys my trust, and disrupts the growth of my patience, allowing no peace in my life.  We also aggravate ourselves through our destructive habits, relationships, financial decisions, life decisions, and anything else we cling on to to maintain control of our lives.  So, I have to ask:  With you in control, how are you doing with your life?

So by giving up reasoning, which is what I can do, kind of like jumping rope by myself, I can now have a little peace, a little success.  I can then trust God and Jesus to hold onto the longer ropes and let them start spinning that rope, and that's where trust comes in.  I'm trusting that they will not beat my legs into submission.  Once I get in a rhythm, and start moving, they will add the next rope, which is patience, how I act in a time of peace and trust.  If you have total trust in the people holding the rope, you can skip to your heart's content.  

And if you've ever mastered double-dutch, you can't help but smile...because you're GOOD at it, and you're not coming home with bruises on your legs!

We all have a little bit of skill to jump a rope, some better than others, mind you, but we all have some. We all have some peace, some more than others, but we all have some.  That's all we need to bring to the playground.  God, through Christ, can do the rest.

But do you see the cycle?  More trust, more patience, more PEACE, then more trust, more patience, and more cetera.  All now you're just stepping out instead of stepping in it...

Since I can't jump rope anymore (at least right now), I can joyfully submit to whatever God is doing.  I can wait patiently for God and say that God has a plan, God has a timing, and God has a wonderful, unique, one-of-a-kind plan for my life.

And while God does His thing, He has given me a full-time job, a spiritual job.  As God works in the natural, I can work in the Spirit.  There's a lot I can do.  And I don't mean busy work.  Let someone else manage the church bake sale.

Thank God that He's working in my life.
Agree that His timing is perfect and He will do the absolute right thing.
Keep my words in line with God’s word.

And until then, help someone else get their breakthrough.  Many times God will give us the anointing to help others while He works on our behalf.

God, it's Your plan, Your will, Your way, Your timing, and in the meantime, I am going to skip through life!

One final note:  Psalm 106 talks about how the Israelites kept whining to God about what they didn’t have.  So He gave them what they requested and slowly thinned them out with disease.  God will sometimes answer your prayer just to show you what you don’t want.  Keep that in mind when you pray to win the lottery.

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