He stripped me. Again. Stripped me of any control, any choice, any preference – without even consulting my fragile feelings or anxious heart.
He does that, you know. God often allows life to happen in ways we’re not always thrilled about.
I wanted the retreat I was speaking at recently to go perfectly; me and my sweet little agendas. After all, the best made plans can really help a girl out. But they can also be the death of her. Trust me, I know; having things mapped-out can be a really great thing – until those things start going all over the map.
For instance, I had planned to have all of my work done at least one week before the retreat so I could marinate in what I was speaking on for a few days; really get it into my heart and not just my head.
And yet, due to some big life events in the weeks preceding, I found myself still making changes up until the day before I left – adding things, subtracting things, researching things, contemplating things, getting frustrated about things…
My only request was a private room in the hopes that I could have lots of alone time with God and be able to sleep well, so my mind would be clear and sharp during my talks.
And it was a great room. Except for the two outside lights that were on all night long, shining proudly through the mini blinds and boring straight through my eyeballs and into my brain, making me think it was morning for eight solid hours.
Then there was the rain that threatened my hair, the food that threatened my body, the text that threatened my peace, and the thoughts that threatened to stir-up all of my insecurities.
All before I even put the lapel mic on.
Things didn’t go exactly as planned. My ducks were not only no longer in a row, some of them had flat-out taken off. My expectations were shattered and I was on the verge of becoming a perfect wreck – all because things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. The way I had been praying for them to go.
By Saturday afternoon, I had finished one of my talks and was walking back to my room to crash. The morning session had gone well enough, but I was still a little miffed.
Why even pray if our prayers don’t get answered?
As I hurried back through a heavy drizzle, mulling over this question and my weekend thus far, I started thinking…
I had prayed that God would let me be prepared well ahead of time so that I could be confident, knowing that it would all turn out great.
So God put me in a situation where I would learn that things could go great even when I’m not as prepared as I’d like to be. All of that worry was for nothing; I could have been confident the whole time.
I wanted to be able to sleep well so that I would have the strength to do a good job.
So God put me in a situation where I would learn that I could muster the strength to do a good job and get through a speaking engagement despite having a groggy brain and weary eyeballs.
I wanted to be able to leave the cares of my life behind so they wouldn’t affect me and I could have peace while doing the assignment I was given to do.
So God put me in a situation where I had no choice but to put my cares on the shelf for a later time and not let them affect me; not allow them to take my attention and steal my peace.
After a few minutes of walking in the rain, I started smiling. Because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my prayers were being answered – those prayers for confidence, strength, and peace. After all, those were the things I was really after.
And as I considered this further, a very important truth sunk deep into my soul:
See, I want things to be just right so I can handle things well. But God wants me to be right so I can handle the not-so-good things well.
He isn’t interested in perfecting my circumstances. He’s interested in perfecting me – so that when those less-than-desirable circumstances rear their ugly heads, I will someday automatically operate out of confidence. And strength. And peace. Because these virtues have become a part of me; apart from my circumstances.
My problem is, I want to have confidence, strength, and peace, because everything is going smooth and my world is perfect. Duh. As if everything will be right this side of heaven.
So, because it never will be, God wants to build in me what I can have this side of heaven: all of those virtues despite everything that’s going on around me.
And I am reminded once again…
Oh, man. What a concept. And what a different way to look at my circumstances – and my prayers.
They’re probably being answered a whole lot more than I realize. And in much bigger ways. And for a much greater purpose.
I bet yours are too. :)
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