Shelter

Story time. I have so many other words to share but I think they are better saved for another day. Just a few stories today.

There was a time in my life where I didn’t have ANY money. I had already scoured my car and house for change. I needed food, gas, and money to do laundry. I was in my car and the song on the radio had the lyrics, “I am counting every blessing… You are good to me.” I looked on the ground and saw a $20 bill. Just sitting there. I felt rich! Everything I needed at that moment.

Another time a few years before that I didn’t have a place to live. I went to a park. I was walking around close to tears. Trying to figure out what to do. All of a sudden I hear my name. A friend “just happened” to be in the park that day and saw me. Somehow the conversation came around to where I was living and she offered for me to come and stay at her house.

Another time I didn’t have a place to live. I was at the library this time. Sitting on a chair. Thinking about what to do and where to stay. And another friend called me as I was sitting there and she said, “I just wanted to ask you if you needed a place to stay?” I was blown away! And her house was the Taj Majal compared to anywhere I had ever stayed. Complete with delicious meals and an entire floor all to myself.

Another time I was going to move to a place where I needed a car and I didn’t have a car. I didn’t know what to do. I was super stressed about the situation. The day before I was supposed to move, a friend approached me at church and said, “It’s been on our hearts to let you use one of our cars.” For free. Indefinitely. I think I used the car for around six months.

Another time I needed to go to a meeting and I wasn’t sure if I had the gas money to get back home. I decided to trust God and just go to the meeting. I arrived and after being there a bit, a friend approached me and said she felt like she was supposed to give me some money. She handed me a $20 bill and then apologized that she didn’t have more money to give me. She had no idea my situation. Nobody did. I hadn’t even hinted at what I was going through. Blew my mind! When was the last time you had someone apologize that they didn’t have more free money to give you?!

God provides. He is my shelter.

Lucky

I was thinking this evening about how it probably wasn’t just luck or coincidence that Ruth ended up in her Redeemer’s field. How do we then balance the tension between recognizing Divine coordination and reading too much into things?

I have had many instances in my life where my paths crossed with someone else with such specificity to my situation that I just cannot accept it as purely random, a manifestation of positive thinking, or related to attraction theories. There seems to be something much bigger happening.

And yet we know God is not a puppet master. He Created us to create. To make our own decisions. I don’t feel like I have the space I need in my mind to fully appreciate or understand the dance between His omnipotence and our free will. I can spend hours analyzing the nuances of my every step as they pertain to this question. Or I can live. And trust. Like a child. That kind of knowing settles in where it needs to go only through experience. Not endless education.

We are invited into relationship. I feel confident that we are also invited to participate in this Divine Dance, as some refer to it.

There used to be a country song that I heard but cannot recall right now. It had a lyric that basically was: she wants to know how the song ends before she starts to dance. We can get stuck there. I’ll say it as long as I live: perfect love casts out fear.

Here I’ve been trying to know as much as possible all my life. Endless preparations and rehearsals. Over the years more and more of what I was so sure I knew feels like best guesses for the most part.

Now it is becoming clearer to me that the only thing I really need to know and can know for sure is God. That’s it.

Diligent

One time several years ago I went to The Alamo to street witness with a group of people from my church. A friend named Tusi was my witnessing partner that day. We arrived at Alamo Plaza and started talking to people. Tusi saw a snow cone stand and said she wanted to go get a snow cone. My attitude was like, “Tusi, we are here to save people from hell. Not to eat snow cones.”

She stayed with me and we “witnessed” to a few more people. But whenever we weren’t talking to people, she kept talking to me about snow cones. Finally I was like, “Fine! Since your ‘flesh’ is getting in the way of ‘witnessing’, go get your stupid snow cone.” I didn’t say it like that, but it was my attitude.

She left me and went over to the snow cone stand and was taking a long time. I went over to bring her back to “work” and there she was praying with the snow cone people for their business. God, as only God can do, gave me a funny wakeup call that day. Been learning a lot since then.

God participates with us just as we are. Not in spite of who we are. The pressure is off. Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting. There is no competition or condemnation.

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4

Morale

Sometimes the storms of life may not take us out physically, but they can beat up our morale. Fatigue sets in. To borrow from the storyteller in the video below: resting becomes difficult because you can’t stay stationary.

Interesting as I recall the story of Jesus sleeping on the boat during a storm. His closest followers with Him were freaking out. He awoke and calmed not only the waves but also the fear in their hearts.

We are not guaranteed safe physical passage through this life. But I rest more so in the spiritual as I stay close to my Navigator. His perfect love casts out fear.

Weak

The tagline for my blog used to be: never give up! I changed it because the last year or so has been a journey of releasing my need to be self-sufficient. In a way, I didn’t need God as much before. I didn’t need Him to be God. I just needed Him as fire insurance or my backup plan.

At least, that was my false perception. I thought He expected me to be stronger. And need Him less?

I’m finding the exact opposite. It is in my independence that I feel farthest from Him. Our American culture does not encourage this dependence. We applaud the loner who climbs and fights his way to the top.

I like to do my best, but this independence isn’t about being a good steward. This self-sufficiency borders on being my own god. Even though I can go to church, sing all the songs, and recite all the verses, when push comes to shove, I’ve found that the weakest parts of me don’t trust God. Don’t know His love and provision. Because I never allowed Him to be my God. I always jumped in and took matters into my own hands before I let Him catch me.

Part fear, part slave to comfort. We cry “take me into deeper waters”, but lose our minds when the waters get choppy, the boat is taking on water, and we’re sinking. We don’t want to wait until we’re underwater for Him to send a big whale to ferry us safely onward. Jonah reference if I lost you there.

And you might say I’m being dramatic. But I think this is maybe the most important part of our spiritual journey. Think of Jesus. It was His faith in The Father that enabled Him to do what none of us ever have: complete and perfect trust in God.

I think that’s what His experience with the devil in the wilderness during His 40-day fast was about: will Jesus trust God or give into the temptation to judge the situation in the physical?

Same with being betrayed and abandoned. Same with being whipped, beaten, and murdered on The Cross. Always the same problem being conquered on our behalf: to believe that no matter how bad it got, He was always safe in The Father’s heart and hands. As we also were, are, and will be in Jesus. God does not do abandonment – even in our unfaithfulness. He is always faithful! He always loves us!

In my need to know is where my biggest battles are fought. My sense of safety being misplaced in my need for certainty. He’s teaching me to let go of the false sense of security in “knowing” anything other than I am in God and He has me for all eternity. False because we don’t even know what we don’t know.

His thoughts are higher. His ways are greater. His love is big enough. Great enough. His grace is sufficient. This life is only the beginning.