Posted in Character, Faith

Let Go of the Need to Know

Have you ever tried to manipulate God to do what you want? I know, this is a hard thing to admit. After all, as Christians we are supposed to be followers of Christ. We sing songs about surrender and ask Him to be the Ruler of our lives.

I will speak for myself, although you probably can relate. Despite my noble intentions, I try to tell the Lord the best way to do His job, and (this sounds terrible) I even get upset when He doesn’t listen. I am guilty of this sin of control, allowing my human nature to be in charge and dictating the terms of my service to the Master of the Universe. In spite of my penchant to lead the way, the King of Kings is so patient with me.

Last week He lovingly reminded me through devotional readings, songs on the radio, and gentle whispers of His Spirit that He really does know best. I can trust Him to work every situation for my good and His glory. Yet, I still wrestle between resting in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty and jumping in to run the show. Sometimes more than others.

As leaders it is our task to set direction and plan the course. We keep one eye on the road to ensure safe arrival to our destination. We also must have strategic foresight. We keep the other eye on the horizon in order to be aware of changes that will affect our environment in the future. And we encourage and inspire others to follow. It’s our job to know!

In the midst of all this responsibility, we end up relying on our own abilities and not on the power of God.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).

Letting the Lord lead is more important than the need to know.

This weekend I had the great joy of witnessing my youngest child graduate from high school. For me part of the celebration was reflecting on God’s faithfulness in raising her. Born with a serious disability, the path to adulthood has looked very different than my other kids’. Physical limitations and unpredictable medical challenges have dotted the landscape of our lives together. There have been countless times when her life has taken an unexpected turn and we have made the adjustments necessary in the moment. In the presence of God’s grace with us in each of these moments, I have learned two basic precepts.

I really don’t need to know.

The Book of Job describes the lengthy struggle of a righteous man to know God’s reasoning behind his personal suffering and loss. I identify with his quest to understand. I like the security of knowing what’s next. I like the peace of knowing why something is happening. However, when there are no answers available, I need to come to the same conclusion as Job.

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know (Job 42:3, NIV).

My heavenly Father has the best plans.

Being convinced of this truth makes the first statement possible. I really don’t need to know, because my heavenly Father has the best plans. His plans for me are motivated by perfect love.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a).

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16).

Friends, no matter what inexplicable difficulty or hardship you may be facing, find courage in your heavenly Father’s love for you. It’s time to let go of the need to know.

Heavenly Father, thank You that I can call You Abba—Daddy. Help me to trust You deeply like a child, knowing that You love me perfectly. You never leave or forsake me. You are always near. Help me to love and lead others well. When things simply don’t make sense, help me to let go of the need to know. In Jesus’ name.

Posted in Character, Faith

The Gratitude Approach

Not too long ago, I was lamenting the fact that I am a realist. It is easy for me to wear “the black hat” in meetings. I see facts and circumstances more quickly than possibilities and vision. I tend to live in the present rather than the future. Yes, I have learned the leadership skills for strategic foresight and communicating a compelling vision, and I utilize them well, but they aren’t in my natural zone…And so my thoughts went on.

Then, in the midst of my mental wrestling, inspiration broke through.

The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The optimistic sees the glass half full. More importantly, the person of gratitude is thankful for the glass and what it contains.

I can’t really change the way I’m wired. However, I can choose my response to what I see. Whether the glass is half empty or half full, I can choose to be thankful. I can choose to give thanks for the things that are going well. Even when circumstances are difficult, I can choose to give thanks. Not necessarily for it, but in the midst of it, because God’s grace, strength, and encouragement are extended to me. As I choose to express thanksgiving, hope rises in my heart and spills out on others around me. I call this “The Gratitude Approach.”

Many Bible passages instruct us to give thanks always, for everything, in all circumstances (Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). This seems like an amazingly tall order! What is even more amazing to me is that God does not ask us to do something that is impossible! Of course, “The Gratitude Approach” does not occur naturally. It comes as we spend time with Jesus and allow His life to flow in us, and then through us. It comes as we walk in His grace.

When we practice “The Gratitude Approach,” we acknowledge the ways (no matter how small) God has revealed His care to us. We take our eyes off the stress and difficulties of life, family, and workplace, and focus them where they belong–on the Giver of life and breath, on the Provider of all our needs, on the Artist who inspires and creates, on the Lover of our souls who is more than enough. Then we can see that God indeed is actively working His special plan and has invited us to join Him.

As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I challenge you to consider “The Gratitude Approach” as your own. Pessimist? Realist? Optimist? Choose to be grateful on Thanksgiving Day and beyond.