When It Seems Like God Lied (From the Midweek Encounter Blog)

Every few weeks, I write a post for my church’s Midweek Encounter blog reflecting on that week’s sermon. We just started this year’s Christmas series, and I suspect I will be taking away a lot from it. The first message was on God’s promises and how they often don’t look like we expect them to.

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Francis

When It Seems Like God Lied

There are many promises throughout the Bible.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

In our best moments, these verses likely come as a source of deep comfort. When we’re in the middle of difficult times though, having these verses offered as solutions to our problems can be frustrating or even annoying. Does losing a job seem like a plan to prosper us? Do illnesses, failed classes, divorces, cruel bosses, or financial ruin seem like giving us a hope and a future? There are times when God’s promises feel more like lies than truth.

Keep reading at the Midweek Encounter blog.

Out of Control (aka, My Life)

Until this past year, most of my life has been planned out in a big-picture way. It has been largely dictated by the school calendar and its breaks and busyness. In April, I freaked out as I graduated, sort of figured out what I would do for the summer, freaked out again because I didn’t know exactly what my fall would look like, got that settled, and now am looking forward to the next season, both calendar-wise and life-wise.

The other night, as I lay in bed thinking about what the next few months of my life may look like, I found myself not being able to come up with much.

“If I could just get part of my life under control,” I thought. “One section, or maybe two, maybe I’d feel a bit more settled.”

If I could just get it under control.

Which is exactly my problem.

 

I like control. I like plans.  I like feeling in the know.

But the ultimate goal of my life should not be to be in control of it.

The exact opposite is true: The ultimate goal of my life should be to completely not be in control of it.

Because God should be in control of it.

It is a hard thing to admit.

It is a terribly, terribly hard thing to implement.

To say, “God, please take control of my life” sounds like the action should be on his part–taking. Really though, the action is on me–the giving of control. Not a one time, carelessly whispered prayer. Daily, hourly, minutely, active giving away of control.

And in the giving of control, I receive as well. Peace. Contentment. Assurance.

 

I don’t know what this looks like in my own life yet. I don’t believe I will ever truly master, once and for all, the giving control of my life to God. It is a process, and I am in progress.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

 

p.s. What does it look like to give God complete control of your life? Can it be mastered?

Maybes and January 2012

Lately I’ve spent time looking through some of my old journals. Entries from last year at this time were filled with much optimism and hope, despite the uncertainty I was facing. Then, for a while, they teemed with hurt and realizations of the brokenness in and around me. Dashes of hope were sprinkled less liberally, but still there. Like this:

“Maybe God’s plan for me is much bigger than I let myself think…”

Months later, I’m still contemplating the same thought. If I could write my own life for the next five years or so, it probably wouldn’t include anything outlandish: A job that fulfills me and makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the world, an adorably eclectic apartment, a nice boy, a wedding, a house decked in handmade crafts, a baby. Perhaps some visits to friends around the globe, some articles published elsewhere (maybe even in print?), some good stories to tell of exciting adventures. But nothing too crazy.

Maybe some, or all, of those things will come to pass.

Then again, maybe bigger things will.

Maybe I’ll learn what true contentment about being single looks and feels like. Maybe I’ll move across the country or globe, crying as I leave family and friends, but rejoicing as I struggle and learn to find community somewhere other than where I’ve grown up. Maybe I’ll create an incredibly successful career, and learn how to give generously beyond what I thought I’d ever be capable. Maybe I’ll run a marathon, or at least a longer distance than the 5ks I’ve done so far. Maybe I’ll discover a sport I’m actually good at and join a team. Maybe I’ll write a book. Maybe I’ll start an organization that changes the world.

And maybe not.

Let me be clear: neither of these would be bad ways for my life to go. They’re just different, and one happens to be full of things I’ve never really imagined for myself.

Maybe God’s list of things I’m going to do in the next few years is drastically different than either of those, full of things I haven’t thought of yet. Maybe I’ve put him in a box when it comes to imagining what my future, right now seeming so uncertain, holds.

Because maybe his plans are much bigger than I can think.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

Posts from the Past: January 2006

A few days ago I was scrolling through my Xanga, that wonderful ol’ blog that I still reflect on guiltily at times for abandoning for the lure of Facebook. It provides an interesting glimpse of my life for the two years or so I actively used it. I’m a little appalled at some of the things young me wrote–thinly veiled rants against specific people, self-centeredness, and angst galore.

Yet there are other posts that have hints of wisdom even older me can learn from. Consider this snippet from a post I wrote in January 2006:

Overall, it has been a very people-filled year. But really, isn’t that what life is, for the most part? Interactions with other people? It seems that way. I would say this was probably my most people-filled year  that I can remember. I met many, many new people, most wonderful, but there are always a few bad apples on every tree, right? I’ve missed people so much it hurt, and been overjoyed at seeing people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’ve laughed until my stomach hurt, but also cried myself to sleep a time or two. I’ve had days I would relive in a heartbeat, and days that I wouldn’t want to relive if you paid me a hundred dollars. I’ve been so happy I could burst and sad and angry enough to punch someone. I became friends with people I’ll probably never see again, and also with people that I never thought I would become friends with.

And now I’m wondering what will happen this year, and I know a lot of things will be changing, but I KNOW that God won’t. As I look back, I know that God was always there, through the stinky times and the awesome ones. So today’s verse is one that is filled with hope for the future.

Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Yup. God’s always there, and He’s got big plans for me this year. I’m excited to find out what they are.

Years later, a lot of those things still ring true. Graduating from college has given new meaning to the phrase, “I became friends with people I’ll probably never see again.” I have encountered oodles of change since writing that, yet indeed; God hasn’t changed. And though I sit in uncertainty, in waiting and seeking, he has plans. Plans I cannot see, plans I may not understand, plans I might not like; but plans all the same.

Fifteen-year-old me had more insight than I would’ve given her credit for. Perhaps I shall have to seek more wisdom from her via the annals of Xanga.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~