I was shuffling through my bookcase – reorganizing and deciding which books I’d like to keep and which books I’d like to donate – when I found a book that a friend had written and sent to me a few years ago. It’s called “Walks with Rich” by C.W. Hambleton. I opened up to the first chapter and read this quote by Rich Mullins:
“People always say, ‘I don’t know where the Lord is leading me.’ I always say, ‘It don’t really make a whole lot of difference.’ The important thing is to be where He has led you to already. If He has led you into a marriage, than be faithful there. If He has led you into being single, then be faithful there. If He has blessed you with many material goods, then be a good steward of those goods. And if He has blessed you by allowing you to imitate His life of poverty, then imitate it with great joy.”
Be where God has led me.
It is interesting that God led me to open up this book at this time and read these lines. I had started a blog last week that I called “The To-Be List”. About being where God has me.
My constant prayer is “I don’t know what to do. Lord, please show me.”
I’m realizing that in many things I kind of do know what to do, I just don’t know how to be.
I want my circumstances to be different, so I want to do something to make that happen. I want some of my problems to be solved…who am I kidding? I want all of my problems to be solved. I want things to be easier all the way around.
I want the decisions I’ve made that have had consequences that are difficult to be erased from my past. I want to be able to drop the burdens I carry at His feet and leave them there.
And I keep asking God to give me the ultimate to-do list…the to-do list that will change things, the perfect to-do list, the one that actually moves us forward not just gets us by. I keep thinking that there has to be a way to make life better, but maybe that isn’t what God wants me to get out of this place He has me.
I believe God wants me…me…to get better through this. It isn’t it about what I do, but who I am.
Maybe its me who needs fixing, not my life?
But how am I supposed to be?
The first thing that popped into my brain was “Be strong and courageous.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Really that one? Strong and courageous?
I guess it kind of makes sense for me, because I have things that seem hopeless in my life. Being strong and courageous would certainly help me face challenges boldly and with confidence in God…instead of my woe-is-me, it-feels-hopeless, can-I-please-catch-a-break self.
Usually I face challenges trying to be strong and courageous all by myself.
“I can do this!!! I can fix this!!! I got this!!!”
All said with great enthusiasm! But not too much later, a quiet whisper of “I don’t know what to do. Oh my goodness, it just won’t get better. Why won’t things get better?”
So again, I’m left with the realization that as much as I want to fix things, I CAN’T!
And instead of believing I’m hopeless because I can’t fix things, I want to turn to God and say, “It’s yours.”
Lord, please forgive me because I know I am not without hope…I do have eternal hope. But honestly, I’m struggling a little bit to be hopeful about the here and now.
Sometimes I read other people’s stories, know of other people’s situations, listen as a friend pours out their heart, and I think what in the world am I complaining about?
Why can’t I just live and not feel so overwhelmed and exhausted? You have placed me here in this time and this place. How do I live here joyfully?
Maybe part of the problem is that when I think about joy, it gets mixed up with happy. That happy that means I should be smiling and a little bit bouncy. I smile a lot…even laugh, but it isn’t that carefree kind of happiness I long for.
And bouncy…yeah, that’s not happening. Slogging. Slumping. Trudging. Slouching. That’s me.
But that happy isn’t joy. So what is this joy of which I speak but know not how to live?
Joy, I have heard, is an attitude of the heart. It isn’t based on circumstances or people or things.
Happiness does seem more dependent on circumstances. Joy seems more like an attitude for living.
I can be joyful in my circumstances, but not necessarily happy.
What does joyful me look like if she isn’t bouncy and perky and smiling incessantly.
Joyful me isn’t easily angered. She’s calm.
Joyful me isn’t easily frustrated. She has perspective.
Joyful me isn’t living in fear. She is courageous, bold, and trusting.
Joyful me isn’t overwhelmed. She is peaceful and focused.
Joyful me isn’t looking back. She is focused on Christ.
I guess I see joyful as calm in my circumstances. Being where God has me without the angst I tend to carry.
This past week I was told by a doctor that I have a tension headache in my chest…a headache in my chest??? Wouldn’t that be a chestache…in my chest? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor and all, but I’m pretty sure my head and chest are two different parts of my body! I’m just kidding…I understand what he meant. The stress in my life is centered in my chest…can’t take a deep breath, feel like an elephant is sitting on top of me stress. BUT now that I know what it is, there is a relief and maybe my elephant has gotten a bit smaller. But…I want joy not just tiny elephants.
Being blessed to be where I am…even if it isn’t the blessed I hoped for.
How do I get that perspective? I mean really.
There seems to be this idea that if we can just get our life organized or just do something differently, things will change for the better. Is that true? Always? I don’t think so. At least not for me.
How do I live in this moment, in this place, in these circumstances with joy when I can barely breathe sometimes?
It must be a choice I need to make…a shift in perspective.
Joy seems so far removed from my life and yet, I know that I’m called to it…that I do have so many, many things to be thankful for, so many things to be joyful about…and yet, I am not. I just feel fussy.
Is it possible to be fussy AND joyful? I’m feeling like the answer is definitely no. So I pretty much have to choose.
Choose not to be fussy.
Change my attitude.
How many times have I told my children to change their attitudes about something?
Father, are you telling me to change my attitude? I imagine you are. I do feel like a petulant teenager…all scowly and stompy.
Father, please forgive me.
Maybe all the discontent and feeling miserable about circumstances has a purpose?
“Could that be so we are nudged to seek after God and find our true fulfillment and complete rest in Him and Him alone? Someday we will be called Home, and then we will find complete peace and rest. But until then, we are to follow Him wherever He may lead us in the full assurance that He will bring us into that rest.” C. Hambleton
Father, I know there are praises to sing, prayers to utter, and petitions to place at your feet. And maybe those praises, prayers, and petitions will work to change my adolescent attitude. There really is no maybe about it, I know they will.
Lord, being here where you have me sometimes feels very, very difficult. I struggle to understand the plan, Your plan. I wish I understood it all. I want to choose joy, to choose an attitude of joy. I want to have that full assurance that You will indeed give me rest. I want to be a woman of joy, a woman of peace, a woman of thankfulness. Lord, please show me how to live joyful in these circumstances, in this place, at this time.
I’ll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy. Jeremiah 31:13 (The Message)