Dear Barbara: I’m struggling right now. I really feel God asking me to do something that sounds too hard. Honestly, I don’t want to obey. Why would He do that? How can I negotiate?
It’s scary isn’t it? I’ve wondered the same.
I remember when, after an exhausting week wrangling five relentless children, I started feeling a little off. It’s sleep; I need more sleep, I thought. A short rest during their down time didn’t help at all. It’s food; I need a snack, I thought. An apple dipped in peanut butter might help, but it didn’t.
Something wasn’t right.
I didn’t want to admit it, but my mind began to panic. I had Dennis pick up a pregnancy test on the way home from work. I cried for three days when I discovered the answer. I wasn’t feeling off; I was pregnant.
“God, I don’t want to do this again!” God was asking me, telling me, making me be a mother for a sixth time. Really? I felt I had obeyed God enough with my womb, pregnancy was difficult for me, and I wanted my body back. Five was what we’d agreed to. Happily, I thought we were done, all baby gear sold at a garage sale. I was free!
But now God was asking me to die to self. Again.
Several years earlier, God asked me to do something else I didn’t want to do. With His characteristic gentle whisper to my heart, He asked me to shelve my art supplies and my dreams of painting for commission. Instead, He wanted me to invest my energy and talent cooperatively with Him in creating beauty in my children.
It was a death to self. I wasn’t sure God would ever return my paints, but I knew He knew what was best for me. In my obedience, I trusted His love and plan for my life.
It was hard to put my desires aside. I couldn’t imagine why He’d tell me to box up those hopes and stuff them on the shelf. Bury my talents?
But I did it anyway.
At first, in both of these seasons, I saw only what I was missing, what had been taken away. Death is like that. The loss of a dream or a hope brings grief, which must be acknowledged. No sense pretending we are always happy about God’s plans and His impeccable timing that never seems to match mine.
I focused on life not going the way I wanted it to. I grieved not getting what I had planned. But then I reminded myself of what I knew to be true about God. He loved me and was at work in my life for good … always for good. Philippians 1:6 tells us, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion …” I chose to trust my Father in Heaven who rules with wisdom and purpose.
I know it’s true for me because it has been true throughout time. It’s perfectly illustrated in a Bible story most of us know. Jesus was walking along and noticed a man who was blind from birth. I love that Jesus saw him when the man couldn’t see Jesus to even know He was near. He sees us, too, when we aren’t looking for Him.
John 9:2 tells us the disciples’ first thought was whose fault is his blindness? Don’t we do that too? We see a handicapped child and wonder about the mother’s prenatal care or their home life. How many times do you think the blind man’s mother secretly wondered what she had done to cause and deserve this?
She’d been heartbroken and afraid at his birth, yet with the tender compassion God has given us women she reached for her newborn son, holding him near, consoling his cries. Like us, she experienced a death as she received this gift of God to her.
Jesus answered for all of us who have had expectations dashed, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).
For 38 years this man lived blind. For 38 years his parents suffered this loss. Thirty-eight years puts it in perspective. Why would God ask me to do something I didn’t want to do? Why would I choose to obey anyway? When it felt uncomfortable. When it felt inconvenient. When it felt impossible.
Because the work that God wants to do in us is always heart work. And always He has purposes and plans we cannot see or know.
The question for me and for all of us is: Will we trust Him?
Years of living have taught me that the unexpected is always an opportunity to experience more of who God is. When I finally stop focusing on my losses—and there have been many—I’m ready to see God begin to work His higher purposes.
My pregnancy with baby six was not easy, just as I’d feared. My feelings were all over the map in those months, too. But feelings are not the end, dear friend. Feelings are fair and valid. But feelings must be surrendered to God’s design and direction.
When I took my eyes off myself and glanced up, I saw a good God, a safe God I can say yes to, no matter what He’s calling me to. And you can too.
Instead of groaning over my lot in life and comparing it away, I can do as Jesus commanded Peter in John 21. Jesus had just given Peter the responsibility of feeding His sheep, and Peter’s response was “But Lord, what about this man?” implying, what does HE have to do for you? Jesus gently replied, “What is it to you? You follow me!”
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus. Let’s run hard and fast, courageously toward what He asks us to do. Let’s just trust that God knows what He’s doing, and choose to embrace it by faith.
And by the way, baby number six, though a sinner like us, has been a delight since the day God gave her to us. His ways are best.