Escaping the Rut of Want
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Fourteen years ago I was stuck in a rut of want. There was an opportunity that looked so promising. A publisher expressed genuine interest in my writing. It seemed to be right. It felt right. I wanted it to be right. It must be right!
But it never came to pass.
In my most mature moments I reasoned, "It wasn't meant to be. I trust God and believe in His perfect plans."
In my not-so-mature moments I wondered, "God, this isn't fair. Why do You keep saying no?"
And in my immature moments I whined, "God, do You care this hurts me?"
Have you ever been there?
Ruts of want are tough places to be stuck.
When God says no, we are sometimes tempted to wonder if He loves us. In reality, it's because He loves us, He sometimes says no.
Read that last sentence again and rub it into your heart. The hurting part. The part that throbs and aches when you see others getting the exact opportunity you want. You fake a smile to hide the pain.
God brought this change of perspective to me through a baking disaster that happened to my youngest daughter Brooke. She came to me at 9 o'clock one night and asked if she and her friend could bake a cake.
Hope, Brooke's older sister, had offered to help and I was too tired to argue the incessant pleas of a nine-year-old.
So, the girls began to bake.
Brooke measured and poured, whipped and stirred, and carefully placed a batter-filled cake pan into the oven. Then she turned on the oven light and watched the cake bake. Her cake became her whole focus. She couldn't stop looking at the cake and grew increasingly impatient with the slow-passing minutes on the timer.
Nothing kills patience like solely focusing on the object of your desire. And tragically, impatience becomes the breeding ground for compromise.
About 30 minutes into the 45-minute baking time, the cake looked done. It smelled done. Brooke and her friend wanted it to be done. She reasoned it must be done!
Hope helped retrieve the cake and placed it on the counter to cool.
And it wasn't long until the cake imploded.
The cake couldn't withstand the pressure of an undone center ... and neither can we.
If we obsess over the cake and make it our whole focus, character atrophies. If we make growing in godliness our obsession and keep our focus on God, our character matures. And a mature character makes for a solid and well-done center.
I thank God every day for every "no" He has graciously allowed and continues to allow in my life. Our key verse Proverbs 16:3 teaches, "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Through placing my focus on God, I have embraced His plans for me, and I trust that a "no" from Him is really a blessing.
I used to pray, "God, let me, let me, let me!"
I now pray, "God, please never let my success outgrow the character necessary to handle it."
Indeed, it's because God loves us, He sometimes says no.
Dear Lord, although I don't always understand, thank You for saying "no." I know that You do so as a measure of protection for me. Help me to embrace Your best for my life, Father. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What "no" have you thanked God for lately?
Soak in the truths of our key verse and power verses. Then, think about instances in the past where a "no" from God has really been a blessing in disguise. Use these tools in an area of your life that needs reminding of His faithfulness now.
Psalm 31:14-15a, "But I trust in you, LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands." (NIV)
Proverbs 16:9, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps." (NIV)
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