God's Marching Orders for Me
God often sends me the same message. He uses different verses, different ways of communicating. But it seems to always meander around to the same end spot.
However, one time God was so clear, it's been my focal point for many years. When I veer off, God brings me back with this message.
Here's what happened.
I was absolutely hitting the wall with work. More and more language versions of EveryStudent.com were being built. More details to manage. More people involved. It felt more complex and bigger than I anticipated.
So I was sitting alone in my kitchen asking myself, "Why am I feeling so stressed, so driven to complete a certain amount of work? So many hours?"
And I thought, "No one is pointing a gun at my head. No one is threatening me. No one is standing here yelling at me."
Then I realized... "I am the one causing this!! I am generating the work and this pressure is self-inflicted."
I started praying that God would give me insight about what to do about it.
Not long after, I had a trip to Boston. A good friend of mine was dealing with something far more serious than my workload. Her 17-year-old son suffered a massive brain injury during a high school football game. He lost his ability to talk, certain motor skills, the ability to feed himself or take care of himself.
This was now my friend's 3rd year working with specialists taking care of her son's needs in a rehab facility, testing for further solutions....while she and her husband were raising 3 other kids...while being Chaplain at Harvard and youth director at the largest church in downtown Boston.
And she was rested. She was calm, trusting God.
I spent an evening with her and was inwardly amazed and ashamed by the gigantic difference in our faith.
I went back to my hotel room that night and said, "Ok, God. We have GOT to figure this out. I really need your guidance." I opened up to Isaiah 30. The whole chapter was extremely helpful. However, let me pick out a few verses in order.
30:1 "...stubborn children...who carry out a plan, but not mine"
30:13 "like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant..." (That's how I felt -- like something was going to break, like all of this was going to come crashing down on me.)
Then I read these gracious words:
30:15 "In returning and rest you shall be saved; [I felt the need to be saved]
"in quietness and in trust shall be your strength."
I felt like these were my marching orders...for at least the next several years. I thought, "If I ONLY obeyed these verses, I would be honoring God. If I did nothing else, this would be right to do."
Returning - returning to focus on God, not work
Rest - rest in his ability, his goals, approach, timing
Quietness - stop talking about work, about what needs to get done, be quiet.
Trust - trust God, not myself.
30:18 [God's heart described] "Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
30:19-22 - further description of God's gracious heart, answering our prayers, showing us the way when we turn to the right or when we turn to the left;
30:23 - he will bring results. He will provide the rain for the seed we plant; he will produce the bread.
30:29 - [by resting in him] "You shall have a song as in the night...gladness of heart...the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard…"
It was a crucial turning point. I have my marching orders. I've been ok ever since. I still work hard. I still put in long hours. But...if I begin to feel stressed, I know what I need to do...return to God, rest in him, be quiet, trust him.
I remain so grateful for God's kindness. His correction came full of understanding, tenderness, invitation. Return, rest, be quiet, trust.
God is unlike anything you or I would ever imagine or expect.
He would have every right to berate us, scold us, punish us for our lack of faith. Yet, he remains patient.
We find instead, the contrary aspect of his kind words, welcoming us to come to him. Give him our concerns. Let him manage them all.
Is there ANY other god, belief, religion, that comes close to this tenderness? This love of our God?
God must be real. As humans, we would never have imagined a God like this. I am in awe.