One thing I will never regret:

This summer I faced a strange and unexpected trial. Most trials in my life are emotional as God has chosen to allow me to have good health so I don’t experience many physical trials yet and He has given me a desire for saving, frugality, and budgets so I tend to avoid financial trials; but God has giving me a good portion of broken relationships in my life so most of my trials are emotional. This summer was a little different as my mental endurance was tested.

In preparing to move to Rochester, I sought the Lord for work and housing. I waited in great anticipation for His leading. It was quite challenging, but His timing was appropriate. Just as I was getting approved for a home loan, I was choosing between three different jobs. Because of the job offer timings and the length of the pros on my pro con list, I chose a temporary job as an intern for the city. It was the job that offered medium pay of the three and was going to work with people which I thought would be “more” honoring to the Lord (the others I would have worked in my car driving around the state alone).

The job consisted of me sitting at a computer all day doing monotonous jobs like checking thousands and thousands of rows of data for accuracy and then copying and pasting the date I checked them. Relationally, I struggled the whole summer to connect with people. Most weren’t my age and were either severe introverts or just clearly not interested in connecting with me. Sometimes I sat on the other side of people at lunch in the break room and had short lived one-sided conversations. I often wondered if it was because I was the temporary “intern”.

Alone. Monotonous. 8 hours a day M-F. It’s hard to call it a trial, because when you say it, it doesn’t sound like such a hard thing. I have a job. It pays me money. What’s there to complain about? However, the mental struggle left me feeling like I was in a mental prison. Click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click. No escape.

I started to wonder if I had chosen the wrong job. “Wasn’t I trying to HONOR you God by choosing a job where I work with people??” I started to see that if there’s something God wants to teach, our decisions can hardly stand in the way. That little nugget of truth meant a lot more to me as someone who struggles with decisions. No matter where I go or what I choose, God is there and faithful. That lesson sounds very familiar.

However the one thing I will never regret as I sat at the computer day after day hardly speaking a word to anyone, is how God transformed my attitude from bitterness to gratefulness as I learned to mentally persevere. It became clear to me that the only way out of this was to walk through. God helped me see that He was giving me an opportunity to persevere; to grow and train those perseverance muscles. The one thing that will never fail to serve me is growing in perseverance. Growing in perseverance will never be wasted. Who knows what trial God will bring into my life where this perseverance will aid me in my faith?

This week my internship ended. Monday I start a new job. The job is actually the same job, just with a different organization. It’s possible I will feel the same mental strain as I did before, but I have prayed for God to lead and this is the job He has provided me. Maybe I will learn more about how to work towards having a job I love, but I am grateful that the Lord has provided. This will be my first “real” job since college where I have benefits and I’m getting paid something that makes sense for a person with a Master’s degree. Though it is quiet, there is a small part of me that is genuinely jumping with glee for this new opportunity. I have also learned that I often walk hesitantly into God’s blessings He has for me. So here’s to seeking the Lord and resting in His guidance.

James 1:2-4, 12 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  And let perseverance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast (or perseveres) under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

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Confessions of a Church Planter: There is no where to hide

May 2018 I graduated with my masters and the next day left on a 14 day camping road trip to the west coast. The day after coming back I drove a moving truck up to Rochester, MN where I signed the closing documents on a house and started a new job that Monday. A crazy whirlwind, too crazy to send updates on Facebook… my family let me know that.

December 2016 our church decided to go on a church plant to Rochester, MN and asked me to join. For many reasons, I became convinced I could take this step with confidence that this is where God was leading. It was closer to home in Wisconsin and my heart was carrying a sense of homelessness where I was. It was time to go. From December 2016 to May 2018 God did several things, the main thing being to delay my expected graduation day and lead me into and out of a sort of dating relationship both of which caused me to surrender my fears of the unknown and even surrender of NOT going on the church plant. With confidence I began to trust that there was no where on earth I could put myself where God would not still be beside me.

Finally May 2018 came around and I was one of the last few people to move up to join the church plant. I can imagine any large transition like this, whether for a church plant or just a move, is difficult for everyone and loneliness becomes a faithful companion to many. But it has been sweet to see the Lord faithfully bind our hearts together as family and bring both new believers and faithful servants into our midst.

We went from meeting in homes, to meeting at a small college, to meeting at a school where we tear down and set up every Sunday. Now we are getting into the groove, but it sure gets exhausting. In a good way. One thing I am realizing that is not so obvious with a larger church family, is that there is no room for quarreling, disagreements, or pride. It really ought to be this way with any size church family, but in my experience previously, when there was disagreement between two people it was easy enough to ignore them and go and bond with outher friends because there was enough people. You could join a different small group or start hanging out with people from a different house church. When you’ve got seven or eight single people in your church and theres a disagreement amongst two people, there really is no where to go. The Lord has given me these people to lean into, build up, confide in, conflict with, and reconcile to. You can’t simply find other friends because we’re all we’ve got. And there’s something sweet and encouraging about that.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1-4

Field of Dreams

I walked tall through my field of dreams
enjoying imagining the possibilities.
When new flowers started to grow
I could feel my self let go of the old
that never made it through the storm.
I breathed in the fresh new breeze;
times of change, I might even be happy.

I watched longingly through my window
looking out at my field of dreams
soaking up the darkened rains,
we haven’t seen the sun for days
Yet while I’m waiting, a smile on my face
Could it be we’ve found better ways
to dream again and behold the pain?

It doesn’t take too long for while the windows all are open
A quicker storm spins through and tears the field apart.
You wonder what it was for once the damage has been done.
You wonder what you’ve gained by tearing up your heart.

I walked low through my field of dreams
laying all about in shambles.
Was it worth it for the joy,
though fleeting and now unraveled?
Is memory enough? Does it consummate the dream?
Was this the life I was made for?
A trail of scattered, broken dreams?

Maybe many months go by when finally I glance out at the field
New flowers have grown up and colors abundantly yield.
Tempt me as it may, I consider staying behind
But there’s just something there worth tasting and growing again
this dream I have inside.

When I am at the end

I’d learned to love what I thought
was a hope that’d never cheat
but there wasn’t enough to follow through
I was cornered and fighting was no use.

I’d learned to live my life for me
at least that was what I could control
but even my mind felt like a waste of time
and my body couldn’t keep itself in line.

I’d learned to think if I was strong
that protection came from my release
and there’d be no need to rely on love
where the stronger hurt those underneath.

So you put it to the test. Where would I be then?
When all my strength is invested
When my control becomes ineffective
When my soul becomes infected
When my body is unrested
When I’m at the end
of myself
Will my hope begin to doubt?
Will I find a new way out?
Will I put my strength in men?
Will I hope in this clown
who thought there was enough to go around
but feels kind of foolish now,
now she knows that there’s no doubt about
who is really in control

Now it’s time to give it up, soul.
Take upon your back His yoke.
Lean in now, and let Him pull.
Your spinning tires were getting dull.
Because you were never enough
to make your soul feel whole.

And when we’re in the clear
and the end is drawing near*
maybe you’ll remember who to fear
your Savior, a love so dear
who gave you ears to hear
a hope to hold, unfailing.
Promises unchanging.
Comfort, not assailing.
All mine for the taking
as I arrived at the end
of myself.

 

*grad school

How to grow in joy:

1 Peter eludes to the idea that we can be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy. We greatly rejoice in the living hope we have in Christ. The dots don’t always connect for me though. The Bible calls us to rejoice always… I rejoice sometimes. Over the last several years I’ve been working through my understanding and convictions on biblical joy. People have told me to choose joy, pray for joy, work through what is stealing my joy, and now I’m learning to pray for the testing of my faith if I want to experience more joy. I see that the center of our joy is is founded on our faith in Christ. That’s what I’d like to reveal here by walking through 1 Peter.

To be filled with glorious and inexpressible joy that results in rejoicing, pray that your faith be tested and proven genuine


What is the goal of your faith? Why do you believe in Jesus?

1 Peter 1:9 says our goal for our faith (believing in Christ) is the salvation of our souls (the preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss). That salvation, our inheritance, can never spoil, fade, or perish (1 Peter 1:4). It is kept in heaven, safe for us. In the meantime, we who keep believing in Christ, are shielded by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5). And so we have a living hope because we have been shown great mercy (not getting what we deserve) for our sins, an inheritance that is kept safe, and we are shielded by God’s power. We rejoice greatly in this living hope even though we have trials. But not merely by will power…

Why do we have trials, grief, or suffering? 1 Peter 1:7 says we have trials so our faith may be proved genuine, authentic, honest, and true. This authentic belief in Christ and what he has done leads to the praise, glory, and honor of Christ when He is revealed (because it was He who did it!) and genuine faith leads to being filled with an “inexpressible and glorious joy because we are receiving the goal of our faith”. 1 Peter 1:8-9

So it might stand to say that the reason we have little joy is because we are struggling in our faith in Christ. And the response to one another ought not to be “Just have more faith!”, but to tell God to have our faith made more genuine, more sincere and proven true.

God gives us trials so that by testing our faith and making it more genuine, we may have more joy. If we want more joy in Christ, we need to desire and ask for our faith to be tested so the un-authentic parts can be revealed, confronted, and removed. The result of authentic faith in Christ is praise, glory, and honor for Christ and inexpressible joy because we are being delivered from all harm, ruin, and loss.

Doesn’t everyone want the un-authentic parts of their faith removed? Well, it’s quite uncomfortable isn’t it? But, who really wants to say, “I want to keep the un-authentic parts of my faith!”? I suspect no one.

This is our plight as Christians. It turns out our childhood confessions of Christ as Lord and Savior need to be proved sincere. We are being ever tested that we might run the race and fight the good fight of faith through all circumstances. To endure the testing of our faith to that end (expressing and experiencing more praise for Christ and joy) we must grow up in our salvation (1 Peter 2:2) and we must not stumble because we disobey trusting in Christ (1 Peter 2:8).

Understanding that our trials are working FOR US to lead us away from death and INTO LIFE, as a GIFT from the Lord, Peter spends the rest of the letter persuading it’s readers to have the right perspective on trials so they may continue in faith, and so in the praise of Christ and joy.

To grow in faith and to not stumble in our suffering and grief we must:

  • Prepare our minds for action and be self-controlled so we can pray (1 Peter 4:7)
  • Abstain from sinful desires like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander (1 Peter 2:1), don’t conform to evil desires, but be holy. Crave holiness! Sin wages war against our souls. Christ has brought us salvation from harm, ruin, and loss. Sin has brought us harm, ruin, and loss. Sin is the opposite of our goal. Resist the devil.
  • We ought to live good lives described in 1 Peter 2:12 to the end including repaying evil with goodness and submitting to all kinds of authority.
  • Do not be surprised by the suffering we are facing when suffering for Christ or doing good.
  • Commit, pledge, and bind ourselves to the faithful Creator, and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:12)
  • We set our hope on GRACE as the gift of salvation we do not deserve and could not earn.
  • Take on the attitude or have a settled way of thinking that suffering helps us flee our evil fleshly desires, and live our lives for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-6

How do I respond when trials come? Why don’t I immediately think that God is testing my faith? That he wants me to have more joy in the promises of salvation and the hope of eternity? That he wants me to give him praise and glory? My immediate response is usually frustration, anger, and doubt. If it doesn’t feel good or work how I would like, I let that lead me to the conclusion that he’s doing something not good and, almost subconsciously, that God isn’t good. I pray that God gives me the settled way of thinking that the trials and suffering in my life are to refine my faith, to make it more genuine, because he wants me to glorify him and experience the inexpressible glory and joy from trusting in my savior. I pray that he refines my faith. I pray he tests my faith so the un-authentic parts can be revealed, confronted, and removed so all that’s left is faith and rejoicing. Test my faith Lord! Test my faith! Send me the trials to reveal the parts of my heart, soul, and mind that do not believe in your truth. Help me to not be afraid. Help me to consciously declare that you have given me suffering so that through my faith being refined I will praise you more and have more joy after being tested.

Amen.

 

Hoping IN versus hoping FOR and why it’s ok to listen to your heart

“Do not put your hope in [fill in the blank here]” says every Christian mentor ever. Years have been passing as I’ve struggled in trying to understand myself, my desires, and God’s desires. Message after message I’ve heard telling me to not follow my heart, don’t pursue happiness, don’t put your hope in marriage or a job or kids or friends or family.

Maybe it was me or maybe it was actually the message being given to me… I’ll never know, but the truth wants to come out. There’s dreams and desires stuffed down in there that feel covered in shame because either I was told to not have hopes and dreams, I’m afraid of loss/disappointment, or whenever I was being told not to put my hope in something I thought it also meant that I shouldn’t hope for anything either. Maybe they were telling me that, maybe they meant I ought not to hope for the things I longed for. Maybe I didn’t know the difference. Either way, my heart and soul are finding freedom. Here’s is where I am now:

Hope: the expectation/longing for good, a desire for something to happen, a type of trust/assurance

Hoping in: 

“Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.” Jeremiah 17:5

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” Psalms 146:3

“Here’s what you say to those wealthy in regard to this age: “Don’t become high and mighty or place all your hope on a gamble for riches; instead, fix your hope on God, the One who richly provides everything for our enjoyment.”” 1 Timothy 6:17

Man can turn away from the Lord, the strength that comes from man is not strong enough for what we need. Man was never going to be able to save our souls. If we want good things, why not look to God and expect the good we desire from him who provides those things instead of leaving it up to chance or asking man alone to provide?

Hoping for:

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.  Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”…So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1

 “As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” Luke 18:35-43

Beautiful longings come from the pouring out of our souls, our desires, our dreams. God doesn’t always answer yes, but the outpouring of our souls finds favor in his eyes. In it lies the confession that we know it is he who provides and we didn’t earn or deserve his favor, but it is a gift.

The heart: an anatomical feature given to describe desires and passions

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life” Proverbs 4:23

“Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility. Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.” Ecclesiastes 11:8-9

The heart can be deceitful, it must be watched over, but from it flow the springs of life. We have the freedom and permission to follow the impulses of our hearts and the desires of our eyes, we are to enjoy the days that are good because they won’t last. Yet, there is a warning… God will judge our hearts. He will declare them as righteous or wicked. We will be held accountable for what the impulses of our hearts led us to do.

What God does with the heart:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lordhe turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” Provers 16:2

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9

“‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.'” Jeremiah 24:7

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

“It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

God knows our hearts. He directs our hearts. He weighs our hearts to test if it is pure or selfish. He cares about our motives. God sees our hearts. He searches our hearts. The Lord gives us a new heart that longs to know him. He creates a clean heart in us. The Spirit of the Living God has written the gospel on our hearts. He removes our hearts of stone and replaces them with a moving, breathing, bleeding heart.


Hear what your heart is saying. Listen to it. Listening doesn’t mean doing what it says, listening means paying attention. Take note. Affirm the desires and passions. Bring them before the Lord and ask “Have mercy on me!”. “Treat me unlike I deserve”. “Give, though I have not earned.”

Pray and do not lose heart. Luke 18:1

Nehemiah was merely a cup bearer to a king. Upon hearing the news of the destruction in Jerusalem and the despair of the people, with sadness of heart, he asked the king if he could aid to rebuild the temple. The Lord made a way for the conception and establishment of Nehemiah’s desire.

“And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid.  I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.  And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah,  and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Nehemiah 2:2-8

It wasn’t an easy task, it wasn’t met without trouble or consequences, but where would Nehemiah been if he had never asked? What of Hannah or the blind man or the persistent widow begging for justice? What does silencing our desires do? If our only excuse is to avoid disappointment and pain, then I think we are choosing not to believe the Lord can truly satisfy in our unmet desires. That his comfort is sweeter than numbness.

Never allowing your heart to have a place in your life is about as crazy as not allowing your heart to hope for heaven. All of our hoping and waiting is just a small picture of the greatest redemption and gift our hearts long for.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:23-26

“Do not follow your heart, if it means your going to settle when you know there’s something better.” What if you’re not settling? What if following your heart is you becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be and the person God has always wanted you to be?

I’d say listen, I’d say go… and God will hold you accountable for all that you do.

Anymore

Somewhere I heard a bird, in a meadow softly sing
distant, melancholy; a secret stolen dream.
It didn’t take me long, to arrive beneath her throne
the dream it kept her waiting so here she made her home.

“Why, little bird,” I asked, “do you soulfully sing?
If a dream is what you really want, go! Take wing!
Are you afraid of flying, or reaching a distant shore?
Why do you keep stagnant; when you’re capable of so much more?”

Somehow the little bird, it stopped and turned its eyes towards me
wrestled, worn and weary; without words I heard her speak.
“Is it so unfamiliar, to stay against all hope?
What is more enduring: to leave or remain home?”

I guess I hadn’t wisdom for the bird’s questioning.
Who was I to really say giving up was the better thing?
“But do you believe its right, hiding here alone?”
Ah, but she seemed to say, if you stay then I won’t be
anymore.

My searching

I’ve started searching for you again
In the faces of poets, strangers, and friends
Hoping to find that sweet company
That’s mine if I’d just hit my knees.
It’s mine, if I’d just hit my knees.

I’m hungry for pleasure, for a hit of success
Something to tell me I’ve still got a chance
A chance for some worth, some value, some proof
That’s mine if I’d just hear your truth.
It’s mine if I’d just hear your truth.

I’m wandering deserts, feeling lost and alone
And I can’t remember which way leads me back home
I’m filling with anger, why did you bring me here?
You’ve caught me, and I’ll lend an ear.
You’ve caught me and cut open my fears.

Pride was my lover, my very best friend.
He told me of the glory that’d be mine in the end
He wrapped me up, bound, with a noose
Almost killed me, until I found you
Almost killed me, and then I found you

My searching, the problem, became really clear
It’s you, the one, I so longed to be near
No worth, no person, could ever come close
To knowing you, my savior, so dear
It was you who helped me see clear.

And in the end, when the best fades
I’ll be at home in some other place.
For all of my sins, couldn’t chase you away.
You’re happy in being my friend.
I’m happy, for that’s who you’ve been.

And I’ll praise you now, and in the end.

 

More of me from you

They say you never know unless you try
And I’m finding out all of the reasons why
People give it up so easy,
They lay it down,
And take the pieces
Hoping somehow it will all repair
Even when the pieces aren’t all there
My trying didn’t seem to lead me any where.
Because I hoped you’d be standing here.

They say better to have lost it when you love
That there’s a sure comfort in the sum
Of all the ways you gave yourself
You held on fast
You lost the wealth
Of things, they mattered not to you
Because they were worth giving up everything you knew
But it’s harder now to clearly see the truth
That love was right, yet wonder what’s the use?

They say it will get easier with time
That love still grows and never says goodbye
But the times gone by
And we’ll I’ve tried
To do all that I can do
But my best hasn’t gotten over you
And I’m carrying around the pieces for the proof.
That I was willing to give you more.
And I sure gave you all of that I knew.

I can say it’s been a wild ride
There was time of joy within my eyes
A hopeful song
A beating chest
Buried within my bosom rests
These memories, the laughter and the tears
The journey packs up again though through the fear,
And I can hope or at least pretend
The unexplained goodbye is the better truth.
Because I learned more of me from you.

 

 

context: a song in the making after my strange month long dating soirée.

Note to future self, this was a good and humbling process. It wasn’t love, but it had potential. You learned more in these last four weeks about life (pain, grieving the past) than you ever really had before. Blessings to him as you both find what it is you’re looking for.

Will God leave me alone to screw up my life?

I’ve never been very good at making decisions. Is it a fear of missing out? As I think about standing in front of restaurant menu board it is not that I cannot decide between two things that I love. Rather, I know its possible that I would make a decision, receive my compensation, and be disappointed. Now I am stuck with it because this was what I paid for. That greasy burger ended up making me feel nauseous, but that was the consequence of my decision. I picked wrong. But how would I have known otherwise?

My mom came to me one night when my parents were divorcing, telling me that I had to decide who to live with. “I don’t want to decide,” I said in tears as an 11 year old. I went with whatever made everyone else happy. My preference, which was to have them not divorce, was not an option.

While burgers and parents are two completely different types of choices, there are choices we are asked to make in life and the consequences of those choices can be illusive. We can seek the Lord, He can give us peace, transform our minds, lead us on the narrow path, but we can also be convinced that God is leading us somewhere he might not be (or maybe that’s apart of his sovereignty too… but a conversation for a different time). It may end us up somewhere we consider “not good.”

God, will you leave me alone to screw up my life? My mind and heart ponder this question. In it is woven doubt and pain, but also a deep curiosity. So I googled “verses about God not leaving us alone to screw up our lives” and I came across a story of a man who, potentially outside of wisdom, became convinced that God was leading him (a pastor) to move to a city to start a new church. (Ironic for me to read this.) He didn’t have a job prospect lined up or a house or really much of a plan, and he uprooted his family including small children only to end up a year later in line at a homeless shelter waiting with others for jobs to be handed out to earn some money to put food on the table. “How did I end up here?” he asked himself.

Well, shit.

I don’t entirely remember his consolation for his experiences. Something from Job, Psalms, and probably Romans.

I asked my roommates a few weekends ago, “Do you guys know or can you think of any verses that have to do with God and him not leaving us alone to screw up our lives?” One shared “God works all things out for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.” She admitted it was trite, but I understood the sentiment. God works all things for good. Screw ups and bad decisions can be made for good. OK… but it still didn’t bring me consolation.

A week later I was reading Psalms. I’ve been reading Psalms from the beginning for several weeks now and got tired/bored so I flipped to the end and started reading them backwards… strange, I know. But I think God led me to a verse that we are all familiar with, but it stood out to me in this context.

Psalm 139:7-12 (by David)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

God, will you leave me ALONE to screw up my life? Well, no. There is no place on the entire earth, that though it may seem like it’s covered in darkness, will be dark to God. Darkness is not dark to God. There is no place on earth I can go, no darkness I think I could hide in, there is no grave or place in the sky, there is no place that I could choose to settle where his hand, love, guidance, providence, and grace cannot find me.

So screw up my life?… maybe. Make a decision that ends in pain?…possibly. Become convinced God wants me to do something that might be contrary to biblical wisdom?… I could. But does that remove me from God’s favor or keep him from helping me or guiding me? No, he is ever as close in my successes as in my failures. If I say “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me.” He says, “The darkness is not dark to me, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to me.” I could settle on the far side of the sea, but still he will never leave me nor forsake me. Even there, His hand will guide me.

And there are plenty of verses about God leading us and lighting the path for our feet. He does guide us. So without negating those truths, I end in the comfort that I can feel secure in the Lord with my decisions even if I make the “wrong” ones because he will continue to be there and uphold me with his right hand. And then it’s humbling because I realize I don’t even really deserve that, but his promised presence is his unmerited favor possible through Christ.

And for that I am grateful.