In the morning we had a special breakfast with a friend. Everyone sang, and I received sweet gifts of chocolate and tea from the kids, thanks to that special friend. (I also had gone out the night before with my husband and had a great dinner together without the kids! We crashed a jam session with some of the Alabama Singing Men who were on a mission trip to our area. Before we had to leave to be back by curfew, we were able to worship with them and enjoy some good music.) So why did I say it was miserable? After reading all that it sounds pretty great! I think it was just that after I did a craft with Lydia and spent some time with Ethan and his Legos, I was restless and wondering how we were going to fill the long day ahead of us. I resented the cold, the gray, the not feeling 100% well, and the nagging in my heart that wanted me to reflect on past birthdays and question future ones. Somehow we muddled through. Ethan headed off to a friend's birthday party and so Todd, Lydia and I broke out a movie and watched Aladdin.
That's when again I was confronted by THE QUESTION. Back when this movie came out I was a senior in high school. I had lots of questions about the future at that time. THE QUESTION caught me off guard then, and it caught me off guard again. I bet you will recognize THE QUESTION. It is, "Do you trust me?"
To my ears it wasn't Aladdin asking Jasmine to grab his hand and jump to their escape or leap onto a magic carpet. To my ears it was God asking me, "Do you trust me to be who I say I am and to do what I say I can do? Do you trust that my plans for you are good and that I will faithfully carry out all I have promised?"
Have you heard THE QUESTION? What has your response been? Saturday I ended up going to bed with THE QUESTION rattling in my heart. Do I trust God? Do I trust Him today when life is cloudy, cold, and life seems more like the dead of winter than the lush green of summer? I wanted to say, "Yes, even now I trust you," but I wasn't joyful about it. So many days I had hopefully kept my eyes on Him as we started this journey on the bend in the road. But today it all seemed different. I didn't like it. I wanted it to be different. I was full of grumbles.
The next day dawned and the sun broke through the clouds. It warmed, and I got outside. The weather had changed. I still didn't feel 100%, but it was better to handle with nicer weather. Although the clouds were out of the sky, they were still not out of my heart. Do I trust you, God, even when the skies are NOT what I desire? Even when I had determined to go listing gifts and looking for your good in the hard things? Where had all that determination gone? And even though I wanted to grit my teeth and say I trusted Him, did I really? I continued to ponder and roll that question around in my heart.
The next day also dawned bright. As I sat on the porch in the sun reading from the Word, God challenged me with a story of His people in Deuteronomy 1. Moses is retelling the people their history. He is reminding them that when they came to their Promised Land they let their eyes focus on the size of the inhabitants instead of the size of their God.
In vs 29 Moses says, "Don't be shocked or afraid of them! The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now He has bought you to this place.
But even after all he did, you refused to trust the Lord your God, who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.
When the Lord heard your complaining, he became very angry. So he solemnly swore, 'Not one of you from this wicked generation will live to see the good land I swore to give to your ancestors except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will live to see this land because he has followed the Lord completely...'"
My attention was grabbed by the words, "But even after all he did, you refused to trust the Lord your God, who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day." This should be a comforting verse, and it is. But I scratched my head a bit and turned back in my Bible to a few places. When God lead them to the Red Sea he delivered them in a mighty way, but if my recollection was right, He then took them into the desert and they traveled for three days without water. When they did find water, it was bitter water. Uh-huh. There is the story in Exodus 15. And I seemed to remember another story in which they were thirsty once again, a rock was struck, and water came out of it. Yup. Exodus 17. But this verse says that God went before them looking for the best places to camp. So were these the best places? They didn't look like the best places from my observation. How could all those Israelites survive without good drinking water? But what if the best place was a thirsty place that gave them an opportunity to call out for God in faith? What if they would have come before God and said, "We know who you are God. We've seen you work. You've turned water to blood. You've parted water so we could walk on dry land. You've overcome our enemies by waves of water. Surely you will faithfully care for us and provide water for us to drink. We are thirsty. Help us by your loving, faithful, mighty hand." I wonder what might happened if they grateful remembered and asked instead of grumbled and mumbled?
And what would happen in my life if I did the same? When THE QUESTION looms before me because circumstances seem to speak contrary to God's nature, what will I do? Will I keep my eye on the circumstances and grumble? Or will I remember who God is and what He says He will do and then ask for the help I need. God is my Father. He gave His Son so that my life could be redeemed. He has promised that He will be with me at all times. He has promised that He will transform me into His image. He has promised that He will receive glory from my life.
As the gray days of life press in I am challenged to look at them differently and ask God for help even as I trust Him. I hope you will do the same. I am so grateful though that He gives us bright, sunshine days as well. Guess I need to trust Him to be the keeper of all my days, both rainy and sunny!
P.S. Thanks to the many who wished me a happy birthday. I really am blessed and looking back now it really wasn't a miserable day- I just felt the circumstances that day. I am looking forward to my NEXT birthday!