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In Decision 2011

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:4-5

The topic about which I have been writing over the past week is not directly related to our new neighborhood or neighbors but is a parenting decision we need to make in the near future. It feels like a monumental decision even though to outside observers it might not. The decision itself is not as important as where it is taking our hearts, or perhaps how our hearts are interacting with it. Moving to this neighborhood did not feel like a step of faith as much as it felt like the only reasonable thing for us to do. I didn’t feel like we were risking all that much, whether or not we actually are. This next decision is poking around in some pretty fundamental “untouchables” in my heart and it is freaking me out.

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:24-26

What I realized last night is that rather than going to my heavenly Father, who made me and knows me and is writing the script in which I now find myself, I am “worried and upset about many things.” Rather than resting it all at His feet, trusting that a year from now we will all be exactly where He draws us, it is like I am trying to solve a great riddle or discover the end of a treasure hunt by sniffing out just the right clues. I am trusting in my reasoning ability, my theological sleuthing skills while placing great hope in a coming “Aha!” moment. My actual prayer time for this decision is at best like Columbo’s murmuring his thoughts aloud in an unintelligible, seemingly disconnected way and at worst just non-existent. This is all very telling about the distance between what I think I believe and the object of my heart’s actual trust. I trust myself more than God.

The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. Deut. 1:30-33

Knowing how it is going to end up makes me feel more secure, more stable and more at rest. It allows me to start planning in this direction or that, to start envision other aspects of life accordingly. Knowing what the decision will ultimately be allows me to adjust my heart’s perspective and expectations. Knowing makes me feel less powerless and more in control, like a roller coaster that allows you to see the direction of the track ahead in contrast to the ones in pitch black darkness. I hate feeling powerless and I have a very high need for control. I want to know “how much longer” I will be in the car until we arrive at the beach. I want to know what my alternatives are so that I can prepare for any outcome. I want to be ready.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I absolutely trust more in my own understanding than in the Lord. It doesn’t matter that I know intellectually that my understanding is limited, that my experiences are not rules and that God is good and is in control of all things. Just like Adam and Eve, the Israelites and God’s people before me, I am naturally bent on self-reliance though I have no good reason to be.

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40

The Pharisee is a picture of me…I study to find life in the Scriptures but not in Jesus Himself! Like Adam and Eve, I want to take His fruit apart from Him…but it only remains alive in connection to Him. Who will save me from this cycle and strong propensity? What is my hope for ever trusting Him despite my strong will to trust myself more?

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:37-40

I am not trapped in unbelief not because He will inspire me to pull myself up and start fresh tomorrow, but because He will give me the very belief in Him that I lack on my own. He is drawing me to look to Him and not myself, and that is a sign of life, of His life in me, that I cannot resist or thwart. He will not lose me or cast me aside, no matter how determined I am to listen to the serpent instead (like Adam and Eve), or to keep the Israelites in slavery (like Pharaoh) or flee to Tarshish rather than go to Nineveh (like Jonah) or destroy the followers of Jesus (like Paul).

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

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