Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Plan

I'm definitely an information girl.

I want all the details, all the possibilities, and then I can decide what to do with it. How to react. Which path to take.

God is not so much into information, I've come to find out. It turns out He's more concerned with our hearts than with our circumstances.

Go figure.

I cannot count how many times I have pleaded with God for an answer in the midst of a trying situation. Any answer. Even a "no" would be better than day-by-day waiting or "just trust Me".

But then sometimes I wonder if having a solid answer, a divine checklist of how to solve the problem, would really do me any good. For one, my eyes and heart would definitely be more focused on what's around me than Who's above me. And, two, I wonder if I would even believe it.

The other day I was reading part of King Jehoshaphat's story in 2 Chronicles 20. When word came of an impending attack against Judah, the king immediately inquired of the Lord regarding what he should do. Talk about being in need of a quick, definitive answer!

As the people fasted and Jehoshaphat prayed, the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men in the crowd. He prophesied this answer from the Lord:

15 He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "
2 Chron. 20:15-17

So basically, the Lord told Jehoshaphat that he should go out against these three enemy armies but that he wouldn't have to fight. And, oh yeah, don't be afraid.

I don't know how the king felt about that message - although the text does tell us he bowed low and worshipped the Lord - but there seems to be just a few little details missing from that gameplan.

Like HOW in the world they would actually defeat three huge armies without a fight. Minor detail.

To Jehoshaphat's credit, he was completely obedient and trusted the Lord. It turned out that as his army went out, he appointed singers to walk ahead of them to praise the Lord. (Can you see some of them saying, "Um, see, I'm in the choir and didn't really sign up for this battle thing . . .")

When the three enemy armies heard the loud singing, they actually turned on each other and completely annihilated their allies! By the time the army of Judah got there, all they found were dead bodies - not a single enemy soldier remained.

So it seems that the Lord's plan worked pretty well after all.

Go figure.

However, can you imagine what would have happened if, in response to Jehoshaphat's original plea for help, the Lord would have spelled out the entire plan? "See, I'm going to have your army march out but you're going to put your worship leaders in front. And then before you even get there, all your enemies are going to kill each other. Then you'll get there just in time to gather up their goodies. Okie dokie?"

I honestly don't know which scenario would take more faith - to not know what was going to happen and just trust the Lord, or to know - realize how completely crazy and unrealistic it sounded - and still trust the Lord to follow through on it.

Perhaps Jehoshaphat would have obeyed regardless. But maybe not. Maybe his army would have rebelled. Or maybe come up with "Plan B". Who knows.

But I do know that when I look back over certain situations in my life, if the Lord had told me ahead of time His plan I don't think I would have gone along with it. Or maybe I would have with only half a heart. Or maybe I would have wasted so much time arguing with Him about it that I would have missed His blessings in the midst of it.

My point is that, as much as I want to know the plan (and believe me, I do) I have to praise the Planmaker for His wisdom in not always sharing it with me.

(And can I throw in a praise for my lack of singing ability? You know, just in case that scenario were to repeat itself some day. I'm just sayin'.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've Got The Power

Depending on your age, that title either brings to mind a suh-weet C+C Music Factory song circa 1990-something OR the awesomeness of He-Man. Or for a select few of us lucky ones, both. (He-Man was so much cooler than She-Ra. But I digress . . .)

We're walking through quite a season of separation anxiety with our 4 year old. She has always struggled with this in degrees, but an unfortunate experience at the dentist office last month seems to have pushed her over the edge. Heartbreaking? You bet.

It seems we've been pulling out every possible parenting tool hoping that something will bring this season to an end. One of my favorites, of course, is Scripture. God's word is "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12) and I believe very applicable to any of us, even my preschooler.

Before bedtime the other night (always triggers an episode) I reminded her that God "did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of love, power and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7) She asked, "What kind of power? Like Flower Power?" (from a Backyardigans episode).

Um, not so much.

I tried my best to explain how when we make Jesus the Lord of our life, that the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us. That means we have God's power in us to help us. Of course, that raised all sorts of questions in itself. After fielding them to the best of my ability, I had questions in my own mind as well!

So, what is this power God has given us? I have a feeling I could spend a lifetime researching, praying, reading and thinking and never fully comprehend it. And I'm okay with that. There's nothing wrong with seeking answers, but we have to be content that some things will remain a mystery while we're on this earth. God is God after all.

But I ran across a passage today in Ephesians that seems to at least partly answer the question. I had to read it about seven times to really let it sink in . . .

16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:16-21

As an encouragement to the Ephesians, it seems that Paul points out three different workings of Christ's power in us:

1) So that Christ may live and dwell in our hearts (v. 17)

2) To be able to understand and know the fullness of Christ's love for us (v. 18-19)

3) To enable God to do more than we could fathom, or even ask for, through us to bring Him glory (v. 20-21)

Wow. Actually, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Do a search on "power" on Biblegateway.com for the New Testament and just a quick scan of the verses reveals a plethora of other workings of Christ's power in us.

Can I say it again? WOW.

Of course, this power has nothing to do with ourselves. Paul makes that clear in a letter to the Corinthians:

"But we have this power in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Cor. 4:7

God's power resting in our fragile selves. (I'd put in another WOW here, but that would be redundant I suppose.)


At least now I have a partial answer for our daughter: Christ's power in us helps us to know Him and His love more, and also to bring Him glory.

And even if she doesn't fully comprehend that now, I pray that God will just cover her in His peace and love during this season of anxiety. And He will, you know.

He's powerful like that.