I’m like a little child who doesn’t know the way

I have to be creative when I work. It’s in my job description. Part of being a writer (some people would call it being an artist) is making stuff up. You have to be really good at creating imaginary scenarios with imaginary people, which is all just in your head but real enough that others would believe it’s true if you told them.

The downside at being really good at making stuff up is that sometimes people think you really know what you’re doing. And to a certain extent, it’s true. You use experiences you’ve learned from other people and other situations, and you apply it to your current circumstance. It’s not rocket science. But what happens when you run into a situation that you can’t fabricate an answer for? What happens when you barrel headlong into something you don’t know how to get out of? What happens when you’re so buried in life’s troubles that you can’t even pretend you know what to do anymore?

It can be nice to be the person in the room with the answers, sure. But there’s a certain amount of freedom in being able to admit that you haven’t got a clue.

C52A64EA10_1505x1004Today’s verses are 1 Kings 3:7-9.

Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?

Solomon, the son of David, is one of the best-known kings of Israel. Israel experienced an unprecedented time of wealth and prosperity during Solomon’s reign. But that didn’t happen because Solomon was a great businessman. No, early on in his kingship, Solomon and God had a chat, and God gave Solomon the choice between material possessions and wisdom. And this was Solomon’s response.

We lose something from the original language. There’s always something lost in translation. That phrase, “I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around” is what I want to key into this morning.

This was Solomon. The King of Israel. The Son of David. He was rich and powerful and successful, yet in speaking to God, Solomon had no problem admitting he didn’t know jack. That’s what that means, you understand. Solomon was calling himself a baby. In some translations, it says Solomon compared himself to an infant that didn’t even know how to enter a room.

Compared to God, Solomon knew he knew nothing. And by demonstrating this kind of humility, God blessed him immeasurably.

When life get tough and surrounds me with trouble, my first response is to shake it off. I don’t want people worrying about me or fussing over me. I usually just want to be left alone so that I can puzzle through the situation on my own. I’ve heard enough stories, I know enough Scripture, and I’ve had enough wise council in my life to get me through just about anything–or so I thought.

God likes to keep me humble. So He’ll let things come at me that I have no idea how to handle. And I flail around ridiculously for a while until I finally break down and ask for help, like I should have done first. But I don’t like admitting I have no answers. I don’t like being the person who stares blankly at a hurting friend’s face and has nothing helpful to say. I may not like it, but it’s the truth. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t always know what to say.

You’d think that by now, after all these years following the Lord, I wouldn’t need Him as much. You’d think I could stand on my own by now. But that’s not the case. I need Him more now than I did as a child, because I’ve come to understand just how big the world is and just how little I really know about any of it.

Are you feeling lost today, trapped in a situation you can’t find answers for? Are you flailing around trying to fix an impossible circumstance, doing the best you can with what you have and utterly failing? Have you hurt someone else? Have you screwed up big time? Join the club.

Just know you aren’t supposed to have all the answers. That’s God’s job. Your job is to ask God for help, to listen to His answers, and put them into practice.

You don’t have to know everything. Isn’t that a relief? Isn’t that a weight off your shoulders? You simply can’t have the answers to all of life’s problems. It’s too big for you. But it’s not too big for God, and if you believe in Jesus, you have free access to God’s ear, to God’s wisdom, and to God’s strength.

God’s not a Magic Eight Ball

When was the last time someone trusted you with a huge responsibility? What did you do? How did you react?

I frequently encounter situations where I end up having to make big, important decisions. But just the other day, one of those decisions that only come around in a blue moon landed in my lap.

I hate decisions like that because no matter how you choose, you always feel like you should have chosen something else. Maybe that’s just me.

So what do you do when you’re faced with a difficult choice? Or even a choice between two good options? How do you choose what’s best? Whether it’s a family decision or a personal decision or a professional decision, those big, scary, intimidating choices always come along when you least expect them. And if you don’t take them seriously, you could have major trouble in the future.

Is there a Magic Eight Ball somewhere you can shake that will tell you exactly what you’re supposed to do with yourself?

Well, not exactly.

8ballToday’s verses are James 1:5-8.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

God is nothing like a Magic Eight Ball. Well, I say that. Maybe there are a few similarities. When you do get an answer, it’s usually terse. Go. Now. Stop. Wait. But God doesn’t just hand out answers because you ask for them. You don’t get to determine when God answers your questions or your prayers, and that’s frustrating.

When we’re faced with a choice we don’t know how to make, we’re instructed to ask for wisdom. The Bible is full of examples of people who asked God for guidance who received it, so God certainly is in the business of sharing His wisdom with us. But the thing about God’s wisdom is that He doesn’t just drop it in your skull because you ask for it. No. In most instances, you have to be willing to seek it—in the Bible.

The Bible is God’s Word to us, and it’s full of His wisdom for how to live and how to think and how to choose. Our culture—and even the church to a certain extent—has convinced us that the Bible is too complicated for Everyman to understand, and that’s a lie. Of course, the enemy wants us to think the Bible is too difficult to understand. The more we read it, the more we know how to live for God, and that’s the last thing our enemy wants.

But one thing is true. You can’t read the Bible by yourself and truly grasp what it means in your life. To truly understand what the Bible is saying, you need the Holy Spirit. You need God to reveal it to you.

That’s what you ask for. That’s how you ask for wisdom. You ask God to reveal it to you.

But then, notice what the rest of the verse says? Ask for wisdom, yes, but then you have to trust that wisdom comes from God. You have to believe that God is the one who gives it and no one else. Not politicians, your teachers, your parents, your pastor, your church, your friends, or yourself. God is the source of wisdom, and He’s the only source you can trust.

It can’t be that you’ll accept God’s wisdom for Problem A but not for Problem B, because you don’t like what God says about Problem B.

No.

We don’t get to pick and choose. We don’t get to tell God when He’s right or not. He’s either right all the time, or He’s not God.

And if you spend your time wavering between two differing opinions—because God’s wisdom is the opposite of what the world tells you is the truth—you’ll be unstable. You’ll be insecure. You’ll be uncertain. And you’ll make unwise decisions.

So do you need wisdom today? Ask for it. And then trust what God tells you through His Word, whether you like it or not.

One of you is God, and the other one isn’t. There’s no middle ground. And the more you try to make middle ground, the more unstable you’ll be. You won’t have time to make wise decisions. You’ll be too busy cleaning up the mess from all the foolish decisions you’ve made.

Pretty flower at the Dallas Farmer's Market, Dallas, TX

Questions you don’t need God’s help on?

Everybody has questions for God. Sometimes they’re silly. Sometimes they’re serious. But every now and then, you end up in a situation where you need an answer. You have to make a decision, and you can only put it off for so long. You have to choose.

I’m there now. And in one way of looking at it, making this choice isn’t a big deal. But if you consider all of the ramifications, it could have a huge impact.

The long and the short of it is that I’ve received the first concepts for the cover of my book, Nameless. And I was desperately hoping that one of them would stand out as the absolute winner … but they’re both fantastic. And now I have to pick one.

I have to pick the book cover that will represent my novel in a way that will make people want to pick it up and read it. It’s not an earth shattering decision, but it’s important because it could very well determine whether the book sells or flops.

So I’m exercising a right that I have as a follower of Christ. I’m asking for God’s opinion.

Pretty flower at the Dallas Farmer's Market, Dallas, TX

Pretty flower at the Dallas Farmer’s Market, Dallas, TX

Today’s verse is James 1:5.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

So many times I think we are afraid to ask God because bringing our daily concerns to Him seems trivial.  I mean, He’s God. He shouldn’t care about the simple, easy, picky things I’m facing in my life. He shouldn’t care about a book cover design.

But that’s a lie. He does.

God wants to be a part of our lives in every way, from the big decisions to the small ones. And we should never forget that the small decisions may seem small but they can have huge consequences, so it’s essential to ask for wisdom before you make any decision.

God invites us to ask Him for help. He wants us to. That’s part of being in a relationship of any kind. You ask questions. You ask for opinions. You ask for help. We have friends because we were never meant to go through life alone, and God wants to be an intimate part of our lives.

Now, should you ask God what color socks to put on this morning? Well, that’s up to you. It’s highly unlikely that your socks could change the course of your life, but you never know.

I’m asking God for wisdom to choose the right book cover. Not necessarily the one I like the best, but the one that is the best option for the book itself. And that’s difficult for me because I don’t care about book covers. I never look at covers when I’m deciding what book to read. I look at the titles, and I read the back cover. That’s how I choose books. So if there is anyone completely unequal to the task of choosing a book cover, it’s me.

I’m not afraid to ask for God’s help on this. I need Him. It’s the things I already know how to do that I struggle with asking about. After all, if I already know how to do it, why would I ask for God’s wisdom? And that’s pride talking. I think I know what I’m doing. I still need God’s help to actually do the right thing.

What decision are you facing today? Is it something you already have experience with or is it something you don’t know how to handle? Either way, ask for God’s wisdom. He’s invited us to ask, so we are nuts if we don’t take Him up on it. It’s like being friends with the most brilliant mathematician in the world and still struggling through your math homework alone.

Don’t let Satan’s lies convince you that your problem isn’t worth God’s time. That’s not your decision to make. You’ve been invited to ask; so ask. And don’t believe for a second that you have life handled on your own, because you don’t. Nobody does.

Just ask. Be sure about what you need to know. Trust that God will give you an answer. And then be willing to act on it, whether you think it’s the right answer or not.

Nobody said it would be easy, but so many times doing the right thing never is.

Obeying God isn’t a game of hide and seek.

Wouldn’t it be nice if God would tell us clearly what He wanted us to do? I mean, beyond the obvious. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t murder. Love Him. Love others. Those are obvious. Those are the ones we all know, whether we follow Him or not. But what about the specifics? There are millions of choices to make and thousands of methods to go about doing all of those things.  So which one do we choose?

Example? Do we leave our home and travel to a foreign land to love others? Or do we stay home and do the same thing for the people who are hurting all around us? It’s the same concept. Both are obedient. But the choice whether to stay or go has major ramifications. It’s a big deal. How do we know what to do?

The really awesome thing about God is that He doesn’t hide Himself. He never hides from us. It’s the other way around. Even from the beginning, it was Adam and Eve who hid from God after they did wrong, not God hiding from them. And if we ask Him to help us, He will. We just have to be willing to accept the answer.

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is James 1:5.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

I think there’s a perception sometimes that we shouldn’t ask God for things because He’s already done too much for us. Or because He’s too busy to listen. There couldn’t be anything more untrue. God wants us to ask Him for things. He wants to give us good gifts. He wants to tell us how to live our lives, but we are rarely interested in listening.

Most of the time, I think we seek Him and seek the path He has planned for us and then, when He answers us, we get scared or full of insecurity and doubt and we shut Him out and convince ourselves that He didn’t really answer us. After all, surely He couldn’t be asking us to do something that is so dangerous or so out of the box! Right?

I know I’ve had this argument with myself many times. I get lost and confused and turned around. I worry and I stress, and I’m at the end of my rope. So I ask God for help (I should have asked for help first before worry and stress set in) and God answers me. But the answer He gives me is something I don’t want to hear. It’s an answer that pushes me beyond what I’m comfortable doing. It’s an answer that requires me to trust Him on a level I haven’t experienced before. So what do I do?

I tell myself I heard Him wrong. I tell myself that I am making up crazy ideas and I go about my day, wondering why God isn’t showing Himself to me. Sound familiar to anyone else?

God wants us to ask Him questions. He’s a wealth of knowledge and information and He loves us so very much. We have access to the Creator of the Universe. We can speak to Him like He’s our Daddy, but many of us don’t because we think He doesn’t want to hear from us. And the rest of us are so petrified by doubt and insecurity, we don’t do what He tells us to do.

Sometimes we have big decisions to make. Other times, our decisions aren’t so big but we still need help making up our minds, especially if the choices we have are both good. God wants to help us make that choice. There are so many ways He speaks to us, through His Word, through other believers, even through nature. He cares about the decisions we make. But He can only do so much for us if we refuse to listen.