Lamp post at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Ask questions even if you’re afraid of the answer

I have a lot of unanswered questions. About life. About the universe. About me. And for many of my questions, I would really like an answer. But for some of them, I’m not so sure I would like the answer.

So I think, in many cases, I don’t ask because I’m afraid of what the answer will be.

Lamp post at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Lamp post at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 33:3.

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.

If you are a follower of Christ, you have an amazing opportunity to talk to the God who created everything. I mean, He’s the one who invented DNA. He’s the one who invented the concept of Time itself. There’s nothing He doesn’t know, and there’s nothing He can’t tell us.

There may be some things He won’t tell us for our own good, but in those cases, I’m sure you would agree that there are some things it’s better we don’t know.

But what about simple things? What about the choices I need to make today? What about the things I need to plan for tomorrow? Or for next week?

God is huge and so immense that you wouldn’t think He’d care. But He does. He loves me enough to be involved in my little life on an hourly basis, and He cares about the decisions I face, the choices I make and the consequences that I don’t even know are coming yet.

Not only does He care, He wants to help. And He’s just waiting for me to ask for it.

I’m not good at asking for help. I’m the person you’ll see wandering around a grocery store because I refuse to ask where the peanut butter is. I’d rather use up gasoline in trying to find a destination on my own than to ask for directions. And when someone with me asks for directions, I usually walk away from them. I’m trying to get better about this because there’s no shame in asking for directions, I just hate doing it.

And I’m good at asking for help for other people. I’m really good at asking God to bless other people or protect other people or to help other people have success. But when it comes to myself, I usually just ask God to bless my day. Generically. Nothing specific. Nothing exact. Granted, if I have a need–a real need–I will be specific. But otherwise, it’s back to general “bless this and bless that” kinds of prayers.

I have a dream. It’s been my dream since I was a very young child. It’s the one thing I’ve wanted since I was old enough to understand what a dream was. And I can count on my hand the times I have asked God to help me with it.

Why is that?

Maybe I’m just so thankful that He’d listen to me that I’m glad for any assistance He offers, even if it is generic or if it is directed at someone else. But I think the truth is that I’m too scared to ask for what I really want.

Why scared? Well … what if He says no? … Or even worse, what if He says yes? Have you ever had a request like that? Something you wanted so badly that the only thing worse than God telling you it isn’t time yet would be Him telling you that it is?

If God tells me no, at least I can deal with that. No has been the constant answer. I don’t like it, but I can deal with waiting. But if God chooses to answer this request, everything will change. And I really hate change. I don’t know what to do with it. I’m a planner and a people pleaser and a structured type of person (hard to believe as unorganized as I am), and when something rocks the boat, it’s hard for me to find my sea legs. And my worst fear is disappointing people and disappointing Him.

So if I don’t ask, I don’t have to worry.

But that’s not what we’re supposed to do.

If God has given us a dream, we need to pursue it. He doesn’t just put desires in our hearts to give us something to do. He gives them to us for a reason because He wants to use us to help other people. And until we use the gifts and the dreams that He’s given us, we’ll never be satisfied with our lot in life. And we can’t use the gifts and dreams in our lives to the level He intended until we ask Him for help.

So … this is me asking for help.

God knows everything. And all we have to do is ask, and He’ll tell us things, things we want to know, things we don’t want to hear, things we don’t understand.

Worrying about what God is going to tell you is a waste of time. You can’t change it, and worrying only makes you miserable. Just like being afraid of the answer makes you miserable and discouraged and depressed. We don’t have to worry, and we don’t have to be afraid.

So ask away. And don’t be afraid of the answer. If God says no, wait some more. If God says yes, step up. Either way, He knows what He’s doing. He won’t let you make a wrong move if you keep listening, and He won’t let you go alone.

Wheat almost ready - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Who needs a paycheck?

I’ve been praying for my neighbors because we are hovering on the edge of one of the most amazing harvests I can ever remember. The wheat has never looked so beautiful. The photo for today comes from a week or so ago, and since then most of the fields around my home have turned almost completely golden. There’s no sight like it on earth.

Now if we can just hold on for a few more weeks with no major storms, no major floods, Kansas could have a very good year. And about time too. It’s been a while since we’ve had a good harvest in these parts.

I think farming and writing are very similar in some ways, especially when it comes to harvests. Because in both professions you can pour your heart and soul into what you do and never see a positive financial return. You can farm and farm until you’ve planted acres and acres of every crop, and (at least in Kansas) one bad storm can wipe it out. It has nothing to do with your dedication; it’s just life.

Writing’s the same in some cases. I realized the other day that I’ve been writing for almost 20 years, and I have yet to see an actual return on any of it. Granted, I only started letting some of that writing out into the public eye in the last five years. But still. If you run the numbers, you can get discouraged pretty quickly. And then you stumble into a verse like today’s?

Wheat almost ready - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat almost ready – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Luke 6:38.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

How does that work? I can honestly tell you that I’ve worked my fingers to the bone writing since I was a child. My dream since childhood was to be a published author. And I haven’t cut corners. At all. I’ve never expected a free ride, and I’ve dedicated every free moment to it. Even my vacations have been an opportunity to pursue writing.

So according to this rule, the rule of sowing and reaping, I should get back what I invest. And I should get back more of it. This is a law of nature that God created when He made the world. Newton figured it out too; for every action there is a reaction. Cause and effect.

So where does Jesus get off telling me this today?

Farmers plant fields and harvest crops, unless you live in Kansas. Then, generally, you plant crops and harvest dust. Much like writers write books and harvest disappointment when no one wants to buy their work. Am I wrong?

I’m only being partially facetious.

I would be right, yes, if Jesus were only talking about financial returns. I can’t really speak to farmers because I don’t farm (unless you count weeds), but when it comes to writing there is something more satisfying than being paid for your work. And that is when your work touches someone else.

No, I haven’t published a novel yet. But you’re reading this blog post, aren’t you?

No, I haven’t received a financial return on anything I’ve written, but I didn’t really start writing to get rich and famous. I started writing and telling stories because it was an outlet where I could share what God has done in my life. And so much more important to me is communicating that truth to other people, whether it’s in blog posts or articles or short stories or novels. And maybe I haven’t written anything that’s made money. And maybe I never will. But if you count up the people I’ve been able to share my story with through words, that vastly outweighs a paycheck of any kind.

I’ve invested 20 years of my life in writing, in learning how to tell stories, in sharing what God has taught me through words. And I can tell you, the returns I’ve seen, while not financial, are greater than what I originally invested. I’ve given my life to writing, and I’ve watched God take that and make it into something bigger than what I could have imagined, not only being a blessing to people but encouraging others to start sharing their story too. And that’s worth more to me than almost anything.

So whatever you’re doing in your life today, remember that the whole principle of sowing and reaping applies. It really does. It just may not pay off in the way you’re expecting. If what you’re doing in your life honors God, you will see a return. That’s a promise. So don’t give up.

Who needs a paycheck anyway, right? … Like I said. Partially facetious. =)