Sunrise behind a tree - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

God doesn’t need your help to pull off His plan.

I’m a control freak. I think I’ve mentioned that once or twice before. It’s difficult for me to relax until I know every aspect of what’s happening around me. I don’t really like to be in control at all, but I still put myself in positions where I have to be. And I think life would really be a lot easier if I stopped trying to control everything and just let God work.

Sunrise behind a tree - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Sunrise behind a tree – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Psalm 138:7-8.

Though I am surrounded by troubles,
    you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
    and the power of your right hand saves me.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
    for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

I can worry myself into a pit if I’m not careful. I can stress myself out over nothing if I don’t keep my guard up. God has proven Himself to me over and over and over again, but I still keep trying to add my own meager strength to His plan. And He doesn’t need my help.

I love how this set of verses says that it’s God who will work out His plans for me. God works them out. Not me. And I’m glad for that because I can hardly figure my plans out for the day, let alone my whole life. And I find it doubly interesting how the Amplified Version puts the same verse (Psalm 138:8):

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever—forsake not the works of Your own hands.

That strikes a chord with me this morning. God isn’t just working out the plans for my life; He’s perfecting them. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind: that God has plans for me to give me a hope and a future. Good plans. And that He’s working all the details out so that everything can be perfect. It may not be perfect now, but God has seen my future and it’s good.

I’ve been on vacation for the past week. It was really nice to get away, even though it was super hot and I’ve been eaten alive by mosquitos. I can’t express how nice it was to wake up and not have to face the slough of difficult phone calls and challenging emails, the discouragement of late projects and the constant pressure to perform. Don’t misunderstand. I’m thankful for my job. But it’s very stressful. And even as it was, I still had to field a few emails from work while I was on vacation, so I know what I’m walking back into this morning and it’s not going to be pretty.

But I know that God has a plan. And I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. And even though things may not be perfect and they may not be the way I want them to be, I trust that God is working things out. So because I trust Him, I keep going.

The Message is a paraphrase, so I don’t use it for deep Bible study, but so many times I think it really captures the essence of what the Greek is saying in a way that English can’t. And I love how it puts this same set of verses:

   When I walk into the thick of trouble,
      keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
   With one hand
      strike my foes,
   With your other hand
      save me.
   Finish what you started in me, God.
      Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.

If we’re doing God’s will for us today, living according to the Bible, taking each day a step at a time, doing what we know is right, following the Spirit’s leading, God’s got our back. And nothing is going to happen to us that He hasn’t already figured out. We don’t need to control it. We don’t need to understand it. We just need to go with it.

God will finish what He started. He’s perfected His plans for our life. We just need to turn over control and let Him do what He wants to do. He’ll do it anyway, but if we fight Him for power in our lives, it will just make trouble for us. Turn over control; He knows where He’s going.

Little purple flower - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Focus on the solution instead of the problem

Consistency is one of my biggest problems. I don’t have problems with consistency from a big-picture standpoint. Give me a vague problem to fix, and I can fix it. But when it comes to details, any consistency I have flies out the window.

We need 25 stories written for the upcoming magazine issue at my company? No sweat. Give me five days, and I can get it done. You need them proofread and copy edited to be flawless? That’s where I may have trouble. Details are difficult for me because I can get bogged down in them very easily.

Details overwhelm me. If there are five major problems staring me in the face, I might get a little stressed but it’s nothing I can’t handle. But if you throw 30 little things at me simultaneously, I will shut down.

And I think that’s what happens to me in life. As long as I can focus on the big problems, I’m okay, but the moment I start focusing on the little problems I get overwhelmed with how much there is to do and how inadequate I am to the task.

Little purple flower - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Little purple flower – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 42:11.

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

The world is full of details. Tiny little details that if you miss just one, you can make a terrible mess. That’s just the way life is. But if you start focusing on those details, you’re liable to end up living with a very narrow-minded view of the world.

When I start focusing on all the tiny little problems I’m facing, that’s when I get discouraged. When I start focusing on the minor, petty issues that can absorb all my time and energy, that’s when I have trouble waking up in the mornings.

Maybe that’s not you. Maybe you are a detail-oriented person. Maybe it’s the details that you live for. And if that’s so, that’s great. But I bet the big picture intimidates you.

No matter whether we prefer to focus on larger problems or smaller problems, the issue remains that we all have problems. And we all usually have more than one problem we have to deal with in a day’s time. So how do we get past the point where our problems are all we can think about?

Well, it may be difficult, but instead of focusing on the problem, focus on the solution. No matter what problem you’re facing, there is a solution to it. And you can either choose to focus on how much you have left to do or you can choose to focus on how you are going to fix it.

Similarly in life, you can choose to focus on your inadequacies or all the things you’ve done wrong or all the details you’ve missed or all the mistakes you’ve made. Or you can choose to focus on the fact that God never makes mistakes and that He’s big enough to turn your screw ups into something that will glorify Him and bless you.

No, I don’t know how He’s going to do it. That’s for Him to know and for us to find out, but one thing I’ve learned is that God is both a detail person and a big-picture person. And He loves both perspectives because He’s the only Person I know who can work everything out to the best benefit of everyone involved.

So if all the details in life have you feeling down this morning, don’t focus on them. Or if the major problems in your life have you discouraged, don’t focus on them. Instead, put your hope in God. Lean on God and let Him take care of it. Do what you need to do to get through today, and God will provide an answer for you tomorrow.

That’s kind of the way He works anyway.

Greetings from Tampa. Today I return to the frozen northland known as Kansas. I am glad to report, however, that it seems neither of my flights have been canceled. So I shouldn’t run into any delays (supposedly; of course, things just happen at times).

It’s been a very good trip, and I’ve gotten a lot done, but it will be nice to get home.

It’s nice to know that God always knows what He’s doing. The verse today is 1 Corinthians 2:9.

9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

   “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
      and no mind has imagined
   what God has prepared
      for those who love him.”

This is a Judgement House verse. Some of you Tour Guides probably recognize it as you never forget the Tour Guide Script no matter how long it’s been since you did it.

Not only does God always know what He’s doing, but He always does better and more than you expect. Granted, you don’t always figure out what He’s done for you until years afterward, but you can count on the fact that God is always in the background weaving the story of your life together with His plans into an incredible adventure.

If you think of it, say a prayer for me as I travel back to Wichita today. I’d desperately like not to have to spend the night in the Houston airport, but I have enough with me that I will be fine if I need to.

Also, for those of you who have been praying for my family concerning my Grandma Bea, I wanted to let you know that she passed away yesterday evening. Thank you for your prayers and please keep them coming as the next few months are likely to be pretty stressful.

Much love to you all.