It’s not up to us to find a way to provide for our future

The momma cat here at Safe Haven Farm caught a big, fat mouse for her remaining kittens the other day. She brought it up into the yard so that her kittens could chase it around and learn how to hunt. The kittens are getting pretty big now, but they still rely on their mom to provide a lot of what they eat. I couldn’t help but think about how that compares to my life following Jesus.

It’s easy to get caught up in what we have and what we don’t have in our lives. In a culture like ours that is constantly focused on having the latest and greatest material possessions, it can be difficult to remember that the best things in our lives were given to us, entrusted to us for safekeeping. We don’t really own anything of real value. You know that, right?

I mean, you can work for your paycheck. You can earn a living. You can buy a house and so on and so forth, but you didn’t make any of that. God made it before you did, and He chose to give it to you for safekeeping. Your life, your family, your home, your savings–all of it belongs to Him, whether you admit it or not. So if He’s been good enough to give you everything He’s already given you, why do you doubt that He’ll continue to give you good things in the future?

Amelia Pond bringing a captured mouse to feed her kittens, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Amelia Pond bringing a captured mouse to feed her kittens, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 84:10-12.

A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.

I guess for me it’s not that I doubt God will give me good things. It’s that I doubt His definition of good. No, I don’t really doubt it. Just sometimes it scares me. What God says is good is absolutely good, yes, but living Good according to God in this world is hard work. It’s not easy.

God is good. Period. So everything He does is good. We can all believe that 100%. But being good and doing good doesn’t happen automatically, not in our broken, sinful states. It’s a choice we have to make every day, and we can only accomplish it with God’s help.

The world show us all these things that will make us happy. We’re exposed every day to the temporary highs of living for self, and we get to see how much fun it looks like–but we also get to see the consequences. And they’re not nearly as much fun.

There are no shortcuts to following Jesus. You want to follow Him, you go His way. You do what He does. You says what He says. And if you live that life, you’ll be blessed. See what it says? God won’t hold back anything that’s good for those who do what’s right. That’s a promise, and God always keeps His promises.

So it’s not up to us to find a way to provide for ourselves. No, we shouldn’t be lazy. God’s given each of us a job to do, so we ought to get out there and do it. But the results aren’t our problem. When we try to control the results of our choices, that’s us trying to play God, and we’re not strong enough to do that.

We are supposed to do what we’re here to do. Live the way God says is right to the best of your ability. Trust Him. And God will provide what you need.

He really will. It may not be the amount of money you’re hoping for. It may not be the house you dreamed of or the car you really wanted. It may not even be the job that you think fits your skill set. But that doesn’t matter. If God gives it to you, take it. Run with it. Do your best.

In the end, do we really even know what we need? We can’t even make up our minds what we want!

So do what’s right and be on the lookout for God’s provision. He will always always provide. It may not be what you’re expecting or who you’re expecting, but you’ll get what you need right when you need it.

Help each other, but do it yourself

I’m great at making lists and plans and schedules. What I’m not so good at is sticking to them. Do I have any brothers and sisters out there? It’s not difficult for you to see everything that needs to be done, and you don’t even have to fight to get them into a somewhat-reasonable schedule. But when the day comes to actually follow the schedule, other priorities have popped up. People ask you to do things you didn’t plan for. Life happens.

And you have to adjust your schedule accordingly. But then you’re faced with a dilemma, because the new things you’ve added into your schedule prevent you from having enough time to do what you planned originally. So you push everything back. And then by the end of the week, it snowballs, and you’re completely buried.

I struggle with this so much because I have a hard time accepting that my plans and my goals are more important than the plans and goals of other people. And that’s where it gets tricky, because you can’t very well put yourself first and still follow Jesus, can you?

0D9BF61E08Today’s verses are Galatians 6:2-5.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 

On first glance, this passage almost contradicts itself, doesn’t it? One one hand, we are to share each other’s burdens, but we’re supposed to be responsible for our own conduct too. Can those two statements exist in the same sentence? Help each other, but do it yourself?

Every Christ-follower has something to do that God has designed them for. It’s a unique and individual task assigned to every believer. And you should never ever undervalue that fact. What God has called you to do matters, and you shouldn’t set that calling aside lightly.

But, sometimes life does happen. Sometimes the people in your life need your help, your support, your love, and when that happens, you have to be willing to do what’s needed. Because you’re called to help your brothers and sisters in Christ just as much as you’re called to fulfill God’s destiny for your life.

But there’s a difference between helping a brother or sister who needs you and constantly putting out fires. Helping someone with a burden isn’t the same as doing your own work, and if all you’re doing is carrying other people’s burdens for them, you’re going to wear yourself out, you won’t accomplish what God has called you to do, and you’ll prevent your friend from learning a lesson God needs to teach him.

So what does this paradoxical approach to scheduling your life even look like? Beats me. It’ll be different for each person.

Once you figure out what God wants you to do (and that’s a whole different blog post in itself), you need to do it. You need to get your life to the place where you can do what God tells you to do without delay or excuse. Then, you have to DO it. That’s another step. It’s one step to find it. It’s another step to plan it. It’s a huge step to take action, but you must. Don’t just sit there. Do it.

My problem is that I don’t see my calling as equally important to someone else’s. I know I’m called to do something important, but if someone else comes along and needs help, I put more value on their calling than on mine. And that’s not necessarily wrong. I mean, who knows, maybe your calling is to help others achieve their callings. Anything’s possible, and the Body of Christ has many parts.

But if you know for sure what you’re supposed to be doing for God, don’t let anyone else tell you it doesn’t matter. That means if it’s important enough to put on your schedule, it’s important enough for you to do it, and it’s important enough for you to turn down other projects for it.

Don’t be hard-hearted about it, of course. And if life happens (as it so often does), stop to help. But ask God about it first. Ask God’s permission to step away from your calling in order to do something else.

Maybe you don’t know what your calling is, and that’s fine. Don’t give up until you find it. Ask God to reveal it, because you have one. Everybody does. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s a goal. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like a calling. But you’ve got one.

What you are doing for God matters. Period. And, yes, it’s important to help other people. Yes, it’s important to encourage your brothers and sisters. But don’t treat your calling as dispensable. God designed you for a purpose. There’s nothing insignificant about that.

Guatemalan mountains, Peten, Guatemala

Where do you go for help?

When you need help where do you look? Do you read an instruction manual? Do you Google the problem? I’m guilty of that, honestly. When I have a problem I don’t know how to solve, my first instinct is to find a way to solve it on my own. I rarely ask for advice. That may be a pride issue.

And there’s nothing wrong with trying to find the answer on your own. There’s nothing wrong with looking for help on the internet or even in consulting friends you trust. But what happens when you encounter a problem that none of them can help you solve? Where do you go then?

Guatemalan mountains, Peten, Guatemala

Guatemalan mountains, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Psalm 121:1-2.

I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

One of the cultural things I learned in Guatemala is that when you’re telling a Kekchi person about God you don’t have to convince them that God exists. That’s what we deal with in the States. If you’re trying to share your faith with someone who doesn’t believe, generally the biggest barrier you’ll encounter is that Americans don’t always believe that God is real. That’s not the case in Guatemala. The Kekchi believe God exists; they just don’t believe He’s any different than the gods they already serve. And the god that is most important to them is the god of the earth because the earth is close to them. So mountains are sacred.

It’s ironic because God is even closer to us than the Earth is. But as foreign and strange as that may sound to an American, we do the same thing. When we have trouble, do we look to God? Not always. We look to TV talk shows or 12-step books. We rely on what Dr. Phil says. We search for what the leading evangelists in the nation have to say on the subject. Or we research what the great minds of theology believed.

How often do we just sit down and ask God for help? This is something I’m trying to teach myself to do, that before I race around trying to solve my problem for myself, I take it to Him. God has all the answers we need, and we have access to everything we need through Him. So why do we try to fix things on our own?

Like I said earlier, for me it goes back to pride. I don’t like to rely on anyone else. I don’t like to trust my issues to anyone else. I don’t like being dependent on anyone else. But I’m not self-sufficient, as much as my pride tells me I am.

So how about it? Where do you look for help? Who are you looking to for help today? Are you trying to figure out life’s issues on your own? You can try, but you’re going to hit a dead end, especially if you’re relying on your own knowledge. God gave us the Bible for a reason. No matter what problem we’re facing, it has the answers we’re looking for. We just have to dig in and look for them. God will help us find what we need. And I’m pretty sure your favorite TV talk show host won’t make the same offer.

The view at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Mountains are big, beautiful rocks that don’t really do much.

It’s easy to look up when we’re in trouble. Something about difficult times makes just about everyone eager to talk to God, to tell Him what’s bothering us, to explain how we need His help. And that’s great. That’s what He wants us to do.

But I think some times we forget that God isn’t just waiting to get us out of trouble; He’s there to keep us from getting into trouble in the first place.

The view at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

The view at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s passage is Psalm 121.

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

This is brief today, but I don’t know how to say it better than Scripture does. And Psalm 121 is so clear, so concise. There’s not much that needs to be expanded on.

You can look up into the mountains for your help all day long, but it isn’t the mountains or the act of looking up that’s going to save you. God is the One who rescues us from danger, but He doesn’t just rescue us. If we follow Him, He’ll keep us safe no matter where we are.

He never gets tired. He never goes to sleep. He never stops keeping us safe.

Even when it seems like the world is full of danger (it is), as long as we keep looking to God as our help, we can’t fail.

So if you’re feeling vulnerable today, stop looking up at the mountains. Yes, they’re beautiful, and yes they’re a reminder of how strong God is. But if you need to know that everything is going to be okay, remember what God says in the Bible about how He protects us.

That’s where you’re going to find your help. That’s where you’ll find encouragement. Mountains are beautiful, but when you get right down to it, they’re just big rocks. And big rocks don’t really do much.

Our help comes from God, who made the mountains. And He’s standing beside you waiting to help you through your day.

Very present and well-proved

I am a stubborn person. I like doing things myself, and I don’t ever want to ask for help, even if I need it. I don’t think this was ever more aptly demonstrated than my trip to Guatemala, most notably the situation with the horse.

It’s not that I’m afraid of horses per se; I just haven’t had much experience with them. Looking back now, I should have started out on the horse instead of trying to walk the whole way to that first village, but I really thought I could make it. I just didn’t expect to dehydrate so quickly. And then, of course, once I figured out that I was in trouble, the rational part of my brain was telling me that I needed to ask for help. But the rest of me–the stronger, louder, obstinate side of me–told me I would just cause more trouble for everyone if I wimped out. So I didn’t say anything and kept going. And that was pretty stupid. I’m really glad the Colonel was along to keep me honest. =) As he stated, I was going to cause more trouble if I passed out and he had to carry me out . . .

I’m not good at asking for help. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of the jungle running out of water or if I’m at work drowning in projects. I don’t like to ask for help because I have this issue of not wanting people to think I’m weak. It’s all pride. I know that, and I’m working on it.

Being independent is good in some cases, but no one is self-sufficient except God. And that’s a lesson I think I have to relearn every day.

God wants to help us. That’s what I have to remind myself. God wants to be involved in my life, actively working alongside me and helping me through difficult situations. But God is a gentleman and won’t force me to accept His help. He wants me to ask.

The verse today is Psalm 46:1.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.

That’s the New Living Translation, but I also want to list what the Amplified Version says too.

1GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

I love that. God’s not just always read to help us . . . . His help is “very present and well-proved” help. How many people can you say are willing to offer help like that? Most of the time, the help people offer is according to their availability or their schedules. But not God. If we ask Him for help, He will help us.

He wants to help us. But we pitiful humans are so proud that we don’t ask, at least we don’t ask as much as we should. I know I don’t.

So instead of battling through life alone, I’m trying to do better about recognizing when I need God’s help . . . . which is every moment of every day. It’s not about being weak. It’s about realizing the power that is available to me through Christ. There’s no situation I can’t handle without His help. And there’s nothing I can’t accomplish without God working through me.

If I try to get through life on my own, I’m not going to make it. Phsycially, emotionally, financially–I’ll be a wreck. But if I let God lead me, and if I trust Him to help me make the right choices, I can’t go wrong.

I’ve asked for God’s help today. I will probably have to ask for God’s help a dozen more times before the day is over. Mainly, I’m probably just going to have to ask Him to help me ask Him for help . . . if that makes any sense. But I have no doubt that He will actually give me help.

That’s what He does.

He’s my refuge. He’s my strength. He’s my help. My very present and well-proved help. And I have access to Him freely because He’s my Father. And trying to get through life on my own is childish and prideful, especially when He has offered over and over again to help me.

We just have to ask.