faith and face-plants

A while back, I went to the zoo with a friend. Our kids spent most of the brisk morning running from habitat to habitat while we got some chatting time in. When we were leaving we ended up doing the inevitable mom departure situation. Tell the kids it’s time to leave…then stand around talking for an additional 15 minutes while the kids run around crazy. During that time, my littlest son who is two years old, in an act of what probably seemed to him a very brave and maybe even heroic moment, took a running start and tried to run/leap off the curb. I *think* he thought he was going to gracefully continue his super speed run after his running-man-in-the-air moment. Instead, he face-planted. It sounds a little sad, but really it was pretty cute. We really thought that he thought this was a great idea.

As I was checking for skinned knees and kissing his little scraped hands, I couldn’t help but draw the parallel between this little face-plant and my own life.

Have you ever tried to attempt life by yourself, only to fall flat on your face? I’m totally guilty.

I’m guessing you know the story of Jonah. God had great plans for Jonah to go to Nineveh to help spread God’s message to those people. What did Jonah do? The exact opposite of what God told him. His plan led him to be thrown into the sea during a raging storm only to be swallowed by a big fish. How’s that for a face-plant? (Or is it a fish-plant?)

You and I are certainly not the first and won’t be the last person to try to live life independent of our God. Our sinful nature thinks we have our life all figured out! Being organized, tidy, scheduled— these are measures of success on the earthly side. Our old Adam thinks if we only accomplish or obtain that *one more thing*, then we will finally find contentment and be happy. Feeling overtaken by life and feeling all alone or the opposite, feeling so overly confident in what we can accomplish are both the result of life lacking our Savior. In the end, the truth is that we need Him.

We need Jesus to hold our hand.

God is our all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present God. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness. His staff and his rod, they comfort me. (Psalm 23) He does this. Not me.

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When I find myself floundering through life or even flat on my face by my own doing, it’s usually true that I’m not holding the truths I know as dear and as close as they should be. Fortunately for us, we have forgiveness through our Savior. We can run back to our Father’s arms and ask for guidance, strength, patience, peace, comfort, and contentment. The Holy Spirit builds our faiths through our prayers and through our Bible studies. We just need to stop leaping off the curb alone and let God support us.

Romans 10:17, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Isaiah 55:8-11, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

1 Corinthians 1:31, “Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts boasts in the Lord.”

Isaiah 40:29-31, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles'; they will run and not grow weary, that will walk and not be faint.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the me, myself and I and to forget that we don’t need to walk through this life alone. Thankfully for us, God gives us a hand to hang on to before we set off.

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God Doesn't Need A Backseat Driver

My son, the backseat driver, with his cousin behind the wheel.

My son, the backseat driver, with his cousin behind the wheel.

My son loves everything about being in the car. (Actually if he had his way, he’d ride in Daddy’s truck ALL THE TIME.) He loves pointing out the trucks as we make the daily commute from daycare back home… the garbage truck, the mail truck, crane trucks at construction sites and the “big, big trucks” aka semi trucks. He's taken it upon himself to learn as many vehicles as he can, but he’s also started to learn something else… that he loves to direct me as I drive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed that he knows that red means stop, green means go, he knows the places where we like to eat (kid loves to do lunch) and the grocery store when we pass it and that in general, he knows the way home.  But he also feels the need to tell me which way to go and any deviation from our usual route has to be explained. And honestly, I get it. He just wants to know what he can expect during our trips in the car.

Typical kid behavior, right? They depend on us as parents to give them what they need each day and to get them where they need to go. But despite their trust in us, they still question us and push for answers. Typical of our relationship with our heavenly Father too, isn't it?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
— Jeremiah 29:11

How could we possibly need more assurance than that? God has a plan for us, and not just for today, but for our whole lives... and yet the faith and trust we have in our Lord isn't as strong as we'd like to think. The idea of having God in the driver's seat is comforting until it seems that maybe he took a wrong turn. 

Are you sure that you wanted to take my life in this direction, Lord? I don't know if this is the right path for me. How long will I be on this road?

We have peace in the fact that God guides our lives, that he hears our prayers and has the power to answer them until we don't like waiting on God's time table.

Another detour? I just want to get where I'm going, Lord. Can we get there any faster?

Let's face it, we've all had our turns as the backseat driver in our relationship with God. We've whined, complained, nagged him for answers we're not entitled to and may have even thrown a spiritual tantrum or two. I wouldn't blame God if he were to turn this car right around and go home! And yet he has endless patience with us and reminds us time and again that He is in control.

And as much as we'd like to think otherwise at times, would we really want it any other way? Spiritually, I would be a terrible driver on my own. I'd drift through life until I got lost. I would get distracted by things of this world all too often and drive recklessly. I'd probably end up in a wreck and who knows how much damage there would be. Like children, we depend on God to get us where we need to go. The journey isn't always fun... the errands include things like tension in relationships, work stress, health issues, loss. But we know that as long as we're strapped safely in our Father's car, the final destination is more than worth the trip. 

So to quote my girl Carrie Underwood, "Jesus, take the wheel."

Are you thriving? Got health?

When scientists study people who are thriving or experiencing a strong sense of well-being they learn that some of the factors those folks have in common is that they are grateful, content, have a strong sense of purpose, build healthy, authentic relationships and … they are healthy. But it’s more than just physical health, they are also mentally and spiritually healthy.

There is one culprit that can have a negative impact on physical, mental and spiritual health - stress.

What are the things that cause stress in your life? Chances are the things that are causing you stress are things or people that you feel you have a lack of control over.

Stress is often a perception of lack of control.

Some people do not find it stressful to jump out of perfectly good airplanes; others find that very stressful.
Some people intentionally swim with sharks; others would be terrified of the thought.
Some people are very stressed by technology; others love working with it.

A sense of control makes all the difference in how we perceive things.

What feels out of your control? Is it managing your time, your health, your wealth, another person?

There are some things we are not in control of and never will be. But we have a personal relationship with the one who is in control of all things.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions?...On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? …Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn it’s place?...Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you?”
— Selected verses from Job 38
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The God who created you controls everything. He is in charge - not us. We do not have to be in control. We do not need to be stressed.

Relax, take a deep breath; know that the world has a Savior…and it’s not you.

Rest in the peace of the One who controls everything and has promised He will provide and take care of your every need.