I Know He Can, But Will He?

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:2

Trusting God feels like an impossible feat sometimes. I believe God can do anything, but I get stuck at will He. The Bible is full of convincing evidence of God’s ability to perform miracles, but what about those times when He doesn’t?

I wonder if Sarah felt that way when she learned God would grant Abraham a son. Did she think, “I know God can use me, but will He?” For many years, she was unable to conceive. Doubt prompted her to give her slave, Hagar, to Abraham and she bore him a son.

Perhaps you’ve been praying for a child but it hasn’t happened yet. You know God can perform a miracle in your womb, but will He? Does He need the assistance of IVF technology? Or maybe you’ve been longing for a husband with little prospects on the horizon. You believe God can bring Mr. Right at any moment, but will He? Maybe the date you went on with Mr. Average was better than no date at all?

Sometimes the desires of our hearts are so strong that we can’t believe they aren’t from God. Like Sarah, we step in, take control, and make things happen according to our plans rather than God’s. We walk a fine line between honoring God and playing god.

When we think, but will He?, what we’re really asking is, God, will you do what I’m asking you to do? Will you answer this prayer the way I think is best? But when we start to believe we know better than God, we are no longer trusting in Him.

Psalm 31:14 says, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” The Hebrew word for trust here is batach, which means secure and confident but also careless and complacent. When we trust in the Lord, we are assured that His plan is the best plan. We aren’t negligent in how we live, but rather release the reigns of control, sit back, and watch God meet our needs. Actively trusting God means passively depending on ourselves. We boldly put faith in Him to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14) God will always satisfy His will. In other words, God exists to fulfill His wishes and desires in your life and in the life of others. His will for Abraham was to have a son with Sarah. God’s will for Sarah was to be the mother of nations; for kings to come from her (Genesis 17:16). And that’s exactly what happened. At the ripe old age of 90, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. (Genesis 21:2)

It can be very challenging to trust God is in control when it feels like He isn’t. When I wonder if He will answer my prayers, I take a step back and remind myself that whatever He has planned is better than what I could put together. Whatever happens, I can trust that He is actively accomplishing His perfectly divine will for my life. Do you believe He is doing the same for you?

Just Keep Sowing

Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up,
the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
Mark 4:27

Do you ever wonder if the good you’re trying to do really makes a difference? Take parenting, for instance. There are times when it seems my children will never learn to treat each other with kindness, or to patiently wait their turn, or to truly know how much God loves them. I can’t help but feel like a broken record playing among deaf ears.

We can get so caught up in how our children are responding to our direction that we gauge our success as a parent on their behavior. If our words and actions are producing fruit within them, then we must be doing the right thing. But what if it’s not? Or not within the timeline of what we expect?

One of my sons has a difficult time with emotional regulation and despite my best efforts to remain calm, I often loose my cool with him. I can’t help but think, if I could just manage him better, he would make progress.

Thankfully, God never intended us to be in control of another person’s behavior. While reading Mark 4 recently, I found an explanation of what He does intend for us:

“A man scatters seed on the ground… As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (v. 26,29)

Our job is to scatter the seed on prepared soil – to plant buds of faith in our children. To prepare their hearts to receive God’s love, and to spark an interest in knowing Him personally.

In verses 27-28, we learn that part of the harvesting process is out of our hands:

“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, thought he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”

When we think of the life of a farmer, a great deal of work is done on the front end, but there is no way to predict the outcome. He does not control the amount of rain that falls or the amount of time the sun shines. He does not control the air temperature or the bugs and birds that attempt feast on his crop. He does the best he can to prepare the soil and plant the seeds; the rest is left to God.

Just like a farmer, we are responsible for preparing our children’s hearts and scattering seeds of faith. We can do this my reminding them daily that God loves them and that He created them just the way he wanted them to be. We can model the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. We can present the stories of the Bible as exciting and relevant to our lives today.

But how these seeds grow and develop is up to God. No amount of stress or worry will change the outcome – only prayer can do that. There will be seasons where our children make great strides and bear the fruit of growth. There will be seasons where no crops are evident. Seasons of rain, seasons of drought, seasons of warmth, and seasons of frigid blizzards. Through it all, if we just keep sowing God’s truth into our little ones, we can trust that He will be faithful to complete a good work in them.

Be encouraged today that your efforts for good are not in vain. They do make a difference, here on earth and in the heavenly realms. And as Dory might say, “Just keep sowing, just keep sowing.”

Is It Really ‘My Pleasure’?

My favorite thing about Chick-fil-A, besides their delicious, mouth-watering chicken sandwiches, is the friendly service I receive there. No matter which location I go to, it will be the same – in response to a “thank you”, I hear, “my pleasure”.

That phrase invokes warmth within me. It somehow means more than “you’re welcome” or “no problem”. It’s as if they had eagerly anticipated my arrival so they could prepare a meal just the way I liked it. It was their pleasure to do so; not a burden, a mundane task, or an obligation.

Recently, after having Chick-fil-A for lunch, I kept thinking about that response – “my pleasure”. As I shuffled through the routine of dinner preparation, homework completion and bedtime rituals, I couldn’t help but wonder, is it really my pleasure to serve the members of my family?

In all honesty, delight was far from what I was feeling. Resentful was more like it. Obligated. I was going about my perceived duties begrudgingly. My heart rambled, I’ll do it, but I don’t have to like it. Have you had similar thoughts?

What if these were Jesus’s dishes? My subconscious began to wrestle my pride as I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 9:7, which says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.” I had decided in my heart to give, but did so reluctantly.

The Hebrew translation of reluctant is lupe, which means pain of body or mind, physical or emotional distress”. I was allowing a messy kitchen to pain me emotionally. I felt coerced, like it was my sole mandatory responsibility, rather than my privilege, to do the job. My hunched shoulders communicated the weight of household chores being nearly too much for me to bear – like the slouched pout I get when I tell my children to clean their rooms. They make sure I understand just how miserable they feel about it. I would much rather they pipe, “Sure, mom!” as they gleefully bound up the stairs. My heart would fill with pride, delighted by their cheerful attitude. The same is true for God. It brings Him joy to see us serve with willing fervor.

I’ve typically considered 2 Corinthians 9:7 in the context of tithing, and it is often referenced that way, but I think there’s more to it. If God wants us to do everything as if unto Him (Colossians 3:23) and He loves a cheerful giver, then we should take pleasure in serving others as if unto Him. It becomes less about the importance of the task but rather our attitude towards completing it. Serving hundreds of orders of fried chicken sandwiches can become monotonous day in and day out when considered a “job”. But when it’s an opportunity to serve, it becomes much more. It spreads cheer. It puts smiles on faces. It turns a boring day into a special day.

It can certainly be challenging to be cheerfully ready to serve others through the monotony of daily tasks. If this is an area of struggle for you as well, consider these ideas to help:

  1. Decide in advance to have a positive attitude. Start the day by asking God to help prepare your heart to embrace the chores of the day ahead. Lord, that mound of laundry won’t fold itself. Teach me to see it as an opportunity to bless my family.
  2. Approve of what needs to be done before being asked. Each morning, I know my sons will ask me to help them get dressed, eat breakfast, or any number of other things. When I mentally agree to assist before being asked, its a privilege rather than an nuisance.
  3. Determine to serve with joy. My response to requests for help can either be laced with willingness or irritation. Joy is not a feeling; it’s an attitude stemming from a spiritually compliant heart. Pause amidst frustrating moments to allow the Lord shift your perspective.

We can take pleasure in serving others because we know God loves a cheerful giver. He takes delight in us when we eagerly anticipate opportunities to give and embrace them with enthusiasm.

So they next time you’re told, “Thank you”, try replying with, “My pleasure”. And mean it!