Skimming the Surface

You are only looking at the surface of things.

These words from 2 Corinthians 10 jumped out at me. What do you mean I’m only looking at the surface? I’ve spent the better part of a year digging into the details and minutia of what life looks like. Figuring out my kids lives, schools, meals, shunting people where they want to go. Drying tears, mine and theirs, scheduling fun and tamping down tantrums.

And then there’s the adult relationship in my life. Making sure to text, call, keep in touch. Spending time with husband and friends, being hospitable, being engaged.

And I’m only looking at the surface of things?

Yes.

Like a still pond I’d been skimming my rocks over, I’ve seen the ripples on the surface. Those things in life that disturb the water and spread outward into infinity before they dissipate.

I’ve seen the disruption on the surface and tried to bring back the calm in the water while still throwing the rocks of life.

But God was calling me deeper. Because under the surface of the water there’s a teeming world of life that I wasn’t experiencing or seeing. Because under the surface of my everyday busyness, God’s hand was working miracles and working on my behalf.

He’s calling me to look under the ripples to the still and teeming life underneath.

Because when I imagine sliding under the surface to the depth of what he’s calling me, there’s a quiet and peace and certainty of purpose. I can see behind the scenes. I can see how creator God gently and lovingly manages and directs life.

When I take a step back from the bustle of my day to day I can see small pockets of his purpose. Bringing that friend to my door who welcomes me into my new community. Provision for my children and their growth through trials. A marital relationship strengthened and priorities renewed.

When I only look at the surface, all I see is the chaos. But if I look, listen, seek God’s hand in my everyday, I feel a peace and certainty. He is directing my path and guiding my steps.

I can throw rocks and make ripples but the water and life within it is his. The surface is disturbed but He is not shaken.

Yet I still belong to you;

you hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

I desire you more than anything on earth.

Psalm 73:23-25

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Forgetting God in my Fear

There are times in my life when the stories of people in the Bible have resonated with me deeply. Where I see them in me and me in them, where their successes are my success and their struggles mirror my own.

As I sit here, occasionally resting my forehead on my desk I come to realize that today I’m not an Esther, a David, a Deborah. I’m an Israelite in the wilderness. And not a Caleb or Joshua or Moses, but one of the people that sometimes when I’m feeling virtuous, I think I’d never be like. Nope, right now my life and my state of being resonates with one of Israelites who when faced with the Promised Land before them and God’s faithfulness behind them, says “No way, nope, I love manna and pheasant is nice, and it’s not so bad, it’s a dry heat.”

And it’s hard to admit, because I want to be a Caleb or a Joshua but my impulse right now is to skulk on the outskirts, look longingly at the desert, and plot to steal a camel to get the heck out of sight of the Promised Land.

It’s been a year. A year of deep changes where God called us out of a place of ministry we loved into the unknown. And we followed. We’ve settled in a place, and it’s a good place. God has provided in ways beyond our asking, both for us and our children. There are friends and potential for ministry and all sorts of good things here.

But, as we begin to seek God and ask “where will you settle us next?”, I find my heels grasping the dirt and digging deep trenches. Because I’m scared of the Promised Land.

Isn’t it amazing how we so quickly forget the bigness of God within the limits of our own imagination? When we left the church where we pastored happily for 7 years, we knew that for God to call us from there meant that there was something so good for us elsewhere. So we moved and settled to wait. But as we begin to look around us for what God has next, after this time of wait-full suspension, I’m timid.

I’m timid because I don’t know what the future holds. I’m cringing from change, even though God has abundantly provided for us in this present circumstance. I’m worried that the ample provision that God has offered me in the past, new ways of seeing, ministering, and being, somehow won’t work this next time.

Because what if it doesn’t. What if we read God’s desires wrong. What if we make a mistake. What if…what if…?

When the Israelites approached the Promised Land, they saw their finiteness, not God’s infiniteness. They saw to the edge of their own imagination and not beyond into the glimmer of God’s creativity. They saw their own impossibilities and missed God’s possibilities.

My head knows, but my heart fears. I start to believe the enemy’s doubts that creep in and think “God was in that, but what if he’s not in this. What if we fall?”

But then I remember, a conscious remembering. I remember God’s faithfulness, his presence, his calling on my life. His way of provision that was beyond my understanding.

“But as for you, Israel my servant,
Jacob my chosen one,
descended from Abraham

my friend,

I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’

For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:8-10

The God of the universe calls me friend. He has chosen me and will not throw me away. I am precious to him, you are precious to him! No matter where we wander or where God takes us, he is there with us.

When the Israelites, for their doubt, were sent back to wander the wilderness, God went with them. As he led them out of Egypt, as he led them to the Promised Land, to the wilderness and back again. He was with them. He was their God and they were his people.

I am his child, his friend, he will uphold me and see me safely through. He desires good things for me and created me to serve him joyfully. He is with me, and he is my God.