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When I don’t get what I want

What I want and what I get are sometimes roads apart.

I could make a list of the things I’ve wanted, prayed and hoped for that did not come to fruition. I could. But I won’t. We all have our own lists because life has a way of surprising us.

I am thankful I didn’t get some things hoped for when I was young. It could have been disastrous.

Growing older, and hopefully wiser, my perspective and my prayers have changed. I pray more “Your will be done” prayers than “I want it my way” demands.

I still believe in healing and miracles and angels unaware coming to the aid of God’s children. I ask for those things. And I know He is able.

It’s just that I don’t always get the answer I want.

Such was the case this week. People for whom I prayed hopeful prayers got less than hopeful answers.

I’m disappointed and hurt. This is not what I asked for. I know it isn’t what my friends wanted.

We live in a troubled world that bears the scars of sin and disease, of fear and anger and bitterness. Bad things happen to good people. And we wonder why.

The maxim is familiar: God is good. All the time. And all the time, God is good.

Do I believe that when the test results are not desired, when there’s pain and suffering at every turn, when people die because of predjudice and hate, when the road we travel suddenly takes a nose dive downward and we are holding on for dear life?

It is not given to me to understand it all or the reasons life is not always pretty. My purpose is not to figure it out. My purpose is to faithfully believe that God is good all the time and that He is in control; that what He allows and what He does has a bigger purpose than I can understand; that He is always working toward the ultimate plan for mankind and is not a genie to fulfill my wish list.

Yet at the same time, I believe He is fully focused on His purpose for me and those whose names I lift in prayer. I believe He is constantly working out His divine will for individuals through the circumstances of life. I believe He is personally involved in my life and that He wants my faith to grow in the bright light of day as in the dark night of my soul.

The Psalmist declares God hears prayers, and that He answers prayers. We are assured we will be satisfied with the good things He has prepared for us, even when the good is not wearing a smiley face and carrying balloons. When what stands in front of me is hard and painful, I can still expect good from a God who is wholly good, fully righteous, and always loving.

Exercising my faith-eyes means trusting Him for the outcome when I see the storm clouds gathering. It means leaning my entire self into Him, against the wind of tribulations. It means believing He is the all-wise God who will not fail to complete His purpose in me and in others.

I will continue to pray and hope and believe. I will expect an amazing-grace outcome.

Because God is good. All the time.

But I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.  — Micah 7:7

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What if . . .

What if I really believed God is sovereign and good and loving?

What if I really believed He can do what He says?

What if I really believed He had my best in mind through all of my life?

What if I really believed His word?

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Those questions were brought to the forefront during a weekend conference at Little Flock.  We were the IF: Local group for the IF: Gathering simulcast.  It brought a diverse group of us from surrounding churches to join with women around the world who were asking themselves the same questions.  These were women who were strong in their faith in spite of heart-wrenching events.  Women who had stepped into new territory despite their fears.  Women who knew there was more to God than they had seen or experienced, and they wanted Him more than a mere Christianity.  They wondered what a life beyond themselves could do if they really believed.

I wonder that too.  And I am asking myself the questions.

If I really believed what I say, not just spouting off empty platitudes, what would my life look like?  How would my actions change?  How would I treat my fellow-men and -women?  Would my prayers become bold?  Would my faith increase?

Could it be that this is the generation where we will determine that fear will not stop us but that we will do what God says while we tremble in our boots or our stiletto heals?

Can we walk in His light even if it shines only one step at a time?

Will we dare to love like Jesus did, like He commanded, even when we risk being rejected and persecuted?

Would we live out love like He did to the fullest by washing dirty feet of those who would betray and deny in just a few short hours?

Can we believe for miracles? for revival? for His presence to come and overtake our programs and our schedules?

The questions have been presented to us.  Now it is up to us to answer.

What will you say?  What will I say?

The next step in the local process will be to gather at tables as sisters, IF: Table.  We will meet to fellowship and ask the hard questions of one another.  We will grow in our relationships.  We will be challenged by one another.  We will leave with more resolve to live out this Christian walk being real, being transparent.

IF you are invited to an IF: Table somewhere wherever you are, respond.  Go.  Take a risk.  Participate.  Let down your wall of protection.  Be open to love and being loved.

Because IF we really believe God is who He says He is and really believe His word is true, we will be changed.  And we can change the world.