If you have ever taken a walk with a small child you will recognize this scenario. You are walking down the sidewalk and the child is jumping and skipping along ahead of you. Ideally, you’d rather she stays close, even walking along side you, holding your hand. But as long as she doesn’t venture too far ahead you are willing to let her explore a little. She skips along, jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk, stopping to squat down and watch a bug crawling along the edge.
All is well until you look ahead and see that you are approaching a busy intersection. Your first action is to call to the child. “Stop! Don’t cross by yourself, wait for me.” If she has been trained to be obedient she will stop and wait. When you catch up to her you take her hand, check your surroundings and then lead her safely to the other side.
Your Heavenly Father does this for you every day. He walks along with you, watching for danger, keeping you safe. He is willing to allow you to explore a bit, to check out your options in life. But as soon as He sees a critical intersection up ahead he calls to your heart. “Stop, listen, wait for me. I will guide you. Wait for me.”
Are you an obedient child who will wait or are you a bit rebellious? Do you say, “Yes, Father, I will wait.” Or do you say “I can do it myself?”
Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Proverbs 2:6-9 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.
How many times have you said the phrase, “I will” only to get distracted and forget what you promised to do? For me it seems to be an occurrence that is becoming more common every day. My life is busy, I get distracted. I don’t mean to forget, I really mean to follow through when I say “I will.”
I have to say I’m not alone in this. There are plenty of times when I ask one of my children or my husband to please do something and the answer I get is “I will.” They mean to take care of it. They just get busy and forget. What they promised doesn’t happen.
It doesn’t make us bad people to forget. It doesn’t mean that we have no regard for the promises we make. It just means we are imperfect human beings in an imperfect world. We forget, we get distracted, we don’t follow through.
I think sometimes our own shortcomings in this regard make us tempted to be less trusting of God’s promises. The scriptures are full of verses where God says “I will.” But we’ve heard that phrase before and the follow through was lacking. Not so with God. When He says “I will.” You can be absolutely assured that He will. He never gets distracted and never forgets a promise. He will always keep His promises. He will always follow through. You can count on it.
Psalm 91:15 He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
Are you a hugger? Some of us are, some not so much. Some of us might actually feel like we are going though withdrawal if we don’t get our ration of hugs. Others would rather visit the dentist than be hugged.
In my family I have both extremes. I have one son who is not at all the hugging type. He’d rather I wave to him across the room than have to hug me. Don’t worry, I’ve gotten used to it. It’s who he is and I know he loves me….just “don’t touch me mom!”
Another son is just the opposite. He never seems to get his hug tank filled up. When he was younger he would constantly need hugs when I was busy doing something else. I would try to meet his need for a hug but he knew it was half hearted, and sometimes only one-armed. A one-armed hug just didn’t fit the bill. He would step back and sigh, knowing I was distracted and hadn’t been totally engaged in this particular hug. After a while he became frustrated that I wasn’t giving him my full attention. That’s when he came up with a title for the hug he wanted. He would come to me and ask for a FPAH . What is an FPAH you ask? It stands for “full-pay-attention-hug.” It requires my full attention and both arms. It also is understood that it must last for more than 5 seconds. This boy didn’t want to be gypped out of a real hug!
As I read the scriptures this week I was surprised to find that God has a hug that fits this definition. As many times as I’ve read Psalm 139, I never saw this until this week. But right there it is in verse 5.
Psalm 139:5 You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.
That sounds like a holy hug to me. God the Father, wrapping his strong arms around me, holding me against his chest and laying his hand upon my head. I’ll take a hug like that any day!
When you get discouraged remember that God is your Heavenly Father and go to him for a FPAH. He never runs out of hugs.
When people talk about their circumstances it is common to hear the phrase “things went from bad to worse.” What was already a difficult circumstance got even more difficult. It happens all the time. We think we have nearly made it through the hardest part and then suddenly things get worse instead of better.
It’s especially difficult when we’ve prayed and we are believing in faith that God will answer our prayers and solve our problem or relieve our suffering. Then when things get worse instead of better we are left wondering what God is thinking. Did He not hear our prayer? Doesn’t He care about our situation?
He has heard and He cares so very much. But sometimes the way He chooses to care for us is much different than we might like. He has our best in mind. I think sometimes we get confused with how to define the word “best.”
When you visit a county fair and look at the exhibits you might see a ribbon that says “best of show.” When the judges examined that entry they were looking at the presentation. How it was displayed or how it was made. They chose the entry that was flawless. The perfect pumpkin, the unblemished animal, the most meticulous needlepoint design. What the judges saw was the outside only. They judged by appearance for the most part. Have you ever cut into a piece of fruit that looked perfect on the outside only to find that it had begun to rot on the inside where no one could see? That perfect pumpkin with the “best of show” ribbon could be spoiling on the inside but it doesn’t show.
God uses the word best in a different way. His best for us many not look too beautiful from the outside. He isn’t really interested in how we appear to the world or even to ourselves. His best for us often includes some very difficult or unpleasant experiences. His plan for our best means that He will go to whatever means necessary to help us become who He knows we can be. He wants us to trust Him to do what is best. He isn’t asking more of us than is reasonable. He asked His son to suffer and die a horrible death for us. Jesus was already perfect, His suffering wasn’t to make Him a better person. It was for us. It was what was best of us that Jesus died.
God will use whatever circumstances He finds necessary to transform us. Sometimes that means our circumstances seem to go from bad to worse. But let’s try to remember that in God’s plan it may just be that they are really going from bad to best.
Psalm 139 7-12: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.