"If God wants us there, then everything will work out. The doors will keep opening for us, and everything will just come together.”
And while that sounds spiritual, I’ve gotta be honest… I disagree.
Sometimes, even when you’re right where God wants you to be, it doesn’t all work out all the time. Doors will slam in your face. Provision may not be there. Vehicles will break down. There will be floods, and droughts, and fires. The bottom my [sic] even fall out of your world. Sometimes, it’s just one hell of an uphill battle the entire way.
-Alece Ronzino, “If God’s In It,” Grit and Glory
My friend Alece’s post has reverberated within me for weeks. It echoes a mindset I’ve had for years, one that my husband finds too cynical. This past week, as we’ve traveled to Phoenix and seen trial before watching everything unfold into beautiful, I do know that although God’s will may seem elusive, His provision is there every time.
Nevertheless, I’ve struggled at times during the 17 years of my Christian life with wondering how to ascertain God’s will. But more than knowing His will, I’ve beaten myself up, second guessed fate, sometimes given up, when circumstances didn’t work out smoothly.
I have only regret and sorrow to show for that behavior. I’ve learned this past year, my year of living in supernatural grace, that finding God’s will isn’t always about finding the one mysterious path.
Sometimes, God can bless several options. Many times, in the complexities of our sullied conduct and His Holy Will, God works out more than just an outcome: he brings forth inner healing and maturity. He teaches us to grow up.
At the outset, I believe living by faith, or finding and following God’s will, occurs by following our peace.
I also believe that we as followers of Christ, after having studied the Scriptures, grown accustomed to hearing His voice, and lived out our faith authentically, can make decisions and move forward, in faith that the God we have been serving will see to it that our needs are met.
But we’re still flesh, sweating out our beliefs on a dimly-lit track. Sometimes, as Alece points out, the journey is entirely uphill. Yet we still believe.
On our way up to Phoenix last Friday, Greg and I—who rarely fight (maybe 5 times in the last 10 years)—got into a nasty argument (about nothing). I dropped the f-bomb in front of my daughters. The fight started in the driveway and was reconciled before we got out of our small town, but in those ten minutes I nearly Tweeted, “Need prayer. Trip is already shot to sh*t.”
The sh*t literally shot us when Ariel was struck with a bout of diarrhea just as we entered the New Mexican no-man’s land. It puddled in her car seat. I bathed her in a Denny’s sink. In the middle of my astonishing calm, Ariel turned to me and said, “I’m sorry I have diarrhea, Mommy. Thank you for cleaning me.” All is grace.
I ducked into a bathroom stall after dressing Ariel to find that, after a four year absence, my monthly friend returned in full glory—congratulating me on my run of stacked pregnancies and faithful nursing. I wasn’t exactly prepared.
But we got to Phoenix. We looked at 12 houses four hours after pulling into my parents’ driveway at 5 a.m. We even found a place that may be the house of our dreams. It’s a supernatural story that’s still being written.
The apostle Paul, when he followed the spirit of God, found himself shipwrecked on Malta, where a poisonous snake bit him before God healed him and the villagers listened to him.
I was at a women’s meeting today in which one woman claimed that Paul received a fuller measure of grace because of all that he had to endure.
But I pronounce Jesus’ words that say, “Greater works will you do.”
Alece is right: things won’t always work out like the fairy tale. I believe it’s our reactions that dictate our results: reconciling, remaining calm, persevering, doing, sometimes are the antidotes to chaos.
When Greg went to the men’s room at Denny’s to clean Ariel’s car seat while I was attending to her, he wondered why neither he nor I had an inkling of Ariel’s dilemma. In our short tenure as parents, we’ve usually had a sense when trouble was near. As he wondered how he would disinfect the car seat, he looked to his left and saw a bottle of cleaner on a shelf. He had his solution, literally.
All the while, I had an internal knowledge that what was happening—including some of my more verbally violent reactions toward my father, who can send me to the corner with a glance—wasn’t an indication that I was out of God’s will so much that it was God’s finger pointing at a wound that hadn’t yet been salved. Every encounter this week, particularly the negative ones, revealed to me areas within me that still need healing.
By walking in a spirit of forgiveness and repentance, by recognizing that responsibilities are best dealt with first through prayer, then by committed work, and then by recognizing that it’s the spirit that does the work after all, we get to our anticipated destinations. Sometimes it’s by surprise. It’s usually with a story. It’s always by faith.