All my life I was raised in a ministers home and because of that there was a certain standard I was expected to keep. In the denomination I was raised you didn’t smoke, drink, dance, or hang out with folks that did. The only problem with that was, as a teenager I thought all the cool kids in High school did those things.
Well, Christmas is over and by now, all that is left to do is clean up the mess. Did you ever notice that at times the boxes we unwrap are not always representative of exactly what is in that box? At our house, there was a book in a snow cone machine box, some video games in a shoe box, and another in a tin box with some items the person already owned in it as well and another game in a protein bar box. I even heard of one dad who taped his kid’s video to a rake and then wrapped the bottom of the rake leaving the handle out. That same dad attached a pair of shoes under a stool and wrapped it up with the legs sticking out. Some of these items might make the one getting them think they are getting one thing, as they unwrap the gift, when in fact, after opening the gift they find they are getting something entirely different.
All this got me thinking……. Isn’t that a lot like life. Oh! we think our life is going to be going one way, and in fact, it turns out absolutely different. I would have never dreamed I would have ever homeschooled my kids, but God had a different plan. I never ever wanted to be a Pastor’s wife but God had a different plan. I never even dreamed of being a Director of an Assisted Living or working in any form of the Health Care field, after all, I hate needles! But, God had a different plan. All these adventures in my life were a detour of the way I thought my life was going to turn out. I never dreamed I’d live in Kansas but through divine circumstances, I have been here for almost 30yrs. (and I am only 29 yrs old) *wink-wink*
But these moments shouldn’t surprise us if we are truly following God because He has been doing this since time began. Time and time again we see God intervening in the lives of people in the Bible. Joseph told his brothers “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to . . . save many peoples lives” (Gen. 50:20). Here Joseph has been enslaved, several times and then ends up being the 2nd most powerful man in the country. Even after all he has been through, he isn’t angry or bitter, but he is able to stand back and look at situations and circumstances that brought him to where he was at that moment. He realizes, God used what his brothers meant for bad and turn it to good. I call that looking at things through God’s eyes. When we see people with the eyes of Christ and love them with Christ’s heart and serve them as Christ would that is a level of spiritual maturity that we all need to strive for.
See it is only when we take ourselves out of those certain situations of our life, that we don’t understand, that aren’t going our way and just step back and say “Okay! God, what are you doing here?” Because maybe, what you are perceiving as a problem may actually be the exact direction God is trying to take you. because He is wanting to teach you that you can trust Him, and bring you to a closer relationship with Him.
Next week, I will be sharing about how I came to Kansas kicking and screaming! But for this week, let me challenge you to open up your heart and mind to understand exactly where God is taking you. Because, after all, if we are truly turning our lives over to God I am certain there is going to be a circumstance (or two) (okay, probably more) in your life, that you are gonna feel like is completely going the opposite directions you wanted them to go. So remember, But God…… Because He is in control. All we have to do is rest in Him. We need to trust the creator of the universe who knows our future because His ways are higher than our ways. We can trust the process God is taking us through and know, through it all. He is there!
As we sat in the doctor’s office, our oldest was about 3 yrs old, I will never forget it. We sat across from his desk as he told us the results of the battery of tests that I had just gone through. When he just blurted out ” Well, You should have never had your first child and you certainly won’t have any more!” Our hearts dropped as it suddenly seemed that something Jeff and I had dreamed of since I was 13 and he was 16 was now gone forever.
Then imagine our surprise just about 6 years later as I looked at the positive mark on a pregnancy test. Our prayers had finally been answered. Our dream was coming true. The 3 children we dream of having as teenagers dating, was about to come true. We believe it all began when we sat in a service and as the minister got up to take the offering he said ” I have a son that isn’t living for the Lord and tonite I am gonna give the best gift I can in the offering and write on the back of the envelope, “for my sons salvation” and if you are believing God for something I want to encourage you to do the same. Jeff and I looked at each other in that service and both knew what we had to do. We placed our best gift in the offering envelope wrote “Baby” on the back and dropped it in the offering plate. Over the next month suddenly out of the blue several different times just random people would show up and hand us money. Just saying “the Lord laid this on my heart that I am supposed to give this to you.” Jeff and I could not figure out what was going on. Then it hit me, I begin counting up the random acts of kindness that had been given to us and it was exactly 10 times the amount we had given in the offering, then it hit me and I thought ” Oh No!” God isn’t gonna give us the baby we asked for, He is just giving us back our money and then some” My heart was broken, but I remember thinking ” Okay, God If it isn’t your will for us to have a baby, then I am willing to accept that you have another plan”. I am sure God must have been looking down on me saying ” Oh! Ye of little faith. “See what I didn’t realize was that this was just the beginning of God’s blessings. Because about a year later I was holding the little girl we had dreamed of having for so long, But my mind couldn’t conceive what He had in mind.
Have you ever felt like that? Has God ever tried to tell you something that you just couldn’t imagine? See, I have a feeling that may have been the way Mary felt when and Angel told her she was going to conceive a baby and she had never even known a man. I think all too often we envision the people in the bible as some kind of superheroes with super powers and super strength. When they were really just human beings like you and me, with the same doubts, fears and questions and I believe we serve a God big enough that He can handle those doubts and questions.
The bible says, that as soon as Mary heard the news, she “made haste” or hurried quickly to her cousin’s Elizabeth’s house. (a 10 day trip on foot) Could it have been because the Angel had said that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting too? Perhaps, Mary knew if she went to Elizabeth’s house and found out that Elizabeth really was pregnant as the Angel had said, that this all might actually be true? One commentary (Barnes Notes on the Bible) said “Troubled at his saying – Disturbed or perplexed at what he said. It was so unexpected, so sudden, so extraordinary, and was so high an honor, that she was filled with anxious thoughts, and did not know what to make of it.” I mean let’s face it if an Angel shows up at your house tomorrow and says you are gonna have the Christ Child, wouldn’t you have some questions, maybe even doubts?
Then there was the birth of Jesus, in Luke 2:17-20 Mary has given birth and the Shepards show up. I don’t know about you but with each child, I have had it has seemed like a dream to me. You are just in awe and amazed that this little thing came out of 2 peoples love. I can’t imagine, what Joesph was feeling then, and what questions were running through Mary’s mind. The awe, the amazement of it all and at the same time they had to be asking themselves ” Is this really the Christ child? If it is, why is He being born in a stable? Why, didn’t God take better care of us? Did we do something wrong? But perhaps it is just about this time that all this is running through their minds when these shepherds show up! Telling everyone this is the Christ Child and in verse 19 the bible says ” She (Mary) pondered all these things in her heart” Have you ever pondered something before?
Then there was the time at the temple Luke 2:20-33 Where Simeon and Anna both sensed by the power of the Holy Spirit that this was the Christ Child and the bible says, in verse 33 that Joesph and Mary were amazed at the things spoken to them. Have you ever been amazed at what God was doing and at the same time wonder why or what God was up to?
Then there was that time about 2 years later. I don’t know what mom of a 2-year-old doesn’t question what is going on with their child at one point or another. But, I just wonder if on the day the 3 kings showed up, what was going on in Mary’s heart? What battle was she struggling with? Were funds a little tight and they were wondering how they were going to make it? Was Jesus being an all-out human being 2-year-old that day and Mary was questioning “Can this really be the son of God?” I don’t know what was going on in her mind that day, but I do believe God had prepared 3 kings several months, even perhaps years before to show up on her doorstep that day at that very moment, as a little reminder. God was in control. Because we know soon after that God tells Joesph to take his family and flee because Herod is about to have all the baby boys under 2 years old killed.
I don’t know about you, but I have questioned God, I have miss read His plan. I have even doubted what He was doing. But just like when we placed that envelope in that offering bucket, we had no idea what God was about to do and it certainly didn’t happen the way we planned, but God was faithful through it all. He provided more than we could ever hope or imagine and I wondered today if God doesn’t want to do the same for you? No, I know He does!! He wants to do the same, Because His word says, “He is able to do exceedingly above all you can even ask or think” (Eph 3:20) I am pretty sure Mary had no idea what she was about to get into when that angel showed up, just like Jeff and I had no idea what was about to happen when we place that envelope in the offering, but what we can rest assured on is that He is in control and we may question and we may even sometimes doubt but if we will continue to trust Him. He will see us through. Won’t you trust Him today?
Do you see these two people? I like to joke that this is the perfect example that just because you have an education does not mean you have any common sense. I can say that because these two people have been some of our closest friends for over 20 years. They know I would defend them in an instant if anyone said anything bad about them. You know, it is kind of like your siblings you can think they are crazy but no one else better talk about them, kind of thing.
You may be asking why I question the sanity of these two perfectly normal looking people. (Ok! almost normal looking) Well, these two people with doctoral degrees take this 1972 VW campmobile (also known as a Westy in the automobile world), that has already been to the Yukon and South America before they bought it, now they take this already well used and loved vehicle across the country themselves. They have made their way across the country from Kansas to California, with their most recent adventure that took them from Kansas to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Balloon Festival. Every time they get in this campmobile they affectionately call “The Beast,” I get on my knees in prayer for them. I remember when they first got this vehicle, after seeing it on the internet. Bob flew out to Canada to pick it up, thinking he would drive it home. However, after having it carefully checked out, it was deemed that it was not road worthy enough to make it back to Kansas. He met his wife Sondra, who flew into Seattle, and they towed it back here to Kansas behind a U-Haul Truck. All along the way they stopped each night and slept in “The Beast” at Walmart parking lots. This was just the beginning of their VW adventure and collection. They now own five VW’s of different models and styles.
Needless to say on these adventures “The Beast” has broken down on them a few times. Bob says he has: adjusted the valves, repaired gas leaks, the alternator, and replaced the brakes. There also was the one time the oil filter fell off and all the oil drained out while he was driving to Woodston, Kansas and he ended up needing to replace the engine altogether.
It’s a good thing they have the highest coverage possible with AAA Auto Insurance because they have had to be towed five times in the 5 years he has owned it. Now if most of us owned a vehicle with this many problems, we would have sold it and moved on, but not Bob and Sondra!
Now mind you, this couple is completely financially capable of owning pretty much any vehicle they want. They could afford to fly, almost anywhere in the world and stay in nice hotels that would even serve them room service. But do they choose to do this for these special trips they take? NO! They avoid all that silly security of knowing they will get there safely and staying in nice comfortable hotel rooms with soft mattresses preferring to sleep in “The Beast,” in a Wal-mart parking lot somewhere along the way, without heat or air. They set out knowing something is probably going to break down on this thing and because of their love for adventure and these VW’s they jump in the Westy and go! If you ask me, it is just crazy! Just a crazy kind of love!
You know this got me thinking….. this isn’t the only crazy kind of love I’ve seen in my life. Since I was born I have been told about this Guy who could buy anything, and stay anywhere He wanted. There was nothing that He could not afford. But His father who owns everything asked Him to leave the optimum lifestyle where He had no worries or concerns and go to a world where He would have problem after problem, the breakdowns in communication with these people would be astronomical for His survival. But yet He chose to go. He was so crazy in love with these people He knew the only way for them to survive would be for Him to die so maybe, then they would realize how much He loved them. He left His perfect world knowing something would go wrong but yet He was willing to go anyway.
If you haven’t figured out by now this Guy I am talking about is named Jesus and He is so crazy in love with you that He came from heaven to earth to make a way for you to one day to join Him in heaven. The questions is, have you recognized just what He gave up for you? Do you realize He did it all for you? He is crazy in love with you. Do you know that? The Bible says that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) That is how much the Creator of the Universe loves you! You know there is no greater love than this, John 15:13 tells us that “Greater love has no one: than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” I know many reading this, if asked would say “God is my friend.” So if that is the case let me ask you a question. “Have you laid your life down for Him?” Several times in this column over the past year, we have talked about denying or dying to ourselves. What that really means is laying down our life, our will, our way and saying “Lord use me, and do with me what you want because I am yours”. Let me tell you that is the craziest kind of love. But the Bible tells us that is what is required of us if we are going to be His friend and after all if He gave up so much for us. Can’t we give our all to Him? Yes, it is a crazy kind of love to leave what we deem the security of being in control of our own life and giving it over to Christ. It is a crazy kind of love that He would continue to pursue people that have rejected and denied Him time and time again. But He did it for us and out of gratitude and appreciation for what He has done for us we need to do the same for Him. Won’t you give your life to Him today? If you don’t know this crazy kind of love, I want to encourage you to find a local Bible believing church and get involved and begin to really get to know what God has done for you today. Christ’s love doesn’t make any sense, that is why we have to accept it by faith. It is just a crazy kind of Love.