Thursday, December 6, 2012

His tools: Busting Up Bessie

Often the very things a woman resists and resents are God's special tools to fashion her into the image of His Son.    ~Creative Counterpart, Linda Dillow

Ever do something so idiotic that you feel like Bill Engvall should stamp a stupid sign on your head?

Monday, I wasn't feeling so great (hormonal!), but decided to get out of the house and pick up some crafts for a homeschool project. The kids and I loaded into the van and were on our way. As we idled at a stop light, I turned to Merikalyn and groaned, "Ugh! I forgot my phone!"

"Mom, you always think you forgot your phone! I bet it's in your purse!" 

I was pretty sure I had left it, but she's right- I'm always thinking I forgot it, and there it usually is... right in the pocket of my purse.  I reached down to pick up my purse to hand it to my daughter, glancing up briefly to see that traffic had begun to move and there was a big gap in front of me.  I pushed on the gas, shifting my eyes to Merika, and BAM! I hit the back of a really nice Lincoln SUV.

Turns out traffic had eased to a stop, and I had not noticed because, well, I was distracted.  My groaning about forgetting my phone (which yes, I had actually forgotten this time!) turned into groaning about a wreck that was clearly my fault.

Thankfully, I wrecked into a nice woman (and thankfully she was okay!).  Thankfully the kids were fine (Evie slept through it. When I asked Keagan if he was okay, he told me was not. After a series of questions, I found out his ailment was that he was hungry.) Thankfully the police man who showed up at the scene only issued me a warning (and was pretty nice as well).  Thankfully her SUV wasn't completely smashed up, and it looks like only one panel on the back of the vehicle will need to be replaced. (I feel horrible about inconveniencing her! She takes care of her mother as well, so I know she needs her vehicle to be able to load in her mother's wheelchair and such!)  Thankfully my van, although pretty busted up in the front, was able to make it home despite the horrible clicking sound. (Poor Bessie.)

I was really beating myself up.  I'm always telling my children to pay attention (hadn't I given them that talk several times that day?), and here I go slamming into the back of someone because I wasn't paying attention.  Not only that, we had recently depleted our savings, that cushion we worked hard to build, and now we'll have to put money towards fixing what I did to the van!  PLUS, I'll be stuck at home until the van gets repaired because it's the only vehicle that fits us all.


Then I felt a reminder creep up in me.  God's not surprised that I wrecked the van.  It might have thrown a wrench in my plans for the week, but it certainly didn't do the same for His.

Okay, Father. I sighed. I'm going to be at home all week, unable to distract myself with trips to the store on a whim, or "treat" us with Chick-fil-a. I know that You have something planned for this time. I'm going to consider this present situation in the light of Your eternal purpose and trust You. I'm going to trust that You allowed me to be distracted and bust up my van (because You could have saved me from myself in that situation; You have before!) because there's a lesson in it for me.  I believe you want to use this time to draw me closer to You.  I believe you want to use this time to teach me many things, and I choose to be open. I also believe that this moment is about more than just me, so open my eyes to see what You want me to see.

I was reminded of the quote I shared at the beginning of this post.  I can choose lament over this whole ordeal, or I can praise God.  I can resent it, resist it, complain and grumble, or I can thank Him for forcing me into a position where I cannot get caught up in the busyness of running errands, visiting friends, and spending money (a result of running errands and visiting with friends).  It's not that any of those things are bad, but I have felt the Lord really calling me to focus on Him, and I know that I am (1) a procrastinator and (2) easily distracted.  He didn't take out all my distractions or demolish my ability to procrastinate, but He handicapped my easiest and most-used escape.

Sometimes the Lord tries various methods to grab us by the hand and say, "Hey, we need to talk." I don't know about you, but whenever I hear something that sounds like, "Hey, we need to talk," I get all squirmy inside. Most of us have experienced "We need to talk," moments with people that have left us feeling guilty, defeated, angry, hurt, and a multitude of other crummy emotions. We feel beat up and dumped on.

I forget that God isn't like that.  He isn't waiting to beat me over the head.  He really just wants to talk. He wants me to climb into His lap like my daughters do with their daddy.  He wants me to lean up against Him and lay all my troubles down.  He wants me to be quieted so He can tell of His love for me, draw me in, and calm my busy, aching, emotional, hyper-active heart.

Of course, often times the Lord does point out my flaws which can cause me to withdraw.  Why? Because in my experience, when people (humans) point out flaws, it's usually not with a spirit of love.  I forget that the Lord brings my darkness to light because He loves me and doesn't want anything hindering me from being in His Presence. His reasoning behind it all is for RECONCILIATION, not to beat me up, shame me, or guilt me into changing. 

Have you ever been in a situation where someone has laid out all they think is wrong with you?  It's not a good feeling.  They might be right or they might be wrong... or the truth of it all may lie somewhere between the two, but because their approach is not really in love (even if they might say it is), your instinct is to shut down and get out.  People, because we are sinful, tend to point out problems and tell you exactly what you need to do to fix it. So, then we feel guilty because we are broken, and guiltier because we struggle to do the things they say we need to do.

The Lord never gives us a list of things we need to do.  This is a really hard concept for me, because I'm a list person (well, I like lists, but I usually get frustrated because I can't get everything checked off of it). Jesus scolds the Pharisees for their lists because they're so busy trying to check it off (and force other people to follow it) that they miss Christ.  It seems easier to follow a list than to follow Christ.  Why is that?

Because it requires complete surrender.  It means releasing our controlling grip. (Which, have you noticed? You actually don't have as much control over things as you'd like to assume!)

I realize that as long as I'm busy, distracted, and trying to check things off my list, I'm not surrendered.  That doesn't mean that a surrendered life won't look busy on the outside at times, it just means that MY busy isn't GOD's busy.

One of the things the Lord has really been impressing upon me is that He desires that the finished product to be His work, not mine.  He longs for me to trust Him.  My trust stems from my understanding that I am unable to live the righteous life on my own power.  From that comes the confidence that, if I surrender in obedience, He will fulfill His promise and His Spirit will mold me into the Image He desires.  Therefore, I'm not following a list of "How to Live the Christian Life", but rather, I am following Christ. 

I have told Him that's what I want- I want to be fully surrendered.  I want Him to be in control. I want the "me" worked out of me. I want to be pruned by Him.  Even though I want those things, my flesh wants to run. My flesh wants to stay busy checking off that list. My flesh wants to be distracted. And, I admit, I often give in to the flesh because it seems easier.  After all, it's been the default of my life for so long!

I am thankful, though, that the Lord does things to get my attention, to stop me in my tracks, and to turn me back to Him.  I am grateful that He still calls me into His arms, calms me, and shows me His love, even when I have refused His call before. I am thankful for the tools He uses to direct me back to Him, even if that means busting up Bessie. ;)