I Don’t Know and That’s Okay

ezekiel-37

I almost pulled over when I saw the sign.

My son and I took the morning off.  I had a to-do list to attend to.  Cleaning to accomplish.  Writing to get done.

But we were tired.

Our family is having one of those weeks where we barely have time to breathe plus I’d stayed up late watching the presidential election results.

So, I abandoned chores, filled a to-go mug with caffeinated tea, loaded my three-year-old into the minivan and went for a drive.

I saw the sign on our way home while listening to my son chatter about “Batman” and “bad guys” and other highly important toddler issues.

Someone had posted a huge wooden sign on the side of the busy road saying:

Kristen, please come home. ♥

I’ve spent two days thinking about Kristen and praying for Kristen.

A sign like that stirs up my question-asking nature.  I’m always the person asking the most questions.  Always.

And doesn’t this just make you want to ask?

Who wrote that sign?  Who is Kristen?  Why is Kristen gone?  What turmoil was there, what bitterness or anger might have made her leave?

Or maybe she was taken?  What if someone hurt her or is hurting her?

Will she ever come home?  Will things change for the better?

Oh, Jesus, please rescue Kristen from whatever pit has her trapped and maybe scared or hurting.

I almost turned my minivan right around and parked in that lot to take a picture of the sign so I could remember.

But I didn’t.  I kept driving and turns out, I didn’t even need the reminder because Kristen and her sign are etched on my heart.

Here I had my precious baby boy right there in the van with me, still maintaining a running dialogue about superheroes, and another person—maybe a mom like me—was missing someone dear.

Since seeing that sign, not only am I aching for someone else’s pain and compelled to prayer on behalf of another, I’m reminded anew of all I don’t know.

I don’t know anything about Kristen or her circumstances or her family.

I have the most superficial awareness of someone else’s deep reality.

But that’s okay.

We’re people who love scientific certainty, but we live in an uncertain world and that makes us feel a bit shaky at times.

But sometimes the healthiest  and wisest thing we can do is admit we don’t know everything.

In the book of Ezekiel, God shows the prophet a valley full of dead bones and asks:

“Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3 NIV).

How would I have answered?

Maybe I’d have lacked faith that God could do the impossible and told Him surely those bones were dead as dead could be–as if I knew all there was to know.

But Ezekiel answered differently.  He said,

 “Sovereign Lord, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3 NIV).

God is sovereign, Ruler of all, in control of what we face, aware of all that remains hidden to us.

And we don’t have to know everything, because we know HIM and He knows….and that’s enough.

Every day, we face a million questions, so many without answers.

The questions themselves can be healthy–they can draw us closer to His side.  They keep the dialogue open instead of shutting it down in hurtful bitterness.

We ask:

Why this, God, and not that?  Why do I have to wait?  Why the hurt or the pain or sorrow?

This not-knowing, this life where we can embrace the mysterious and uncertain, can propel us to know Him better.

When we realize what we don’t know, we seek God’s perspective and His answers instead of providing our own.

We leave our problems in HIs hands instead of trying to keep control ourselves.

We stop trying to force our own plans and agendas and start resting in the arms of Jesus.

We can pray by trusting the Holy Spirit to be at work in ways we can’t see to help people we don’t know through issues we don’t fully comprehend.

I don’t know Kristen.  I don’t know her family.  I don’t know the story behind the sign.

I don’t know about a lot in the world, not about why some things happen or what God’s plans are for me or for others around me.

But I can know Him, and I can try everyday to know Him more deeply and truly, and I can remember this:

“Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3 ESV).

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Being Still is only the first step

psalm 46 NASB

I found her that day with untied tap shoes on her feet and eyes red from crying.

We zipped into the ballet studio, one mom and three girls (plus one baby boy) on a mission.

Three daughters in four back-to-back and sometimes overlapping dance classes during observation week.  This means instead of huddling in my minivan or zooming around town doing errands in between classes, I sat in the corner of the dance class taking pictures.

We all piled into my youngest daughter’s class except for my tap-dancing girl who left to change into her tap-tap-tappy shoes.  I watched the clock carefully and slipped out just in time to check on her before her tap class began.

She wiped her eyes and explained, “I couldn’t get the ribbons on my shoes tied and I didn’t have anyone to help me….”

I tied the ribbons swiftly and then smoothed down her hair with my hand.  Then I said it so she knew it wasn’t just about shoes anymore:

You didn’t trust me to come help you.  I knew you’d need help and I came just in time.

She’d been frantic and upset and all along I had a plan for her rescue and I was right on time, not a second too late.

So, all her fretting had been unnecessary drama.

And when is fretting not?

For months, I’ve dreaded this schedule and the packed-in craziness of our agenda of these few weeks.  I feared the stress—-as in, tearful eyes, breathless suffocation just thinking about it.

But here we are.  We’re making it.  God is gracious.

Those mornings I feared how it could possibly work out, the details of each day that I just couldn’t figure out in advance, the way my to-do lists exploded at the start of each day…it’s all been in God’s hands.

When I felt that familiar strangulation of fear, I heard a still and small reminder: Don’t worry about that.  Just think about today.

So I did.

I focused just on today.

And God has been bringing me the perfect rescues at the perfect moments all along, despite all my worrying and fretting that it’d all fall apart.

Why?

Because I’m learning to trust Him.

I trust Him to bring me the help I need exactly when I need it.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

So often, we read that familiar Psalm—-BE STILL and know—and we focus on the stillness (Psalm 46:10).

Yes, stop with the flustered activity, the desperate attempts to fix things on our own, the frantic search for help from everyone except the only One who can truly save….

“Cease striving” it says in the NASB.

So, for a moment we pause.

Here’s what I’ve been learning—“Being still” is not enough. It simply tells me what not to do.

Don’t rush around in frantic activity.
Don’t try to do everything on your own.
Don’t come up with your on fixes and try to force your own solutions.
Don’t keep a white-knuckled grip of control on your circumstances.
Don’t rehash regrets or dwell on hypothetical problems that haven’t even happened yet.

I can’t forget, though, that after I’ve ceased that striving and calmed my heart, God tells me what I should be doing in the stillness.

The verse tells me to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV).

Know Him.

Know He is God.

Know that He’s got this under control and I can rest because He cares for me.

He is I AM.  He isn’t just the God who was or the God who will be faithful.

He is here.  Now.  In this very moment, I rely on His presence.

So, like Moses standing there on a holy mountain before a Holy God, I pray that I may know Him:

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you (Exodus 33:13).

Because, God, in order to dwell in Your presence day after hectic day, I must be still and I must know.  I want to know You more, know You as I AM, know You as God present with me.  ~Amen~

Originally posted February 11, 2014

Pursuing His Presence: Because Being Still Is Not Enough

I found her with untied tap shoes on her feet and eyes red from crying.

We zipped into the ballet studio, one mom and three girls (plus one baby boy) on a mission.exodus33

Three daughters in four back-to-back and sometimes overlapping dance classes during observation week.  This means instead of huddling in my minivan or zooming around town doing errands in between classes, I sat in the corner of class taking pictures.

We all piled into my youngest daughter’s class except for my tap-dancing girl who left to change into her tap-tap-tappy shoes.  I watched the clock carefully and slipped out just in time to check on her before her tap class began.

She wiped her eyes and explained, “I couldn’t get the ribbons on my shoes tied and I didn’t have anyone to help me….”

I tie the ribbons swiftly and then smooth down her hair with my hand.  Then I say it so she knows it’s not just about shoes anymore:

You didn’t trust me to come help you.  I knew you’d need help and I came just in time.

She’d been frantic and upset and all along I had a plan for her rescue and I was right on time, not a second too late.

So, all her fretting had been unnecessary drama.

And when is fretting not?

I started this year with intentionality: 12 months of pursuing the presence of Christ in the middle of the noise, mess, and busyness of life.  Today, I finish January’s journey, learning to be still and know that He is God.

For months, I dreaded this start to the year, knowing it would be the busiest and craziest of our busy and crazy schedule.  I feared the stress—-as in, tearful eyes, breathless suffocation just thinking about it.

But here we are.  We made it.  God is gracious.  When I felt that familiar strangulation of fear, I heard that still and small reminder: Don’t worry about that.  Just think about today.

So I did.

And, as much as I whine perhaps about winter, the overload of snow days has given me unexpected rest when we needed it most.psalm46-10

God planned the perfect rescue at the perfect moment for me all along, but I had been fretting and worrying.

Why?

Because I didn’t trust Him.

So often, we read that familiar Psalm—-BE STILL and know—and we focus on the stillness (Psalm 46:10).

Yes, stop with the flustered activity, the desperate attempts to fix things on our own, the frantic search for help from everyone except the only One who can truly save….

“Cease striving” it says in the NASB.

So, for a moment we pause.

Here’s what I’ve learned this month, though—“Being still” is not enough. It simply tells me what not to do.

I can’t forget that after I’ve ceased that striving and calmed my heart, God tells me what I should be doing in the stillness:

Know Him, Know He is God, Know that He’s got this under control and I can rest in the knowing that He cares for me.

Ann Voskamp reminds me of this….to remember He is I AM.  His very name is the reminder of His Presence here in this present moment.

Like Moses, I’ve asked in the boldest of ways that God will show me His Glory this year.  And, like Moses, I’ve told God that I don’t want to move from this place until His presence will go with me.

So, like Moses standing there on a holy mountain before a Holy God, I pray this also:

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you (Exodus 33:13).

Because, God, in order to dwell in Your presence day after hectic day, I must be still and know You more, know You as I AM, know You as God present with me.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me next month as I focus on Praying Simply?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King