I don’t know what the day may bring

Two months ago, my six-year-old son’s soccer schedule was stretching me.

It’s such a silly thing, looking back.  But at the time, I was trying to maintain  some control over our family’s calendar.

You know what you lose a lot of control  over as your four kids get older?  The calendar.  Teachers, coaches, directors, club leaders and more all have an agenda for your kids.

So, when I signed my son up for soccer in January, I weighed in with what worked for us as a family.  No Tuesday and Thursday practices, please.  We need a team that meets on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Also, he’d miss  one week of practice because  of our other commitments.

Then I waited for THE CALL, the one where you find out from your coach when and where to be for the first practice.

That’s when I found out:  My son’s Monday/Wednesday team had changed to a Tuesday/Thursday team.  And the one week I had said we couldn’t be at practice they scheduled for soccer team pictures.

I have no control over these things.  I try to be in control.  But I have no control.

This year seems to have eased me into a season of dependence.  Soccer was just part of it.   Ever since January, I was reminded  week after week that I’m not ultimately in charge of everything that happens.

For a control freak like me, I actually think I handled it pretty well.  No meltdowns.  No extreme levels of fretting.  Just quiet adjustments.

Soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays?  Okay then.  It is what it is.

Then, of course,  the entire soccer season was canceled after a week-and-a-half so I shifted again.

I released my need to control that.

I’m making new adjustments even now.  I cannot control  what  groceries are going to  actually be at the store each week, so we eat for dinner whatever I can find to cook.

And I release my need to control that, as well.

I  cannot control what decisions the school board makes about my kids  classes, grades, schedule or plan for next year.

I try little by little to  release my need to  control  even that.

What I’ve quieted my soul with this year is that the more I realize I’m completely not in control, the more I rest in knowing that God still is in control.

Nothing is outside of His mighty and merciful hands.

Proverbs 27:1 says:

Don’t boast about tomorrow,
for you don’t know what a day might bring.

In God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, Timothy Keller says:

“Those who believe they can eliminate uncertainty boast about tomorrow, thinking they have planned for every contingency….But you do not know what is to come.  The future is wholly in the hands of God.”

Maybe it felt like my schedule rested in the hands of a soccer scheduling supervisor or a coach.

Maybe now it feels like a governor holds the next few months of my life in his hands or a school board or a superintendent of schools is in charge of my kids.

But surely that’s not the truth.  Not the ultimate truth.

My life is in the hands of the Lord who loves me and won’t abandon me or desert me.

Sometimes I’m tempted to try to nag Jesus into  doing what I’d like him to  do in the middle of all this mess.

I’m not alone.  Others in the past have tried to “manage” Jesus and make Him do what they wanted or expected.

The disciples tried to manage Jesus by keeping little kids away from him and by telling him to send people home because they didn’t have enough money to feed a crowd of over 5000 hungry people a meal.

His family tried to manage Jesus by coming to take him home when they heard about his growing ministry.

Peter tried to manage Jesus by denying the need for Jesus to be taken away and to die.

The plan for that first Good Friday isn’t something that any of Jesus’ followers wanted or expected or even understood.  It was all completely outside their plans and they probably would have preferred in that moment for  Jesus to just do what they wanted him to do and to be what they wanted him to be.

But God was in control

His plan was perfect.

His plan wasn’t for Good Friday to be the end;  His plan for salvation included Resurrection Sunday.

I’ve been learning to relinquish my control  over my life and my attempts to “manage” my Lord as if my ways or my plans are best.

After all, God planned Easter and it was perfect. Surely I can trust Him with my future and the months ahead.

 

Who’s In Charge Here?

I drafted the letter carefully.

Nope, that’s not the word.

I drafted the letter meticulously, cautiously, prayerfully, thoughtfully, and s-l-o-w-l-y. I read it over in my head at least 20 times.  It took me about an hour to type out two paragraphs on my computer and I drank a whole cup of tea in the process.

Then I walked away.  Than I came back and read it again.  I changed some things.  Then I walked away.  Then I impulsively printed it up and signed my name, slipped it into an envelope, and addressed it.

Then I placed it in my dayplanner instead of the mailbox and carried it around for a while.

It was a letter to the principal of my daughter’s new school.  I wrote it last August and finally threw it away last September.

To say that I was stressed and worried over my daughter’s first year in the public school would be an award-winning understatement.  I asked every mom I knew with kids at that school who they thought should be my daughter’s first grade teacher.

Nine out of ten moms agreed that I needed to request one particular teacher to ensure my girl’s success and happiness.

In fact, I wasn’t really just thinking about first grade.  I was thinking about the power of this one teacher to encourage or destroy a love for learning FOR LIFE.  She could ruin my daughter’s entire educational future, career path, and self-esteem or she could positively influence my girl in ways that led to life-time motivation and success.

So, I explained in my letter to the principal how special my daughter was and how smart and how sensitive and how based on this teacher’s reputation in the community, I thought she would be the best fit to guide my daughter in her first grade year.

I kept trying to send the letter, really and truly.  But then I’d get that same nagging feeling—Did I trust God to take care of my girl or not?  Who did I really think was in charge of her development, character and future?  Me?  A principal?

Or God?

It was terrible to feel powerless over a decision of such magnitude.  I hate when the future of me or my family seems to depend on the choices of someone else.

And it so often seems that way, doesn’t it?  How much of your life seems to rest in the hands of others?

The human resources lady who decides whether to offer you the job.
The boss who determines whether you get a raise or promotion.
The lawyer who decides how to argue your case.
The judge who decides how much time you spend with your kids and how much time your ex does.
The church leadership who decide how you minister.
The committee that accepts or rejects your idea.
The loan officer who determines if your credit is good enough.

And so it goes.  Everyone making decisions everyday about our own personal life, and not arbitrary meaningless decisions either.  Big decisions that have real impact.

I finally decided to trust that if God wanted my daughter in a particular classroom, He could make that happen.  He could even direct the decisions of the principal.

So, we arrived at Open House at the end of August, all of us a little jittery and overwhelmed.  Stepping up to the table for people with last names starting with A through K, we waited to hear the big news.  Who was going to be the magical first grade teacher who would hold my daughter’s future in her hands?

The very teacher I wanted.  There was never any need to write that letter.  God had already made the decision for me and directed the path of those in charge.

Now that the school year is ending, I’ve already begun the inevitable fretting over next year’s teacher.  This never gets easy, does it?  The lesson that God is in control is a perpetual one.

David asked a tough question in the Psalms:

  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6 ESV).

What can man do to me?  I’ll tell you what!  Fire me.  Pick the wrong teacher for my kids.  Pass judgment against me in a courtroom.  Put me on a bad work schedule.  Make my life miserable.  Cut off my funding.  Shut down my ministry.  Slice my paycheck.

It may seem that way at times, but David was right–there’s no need to fear.  Solomon explained why when he wrote that:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1).

God can direct the heart of a king if He chooses and set the course of a principal and open the eyes of a judge.

Because He alone is God.  No one else is or should be lord over our lives or god over our circumstances.  Scripture admonishes us to:

“know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Psalm 118:6 ESV).

He is God.  There is no other.  Your life isn’t in the hands of anyone but Him and while life isn’t always easy or perfect, we can trust that He’s in control and He’ll care for us and guide us at all times.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Christmas Devotions: Always Expect the Unexpected

My schedule is a delicate balance.

There’s a shopping day.  A scrub the bathrooms and the floors day.  Laundry days (one doesn’t cut it!).  Make bread day.  Ballet day.  Volunteer day.  Eat lunch with the kids at school day. Writing day.  Bible Study prep day.  Prayer meeting day.  Homework day and library day.

It’s an intricate design that took effort and some trial and error to develop, but by October it all settled into a perfect rhythm.

Then December arrived and stomped all over my perfectly balanced schedule like a giant through a flower bed.

Suddenly, my calendar has arrows swapping events in my week, items written in ink now crossed out and rewritten on different days and at different times.

Oh yeah, can you fit in a class party?  And a holiday concert?  Could you make gifts for teachers and stop by the Christmas get-together?  Mom, what are we doing for my birthday?  Can we have an extra cantata practice?

Onto the calendar it goes.  I’ve begun color-coding the items. Red is for the really super important things that I absolutely cannot forget, but am certain I’m going to miss.  I add dark circles around those also.  And some stars and exclamation marks.  You can’t go wrong with stars.

Now my calendar has become illegible.  So, I switch to the daily agenda plus master to-do list that spans the next two weeks.

Add in the meal plan for family dinners up through Christmas and the shopping list that I had to restart the day after I just went to the grocery store and the planning is complete.

How euphoric it would be to keep the schedule in balance at all times!  For the expected activities to happen on the assigned days.

No doing laundry on shopping day.  No extra trip to the store when it is supposed to be writing day.  No third trip to the school on a day I’ve scheduled for cleaning house.

It would all be so expected.  So perfectly planned.  So in control.

That’s the problem, though, isn’t it?  I have a certain capacity for juggling and as long as I’m tossing around the same few balls, I’m a fairly competent performer.

But when God tosses an unexpected ball into my rhythm and routine, I’m liable to drop them all on the ground.

To a certain extent, I need to practice the “no” and guard the schedule.  Keep it simple.  Don’t try to do too much.  Don’t over-commit.

At other times, though, the schedule just is what it is.  The lesson isn’t about eliminating activity.  It’s about allowing God to shuffle our expectations and disrupt our plans so that we remember how much we need Him.

It’s His reminder that we can’t always package up our days with decorated wrapping paper and a shiny bow, oh so neat and perfect.  Life is messy at times.  Chaotic in some moments.  Fairly unexpected so many days.

The one constant is Him and even He has a way of surprising us. I think somehow it’s appropriate that December is the month when my calendar is left in tatters and all my perfect plans are shattered.  It’s a reminder that God has a way of shaking us up, mystifying us, and going far beyond our imagination.

Like the fact that the Savior of us all, the long-awaited Messiah, entered this world as a baby.

In Nativity scenes, we usually see the pristine image of well-groomed stable animals, fresh hay, perfect baby wrapped in bright white cloth.  Mary is already back to her pre-pregnancy weight and looking like she didn’t just labor and give birth.

But God chose to come to this earth the messy way.  It was childbirth.  It was pain.  It was blood.  It wasn’t even in the sterile white setting of a hospital, but all smelly and oppressive like the barn it was.

In our Christmas cantata this year, we sing a lullaby to this infant Lord: “Sleep on, sleep on in heavenly peace.  Sleep on, sleep on, our newborn King.  So tender and mild, sleep on little Child.  The day soon will come when You will save the world.”

A newborn, a little Child came to save the world.

The Light of the World entered in darkness, while nocturnal shepherds were keeping the night-watch over their sheep.

The King of kings arrived in a stable.

The Eternal God, the Word who in the beginning was “with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning”—lay in a manger with baby dimples and the red skin of a newborn (John 1:1).

Have you settled into a routine and rut with God?  Have you figured Him all out?  Have you gotten comfortable with what you can do and with what you believe He can do?  Have you scheduled Him and assigned Him portions of your life?

Don’t be too sure!

Just when we figure everything out and fit everything in, God often will interrupt and amaze, befudddle and change your direction.

As Paul writes: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes” (Ephesians 3:20-21, MSG)

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King