“I can’t serve anyone who isn’t sitting down.”
That’s what I say in my teacher’s voice when I’m dishing up snack to a group of kids.
Something about snack brings out the jittery excitement in most of us. We want to stand up to see what we’re having, what flavor, how much, is one serving bigger than the others and could we possibly have the biggest one?
Snack time protocols can be pretty basic, but we cover them almost every single time the goldfish crackers and apple juice come out:
Wash your hands. Sit in your seat. Wait quietly. No, you can’t have seconds until everyone else gets their first serving.
We’re just so eager.
I am so eager.
When I feel hungry… When I feel need… When I think that maybe provision will come and I wonder if I will get my share or if maybe I’ll be overlooked and remain empty. .. When I am anxious because I just don’t know and I feel like the answer won’t come.
That’s when I want to leap out of my seat and take some control. I want to make my need known, just in case God missed seeing it. I want to be sure He didn’t forget me or abandon me and He won’t leave me behind.
Maybe I even worry too often about getting my own “fair share,” too concerned with the sizes of others’ portions to be content with my own overflowing cup.
I read today an oh-so-familiar story, about how Jesus looked out over a hillside teeming with people. They had followed Him out when He sought rest. No one planned this extended teaching time. It just happened.
They looked for Jesus and when they found Him, He loved them enough to teach and teach and teach until the hour was late, and they were far from their homes. No one had packed any food except one little boy with a simple fish-and-bread lunch. (John 6:1-15)
This story reminds me that Jesus is able. That small numbers and meager circumstances cannot hinder Him from miraculous provision. I am reminded that He is an abundant, exponentially multiplying God, and that none of us could imagine in advance how He could feed over 5000 people with a boy’s packed lunch and still have baskets full of leftovers.
And this story reminds me to give Jesus what I have even though it could never ever be enough. I am the simple boy who can choose to offer what I have to Christ—meager as it is. I don’t selfishly hoard it. I don’t hide it away in embarrassment. I give it to Him because He is forever sufficient in my insufficiency.
But today, I read the story again and there is a new reminder.
In her book, “Living Beyond Yourself,” Beth Moore shares the step Jesus took that day on the hillside:
- He made them aware of their need.
- He took what little they had.
- He placed them in a posture to rest in His provision. He commanded them to “sit down” and fed only those who were “seated” (vv. 10-11)
- He gave them “immeasurably more” than they could “ask or imagine.” Eph. 3:20
This is the question I ask myself all day today:
How can I—in the midst of all of the everyday messes and the overwhelming worries—posture my heart in a place of rest?
Today, I struggled with a parenting decision, with a ministry decision, with a scheduling decision, with an organizing of my day decision and I was tangled up in my own need for clear answers, for assurances, and for provision.
My heart paces. I position myself to fix and control and make everything right all on my own limited strength.
Mostly, I fight this feeling of urgency, this pushiness I have to get answers now and see the results yesterday and have the blessings in hand already.
When can I see the abundance in place of the need?
But what if Jesus is poised with baskets in His hand, provision at the ready, abundance in waiting, and He simply asks that I sit?
Am I sitting down? Am I ready to receive?
The little boy with the lunch box gave everything over to Jesus, his tiny lunch, his small offering, but then he sat and waited to see what the Lord would do.
Oh, the sitting and the waiting, they don’t come naturally to me. So, I think it through today when the worries come—how can I sit in this situation, how can I posture myself to rest in Him, how can I wait and see what the Lord will do?
“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…” (Psalm 37:7a NASB)
“Use your self-control.”
This is one of my favorite takeaways from my son’s preschool teachers this year. They are so gentle and measured when they say it.
He’s ready to lose it over a near-tragedy—not getting to sit next to his good friend or struggling with the zipper to his backpack because it’s extra full that day.
Their gentle reminder is the same: “Use your self-control.”
I love that it assumes he has self-control and that he can access it, that somehow this little pause and this little reminder gives him the ability to breathe….reflect….choose.
Meltdown? Or self-control?
He’s in progress. He sometimes chooses meltdown.
Fruitfulness is part of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. It means He is alive, and He is active, and we are yielded to Him.
Paul tells us:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things (Galatians 5:22-23 CSB).
It’s not a list for me to tackle like some holy agenda. It is not up to me to manufacture goodness or to self-concoct gentleness or peace. It takes a leaning in with the full weight of my fractured soul on the strength and the character of God in me.
May He be at work and may the work-in-progress be me.
May He be the one to cultivate love in me, to stir up joy, to grow patience, to establish goodness.
May I be the one to learn, to long for the Spirit and to open myself up to the work that He does. May I be the one to focus my eyes on Jesus and His own fruitfulness because He is the perfect model of:
And when I see this fruit in Jesus, I love Him for it. I long to be like Him, to let Him shine in my heart, to turn over hardened ground and to till up the soil and to plant the seeds. Fruitfulness, Lord. Abundant fruitfulness in my life.
It seems fitting during Holy Week to consider Jesus and the fruit He bore out on the cross.
Some conflict, some uncertainty, some worry, some stress may bring out the uglies in me. I’m not always loving, not always peaceful, not always gentle when my kids are picking at each other at the kitchen table and we’re rushing because we need to be out the door in 8 minutes and I’m still trying to cook dinner and give a practice spelling test to a child.
But Jesus endured all of the pain of the garden, the betrayal, the trial, the beating, the mocking, the condemnation, the cross, the sin and the separation.
And the fruitfulness is still there: He showed love, joy, peace. Despite the pain, He was gentle and kind, good and faithful.
He also “used His self-control” by choosing the cross for Himself so He could offer forgiveness to us. It was, after all, His choice to make.
He wrestled in prayer and made the final declaration on His knees: “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
That set His destination. He would not give into fear or to the flesh. He would choose the cross.
And He chose not to call down angels to rescue Him when the soldiers marched into the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 27:41-42).
With the very power of His voice there in the Garden, He spoke the words: I AM. Then all of the military might fell to the ground, struck down by two small words spoken by the Messiah.
What an embarrassing mess for them. They were all geared up, swords and clubs at the ready, and a completely average-looking Jewish teacher said two little words and they landed on their backsides.
They walked out of the Garden with Jesus as their captive because Jesus chose to be their captive. Paul says it this way, Jesus “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 CSB).
The author, Selwyn Hughes, reminds me that Paul lists self-control last in the fruit of the Spirit. It’s not first. We don’t begin with self-control and then produce all the other fruit, even though that’s likely what we try to do sometimes.
“I will be more holy. I will be more righteous. I will hate sin more.”
That’s self-righteousness at work.
Instead, Hughes writes that we begin with love—just as Paul lists it in Galatians 5– and “when you begin with love, you end up with self-control.”
Christ’s love covers us and compels us.
Because we are oh-so-loved by a Savior who is oh-so-good and who chose the cross for us, we delight in Him and in what pleases Him and what pleases Him is the Spirit’s fruit in us.
“Raise your hand if you’re so excited about Christmas!”
That was my five-year-old son on repeat in the weeks before Christmas day. He asked us often and he expected a response every time. Everyone in the vicinity had to raise a hand quickly and high enough to be seen. Either that, or the offending non-responder would be quizzed stringently.
Aren’t you excited for Christmas? Why didn’t you raise hand? Are you not really excited?
During our Christmas Eve service, he started to fall asleep a bit ( so much excitement can wear a fellow out), so I picked him up and cradled him in my lap during the pastor’s message. We made it almost to the end when my son sat straight up, no longer tired, and said in not quite a whisper: “Raise your hand if you’re so excited about Christmas!”
Every one of us in the pew raised our hands just a teeny bit, not high enough for anyone else in the church to see, but enough so he wouldn’t launch into the full-scale interrogation.
After Christmas, he kept the excitement going. He enjoyed every bit of Christmas break. Then I explained our New Year’s Eve plans and how our family usually has family game night, eats special snacks and watches funny videos on TV.
The first thing he asked as he rubbed sleep out of his eyes at 7:30 a.m. on December 31st was if it was time yet for the game playing and the snack eating and the funny video watching.
He was ready. Ready all day. He quizzed me at 10 a.m. and again at noon and then afternoon right up until we (finally) started celebrating.
During the Christmas season, I felt a continual nudging as I read each part of the story: am I living with expectation?
The wise men were searching the night sky. They were actively looking, digging deep into ancient Scriptures, studying promises, watching for their fulfillment. Then, at the first sign of God on the move, they chose active obedience and pursuit. They left behind the familiar, they traveled far from home, because they wanted to see what God was doing.
Simeon and Anna both knew the Messiah was coming. They had been promised and assured of his imminence. With profound expectation, they lingered in the temple courts, hoping for the day they would see the Savior with their own eyes. And they did. God did what He said He would do.
Am I this excited? Am I expectant?
I’m not really. Not as excited as my son, and not as expectant as the wise men, or Simeon, or Anna. I’m not watchful or hopeful of seeing the goodness God is doing.
Maybe you’ve started this new year with just that high level of expectation and excitement. Or, maybe you’re more like me, limping in slowly, timidly, a little worn out from the hard season you’ve just walked through–hoping (but not certain) that the most difficult steps are finally in the past.
Maybe you’ve been waiting and there’s more waiting to be done.
I read this today:
Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah (Luke 3:6 CSB).
Can we all be expectant?
It wasn’t just the Christmas characters who lived with anticipation of the Messiah; it was a general buzz of anticipation. Crowds lined the riverfront to see John the Baptist because they “were waiting expectantly,” on the lookout for a Savior.
And one day, they stood along that riverbank and watched as Jesus Himself stepped out of the crowd and into the water to be baptized.
They were seeking and because they were seeking, they found the Lord Himself.
So, what am I seeking?
I’m not seeking answers or direction. I’m not seeking next steps or a Promised Land or a bright future.
This is what Scripture says:
You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you (Matthew 6:33).
I can raise my hand because I’m so excited to see Jesus. Even the worn-out me who is tempted to hide away can instead be stirred up with eager expectation because I want to see the Lord and to see God’s kingdom at work in the here and now. I’m so excited to catch glimpses of His glory this year, knowing that He is present and He is powerful.
He is a Good God. And He is doing Good things.
Today was the most ordinary of ordinary days with a hint of drab and dreary thrown in.
We heard the rain strengthen as my girls grabbed their backpacks to leave for school, so I drove them to the bus stop and we sat in the minivan where it was dry (but not quite warm). I told one daughter to pray about her missing retainer and hoped this is a way God would draw her close. (May He teach her how to turn to Him for everything?) Then I wished them well on the last day of school before Christmas break as we saw the bus lights through the fog.
I ran errands, including a visit to the post office where the employee helped me figure out the least expensive way to ship a Christmas package. I met with a piano tuner, folded laundry, packed lunches, and made meals. At some point today, I answered emails and made some phone calls.
I avoided puddles (which my son stepped in) and slipped around mud throughout the day. At the end of the afternoon, I comforted a daughter whose day ended with some disappointments and hurt feelings.
Mostly I searched for the missing retainer (in the trash, under the furniture, around town, in the cabinets, down the sofa cushions) and prayed about the missing retainer, then made a bunch of plans to replace it only to have my prayer answered 10 minutes before I left to pick up my daughter and head to the orthodontist. I found the elusive retainer where it had fallen down from the shelf where she had safely placed it.
But that was the day. Finding it took nearly the whole day.
We baked cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday, and watched a movie while I cleaned the kitchen and worked on getting a stain out of another daughter’s sweatshirt.
A day like today, completely saturated in so much ordinary–missing dental appliances, messes, errands, and chores–doesn’t feel very much like “Christmas.” It wasn’t all flashing lights, beauty, extraordinary worship, or holy feelings . There wasn’t snow or “magic” or warm and fuzzy, jolly or joyful fun.
Somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, I had a moment of feeling disappointed in myself really. The pile of clean and folded laundry and the found retainer seemed like all I had really accomplished today.
Not exactly the kind of success that makes headlines.
But then I remembered that Christmas means something deeply and powerfully true:
God came down into the ordinary.
He came down into MY ordinary. And He inhabits my ordinary days in the here and now of my waking-and-sleeping life.
He didn’t come extravagant, grand, wealthy, and powerful. He came plain and simple . He came small: A tiny, insignificant town called Bethlehem. A poor couple, a young girl and her husband, a laborer. A bed of hay and a makeshift outfit. Shepherds called out of their nightly vigil on the hillsides to “come and see” this tiny, unexpected Savior.
What if he had come differently? What if all the pomp and circumstance had been there, making the first Christmas a grand event of royal magnitude: Red carpets, crowns, robes, a palace, power, wealth, and position?
What if Jesus had come untouchable, unapproachable, and inaccessible?
An out-of-reach Messiah couldn’t have saved anyone.
Jesus came on an oh-so-ordinary day to an oh-so-ordinary town and reached oh-so-ordinary people.
That’s where I live, too–in ordinary places, on ordinary days, doing ordinary things with ordinary people.
Max Lucado wrote:
“Jesus did not separate himself from his creation; he pitched his tent in the neighborhood” (God’s Story, Your Story)
John said it this way:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NASB).
That means our story can be a Christmas story of its own, how the Savior dwells in the simplest of places and uses simple people like us. How he is so extraordinary but He meets me right here in the middle of all my ordinary. How God impacts the world as we run errands, clean messes, make phone calls, and pray for our kids.
This is what Max Lucado said:
“…you live an everyday life. You have bills to pay, beds to make, and grass to cut. Your face won’t grace any magazine covers, and you aren’t expecting a call from the White House. Congratulations. You qualify for a modern-day Christmas story. God enters the world through folks like you and comes on days like today” (God’s Story, Your Story).
So today, this ordinary day, is part of my Christmas story: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” We need your presence here among us even now.
- Ecclesiastes 3:13 ESV
also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
- Matthew 7:11 ESV
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
- Luke 11:13 ESV
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
- Luke 12:32 ESV
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
- John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- John 4:10 ESV
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
- Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Ephesians 2:8 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
- Romans 5:17 ESV
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
- Romans 6:23 ESV
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans 11:29 ESV
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable
- Romans 12:6 ESV
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
- 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ESV
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- 2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
- 2 Timothy 1:6 ESV
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
- Hebrews 2:3-4 ESV
how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
- James 1:5 ESV
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
- James 1:17 ESV
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
- James 4:6 ESV
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
- 1 Peter 4:10 ESV
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
- 1 John 3:1 ESV
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Originally published 10/2017
Hats and sunglasses, that’s what my son likes, and he’s amassing a collection.
When we headed to the beach this week to enjoy the weather, he popped his Paw Patrol baseball cap on his head .
“This is my beach hat,” he announced.
Then he gave me the full run-down. His Batman hat is for playgrounds. His Paw Patrol hat is for the beach. And, when he gets a Star Wars hat , that will be for the aquarium. “My aquarium hat,” he says.
This is funny on so many levels.
For one thing, he doesn’t need an aquarium hat since we are infrequent visitors.
And for another thing, we really and truly just grab whichever hat we can find whenever it’s time to go to wherever we’re going. We have more than one hat precisely because we don’t always know where any given hat is at any given moment.
Hats are essential wardrobe pieces for us. We are fair-skinned folks who burn at the slightest hint of sunshine.
But exactly how many hats does he plan on having anyway?
Specific hats for specific places may not be practical or likely by any stretch of the imagination, and yet I love the idea of valuing place, all the individual beauty and uniqueness of this place and that place.
How something changes in us as we travel from here to there, something about us in those destinations that might even require a new and different hat.
It’s so biblical, isn’t it, the way God’s story roots itself in geography and location? The Holy Land and Mount Sinai, Eden and Bethel ,right on to Bethlehem, to gardens and mountaintops, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River.
God’s story in us does the same thing.
There are places that have entwined themselves with my own salvation story: a childhood neighborhood, a college campus, a church, a two-year sojourn in New Jersey, and the long-term settling in Virginia where God continues to work in me.
Maybe certain places in our lives are set aside for a holy work of significance.
Like the way the burning bush drew Moses’s attention out in the wilderness, and how God brought him and all of Israel back to that same holy mountain after they made it out of Egypt.
Or the way Jacob camped out at Bethel and saw a vision of a stairway to heaven and then returned to the same place years later to settle there with his family and build an altar to God.
It helps to know what places have holy significance for us, especially when we’re seeking His face. Where do we go when we want to be alone with Jesus? Where do we go when we’re desperate for a glimpse of Him or to hear His voice? Where do we go when we need hush and peace and a stillness in our hearts?
Where is our Bethel? Where is our Sinai?
Where is the place of spiritual retreat?
For me, it’s a back deck or a porch, just one small step from inside my house to outside my house and there I am, in a peaceful place.
Sometimes, though, I need to run away from the ordinary, everyday. These aren’t long trips, just a drive to the botanical gardens, or to a museum, or the beach–anywhere there is beauty and there is quiet.
My go-to holy place, though, is a mobile one–it’s in a walk The location matters less than the opportunity to stride in rhythm and not talk for about 30 minutes. This is a sacred space for me.
It also helps to know that God does focused work in specific places.
This is Gilgal for Saul. That’s where the prophet Samuel sent the newly anointed King to wait before being presented to Israel. That’s where Saul is crowned. It’s also the same exact place where Saul loses his kingship, as he gives up waiting for Samuel and disobeys God’s instructions (1 Samuel 10:8, 11:15, 13:7).
Gilgal is where Saul both received and lost the kingship.
What if Saul had recognized the significance of the place? Gilgal is where I wait and where God is faithful. Maybe he would have been more patient.
Perhaps this place where you are right now is the growing place or the place of rest. Maybe it is the land of milk and honey or maybe it is the waiting place.
It could be the place of worship or the place of calling. Maybe it’s the place where we’re poured out or maybe it’s the well where Jesus fills us.
Where are you now? In this place God has brought you, how is He at work?
My son woke up early on Easter morning and he is not a morning person. He is, instead, a curious combination of early riser plus total morning grump.
That means demands, tears, and the request (denied) that we use the tie-dye kits he and his sister received to make “splat shirts” right away, as in before 7 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning.
Mornings aren’t usually rough, but everyone has a tough start sometimes. Mostly, I just shrug ours off and move along.
But this day. This day was harder on the soul.
It was Easter Sunday morning. It should be holy and sacred and full of worship in all-the-things. Worship in my parenting. Worship in my daily routine and acts of service for my family. Worship in the breakfast meal and the dinner preparation.
Good golly, we should have JOY! Joy, I tell you!
It wasn’t worship, though. Or joy.
It was more chaos then calm. A clothing crisis (or two or three) and missing shoes despite instructions that all children should prepare all outfits the night before. It was a grumpy four-year-old not wanting to leave the comfort of the couch.
It was the culmination of a weekend when we had seen sin and attitude and outbursts of anger and fighting.
That’s how I ended up at church on Easter Sunday, trying so hard to psych myself up into feeling all the excitement of celebrating Christ’s resurrection, but actually feeling stretched thin with the realities of me being not-enough.
It hit me in a wave of realization as we sang about death losing its sting and about the wonderful cross.
I was distracted by a teen outgrowing her clothing, a lost pair of white shoes and a four-year-old who doesn’t like waking up.
Meanwhile, I’m supposed to be worshiping the God of the Universe who died on the cross for my sins and then rose up from the dead!
That’s what started my searching: What does it look like for the resurrection to impact my parenting? My home? My everyday morning routine and beyond?
Christ brings all the power of the resurrection right into my everyday, ordinary life.
We read in Romans:
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [a]through His Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11 NASB).
and in Ephesians:
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT).
The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is within us!
He can mightily heal what is broken and He can re-order any mess that seems hopelessly overwhelming. No way can an “off” morning defeat me, nor should it distract me.
It also means He brings peace.
After Jesus’s resurrection, He stood in the middle of a room, surrounded by followers, and He said:
“Peace be with you” (John 20:26).
He knew that’s what they needed with all their fear, worry, sorrow, and their deep grief and confusion. They needed His peace smack dab in the middle of the mess they were in.
He brings the peace of His presence right into my life, too. Right into my craziest morning with the deepest ache for calm and for quiet, He can speak peace.
He can BE my peace.
Parenting in light of the resurrection also brings great value to what we’re doing here. It means there is salvation for my children. No one has to stay the same. And I get to be part of their sanctification. I get to witness God at work in their lives and hearts.
Not only does Jesus bring peace. He brings redemption. He brings strength for me and He brings grace for my kids as we come face-to-face with sin and how ugly it is.
Because Jesus died and because He arose, my kids can be forgiven. They can be transformed over time. The sin that tangles them up now doesn’t have to tangle them up forever, as long as we’re willing to battle together against it .
I’m a mom who needs Easter. I need the resurrection to keep the right perspective.
He came. He died. He arose.
Such grace. Such love. Such power. Such hope.
Weddings can be confusing to a four-year-old.
My son is actively preparing for his role as ringbearer in a family wedding this weekend. By actively preparing, I mean we periodically hand him a pillow to hold and ask him to walk it across the room slowly.
He’s been thinking about this a great deal. Randomly as we drive about town, he’ll call out questions about all this wedding activity from his seat in the minivan.
“Mom, why do they want girls to throw flowers?”
There is no context for this question. We’re just driving along. We ‘re not in church and we haven’t been talking about the wedding. So, it takes me a few seconds to place his question and then it takes me a few more seconds to figure out an answer.
Because—seriously—why does the flower girl drop flower petals to the ground as she walks?
He also wants to know why he has to carry a pillow? Why will there be rings on the pillow? Why he has to look “handsome” in suspenders and a bowtie? And whether or not he can “run-walk” up the aisle (which apparently is a steady paced walk with an occasional quick-step shuffle forward thrown in).
This is all before he’s even seen the rehearsal. I can only imagine the questions he’ll ask after he’ sees the full gamut of wedding traditions, including bouquet-tossing, candle-lighting, and more.
For now, my little guy still considers mom and dad the official source of all knowledge. He brings us his questions about weddings and more in a fairly steady stream and he trusts us to know or to find out.
That’s something I’m considering because I’m a question-asker myself from way back. I’m always the girl asking the most questions in any meeting or gathering.
And that’s okay, because I’m also the girl who knows I can bring all those questions to Jesus.
That’s why I’m stunned as I read this in the gospel of Mark:
But they (the disciples) did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him (Mark 9:32 NASB).
Jesus declared that He would be “delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later” (Mark 9:31 NASB).
It makes sense to us in retrospect, but it didn’t make sense to the disciples at the time . He’ll be killed? He’ll rise again?
They didn’t understand, but they were afraid to ask.
Were they worried that Jesus would chastise them for not understanding? Were they too embarrassed? Did they fear the answer?
Whatever the reason, the disciples didn’t trust Jesus enough to ask Him the question they all had on their hearts.
That doesn’t have to be us.
In Judges 6 when God called Gideon to lead Israel to victory, Gideon answered the way I would have.
He answered with questions:
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian…how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:13, 15 NIV).
So many questions might exhaust me as a parent, but God was always so gentle and patient with Gideon. He didn’t berate, mock, or condemn.
Instead, He redirected Gideon’s need for answers to seeing that God IS the answer for the overwhelming and the frightening.
God’s answer was this:
“….Am I not sending you?….I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” (Judges 6:14, 16 NIV).
He sent Gideon. He would be with Gideon. And He promised Gideon victory.
The NLT Personal Worship Bible says this:
The God whom we worship is not distressed by our questions. He knows that, like Gideon, we often feel weak, inadequate, or overwhelmed by life. He desires our honesty in worship and wants us to bring to him those issues, questions, and doubts that are on our minds.
And here’s what’s true—the answers he gives might not always be what we’re looking for. We might not get details we want. We might not get the confirmation we’re looking for.
But we will receive the reassurance of His presence and His character. He will be with us, just as He promised to be with Gideon.
So, keep bringing your questions to Him and trust His answers.