Five Minute Friday: Why

The word for this week’s Five Minute Friday free-write is “why.”  (Click on the image above to find some other great posts in the linkup too.) Here goes:

When I think of this word prompt today I am reminded of all the times I’ve asked “Why?” to God in the midst of hard circumstances (or listened to others asking the same question).  And then my mind immediately goes to a quote I heard at a leadership seminar at my church a couple of years ago:

“Ask not “WHY does God allow this to happen?” but “WHERE is God in the midst of life?”  – Christine Sine 

This idea that she fleshed out in her talk resonated with me so much as the time (and obviously still does!) that I wrote a blog post about it entitled, “Not Why? but Where?”  In it I shared how her story about working with Mercy Ships reminded me of my recent time on a mission trip to Costa Rica.  And then I said this:

“Christine Sine’s quote reminded me that I can look for WHERE God is already at work in the hard circumstances around me as I choose not to ask WHY God is allowing something to happen but decide instead to believe in faith that He is already present in that situation.  After making such a shift in thinking, I feel it is then our privilege to just come alongside Him in the work He is already doing.  But it can certainly take the right kind of mindset and the right set of eyes to be able to see where we can begin to partner with God in difficult areas around us.  This doesn’t come easily or quickly to most people I feel.  I know I am still being stretched and grown here for sure!” 

**You can read the rest of that older blog post here if you’d like**

Mindful Monday: Cheating Ourselves

“Whenever I have resisted Him, I have cheated myself. Whenever I have yielded, I have found joy!” – Elizabeth Elliot

I find this quote to be so true in my own life.  But it does take a little bit of a mind-shift to follow its truth for me.  I have to go from seeing God as someone who is simply trying to keep me on the straight and narrow and stop all my fun to seeing Him as a God who loves me and gives me boundaries because He desires the best for me.

While I usually don’t articulate that first sentiment out loud to anyone, I can tell it is there a bit deep down in my subconscious. I like how Elizabeth Elliot puts it in her quote by calling it “resisting Him.”  Because I know for myself it isn’t as much an outward rebellion against what I know God wants for me but more a subtle resistance that I sometimes don’t even acknowledge is there.

I think this is some of what I’ve heard called one of the more effective lies of the enemy when he asks us “Did God really say …?” and then makes us question what we thought we heard. This questioning is found right from the beginning of it all:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)

Just as Eve learned the consequences of starting down this slippery slope, so do I find that my own questioning of God’s work in my life brings consequences as well.  And in doing so I am, as Elizabeth Elliot shares in her quote, “cheating myself.”

We all have free will.  So it’s not necessarily God keeping me from anything but rather my own poor choices that often cause the problem.  And I feel this all goes back to the earlier mindset I was talking about in which I  sometimes doubt God’s true desire for me. Therefore, calling it “cheating myself” is a very accurate assessment of the situation.

But I have also experienced the flip side of this quote as well: “Whenever I have yielded, I have found joy.” Because there have been times when I push through that resistance and cling to the deeper truth I know of God and His character.  That God is love and that he wants the best for my life (which is not necessarily the easiest way or the path of least resistance, however).

Again, I like the term here of “yielding.”  Because I have found that it has to be a conscious surrender to a Presence greater than my own.  To recognize that in my finite wisdom I don’t have all the answers and must give it over to a sovereign God who does.  And yes, that is where the joy comes in!

Not a ‘happy, happy, joy, joy” kind of feeling but a deep-seeded understanding that whatever the circumstances might be for the moment, God has it all under His control. It is a contentment that doesn’t always align with what might seem natural in the moment – sometimes called “a peace that transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

And there is a relief that comes from this conscious surrender as well.  That I don’t have to keep striving, to keep trying to make it all work out on my own.  Instead, I can yield my life and my circumstances into God’s capable hands.  To finally relax and simply be.

So what will it be for you today – will you resist or will you yield?  And through it all will you feel cheated or will you find joy?

**Here’s a song which came on while I was writing this post whose lyrics I feel really apply.  So hope you can also take some time to listen to Take Courage by Bethel Music **