Y’all. In my nearly two years of blogging there have been only a handful of times where I get a pressing blog post idea that settles in the front of my mind for me to write and post right away. This is one of them. This morning I was standing in the shower mulling over these thoughts and I was hasting to try to rinse all the suds from my hair so I could hop out and open my laptop for this. So instead of crafting some extravagant breakfast to satiate my post-cruise appetite (Ree Drummond, I’m high-fiving you and your breakfast potatoes) I am sitting here with my hair thrown up in a towel, trying to articulate my thoughts from the shower.
I’ve learned something valuable over the past month or so that has changed my life. It’s something that I’ve talked through with some of my friends, brought up in discussion at small group, and written a bit about here but I haven’t talked about it at length. It all boils down to this:
God has been teaching me that life is so rich in His goodness and abundance when we hold open our hands for His plan/purpose/ways/desires over our own and quit stressing/striving/plotting/fabricating.
A couple of weeks ago I received a word from the Lord at the beach. For anyone who has yet to have an experience like that, take heart. Hearing from Him so clearly – and claiming what He says to me – is so new and unfamiliar to me. But y’all, when we get quiet before Him and listen, and He speaks, and it’s wrapped up in His peace and steadiness, our relationship and intimacy with Him is deepened. I just want you to find comfort in knowing that He is for everyone and that there’s nothing special that made Him speak to me. I just got quiet. It was as simple as that. In it, I had my journal open so I jotted down what I heard:
“I will place things in your open hands. (Don’t force, manipulate, strive). There won’t be resistance [in matters that are from me]. Patience and persistence [in prayer and yielding], yes, but woven with peace and my promise.”
If ever there was a concept so contrary to the views of this world, this is one of them. For years I’ve been a planner, a list-maker, a strategist to the core. Hand me a guidebook with steps and instructions and I’ll navigate through the bumps along the way with determination. I think that’s why I like goal setting so much. But y’all. I’ve found such rest, peace, and assuredness in learning that a ten step plan is not what He asks of me, or of you. He wants us to humble ourselves before Him in trust. He wants us to bring the things that ache in our heart before Him. He wants all of the desires, cravings, frustrations, hopes, plans, and ideas that we would rather hold onto to work out on our own. He wants our trust.
In my quiet time this morning, I was reading through the study notes beneath Genesis 12 and something really stood out to me beneath verse 1:
“God’s invitation to Abram challenges him to abandon the normal sources of personal identity and security… To obey, Abram must trust God implicitly… The promised outcomes are conditional on Abram’s obedience,” and then it goes on to talk about how God tells Abram that He will make his name great, ‘This was the failed aspiration of the tower builders (11:4)’,”.
God tells him that He will make His name great. Unlike those at the Tower of Babel who were striving to build their own successes and outcomes, God wants Abram’s trust and obedience so that He (God) can bring the desired outcome to fruition. For years I have sat at my desk trying to plot out how to build a business and achieve a comfortable life through making income with my work. I’ve painstakingly stressed over how to make this happen and I’ve thought in terms of strategy over surrender. The same has gone for prior seasons of impatience as God has grown me while I’m still single, and as I’ve desired establishment in adulthood, and hoped for opportunities that I want to have professionally. It’s easy to choose to stress and strategize in seasons of waiting, but He wants our surrender instead.
Now, in what He is teaching me, I have found such peace in opening my hands and letting go of any ideas that I have about being able to manufacture my life’s outcomes on my own. I want to leave plenty of room for Him to work and to receive all that He has for me. I don’t want to hold on so tightly to my own schemes that I miss out on His steps, because His ways are always better than mine. There is such rest and relief in that. He is teaching me that – while it does not eliminate hardship and pain and struggle – choosing to sit at His feet and receive all that He has makes for a life much richer and fuller in good things – in the things that truly matter – than one where I’m exhausted from trying so hard.
Friends, it’s not to say that life is going to be smooth and seamless if we hold our hands open to Him. It’s not to say we will get everything we want and that things will happen on our terms. But that’s the point. His ways are so much better. He knows us better than we even know ourselves. He knows our hearts, our hopes, our fears, the things that keep us up at night, and the things we want the most. I believe that the things He has to place into our open hands when we choose to align our hearts with His Will over our own will bring so much more joy and fulfillment than anything we could ever manufacture in our limited capabilities.
So let’s hold open our hands. And it’s not easy to do that, I know, but let’s choose to trust Him anyway. There is rest to be found there. Let let go of striving and scheming and instead exhale into the beautiful realization that He doesn’t ask that work of us. Instead He asks for us to trust, to listen, and to be obedient to His leading. Our strength comes from Him and He will equip us for all that He calls us to, and He will grow us through it. Be encouraged, friends.