You wanna know something I love?
That’s right my friends, I’m one of those people.
Every single time I have a conversation with someone about the latest movie they’ve seen I beg them,
“Tell me what happens in the end!”
I went to see Gravity recently (which was fantastic by the way) and guess what I did before the movie?
I read the synopsis.
Because I wanted to be prepared.
And sometimes I wonder why the heck do I do this.
But you wanna know something I hate?
I can be a pretty patient person (especially on good days) but try to surprise me or keep me guessing about something and for some crazy reason it eats away at me.
I always want to know exactly what I can expect to happen. Every situation, every movie I see, every relationship, anything. You name it, I want to know what’s going to happen before I do it.
Because I want to be prepared and I want to be in control.
(Okay cool, so she’s just some overachieving, anxious person)
Well, maybe, but that’s not the point.
I think the truth is, I over-prepare, over-analyze, over-whatever because if I can prepare myself ahead of time, then I have control. I can brace myself for the shock or the pain or whatever is coming my way. I have control.
And I think this often overflows into my relationship with Jesus.
Last weekend, I was driving home to attend the Storyline conference in Nashville (which deserves its own post on another day) and when I’m in the car for long periods of time, I kind of do this thing. I car-worship, meaning I worship in my car. Like I actually worship. Music blasting in the speakers, singing at the top of my lungs, one arm raised (because I am a safe driver who keeps her attention on the road while singing my heart out to Jesus and, yes, I always keep my eyes open). And on my way home I was just doing my normal worshiping thing when, all of the sudden, my heart started singing a different song.
Well, actually it was screaming. A mean, ugly scream that said, “I WANT CONTROL!!!”
Out of the blue, as clear as day.
I. Want. Control.
Doesn’t really fit with the whole “you can have it all Jesus” mentality does it?
And while I was driving down the interstate I started thinking about how many times I have been tired of waiting and tried to take matters into my own hands. About how many times God’s timing just didn’t seem good enough.
And it was shocking to hear the own rattle of my heart sing a song that was so entirely different from the words that were playing through my speakers and coming out of my mouth.
Now I know just about everyone who identifies themselves as a Christian would openly confess that they believe that God has a plan for their life. I would even say that a lot of us know and like the verse of Jeremiah 29:11 that says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It’s on just about every Christian graduation card you can find. And I really, deeply love that verse. I one hundred percent believe that God is a good God who delights in me and wants to bless me with good things that will glorify his name. But you wanna know what I forget sometimes?
I’m not God.
Most of the time, I like to pretend that I am God, that I have plans for God to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future that centers around my ideal job, my ideal husband, children, home with a library and a garden and a dog running around the yard. A life that is centered around my comfort and my happiness and my plans. Me, me, me.
And that is one-hundred percent not how it works.
I don’t get to play God. I don’t get to tell God what I think he should and shouldn’t do, what he should give me and what he should take away from me, or how this whole life thing is actually going to work out.
Because I’m not God. And I honestly have no heck of an idea what I’m doing.
But I so desire to be in control that I kick and scream until I am blue in the face trying to get God to realize that I’m the one who should be planning this whole thing, right?
What would happen if I actually stopped trying to take control and let go so that God could carry out his plan?
What would happen if I actually trusted God to do what he says he will do?
But instead I wrestle, I pushing back, I run away.
And it just keeps me stifled, gasping for breath because if I only just stopped and allow God to be in control, I could finally breathe.
And not just breathe some stifling, musty air. Trusting God would feel like breathing that pure air you only find on top of a mountain. Hard and challenging on the climb up, but breathtakingly beautiful and clear at the top.
And God is always offering me that beauty, I just keep running away.
I think one of my favorite things about God is that He’s so not afraid of my arrogance. He doesn’t get intimidated when I think I know what I’m doing and try to take control. He probably thinks it’s kind of funny.
It’s probably like how my parents felt when I was little (or nineteen years old) and thought (think) I knew (know) everything. Do you ever think back to a time when you were little and literally thought you knew what you were talking about? Thought you were knowledgeable and mature? I don’t know about you, but I must have thought I was the most intelligent person in the world because I have so many of those memories that I can’t even count them.
And you know what?
They’re all embarrassing and funny memories because I seriously didn’t know anything.
How foolish do I seem when I try to talk about something I truly know nothing about? Pretty foolish.
And how foolish am I when I try to act like God when I know nothing about how to do that?
I think it’s so scary to actually trust Him, to trust the Someone you can’t physically see, and say “Okay God, I trust you. I lay down all my plans in order for you to carry out yours.”
It sounds great in theory, but laying down control could come with a price. What if God takes away a loved one? What if my husband isn’t who I was hoping he would be? What if God sets me on a different career path? What if my body never looks the way I want it to? What if I have to give everything away? What if He doesn’t come through?
What if God is not who He says He is?
But what if He is?
What if He’s even better than I think He is?
Most of the time I believe that it’d just be easier for me to take matters into my own hands and make things happen now. Perfect body now, love of my life now, comfort and security and nice things now. And sometimes I think it’d be better just to shut down, to give up hope and stay stagnant the rest of my life. Because if I didn’t move towards God, if I didn’t move at all, there wouldn’t be any pain. I’d have nothing to lose.
But I really love the verses that follow Jeremiah 29:11 that say, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile (v. 12-14).”
Either I spend most of my time trying to play God and shape the course of my life the way I want it to go or I sit around and wait for God to plop all the good things He promised right into my lap. But the thing is, God doesn’t say either of those things are going to bring blessing.
He says I have to seek Him out.
The true sweetness comes in this season. The season of seeking and calling and praying. The season of trusting and the season of waiting. These moments in between the gifts are the moments that shape us. They’re the moments that bring us closer to the Father Heart of God. That strengthen our stories because we’re getting to know Him better.
If there were not seasons of waiting, I don’t know if I would really need God.
Well, it’s true. If I thought God was a slot machine that dished out a good gift every time I put a quarter in or a sugar daddy who just gave me my every wish without me having to lift a finger, I would completely miss the point. Sure, it’d be pretty cool to have everything without any effort but I really think that’s just a lie that our culture has taught us to believe.
The problem is, I want everything now. I want the fast food, snap-and-upload, fast-track version of the Christian life. No bumps in the road, no waiting, fasting, praying, just as much good stuff as fast as I can get it.
And if that was really how it worked, I would never have to trust Him.
But thank you Jesus that that’s not the way You work and even though it’s much more painful, the waiting process is the sweetest gift because it leaves me broken and empty if I’m not looking to You.
I know it’s hard because I really hate waiting too. I’m not good at it, you’re not good at it. I’m not even really good at trusting God. I’d much rather turn to my friends for affirmation and guidance than spend hours on my face talking to Jesus. I’d rather turn my brain to mush checking facebook and instagram than reading scripture or praying. It’s just easier to tune out and hope that God just likes me enough to give me what I want. It’s easier to expect the reward without having the sacrifice.
But man, what a waste.
We have to be willing to trust Him. To actually lay everything down. Because when we partner with Jesus and say yes to what He’s doing in our lives, even the things we weren’t expecting or the things we don’t understand in the present moment, we get to see fruit burst forth as we watch Him once again show up and do something fantastic. We get to watch Jesus say, “Look Mary Cate! Look at the fruit that waiting bore! You were obedient and look at how sweet this reward is!”
I think when we really wait and really trust what He’s doing, we get a fresh perspective on just how good He really is. We get to taste the sweetness of the waiting and the sweetness of plans and promises being fulfilled.
But I know it’s not easy. I know I’m probably going to spend most of my life fighting against my flesh to lay everything down at the feet of Jesus. Because it’s really scary.
It means I’m giving up control.
But you wanna know the sweetest part?
God has so much grace on me that He will again and again give me strength to battle it out against my desire for control and will again and again love me when I keep my hands sealed shut. Even when I can’t bring myself to lay everything down, He still provides me opportunities for small “yes’s”.
Once again He will give me a taste of the joy that comes when I give up control just so my hands will unclench just the smallest amount. Just so my grip will loosen just a little bit more.
Because He loves me and He really wants not only to give me good things, but for me to experience real and full life.
I think I’ll probably be breathless every time I think about that for the rest of my life. The fact that He loves me and doesn’t get tired of setting me free blows me away.
So, Jesus, you know I’m not good at waiting. You know I’m still scared to relinquish control. But you blow me away with your endless compassion. You love me again and again and you are STILL good to me even after all the times I have said no; even after all the things I’ve done, you still would climb right back on the cross and bare all the pain again just so that I could become more free. And because of that, I will again and again let go. I will again and again say that you are good and you know what you’re doing. Even when I’m afraid I will let go and lay everything down. And when I can’t muster up the courage to let go, I will have compassion on myself because you have compassion on me. Because of what you have done for me I will wait and I will trust you. I trust that you have good plans for my life, even when I can’t see what you’re doing. I trust that you are not a man that you would lie to me, your promises are good and true. I trust that you love me and want to partner with me to do a good work in my life. So Jesus, in these seasons of waiting for your promises, teach me to lean on you. To look for you. To seek and knock. Refine me in these waiting seasons. Let there be joy in the waiting. And let there just be more and more of you Jesus. You are good to me all the days of my life and I love you.
I love you Jesus.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” Lamentations 3:22-23