New International Version

Waiting, Self-Doubt and Heroes

You are wasting your time. No one will see or appreciate your work. You’re failing.

Photo by Alex E. Proimos, sourced from everystockphoto.com.

Photo by Alex E. Proimos, sourced from everystockphoto.com.

Even though I haven’t been consciously thinking those discouraging thoughts, they’ve definitely been on my mind over the past few weeks. Self-doubt has been infecting me. Quietly hovering on the edge of my subconscious, a general feeling of failure and foreboding has been like that sticky black goo that covers Peter Parker in Spiderman 3. Strong, dark, evil, and hard to get rid of.

Why?

Part of it is my addiction to affirmation. God’s weaning me off it, and this novel-writing venture is certainly stretching me. It will be a very long time before an agent, editor or reader tells me, “Good job!”. In the meantime I must plot, research, write, read, re-write, edit, edit, edit, re-write and so it goes on.

To put it simply, the waiting is frustrating. Alone at my computer, sometimes I feel insignificant, unworthy and foolish.

But then God reminded me of something I should have known all along: everyone has to wait.

Abraham stayed childless for decades. Joseph served time first as a slave, then as a prisoner. David was chased from cave to cave. Even Jesus spent years building tables and chairs. I’ll bet they were all tempted to feel forgotten, useless or alone. Yet when the time was right they founded nations, ruled empires and saved the universe.

The book of James opens with the words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds”. (James 1:2 NIV, emphasis mine.) Pure joy? That’s right. Because God is teaching me perseverance; giving me maturity. Same as He did for them.

It’s a little humbling. Suddenly I almost feel proud that God is asking me to wait. I’m sharing in an experience that all the greatest men and women of faith have gone through. It’s an honour, really.

And so is God’s reminder in Psalm 139 that I’m not alone. Even when it’s been just me and my computer all day, God’s actually paying pretty close attention.

Blog 136 O LORD, You have searched me

and You know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

You know it completely, O LORD.

Psalm 139:1-4 NIV

 

How about you? How do you feel when you’re stuck waiting? What do you do about it?

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I Don’t Trust God

I don’t trust God.

That’s the realisation I came to just over a month ago.

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Sure, if you had’ve asked me I certainly would have said I trusted God. But my mental agonising, internal temper tantrums and occasional whinge sessions with my sister said otherwise.

There was a very real reason behind my worry. I was at a point where my life could go one of two ways; lets call them Option A (for Awesome) and Option B (for Boring, Bad, etc).

Needless to say, I really wanted Option A. The way this panned out would affect my life in a fairly major way. But there wasn’t really anything I could do to force Option A to become reality.

So I waited. And prayed. And hoped. And day-dreamed. And stewed. And got frustrated. And worried. And grumbled.

For six months.

I said I was trusting God. And I was, to the degree that I didn’t throw my hands in the air and walk out on Him. I trusted Him enough to stay with Him.

But I didn’t trust Him enough to allow His peace to calm me down. No, instead I went through the up-and-down rollercoaster of trying to trust God for about four days, before something gave me hope that Option A really could happen. Then I focused my thoughts on that hope. Then something negative happened. Then I focused on that. And despaired. And the cycle started again.

One day I woke up and realised how ridiculous this was. And what it said about my real trust in God. I knew then that I had to decide. I either took God at His word and believed that He knew best or I didn’t.

I chose to believe.

It lasted four weeks.

After four weeks, I allowed myself to get distracted again. I took my eye off the ball – off God – and fell down again. I lost my peace. But this time, I realised something else.

Option A is never going to happen.

So now I’m living Option B, and again I have two choices. Trust God, or just watch TV for the rest of my life. (TV is my drug of choice when I’m upset.)

I’m finding that trusting God – and the peace that follows – is much better. I’ve also learned that I need to pray for help in trusting God, and remember to do it. It’s now written on a sticky note and stuck on my bedroom wall.

Moral of the story? I’m not as good at trust as I thought. But with God’s help, I can do it. And trusting God is way better than the alternative.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Does Anybody See Me?

Does God take any notice of me?

It’s a very good question.

With seven billion people scurrying around on this planet, it’s easy to feel like we’re flying under God’s radar. With so many people to deal with, how much time could He really have left for me? Is He even interested?

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I think that Jesus’ words, as recorded in the Book of Matthew, answer that question with a big fat YES!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matt 6:25-34 NIV (emphasis mine)

Jesus used a lot of words to hammer home this one basic point: do not worry.

God promised that if we put him first, He will supply what we need.

So what does that imply?

Number one: God knows if you’re seeking him first. So He must be paying attention to you.

Did you hear me?

HE IS PAYING ATTENTION TO YOU.

Not just Australia as a whole (though He is watching that too). Not even just your church as a whole. YOU. He is profoundly interested in the state of your heart.

And that leads us to point number two.

God wants you to seek Him first.

Him, and Him alone. Similar to how a husband wants to be the only man for his wife, multiplied by about a hundred million billion squillion.

God loves you enough to get jealous over you.

And that’s a pretty personal, intimate kind of love.

 

God knows you. That’s right, you!

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matt 6:6-8 NIV

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Wow, did you see that? If not, go back and read it again.

Did you see it this time? There are two amazing truths in those verses that make me feel special and loved.

Number one:  God sees what is done in secret. Usually when you say those words, people shrink down into themselves and glance around, looking for the giant eye in the sky that is spying on them. Like they’re ashamed.

But there’s no need for that, not if we’re forgiven. In this verse, God is watching all the good things we do in secret. In other words, He is paying attention.

Doesn’t that make you smile? He notices the small things: that time you bit your tongue so that you didn’t lash out; when you cooked a meal for an ill mother; when you were honest about your mistake at work. And He hears every quiet word you say to Him.

He sees. He knows. He smiles. And He will reward (not that reward should really be our motivation, but still… it’s nice).

Number two: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. Just let that sink in for a minute.

Don’t cheat. A whole minute.

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He knows what you need before you even ask Him.

Does your best friend or your spouse know what you need before you tell them? Sometimes they might be lucky enough to guess. But know? And those are the most intimate human relationships in existence!

God is even better than that.

He knows you. He knows you really, really well.