Have you ever wondered why an all-powerful God who can do anything He wants, chooses imperfect people to do His will, instead of just doing things Himself? I know I have. I have prayed, and wondered why; why Moses? Why David? Why Saul? The list goes on and on throughout the Bible, of men and women alike with sordid pasts, huge flaws, and obvious sins, chosen for a God-given purpose.
Like last week, I am going to use Moana as an example, because I feel the imagery is so powerful. There were a couple of scenes between Moana and Maui, that really spoke to me. The first one, when Maui asks her why her people sent her, Moana responds, "My people didn't send me. The ocean did."
Maui's response is both sarcastic, and interesting; "Makes sense. You're what? Eight? Can't sail? Obvious choice." He begins here, to plant seeds of doubt, where Moana has otherwise had great faith, by pointing out her flaws. She is young and unqualified.
David was also young and unqualified when God asked him to face Goliath. But God equipped him.
Moana remains faithful, and responds, "It chose me for a reason," to which Maui continues with, "If the ocean's so smart, why didn't it just take the heart back to Te Fiti itself?"
I know that the Polynesian and Christian theologies are very different, but in this film, what appears to be the god-like being, is actually the ocean. The ocean brought the heart (or the calling) to Moana. The ocean did not make her take action. It could have picked her up and thrown her out to sea, but it didn't. She felt the call, she responded with faith and obedience to what she felt was asked of her, and as a young, unqualified, mere mortal, she set out on a dangerous journey, in faith. It occurred to me that none of these feats, these acts, these miracles; would have been nearly as impressive had the ocean just done it, itself. Have you ever thought about that? There would be no story, no journey, no testimony if God just said, "Fine! I'll do it myself!"
No, God gets the glory, when we, mere mortals, do the impossible He has asked us to do. The miraculous happens, when God uses ordinary, flawed people, who don't have any supernatural powers at all, to do His work.
But are we listening? Do we hear Him when he calls? Or are we allowing people to plant seeds of doubt? Are we turning our backs on our callings because they seem impossible?
When Moana acted in faith, she was able to restore life to her island, feeding her people. But do you think that she was the only one to have ever been called to this task? Or perhaps the first to actually listen? We understand that the heart of Te Fiti was stolen a very long time ago. We're also told that the demonic volcano Te Kā, immediately rose up upon the theft.
The restoration here, had been needed for a very long time, and Moana's grandmother tells her of how she is just like her father; that her father felt that call to the ocean as well, but when danger struck, and his best friend died, he turned back. He then made rules against anyone traveling beyond the reef because of the dangers. Could it be that the ocean had been calling others before her as well, her father included? Could this problem have been resolved sooner? Maybe, but no one else was listening.
When Maui's seeds of doubt finally begin to influence Moana, we see her looking defeated, saying quietly, "The ocean chose me for a reason."
Maui responds, "We're here because the ocean told you you're special, and you believed it."
"It chose me."
"It chose wrong."
And Moana begins to give up. She asked the ocean to choose someone else.
Who, in the Bible, have we heard this from?
But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."
As Moana hesitates to give up, she is reminded of how she was called, and how she got as far as she did, and a line she sings that really stands out, is "And the call isn't out there at all. It's inside me!"
She realizes that this call isn't out there, in the world, it is within her. We often search everywhere for our purpose, but right where God put it, within our hearts.
Moana acted in faith, to her calling, even though it could have brought her to her death. Moana continued to do what was asked of her even amidst doubts and fears. The ocean did not force her to her calling, but when she acted in faith and obedience, the ocean was there when she was in real danger.
Yes, this is fiction. Yes it stems from a different theology, but the parallels were too important to miss.
Real history of real people has shown us that what God is capable of doing through mere mortals is astounding, if/when we walk in faith. What has God been calling you to? Are you uncertain? Or are you scared. You're only human right? But what if you answered that call? What could our God do through you, if you only listened?
Today I pray that we all take the time to listen, answer that call, and that we act and walk in faith, knowing God has a purpose for us that's even bigger than we could imagine. What would our world be like if we all followed our calling?
Have you ever had a disagreement in which there was just absolutely no way of reaching a resolution? How did you go about handling that?
I will be honest. My first instinct it to continue to try to explain my side (or whatever side I feel is misunderstood or misrepresented). It often turns into beating a dead horse, and can get heated rather quickly. We often just keep circling the same points over and over again, and realize, much too late, what a futile waste of time the whole disagreement has been.
I believe that there are four key causes to our disagreements with people:
1. They are wrong.
It is possible that they are 100% incorrect. They could have the wrong information concerning a topic of discussion, and maybe you feel it is your duty to correct them.
Pray about it. We actually do not have to react to every incorrect person we encounter. If they aren't asking to be corrected (most people are not), or your correction is causing an escalated argument with someone convinced of their rightness, it is often best to walk away and pray.
2. You are wrong.
It is also possible that you are 100% incorrect. Maybe you've been given the wrong information. Maybe you don't remember something correctly. Whatever the reason may be, believe it or not, you could be wrong.
Pray about it. It is never good to engage in an argument ill-equipped with the facts. Do you really want to be the person convinced wrongly of their rightness? If it is a topic of importance, pray that God would show you the truth, and bring light to the subject. If it is not, why are you arguing about it?
3. You simply have different tastes.
I have known people in Buffalo who almost seem to take personal offense to those who dare to complain about winters. I don't mean to rag on them. They are a passionate and loyal bunch, but listen, it is ok for people to like and dislike different things, and to express that. If it really and truly upsets you, guess what?
Pray about it. Maybe you don't like their opinion on something. Maybe you don't like that they complain about it. Whatever the case may be, pray about whether or not you should address it. Better yet, pray for them. If they are complaining a lot about something they really don't like, or something which really makes them unhappy, pray that something would change for them. Sometimes just lending a kind and understanding ear, can add hope to an otherwise dreary situation, no argument needed.
4. You are each looking at completely different pieces of the same puzzle.
I hate to break it to you, but you could both be right and wrong, at the same time. It is possible that neither one of you has all of the pieces. In fact, I believe this is the most common of all the causes of disagreements.
Pray about it. When you have two (or more) people, 100% convinced of their rightness, when neither (or none) of them even have all of the pieces, it can make for a disagreement which escalates quickly. The trick here, is not in sharing your pieces. We are all very quick to say, "Well, this is what I've found!" No, the trick here is in being willing to look at the other pieces. Pray that God would give you the wisdom and the patience to not only acknowledge another possible viewpoint, but find how it actually aligns with yours.
These are areas of disagreement in which, I believe, everyone struggles, myself most definitely included. But do you notice a theme?
One of the greatest lessons God has ever taught me, is that it is nearly impossible to be impatient while praying. No, it is not impossible in the grand scheme of things. In the bigger picture we are often impatient for the things we are praying for.
What I mean, is that if you are actively taking time away from a frustrating, escalating, or even hostile situation, to pray, you have already exhibited a great amount of discipline and patience. That, right there, is about 90% of the battle. God will meet you where you are. Sometimes He may call you to a difficult or unpleasant conversation, but believe and pray that He will lead your way and your words, and soften the hearts of those He wishes to receive it. Other times, He may tell you to let it go.
I have seen coffee mugs and shirts, where it is written, "But first, coffee." Many of us acknowledge that we are not ready for the challenges of the day without our morning caffeine. We acknowledge that we are not yet ready to even be decent human beings to one another, without that jolt to awaken us. What if we applied this to our prayer life?
I challenge you to this; the next time you feel the need to correct someone, or argue your opinion or point of view with someone, pray first. You may be surprised at how much this simplifies your life. And by default, you will find yourself closer to God, and farther from conflict.
Yesterday my daughter wanted to refuse her nap; a nap which her refusal made her need for it that much more evident. She was so mad at me for taking her upstairs away from the fun. She was screaming and flailing, hurting herself trying to get away from me. At one point, she screamed such a loud, shrill, shriek, that I thought my ear was bleeding.
There was nothing I could say or do to get her to listen or calm down, so I walked away. I put her in her bed, throwing her tantrum, and left, closing the door behind me. Then I collapsed onto the edge of my own bed, by my doorway, only 10 feet away from her, and listened to her scream, sometimes calling for me.
I hate doing that. I feel like a failure as a parent when I walk away like that. So as I was lying there, I prayed.
I realized there have been plenty of times in my life when I felt as though God had walked away from me, silent. There have been times I was crying out to Him, with no answer. And the similarities struck me.
Charlotte wasn't calling out to me because she wanted me. She was calling out to me because she wanted to do what she wanted to do, and I wasn't allowing it. There have been times in my life where my cry to God, wasn't for God, but rather a plea to Him, to give me what I want. Left to my own devices, angry, and tantrum throwing, I often only had myself to blame for the pain I incurred.
What we want for ourselves, is not always what is best. God knows this, and as our Father, He often disciplines us, just as we might discipline our child. In this case, it was in silence, not giving in to the screaming desires of a child.
As we grow in our faith, my hope (as is with my children as they grow), is that we no longer behave as children. Faith of a child is a very different concept than the tantrum of immaturity. If my daughter had simply leaned in, quietly, in my presence, I would have held her, told her how much I loved her, and how good this nap would be for her health, but behaving the way she was behaving, she wouldn't have heard it.
My hope is that we acknowledge the love our Father has for us, and desire to be in His presence, even when He doesn't give us exactly what we want. I pray that we (I), will stop throwing tantrums when things don't go our (my) way. I pray that we know that His silence, His discipline, and His act of refusal to give in to our earthly desires, is love.
And oh, how He loves us!
When God is silent, are you throwing a fit? Or are you leaning in, listening more closely?
There is this game that business people in the social media world like to play. It's a follow for a follow or like for like, but basically, it is this idea that, "hey, I'll follow your social media pages, if you follow mine!" This is meant to serve in aiding social media growth, making your pages appear more popular and relevant in the online community.
The frustrating thing about this mentality, is that you can watch your accounts lose followers just as rapidly. People will often follow for a follow, without necessarily communicating that to you, but rather just expecting it. If you do not reciprocate, (or sometimes they do not even wait for you to follow back), they simply unfollow you. Their page is already in your notifications, and you may follow back without even knowing they've already unfollowed you.
I became frustrated, watching this constant fluctuation in my numbers, with no real gains. I had caught wind of an app called Followers, which lets you know just who has unfollowed you, and, curious, I decided to give it a try. I thought it might give me insight as to why I'm not growing quite as much as I'd like.
What I didn't expect was how it would make me feel. It not only tells you who is unfollowing, but it gives you a list of people you follow but are not following you back. This is not a huge deal as I follow a lot of celebrities I like, and yarn companies. However, I discovered actual friends of mine, who were following me at one point, were no longer.
Let me stop there, because this is important.
I'm pretty disappointed in myself that it took me nearly a week to turn to God on this topic. As always, He did not disappoint. I found verse, after verse, after verse, directly addressing this issue we have with pleasing men above God.
...for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. ~John 12:43
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. ~Galations 1:10
We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. ~1 Thessalonians 2:4 (b)
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. ~Proverbs 29:25
And there are so many more!
It is really easy to get caught up in the world of pleasing people. It's easy to do that even without social media, because...I mean, look how often the Bible addresses this during a time before there were even phones!
In today's age of social media and connectivity, it is that much easier. We find ourselves measuring our worth and success by that number of friends, likes, or followers. It is easy to feel hurt when we lose some. Sometimes we even find ourselves trying to "fix" something about ourselves or our page so that we don't lose more.
IT IS NOT REAL.
As I said in the beginning, it is a game. Often times, following or unfollowing isn't even personal. It's just people with differing interests. Focusing on that number will cause doubt, insecurity, and even hurt feelings.
Don't get me wrong. I am incredibly thankful for those who enjoy my content and support my business dreams. I LOVE hearing from them, and sharing with them. It makes my heart happy to hear how they've enjoyed a pattern, recipe, or Monday Message. But I (we) cannot put our stock into that number. That number will always change. It doesn't make or break us.
But God is unchanging.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. ~Psalms 100:3
How many times in your life, has a friend or acquaintance tried to tell you what a rotten person someone else is? Many times it is even a trusted friend, who may give you an account of this horribly hurtful thing someone else did to them. It is a classic she said/she said, with girls (in particular) in middle school and high school.
What I have learned, over the years, is that most people do not set out to lie to you. But still, most people do not tell the whole truth. We don't always remember completely accurate accounts of what transpired. We can't always state, verbatim, what someone else said to us in a heated discussion. Maybe they didn't say it to us at all, and something got lost in translation coming from someone else! More often than not, we can't remember exactly what a person said at all, but we do remember how they made us feel.
Here's the thing about feelings. Feelings are rarely an accurate portrayal of another person's character. I have known people (myself included) to become very hurt over honesty. Honesty can sting like nothing else, but a person being honest with you about how they feel, isn't necessarily trying to hurt you. Maybe they have poor timing, maybe they are not very eloquent with their words, or maybe they're a little too blunt. Maybe, what is their honest and truthful perception, isn't yours. But we often become quick to paint ourselves as victims of their villainous plots.
Often, the people with the greatest potential to hurt us, are the people that we love most in this world, and if we are too quick to jump to conclusions and allow our emotions to rule a situation, we often say or do things we may later regret.
You know what happens then? You just became their villain.
I have been there. I have played both victim and villain. It doesn't have to be intentional to suddenly find yourself in those rolls, and they are both equally heartbreaking, practically interchangeable rolls.
You may not always have a say in whether or not you get hurt, but you don't have to be victim or villain in your own story.
What does it mean to have the same attitude as Jesus? There's a lot of material for this, but right here in Philippians 2, it goes on to say, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!" -Philippians 2:6-8
Jesus became one of us. And oh, how many villains He had! People slandered His name and His family. He had traitors and liars in His midst. He was persecuted both verbally and physically...too death! The devil, himself, tried to take Him down!
He put Himself in our shoes, and died right next to a common thief.
He did not play victim. He did not curse them. He did not discard them from His life. In fact, He did quite the opposite. He loved them and asked God to forgive them. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing" ~Luke 23:34
No one is asking you to be nailed to a cross or sacrifice your life for your villains. That has already been done.
But you don't have to be a victim. Most of us will never face anything as hard as the persecution of Jesus on that cross, thank God! Maybe we can try to extend a little grace and understanding to those who may seem undeserving.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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