I say “you” but am totally talking about ME!
Observations of those closest to us are one of the beautiful benefits of walking in fellowship with others. Recently something I do was brought to my attention that is revealing in regard to what I believe.
We (me, Aaron and our blonde entourage) were driving in the car and I made a statement in the course of our conversation that made Aaron pause. I could tell he was carefully formulating how he was going to say what he was going to say next because, well, let’s just be real, I don’t always receive stuff well right off the bat. Pride really. (That’s another blog another day though. Maybe like 100 blog posts. Or more.) He gently pointed out that I have a tendency to say things as though I am preparing for the worst. Looking back now I can see how that is so true. It’s something I have done as long as I can remember. It’s not an overt pessimistic attitude about all of life that sucks all joy out of me. No, not in an ole Eeyore kind of way. It happens more in passing statements made from time to time when speaking about the future. Which is probably why I didn’t really notice it and others may not have really noticed it (unless they have had a lot of conversations with me).
Am I just being realistic? I pridefully defended it as such when he first made me aware of it. Or…is it a lack of faith? The answer could be both but it got me thinking and searching my own heart to see what my words were saying about me and how it affected the way I go about things.
To give you an example of some of the things I recall saying that would be the proof in the puddin’:
“I’m probably never going to have children of my own.”
“We probably won’t be able to raise the funds we need to even go to the Pastors College.”
“They would probably never hire me (or aaron).”
“We probably won’t be able to afford for the kids to do that activity next year.”
“I’m probably going to have to go back to work and we won’t be able to homeschool like we desire.”
“We may be forced to buy a house because nobody will rent to us because of those felonies on your record.”
“We probably should not even buy a house because we won’t be able to afford to fix something when it breaks!”
“We probably won’t get approved for a home loan large enough to have a house that we can open up for frequent gatherings or to host visitors.”
“I’m sure he could probably get a job but probably not making enough for me to stay home with the kids.”
I’m sure there are tons of other examples but you get the point. Those are the ones that stuck out in my mind.
A lot of “probably” in there.
PROBABLY: insofar as seems reasonably true, factual, or to be expected : without much doubt (Webster dictionary online)
“Without much doubt”—I’m putting confidence in something I have no idea will be true or not in all my “probably” statements. Shoot, it sounds like I’m having a “whole lotta doubt”!
It’s not like the skies are full of clouds and I am saying, “it’s probably going to rain. No, I’m making assumptions. It’s more like…I THINK there will be clouds in the sky later and it will probably rain. (Forget about Doppler radar existing and predicting those things, however imperfectly!)
There is no factual data to make such strong statements as I have been…now there is data to think that my conclusions or statements COULD be “reasonably true”. I did have three miscarriages before carrying a child to full term. We do have circumstances that make renting difficult and getting a job difficult (those forever felonies are like the gift that keeps on givin’!). We do have limited resources. We don’t have any trade or skill that could land a well paying job as Aaron pastors as a bi-vocational pastor. So yeah, those things COULD be challenges we face.
But “could” and “probably” are different.
What I am forgetting is that time after time God has taken my many doubtful, unwarranted “probably” assumptions and turned them into big ole “but God” moments. HE has shown us that he rules and reigns. He is Almighty– powerful and able. That he cares for his children and takes care of them.
And He has also shown us that if our “doubtful probably” becomes our reality then he just had other plans. Often times they exceeded our expectations. Sometimes we were disappointed in the outcomes. But never have we been left to ourselves in whatever reality came to be. He was with us, working out his good plan and his good purposes. He was leading us…because he knew where he wanted us to be….he sees the WHOLE of our lives and knows how He had scripted it in order to bring us to that place He wants us. He knows the best route to get there, the one that would accomplish his will in our lives (and the lives of those he places in our path).
So what’s the point of even doing all that “probably-ing”? Seems silly. Like little mini wastes of joy…sucking the hope and excitement out of me slowly with each doubtful statement.
How can I look realistically into the future, plan with wisdom but balance it with faith in what GOD COULD do!?!
Does the difference lie in my EXPECTATIONS? Do I do whatever is reasonable and responsible for each moment or situation but hope for and believe that GOD can or will do all that I ask or imagine according to his will? I think maybe so. Well then the question is, how do my “probably’s” shift from a lack of faith position to an expectant faith? Instead of holding on to what I can see I want to rather cling to what I know to be true!
Do I brace myself for the worst or prepare myself to see God show HIMSELF strong AGAIN? Like he has time and time again? His strength or power may not be visible in the way I prayed and expected it to be but His promises, his comfort and his love can sustain me in even the disappointments! He will be enough.
Oh and may I not forget his faithfulness to me in the past:
He did give us three wonderful kids that are full of life!
He did provide the means to attend the Pastors College.
Aaron did get that job at the church. I did get that job at the church.
We didn’t think we could put the kids in any activities THIS year but was able to allow them the joy of doing a ”sport” for a few months because of the unexpected, additional generosity of a couple we hold dear in our hearts.
I didn’t think we would ever be able to homeschool but we prayed about it for three years and I have been able to do both preschool and kindergarten with Salem.
I didn’t think we would find housing in Louisville or Charlotte for our last two relocations…but God provided.
And I didn’t know how Aaron would get a part time job this year to supplement our fundraising, nor did I figure it would help enough. But, once again, God put it on the heart of someone to help!
This list doesn’t adequately express God’s faithfulness but it just goes to show that the very things I worry about, he has already shown himself able!
So, don’t brace yourself, Andrea! At least not for the worst. EMBRACE truth. Reach out with open hands and heart to receive God Himself in the midst of it all. Look on with expectation and prayerfulness!!! And when you lack the faith you desire, pray God would increase your faith!! And when you find your hands holding onto all the “doubtful probablies”…. allow the Father to EMBRACE you in your weakness where your feet are giving way under the burden of uncertainty…may your soul find rest there! And whatever He answers with…trust Him. His grace abounds in deepest waters. He has never failed you! He loves you with an everlasting love. My goodness, He gave his Son as a sacrifice for you! Surely He wouldn’t have done that to simply allow you to be destroyed or to wither away in despair…His sacrifice would have been in vain! Ultimately, if I receive NOTHING else I have been granted EVERYTHING I need in Christ!
I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:4
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
“…for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful.” Proverbs 2:8
“ for whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8:35
“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” Psalm 147:5
My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Psalm 25:15
I lift my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16
But godliness with contentment is great game. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
…since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:4-8
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, Ephesians 1:3-9
“God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”
“When we look at Him, instead of counting our disappointments and worries, we can instead celebrate the marks of His faithfulness we’ve seen along the way, however small, and see by faith how He will be faithful in the future.”
Oceans (Hillsong United) LYRICS You call me out upon the waters The great unknown where feet may fail And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep My faith will stand And I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine Your grace abounds in deepest waters Your sovereign hand Will be my guide Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You've never failed and You won't start now Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders Let me walk upon the waters Wherever You would call me Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander And my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Savior