Jan 20, 2010

God in the Mess

I'm heavy-hearted today. I just sent my little kindergartener off to school in tears because he didn't want to go. "They make fun of me, Mommy." He's referring to a little girl who looked at one of his drawings and told him, "You're not even an artist" and a couple of older boys he's convinced were laughing at him one day. These instances seem small to us adults, but to my soft-hearted sweetie, they deliver a powerful blow to his sensitive soul.

My husband and I are very intentional about filling Cooper's heart with love, affirmation, and encouragement in an effort to give him a sense of confidence and security. But after his reactions to these classmates, I find myself wondering if it is enough. I think my hope was that at his first peer insult Coop would be able to react with something like, "Whatever. I know I'm great and that God loves me. I don't need your approval." Expecting too much from a 5-yr-old?

I've been reminded afresh this morning that the world we live in is not all rainbows and butterflies. Yes, I already knew that, but some days Satan's plans slap me squarely in the face. I know that just as much as God has a plan to prosper Cooper and give him abundant, full life, Satan has a plan to completely annihilate him. As we were discussing this very thing in our family time this week (isn't it funny how God sets us up for our next trial), Coop and I illustrated it like this:

Let me explain this a little since evidently I'm not an artist either. In the bottom center is Cooper--with his cool, new hairdo--a road on either side of him. Every day he has a choice of which one he will take. The path to the left is Satan's journey for him (hence, the fire at the end) and God's is on the right. If you'll look closely you'll see that Satan's way is a pretty straight shot with no visible obstacles. We pointed out that it looks easier sometimes, but there are traps hidden along the way. That blobby thing in the middle of the road with "trees" covering it is supposed to depict that. Don't judge my skills! The "right" road looks more arduous. . .mountains, boulders, etc., but it leads to a joyful peace with Christ (big, happy face). Sidenote: look at Jesus loving on the little ones in the bottom right. . .precious. That was Coop's idea; Momma was so proud. However, Satan also has children. I don't know what to think of that, but I'm just choosing not to overanalyze it. The best part of the drawing is Cooper choosing to draw himself on God's pathway and writing "yes" next to it. He chooses Christ. Thank you, Jesus.

But, as I saw this morning when my son tried to fake a stomachache to stay home, choosing to believe Christ in theory is much easier than actually doing it. Choosing to believe what God says about you and your relationship with Him is much simpler before you're actually called on to do it. But that's the sticking point in our faith, isn't it? Are we really going to believe God in a way that influences the way we think and live or are we going to play church? I know, I know. It's not easy, but did God call us to a life of comfort and ease or of adventure? Think about it. . .are you really content with an unchallenging, boring life? Something comes alive in us when we are called to the mat to stand up for Christ. If we can get out of our slimy pit of negative thinking and risk to believe God's promises for us, He will surprise us with His faithfulness and care. He longs to speak life and love to us, but when we're stuck in comfortable coasting somehow we can't hear Him as well.

As much as I hate to see Cooper have to deal with the arrows aimed at his heart, I have to trust that God is using them to woo him into a passionate, intimate, believing relationship with Himself. I like the way Brent Curtis says it in The Sacred Romance:

". . .every single thing in the lives of both nations and individuals is orchestrated with this sole objective that they might seek God." (taken from Acts 17:26-28)

Every SINGLE thing. If I can take a step back and look at life's pain from an eternal perspective, my world brightens a bit. Is it still tremendously difficult to send my sweet angel into a gladiatorial arena? Absolutely! But am I going to rescue him from the realities of the world and rob him of God's internal work in his life to assuage my pain? NO. I'm going to pray in the difficulties he faces, whether traps set by the enemy or obstacles sent by God, he chooses to think God's thoughts. My only choice is to daily surrender him (and the rest of my life) to the Keeper of Our Hearts and trust that He is good and able. Again, it's a choice.

Peace or despair.

I can't help what God chooses for him; I can only help my heart in the midst of it. Surrender. Trust. If I want to be sane, they are my only options. And yours, too. Whatever is bigger than life to you right now, can you risk to hand it over to God? Can you trust that He ordained it, is using it to romance you, and is right in the middle of it to equip and comfort you? Stop your swirling thoughts for a sec and ask God to take over. Then do your best to let Him. Though it's way easier said than done, if we can manage to pull it off, the peace we receive really does pass all understanding. Give it a shot. I mean, it's better than the alternative of fretting and heavyheartedness, right?

Father, like Cooper did on paper, I choose you. I put myself on the "right" road today and entrust my precious boy to You knowing that You know what You're doing. And I pray for Cooper and the rest of my friends here, that You would enable them to completely surrender their trials to You today and believe Your promises to them. Uphold them, encourage them, and strengthen them to withstand the challenges before them today. Show yourself mighty and faithful. Thank you for loving us enough to get dirty in our lives. We love you, amen.

Update: Cooper just informed me that the children by Satan are laughing at him. Okay. . .I feel better.

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Diana said...

Dearest and Most Precious Misti,

I love your blog! I really need to pull it up more often : ) I receive an Encouragement Email from Proverbs 31 woman and I think you need to offer your sevices as a writer. I will send you the link so you can take a look at how they set it all up. I know that you were talking about writing a book the last time I saw you and I think I may have an idea.

Love you and your sweet and precious family : )
Diana www.dianasniderlmt.com

Misti said...

Diana...every time you speak you ooze encouragement. Thank you so much. I will definitely be getting with you!