Yesterday afternoon Bill and I went on a date. I had joked earlier with my 13 yr old daughter that I think she has more dates with her Dad than I do. They usually go out twice a month on a father-daughter date, and she comes home beaming with joy, her heart filled up with confidence and worth, her arms filled with little goodies that her Dad bought her. She has spectacular, wonderful dates with her Dad.
But when I go out on a date with my husband, I don't aim for spectacular. I aim for... encouraging. We aim for camaraderie and maybe a tad of fun thrown in. This is a big order- because since we don't go out on dates very often, there is a lot of expectation built up on how great this date should be. So we've learned to dial down a bit, aim for a "pleasant" time together, and see how it goes from there.
I was a feeling bit unsettled yesterday afternoon, so it felt good to watch other people and not focus on our own "issues". We walked along the streets of Saratoga, noticing all the couples, all the dog lovers walking their little "babies", and the shop windows calling out for our attention. We kept walking, doing very little shopping or browsing, because it felt good to just talk and walk.
As I walked I realized something: an old mental mantra had recently crept back into my thinking. I thought I had killed off this old thinking pattern, but it does not die easily. It quickly gets resurrected during times when I have given my all- and my all wasn't enough to make something spectacular happen.
Years ago, at a small Bible Study I was teaching with a couple women, we were discussing "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ". I had the women write down what lie was circling about in their thoughts, unheard by those around them, but loudly proclaiming itself in their mind. I encouraged us to get honest about the mantra that mocks us often, loudly proclaiming its reality over what we know we should believe.
"Let me tell you the lie that often hangs around in my thoughts," I said to the women. "Here it is: 'It's all up to me.' " I shared how I can easily work myself into a frenzy, feel the weight of a dire situation I am dealing with and the pressure to solve it, fix it, and make it all good- all by myself.
I can easily think, "it's all up to me", act like it is- and practically kill myself in the process. I can forget that God loves to show up, move mightily in our midst, and show His spectacular power to redeem, break through, make all things new, ... and more. He can do it- well. He can do it, spectacularly.
I can do a lot of good things. But God does great things. And He wants to do them in my life, through me, and more often than not, when I finally give up thinking it's all up to me.
Yesterday I surveyed the good work I've been doing: I've been cleaning house, taking stock of my inner attitudes, working on my writing, preparing talks for the women's LIFE workshops, serving my children and husband in all their needs. I know I have applied myself well, although not perfectly. But when all is said and done, if I have to rely on all my own efforts to achieve life changing results, I am in big trouble. I can only take myself...so far. I can do some good things, but they're not going to cause great things to happen.
A seemingly risky, faith filled thought needs to be present in my mind: it's not all up to me. I need to be looking for God to show up, for God to open doors, for God to reveal Himself in powerful, spectacular ways.
What I have to be confident of is this: God moves , even more, when I can not. It's not all up to me. My boast will be in Him, in what He is not only able to do in my life, but willing to do in my life.
That's why "we are not of those who draw back" as Hebrews 10:34 says. It's not that we don't see the end of the line, or the end of our own natural resources or opportunities. I see the end of many things, right now. I see a lot of closed doors in front of me. It's enough to make you draw back , with a sigh, and prepare to go back to square one.
But if I remember God's point of view- and God's perspective of what He intends to do in my life- then before me are incredible open doors that I don't see, from a natural point of view, but that are right there, nevertheless.
If I only have eyes to perceive them.
'Cause it's not all up to me.