Saturday night my son, Alex, took the car and went out with a friend. He was told to return before 9pm. Until our son turns 18, in a couple weeks, his new license requires that he is off the road by 9pm. It can be a big fine and a huge increase in the cost of insurance if he is caught by the police on the road after 9pm.
At 9:07 pm, the phone rang, and I suddenly realized Alex was not yet home. I had been reading and lost track of the time. I answered the phone and heard my son's voice.
"Mom, I know I'm a few minutes late but I got lost on a side street. I'm just now on our road. I'll be there in a couple minutes," he said.
"Alex, you cut this too close," I told him and then sighed with relief that he was just a minute or so away from our house.
"I know, Mom. Sorry. I'll be right....oh, crap!" he muttered. My heart lurched. "Shoot! There's a cop right there and he's signaling me over," he said. My heart plummeted to my feet. Before I could utter a sound, he started laughing. "Gotcha, Mom! I'm right here in the driveway. Safe at home."
"Alexander William!!" I yelled out. Oh, that kid. He knows I over react and get up in arms over his failings and infractions. He loves to bait me and see me fall into a tizzy. He is going to buy me a lifelong supply of hair color to cover all my gray- I always tell him that.
But recently I realized that overreacting is not the only extreme I need to watch out for. If we under react- or don't react or respond at all- that could be just as detrimental to our overall well being. Yesterday at church, I shared with a friend how I felt discouraged about some areas of my life. I just decided to let it out what was bothering me. She named a few things that might help the picture, but I knew inside that it was me that was the problem. Something in me has to change- not my surroundings or my situations.
At the end of our conversation, she told me, "Let's pray and ask God what He thinks about all this. Let's ask Him what this situation means." I looked at her and nodded my head in agreement. That's exactly what I needed to know- what the situation meant, what God meant for this situation to provoke in me.
I woke up to a lovely white snowfall this morning, and as I saw the fresh blanket of snow, I realized I needed a fresh outlook on things. Not my outlook- but God's. After a morning chat with Bill, and several cups of coffee, I "saw" something. I realized I felt a bit burnt out but not because I was laboring so hard or because I was laboring in the wrong field, so to speak. It was because I was laboring without really perceiving Him.
"Do you not perceive it?" God asks of us in Isaiah 43. He reaches out and touches our situation and energizes our ability to respond to the challenge or the obstacle before us. But if He touches us, we've got to discern that He is hovering over us, so to speak, breathing life into us again. If I ignore that He is always ever present and ever ready to give, to supply, to infuse me with strength and vigor, then I am the one failing to perceive Him. He never fails to be there for me. And when God is there in our midst, He is not a beautiful statue standing there so that we admire Him but get nothing from perceiving His presence. God moves, touches us, directs us- and we must perceive this.
When God shows up, everything changes. First, we come alive with recognition that He has more for us, always more- never less. He is not the Take-away God but the Giver, the Sustainer, the Redeemer, the Fire and the Well of Living Water. He will make a way through the wilderness of our confusion or dryness. Then we come alive with hope and expectation. That hope of His empowering changes my outlook.
I should be dreaming bigger dreams. I should be ready to take a risk. As I go into this New Year, I've re-adopted a little acrostic that I made up a while ago. I mean this now, more than ever.
2008 will be a year of RISK for me- but not the foolish risk taking of an overly confident child who thinks she can never go wrong. I know how wrong I can go. So much so that I rarely step out enough in a bold move of risk taking and faith walking. So that inner cautious child in me has got to get provoked to faith, stirred to action, and maybe even booted out of her comfort zone with a loving shove from the Father.
So here it is. Here is my Banner for this New Year. Any resolutions or specifics that I further make come under this banner I wave:
R- Redeem. Redeem mistakes, cash in on anything Satan meant for evil, because God meant it for good. So believe it. Act like your failures and mistakes and downfalls can be used by God, redeemed for His good purposes.
I- Invest. Invest yourself, invest your time, invest your money wisely. Be that good steward with ten talents who went out and invested- not hid- his resources. God loves investors.
S- "See" the possibilities. Perceive God's hand in the picture, His available resources. See it and believe it. Live with your eyes wide open and upon Him.
K- Keep the Faith. That good deposit in you, keep it, guard it. God will keep me safe in His care, and I will keep safe my faith in Him, never allowing it to be snatched from me. I've given my life to Christ, and He will "keep that which I've committed unto Him against that Day."
If anyone wants to journey onward with me, in such a way that we eagerly look for and expect His presence, then join in under this banner. It reads RISK but it really is just that faithful banner of old we've heard about. Song of Solomon reminds us, anew, "His Banner over me is Love." And I want to respond to that Love by taking a RISK.
(Happy New Year!)