What is God’s answer?

There are times when I start to spiral out of control with my desire to know exactly what God’s will is. Even when I’ve gotten an answer, I want to know I heard God right. A friend once asked me what would make God’s will clear to me. What would tell me exactly what His answer was? I had no idea how to respond. I joked about wanting Him to write me a letter, but part of me was hoping something like that would actually happen.

Later in the day, I came across this article (Maybe God Doesn’t Care) and I was reminded that while there is no such thing as too much prayer, there is a danger in relentlessly pursuing a concrete answer. Why? Because it actually stems from a need to control; a desire to know exactly what is in store and when. Yes, we should submit to God and seek to do his will. However, we also need to trust in Him and his ability to direct us. We have to allow him to actually act and give him the reins. We can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in a never-ending cycle of doubt and worry disguised as seeking his will.

Image taken from: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6FYom8sr5L4/Ty1zdliEQyI/AAAAAAAAITE/3_vVk0I_VWQ/s1600/proverbs+3+5+6+copy.jpg

I don’t understand, God.

Ecclesiastes 11:3-5

3 If clouds are full of water,

they pour rain on the earth.

Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,

in the place where it falls, there it will lie.

In my words: It is what it is. Things will take place as intended or as designed by nature.

4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant;

whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

In my words: How can you expect results if you’re so busy worrying about the circumstances that you don’t invest in doing the work?

 5 As you do not know the path of the wind,

or how the body is formed[a] in a mother’s womb,

so you cannot understand the work of God,

the Maker of all things.

In my words: So much is beyond our own knowledge. If we can accept that, then why can’t we acknowledge that we won’t always understand what God is up to?

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

In my words: Maybe things don’t look so great or even interesting. Maybe you’re in an ugly situation. But perhaps, given time, that ugly situation will turn into something beautiful in God’s hands. Perhaps that not-so-interesting job or place or thing will end up becoming so much more than what you originally envisioned.  God has seen, not to mention created, all of eternity. It’s beyond our ability to comprehend.

When life feels exhausting…

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Isaiah 58:11

Can an Unanswered Prayer be a Prayer Answered?

Have you ever hit a point when you can’t remember the last time you laughed wholeheartedly? When you’ve been so burdened, stressed, and frustrated that you don’t even know what to pray for anymore?

Maybe you know in your head that you’re supposed to wait on God’s plan and that he knows best. You may be aware that there are reasons that things don’t turn out the way you want. But that doesn’t necessarily make things easier.

My advice: Keep talking to God. Keep trying to get to know him and his will. Persist because it’s what you need to do and God will enable you to keep going. Sometimes he is pulling things together and he needs you to wait. Sometimes you were better off not getting what you asked for. Sometimes you grow and learn as you wait, and your prayer ends up completely changing.

Take a look at this man’s struggle to pray when he loses the ideal job; it’s a great reminder of God’s wisdom and foresight.

Disappointed by God?

What are the expectations we place on God? When things go wrong, do we grow distant from him? Do we question why he’s allowing us to go through so much pain and suffering? Do we get angry with him and rile at him? Do we ask ourselves why we even bothered praying about it when it looks like God doesn’t care?

Some advise us to keep our expectations low in life so we can protect ourselves against getting hurt. Does that apply to God? Perhaps we should be evaluating our expectations against the word of God. We need to look at our source of information on God – the Bible and our own connection with him – and then compare that to the expectations we have of God. Are we expecting his good to be based on our definition or his? When God says he has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), do we take that verse at face value or do we think about in context of the God we know whose wisdom goes far beyond our perspective (Romans 12:2)?

When things are falling down around us and we want to rant and rave at God because he isn’t answering us the way we want him to, we need to take a step back and consider what we know of God.

  1. God is a LOVING God. There’s no one else who loves you more.  But remember that he also loves ALL of us, even those we see as enemies.
  2. God is JUST. But his justice doesn’t necessarily look the same as it does in our minds.
  3. God is WISE. He sees a much bigger picture than we do and he knows what’s coming down the line.
  4. God is JOY and PEACE.
  5. God is PATIENT. His patience ties into his wisdom as well and that’s what we need to remember when we’re feeling impatient with him because his answer may take much longer than we think it should.
  6. God is FAITHFUL. If Jesus can die on the cross for sinners, don’t you think he will do everything in his power to honor his relationship with you?
  7. God is STRONG and ALL-POWERFUL. There is literally nothing that he can’t handle.

In addition to what we know of God’s character, we should also take into account that his plans involve us. He asks us to have the heart of a servant.

This isn’t a one-way relationship. God has a special role for each of us and in our service, people witness the love of of God. Sometimes what happens in our lives is not about us, it’s about the people around us who witness our relationships with God.

So, take a fresh look at your situation and try to see how God’s answer may tie into a greater purpose. That doesn’t mean he’s not looking out for you but it does mean he has a much broader perspective. I believe we shouldn’t lower our expectations of God, but adjust them to align with God’s character and his promises.

Read more in this blog post titled Expectations.

God’s One-of-a-Kind Love

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“Is there a such thing as good and bad people?”

Silence. Awkward silence.

I couldn’t tell if my class was stumped or disinterested by the question. I tried to do the whole uncomfortable silence thing in hopes that one of them would respond but that didn’t last very long (Did I mention, I love to talk?).

“Ok, well, let me ask you this: Think about something you’ve done wrong and felt guilty about. Do you guys have something in mind? …Ok, now, let’s say someone somehow knew about what you had done and proceeded to classify you as a bad person. What do you think about that?”

Every time we listen to a sound byte on the latest celebrity scandal, there’s usually a label thrown into the mix. Drug addict, alcoholic, rich kid, or just plain messed up. We like to categorize based on the things we know. But do we ever take a moment to step back and consider the injustice of seeing a person as the sum of their mistakes rather than taking the time consider the beautiful person God created them to be? How would we feel if we were on the receiving end?

People could think of me as smart or professional or quiet. Or they could label me as boring, overly emotional, religious, or stubborn. Yet by doing so, they lose the essence of who I am – the goofy girl who loves to laugh, sing, read, and write. The girl who spends her mornings getting ready with Hindi music in the background and dances in the bathroom while she combs her hair. The girl that God lovingly observes when she’s really in her element.

I had an aha moment during my first foray into job searching post-undergrad. It had been a frustration of fruitless efforts for several months. After years of knowing exactly where I was going (for the most part), I was lost in the whirl of figuring out what to do with the rest of my life, doubting my decision to major in a liberal arts field, and questioning my competency. As I sat and worked through all these things in my head, one thing became crystal clear to me. God loves me regardless!

If I fail, if I succeed, if I take a wrong turn; he loves me! His love is not conditional. Even when I sin, he loves me. Granted, he hates the sin, but he LOVES me! To God, who I am has nothing to do with what I’ve achieved, where I’ve been, or where I’m going. He’s the one who created me in the first place. He loved every aspect of what he was putting together when he made me. And he sent his son to make sure that my sins wouldn’t ever separate me from his love.

No one else can love me that way. No one.

13 When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.

from Colossians 2

[New Century Version (NCV)]

Submissive wife? No way!

This morning as a I checked my email (which I do incessantly), I saw the familiar Single Roots newsletter in my inbox and was thrilled by the subject line – Allowing Myself to Dream.

However, when I opened up the link and began reading, I was disappointed. It’s not that I disagreed with anything that Shahan had to say. In fact, I completely agree that God wants us to live life to the fullest rather than twiddling our thumbs as we wait for the one. But, I was looking for something else. I was hoping for a post that would tell me it’s okay to dream about love and marriage.

I wanted someone to tell me there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the part of me that some might label old fashioned. The part of me that longs to be a wife and a mom.

Why did I crave that affirmation? Why do I need someone else to tell me that being a modern woman doesn’t require that I give up my desire for marriage and family? As I wrote this post, the answer surprisingly brought me back to a truth I needed to be reminded of.

On a college trip to Chile, I somehow ended up in a conversation with one of my classmates about premarital sex. When I revealed that I didn’t believe in sex before marriage, she was astounded to say the least. Her response was something along the lines of the following: “I can’t believe that as an educated woman, you subscribe to such antiquated beliefs.”

I was shocked by her reaction. What did having an education have to do with my religious beliefs?

As Christians (male and female), I know we are constantly experiencing this divide. To express one’s religious beliefs is not “PC”. We may be seen as backward  and judgemental, or automatically grouped in with conservatives, evangelists, or “Bible-thumpers”.

As a woman, I have witnessed this conflict on a very gender-specific level.  In my experience, the modern woman is expected to be career-focused, ambitious, independent, and self-sufficient. She should be comfortable with her sexuality and unconcerned with societal conventions.

When I joined the working world and later re-entered school to get my MPH, I felt the weight of these expectations on a very personal level. I don’t know how to explain exactly how I experienced it except to say that they were subtly woven into the fabric of the community around me. It felt as if expressing a desire for marriage and children was just not done. I hesitated to bring up church life because of the negative association attached to religion. And it was a given that my ambitions in life should center around my career. I felt alienated from my peers.

I remember telling a good friend of mine that I felt inadequate compared to my classmates because I wasn’t sufficiently passionate about public health. Her response struck a chord because as soon as she said it, I was hit with how right and true it felt. She said, “That’s not true. You are passionate. You’re passionate about God, friends, and family. You’re just passionate about something different.”

As an Indian American woman raised in the church, I never quite knew what to think. I would hear relatives tell me in chiding tones that I should learn how to cook if I wanted to get married and that I wouldn’t be able to find a husband who would accept my feminist views. I grew up in a church where elders turned a blind eye when boys left service to hang out in the basement, but made sure girls were not doing so.  The double standard grated on my nerves. I would read Paul’s letters saying women should cover their heads, submit to their husbands, and not be allowed to preach in church, and my temper would rise.

As much as I long for marriage and family, that doesn’t make me a conservative in all of my beliefs. My heart rebelled at the notion of man as the traditional head of the household, making all the decisions, and calling all the shots. I believe in a 50/50 marriage, one in which decisions are discussed and made together.

So what should we seek to emulate as women? The role that modern society now assigns us? The submissive wife of the Bible? For those of us who come from different cultures, do we take on the responsibilities outlined in those cultures as caretaker and cook?

The answer is incredibly simple and yet not easy. We take on the role God asks us to adopt. When I realized a few years ago that God kept bringing my attention to this issue, I recognized my stubborn refusal to allow God to direct me. I was scared he would give me an answer I didn’t like. And that’s when I forced myself to say a prayer I didn’t want to say. I asked God to help me see the role he designed for me as a woman and then, to help me accept and adopt it wholeheartedly.

It was a prayer I had to repeat many times but I’m grateful he asked it of me because now I feel closer to him on an issue that used to separate me from him.

So, if you’re reading this and wondering what that answer is, I ask you to take the these next steps. Pray and submit your will to his. Read every passage you can in the Bible about the role of women, discuss questions with fellow believers, and keep asking God for his perspective and wisdom. If you come to your own God-given answers, you’ll find the role he has for you and you won’t need to fit into anyone else’s definition.

As for me, I believe it all ties in to the often quoted Proverbs 31. It’s an astounding chapter actually if you take into consideration the historical context. Here is a woman who is viewed as capable and wise; she is a provider and a mother and wife who makes her husband proud. She appears to do things not usually part of the female role and is well-respected as is her husband. She is the woman I want to be.

After a lot of prayer and contemplation of God’s word, I finally feel at peace with my role as a woman of God but sometimes I just need a little reminder to not seek affirmation from any other source than him.

Challenge: “I Just Want To Be Okay”

For anyone who has struggled through change and questioned life’s difficulties, this is a post worth reading. Essentially, the author is talking about what it looks like to be content in all situations as Paul learned to be. It may seem daunting to accept life’s uncertainties, but God will help you with that. You never have to do anything alone or on your own strength.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

– Philippians 4:11-13

Perfect Timing!

There are a lot of times we question God when we’re frustrated with waiting. Whether it’s a job search, passing board exams, figuring out our major in college, or being single; we’ve all encountered the frustration of waiting for something to happen or for God to point us in the right direction. I found this author’s perspective refreshing, especially the reminder that God has been working towards a solution before we even knew of the problem. That certainly puts things into perspective! Take a look at the post below for further insight into God’s timing. (Taken from: http://spiritualinspiration.tumblr.com/post/50295647254/we-dont-always-understand-gods-methods-his-ways)

We don’t always understand God’s methods. His ways don’t always make sense to us, but we have to realize that God sees the big picture. Consider this possibility: You may be ready for what God has for you, but somebody else who is going to be involved is not ready yet. God has to do a work in another person or another situation before your prayer can be answered according to God’s will for your life. All the pieces have to come together for it to be God’s perfect time.

But never fear; God is getting everything lined up in your life. You may not feel it; you may not see it. Your situation may look just like it did for the past ten years, but then one day, in a split second of time, God will bring it all together. When it is God’s timing, all the forces of darkness can’t stop Him. When it’s your due season, God will bring it to pass.

You must learn to trust God’s timing. You can be sure that right now, God is arranging all the pieces to come together to work out His plan for your life. He has been working in your favor long before you encountered the problem. Don’t grow impatient and try to force doors open. Don’t try to make things happen in your own strength. The answer will come, and it will be right on time.

“Your Content Reads More Than Your Cover!”

Word For Life Says . . .

“The LORD is with you mighty man of valor!” Judge 6:12, NKJV

We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  It simply tells us that what we see on the outside doesn’t always accurately represent what’s on the inside.  Books usually contain a lot of content within their pages and when one looks at the cover it is supposed to give an idea of that content.  Sometimes covers can disappoint you.  What they show can appear to be an exciting and promising read but when you get into the story it’s simply not so.  And vice versa.  Covers can inaccurately represent some great stuff on the inside while the outside seems to be dull and dreary.

Down through the years this phrase has been applied to people, and rightly so.  As we treat book covers and their content is often how we view other people.  We…

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