Playing Hide and Seek

Lately my kids have been on a hide-and-seek kick. Generally from each other, though occasionally they just <love> to hide from me... especially when they're playing and I'm not even aware that I'm in the game.

They think it's hilarious to hide when I call them.

The other day after a particularly frustrating round of me calling and looking for my oldest (all the while not knowing she had decided it was hide-and-seek time) I came to my momma-whits-end. I had started by simply telling her it was time to get in the car. She disappeared. After 5 minutes I was generally yelling around the house telling her is was time to get in the car. After another 5 minutes I was actively searching for her and yelling even louder to come.get.in.the.car. We were late. I was frustrated. I had finally realized somewhere along the line that she was in fact, playing the game and not being <completely> disobedient.

And yet she was being completely disobedient.

And now several people would be late to a  function that would make many others have to change their plans as well.

That night my husband and I were talking over the general hide-and-seek situation. As I was bemoaning her general lack of behavior and how it vastly changed the outcomes of our afternoon, God gently reminded me that I had done the very same thing to Him... on more occasions to count.

How many times had He told me to do something and I didn't? I ran away. I hid. Like my daughter I literally went the other direction and disappeared. How much of His Word, meant for my good and instruction, have I disobeyed? Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes I was simply 'playing' a game and not listening, and other times I intentionally and purposefully didn't listen.

I was immediately convicted that my own games of hide-and-seek with my Father have (I'm sure) caused my fair share of frustration and Fatherly angst. Several situations in which I didn't do what I was supposed to ran across my memory-banks. Ugh. I wonder how many people were depending on me to obey? I wonder how much blessing I lost out on because I didn't listen to what I was told? I pondered who I made 'late' and who had to change their 'plans' because I was MIA. Innumerable I imagine.

But God is good, and even in those dark thoughts He reminded me of something else. That just like I had done for my daughter (probably a bit less angry...) He will also come looking for me. When I was lost, He came after me. Yelling my name, searching high and low.

Better yet, HE is never hard to find, because He never plays games with me. If I need Him, He is there- right there, always ready and willing to be together. There are no games, no hide-and-seek, no wondering where He could be.

In that moment and in the moments after, I have found that wonderfully reassuring. I have a God and a Father who looks for me and is always with me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He will not tire of searching for His wayward daughter, nitwit that I may be at times.

Deut. 31:8 "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ESV

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." ESV

Isaiah 41:10 "...fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ESV

Amen and Amen!

Flowers Among the Snow - The Untimeliness of a Timely God

For Those Who Live In Southwest Missouri, We Get To Enjoy Truly All Four Seasons Of The Year... Sometimes In One Day. I Kid You Not, This Weather In This Part Of The Country Is Downright Bipolar At Times. Case In Point, it’s March and it snowed last night yet it was in the 60s last week. It's Kind Of A Thing Around These Parts. Being March and with (supposed) warmer weather right around the corner All Our Bulbs And Flowering Trees have started sprouting.  It's A Welcome Sign Of Spring And Refreshment For Those Of Us Yearning For Warmer Days. Church was cancelled this morning due to the snowy weather and between our family’s pancake breakfast, a rousing game of hide-and-seek with the older three kids, and some school-work I stealthily slipped in (go me!), I was able to spend a few quiet moments looking at the snow on the new sprouts and flowers. It Was Beautiful To See The Juxtaposition Of The Snow Over The Flowers- And Striking Because We Don't See The Clash Of Seasons Like This Very Often.

THE BEAUTY OF THE VISUAL IS IN THE UNIQUE AND RARE PRIVILEGE IT IS TO WITNESS

SOMETHING THAT OCCURS 'OUT OF SEASON'.

THE PICTURE IS NOTHING SHORT OF MIRACULOUS AND CARRIES A CERTAIN SENSE OF

SUPERNATURAL TOUCH WITH IT.

Those of you who know me or have followed me for any length of time, know that I've Felt Quite ‘Out Of Season’ for going on 3 years now. God Has Me Planted In A Very Odd Place At A Very Odd Time In My Personal Life And Professional Career. In My Limited Capacity, It Makes No Sense, it’s generally uncomfortable, and I don’t particularly <love> the spot He’s got me in. And Yet I Know Without A Doubt That I'm Being Obedient. In Fact, The Doors That He's Had Me Walk Through Have Been Slowly Coming, Bit By Bit.. He Even Gave The Extra Grace To Spur My Spirit Very Early On That These Changes Would Be Happening. So It Is Not A Surprise... And Yet The Timing Is Still Utterly Confounding. The ministries He’s placed in my lap and other’s He’s taken out of it seem to make no sense.

I feel very much like those new, lovely little flowers… full of promise of beauty and purpose, yet bewildered by the temperature and scenery of my current spot. Ministries, especially my writing and speaking (which is so very, very my heart and desire) has needs-be been put on the back-burner to make way for another ministry that I <like> but is certainly not my heart. (Feel free to read more about our fostering and that whole situation here.) A second mission and heart I had and was doing as the medical director for Camp Barnabas God also asked me to put down and quit. I did willingly, but again, not without some questions about His timing.

Yes, I am very, VERY out of season right now. My head and heart’s desires have been put away and I’m doing my darnedest to be obedient to what God would ask of me instead.

Some days I’m pretty good, others I question. As I’m sure many of you do as well.

From the beginning of this season, with God moving me away from flight nursing on the very week that my first book Helicopter Mom was launching (believe me, the irony was not lost on me- read this original blog about that particular week…) There Is A Ton That Doesn't Make Any Sense About It, Especially At This Particular Time, But God Could Not Have Opened More Doors More Fully Than He Did. Being Obedient Was Easy Because He Made The Path So Clear... Even When The Instructions Were A Bit On The "Whaaaat?!?" Side Of Things.

I'd Like To Think That The Snow We Have Was Sent Just For Me As A Reminder Of His Sovereignty. The Flowers Don't Question When And Where To Grow, They Just Obey Their Instructions. The Snow Doesn't Argue With God That It's Too Late In The Season To Fall, It Just Obeys His Command. All Of Creation, Nature, The Weather, The Seasons... They Grow And Thrive, Come And Go... At His Command. Without Questions, Without Raised Eyebrows Of The Timing, Without Arguing That Something Is 'Out Of Season' Or Makes No Sense. As A Result, A Rare And Beautiful Clash Of Seasons Occurs- One That Stops People In Their Tracks To Enjoy The Scenery And Marvel At The Supernatural Hand That Brought Together Such Unlikely Events. I need to remember and use their example. It always astounds me how much of an example in obedience nature can be to us.

Today I Want To Encourage You Dear Ones, For Those Of You Who May Be Feeling Like You've Been Planted In A Bizarre Or Untimely Season. Search Your Path, If You Know You're Walking In Obedience Then Take Heart That God Is Using This Unique Planting For Something Greater... Something More Beautiful... Something Striking That The World Will Stop And Take Note Of. God’s timing is always perfect, even when it seems untimely. His path for you is always straight, even if it feels like a roller-coaster. His instructions to you always have a plan and a purpose and we would do well to obey, even in the face of incredulity.

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

The Joshua Series- GREAT EXPECTATIONS

I'm excited to start a new series with lessons found in the book of Joshua. The Lord has been walking with me through the early books of the Old Testament for the last year and I'm finally at a place that I can share all the insights God's been showing me. Join us weekly for some real, raw, open and honest this-is-where-I'm-at-right-now GodStuff. I pray it blesses you as it has me. ~Bethany

Recently my husband and I took in two new foster children. The Lord led us to fostering, quite unexpectedly, last year and for many months we've had just an infant with us. Last month though He asked us to take in two more, one with special needs. We prayed over them, we talked at length about the pros and cons, we took as much time as we could to decide. Because in this case, taking in these two would give us a total of six children, three of which have special needs, all of which are under 7. Yikes. I'm sure you can appreciate our trepidation at such a prospect.

Yet, God made it abundantly clear to us that we needed to take in these young boys. So we agreed with great expectations and not a few hesitations.

We're a month into our new season with these kiddos and let me just say in all honesty and that its been hard. I mean capitol H A R D hard. I've found myself stretched to the max daily, hourly, minute by minute at times. Going to bed so many nights questioning if we've done the right thing. Waking up exhausted every morning not knowing how I'm going to make it through the day. I've found myself questioning if we made the right call, questioning our sanity, questioning my ability to continue on. I've grieved the loss of time with my own kids and time with my husband. I've missed meetings, missed church, and had to pull out of other ministries that I adored. Yes, it's been a radical life change to say the least.

I don't like it.

I don't enjoy it.

I don't even 'want' it at times.

And yet, even in the midst of the chaos I know that I'm sitting (or more realistically, splayed out) right where I'm supposed to be. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I'm being obedient.

In all honesty, I'm not that foster mom that's dreamed of doing this all her life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad and there are definitely glimpses of awesomesness here and there. I for sure don’t hate this season. But I'm not that foster parent that has the proverbial huge heart for these kids. I foster because it's a ministry that God called us into and one that is worthy to be doing. I do it because it's Biblical and the right thing to do. I do it because I can't say no to my almighty Father- even when I want to- even when the ministry is not only not 'right down my alley' but quite frankly at times is not even in the same city!

This obedience-thing is not for the faint of heart! And it’s H A R D work.

Yet, my Father is good, even moreso in my vast weaknesses. He has me in Joshua right now and the encouragement I've found even within the first chapter has brought me more than once to tears. (It's like He knew!)

"Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouths. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:8-9 NIV

So where I am at with all this you may ask?

What I'm learning is that when God told Joshua over and over to be strong and courageous, He wasn't at all referring to taking the Promised Land. Jehovah was telling him to be strong and courageous in his obedience to Him. He was instructing Israel to be resolute, obstinate even, in their obedience.

Regardless of the outcome. Regardless of the scenery on the other side of that leap of faith.

Regardless of whether it makes my own life more pleasant or easy.

I'm learning slowly but surely that oftentimes 'ministry' that God calls us to doesn't necessarily come with the assumed great expectations of obedience that we all want. We assume that our obedience to Him will result in happier times, contentment, provision, or greener pastures.

Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Our saying yes to God and these boys certainly hasn't made our highways and byways clearer. In fact it's significantly impacted all of them. And yet, I'd venture to say that it's made their little pathways more manageable.

I'm learning is that my obedience is the only thing I can control. The rest is up to God: the provision for each day, the strength to continue on, the sanity to push forward, and even the wherewithal to choose to obey again...

and again... and again.

What I'm learning is that despite the seemingly extreme 'inconvenience' of this ministry God has placed on us, the idea of being outside His will and His way is far more terrifying. This season may not be one we would have chosen, it has not been ideal by any stretch, we can only hope and pray that it gets easier... but my expectations of my 'yes' are secondary to the work God has for me.

And suddenly the tables are turned. What great expectations I had placed on Him, are now turned and seen through His eyes upon me. His expectations for me must be quite grand to entrust some of His precious children to us for a time.

It turns out, I've learned I had this entire thing backward the whole time.

Dear ones, view whatever ministries God has called you to- easy, hard, good, bad, or ugly- as opportunities to step up in obedience and meet our Father's great expectations of you. It is no small thing to place you where He did with the treasured people and work He's entrusted you with.

You have your Father's great expectations upon you this day- be strong and courageous, be not discouraged!


Between God and Jonah- When Rowing to Shore is a Very Bad Idea

This summer at Camp Barnabas was chock-full of GodStuff, but none more pronounced than what God taught me through our daily devotionals. Camp did 4 days of devos over Jonah– one day for each chapter. Multiply that times 9 weeks of terms and I got a whole ‘lotta Jonah. You’d think for such a short book that I would have run out of material, but God had other plans. To see part 1 of this series, click here. Still in chapter 1, I hope you've had a chance to read through this very short chapter. If not, here's a quick link. Read it aloud to yourself. See what strikes you as you read it. I'll be right here...

Okay, so Jonah... or rather, as I did with the first #Jonahpost, I want to talk about the sailors again. Oh man, those poor sailors! I think they must have been rather perturbed to find themselves the innocent bystanders in the middle of this cosmic, supernatural show-down between God and Jonah. Except they weren't bystanders at all were they? They were smack-dab in the middle of a very real storm, with very wet rain, very huge waves, very blustery winds, on, as the NIV says, a "tempestuous" sea. Their lives were in danger in a very real way. And all because this crackpot Jonah decided to run away from God on their boat.

This mariner would be less than amused.

Yet how often do we find ourselves in the middle of a massive storm of someone else's making that suddenly becomes very much our business. The waves meant for them- blast us. The winds meant to blow them away- encircle us. The rain meant for them- saturates us. And before we know it, someone else's storm has become one that consumes our own lives.

Let's see how our mariners are doing.

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

The verse here that gets me every.single.time. is 13- despite having very clear instructions on how to obediently and swiftly exit stage left the sailors "INSTEAD... did their best to row back to land" (emphasis mine.) Whoa! Wait a minute. I'm confused. At what point did these poor saps think it was a good idea to get between God and Jonah? They had instructions. They knew what to do. And yet they took it upon themselves to save him. Suddenly the sailors decide that they have some weird responsibility to save Jonah from the wrath of God... and they actually try to fix his situation.

I would love to point fingers here, though I think that 4 others would be pointing back at me.

Haven't we all, even in the middle of someone else's storm, tried to row them to dry land? As dangerous a place as it is, we have chosen to insert ourselves into (what we consider) a solution to somebody else's issue with God. We boldly and recklessly stand between them and God Almighty thinking we have a better solution, a better way to shore, a better idea of how to fix the problem.

Arrogant much? And extremely costly- both in time and lesson.

It's time to throw our Jonah's overboard dear ones. As hard as it sounds, we have to remove ourselves from the supernatural battle (i.e. spiritual lesson) going on. Jonah's storm of disobedience does not give us permission to become his salvation (more on that in the next newsletter!)

Notice that the storm stopped ONLY once the sailors obeyed instructions- which involved throwing him into the sea. The storm affecting them so mightily came with Jonah and immediately left with him as well. I can only imagine the same effect can be had when we listen to God and obey His instructions to us about the Jonah's in our lives.

You may be asked to throw him overboard, you may be asked to row him to shore. But take care to listen and obey. So often these storms not of our doing involve our very intentional 'sacrificing of him to the seas' in order to be walking in our own obedience.

Search your lives dear ones and see if you're trying to row a Jonah to shore. It's a hard oar to hold, a dangerous position to be in. Inserting yourself between God and a Jonah is a very precarious position to be in.  Ask God for the courage and wisdom to throw him overboard if that's what's necessary.

Why running away is exactly what God wants you to do

My young sons were playing in the park the other day with my husband. They had spent the better part of the afternoon there and it was starting to get dark. Time to go home. We recently moved to a new neighborhood within walking distance of this particular park so my husband decided to see if the boys were familiar with their surroundings enough to find their way home. "Boys, it's time to go home. Our house is that way, " he said pointing broadly to the west.

Except our house is actually in the exact opposite direction...

Jonah, our 3 year old, looked at Gabe, saw his pointed finger, and took off running in the direction it was indicating yelling, "Okay daddy!" as he bounded off. The boy loves to run. It took Gabe by surprise how quickly he bolted away- without question and with fervor- such immediate obedience. Blindly and unquestioning, Jonah heard his father's instructions and obeyed them with gusto. He was 50 yards away before he heard Gabe hollering at him to stop and turn around! If only our oldest, Jesse (or as we call him, Little Napoleon, was so immediately and blindlessly obedient... he simply looked up at Gabe during the initial instructions and told him promptly that our house was in the other direction- the boy's got internal GPS! But I digress....)

I love that my kid listens to his daddy. I love that, despite 'incorrect' directions, he still obeyed what he wanted him to do. Even if it didn't make sense. Even if it went against what he knows to be true.

If only we as Christians would obey our Father in heaven so immediately and blindly!

Even when He gives us 'incorrect' directions...

Scripture tells us over and over to have faith like a child. Abram had it despite God commanding him to sacrifice his son. Moses did it when God told him to meet with Pharoah while doing and saying some pretty crazy things. Joshua obeyed when he was told to simply march around the walls of Jericho. The Bible is littered with examples of obedience in the face of seemingly insane instructions.

I am constantly convicted of how little my own faith looks like a child's and how hard it is for me to achieve such faith! It shouldn't be so tough and yet it is! My head, logic, reason, and foolishness get in the way much too often for me to ever claim to have faith like a child. It is a sad state of affairs when my 3 year old shows more obedience and pursuit of instructions from his father than I do of my heavenly Father. Oh to run away with such immediate vigor in the direction God tells me to; without hesitation, without argument, without questioning the reasoning- even when the instructions seem to make no sense at all!

As a mom, it frustrates me to no end when my littles question me or delay their obedience. In fact it often infuriates me! I desperately want them to listen and obey. We have a song in our house about obedience- "When we obey we do it right away, we do it all the way, and with a happy heart." Gabe and I instituted it several years ago for the kids, but dadgum! does God not use it almost daily to convict me of my own obedience to Him! Funny how He works like that... and how often my behavior must frustrate Him (thank God for grace!! Amen?)

I want to be like my Jonah- who listens and obeys his father immediately, with excitement, as fast as his little legs can carry him; without thought or argument, without reasoning or suggesting a better direction.

So today, dear one, I challenge you to pursue running away with as much gusto and faith as you can muster. Look to where God is pointing His finger and GO!

Will you obey right away, all the way, and with a happy heart?

RUN AWAY TODAY

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my heart today. Please comment below with thoughts and ruminations of where your walk is today. Please share and follow if this blesses you!