God Is Good

I just read a blog by Valerie Young called “You Can’t Change Your Life Course Without Thanksgiving.” It made a great point about how we need to be thankful for what we have right now, even if we’re not exactly where we’d like to be.

That’s a tall order sometimes, isn’t it? I know it is for me. When I want a change, I want it to happen right away. And if it doesn’t, I can feel the frustration and discontentment start to stir up inside. The danger is that I’ll follow my feelings and try to make things happen myself. I can quickly end up out of God’s timing, and into a mess of my own making!

I know there’s a better way, and it involves me submitting my will to His. It’s a decision to believe that God’s plan is right for me, and to trust in His methods. And while I wait to move ahead, I need to have an attitude of gratitude about where I am.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good…            Psalm 136:1

No praise item is too small to mention. Sometimes I start with the most basic of gifts, like breathing. The mere act of lifting thanks up to God, whatever it’s for, is a blessing. I always end up feeling lighter and more at peace with my circumstances when I’m done.

Honestly, I pray for a lot of things to improve: physical healing for my RA symptoms, a healthier financial condition for our household, more clarity for my kids. And each of those are important to me. But instead of focusing totally on the future I hope for, I need to see what’s amazing about the present. To put it another way, God is good, all the time!

The Fidgets

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.” Psalm 116:7

I’m what you would call “fidgety” a lot. It may be partly due to being a Type A personality – I would rather be doing something than not. Or maybe it comes from being slightly compulsive. Whatever the reason, this trait is at best amusing, and at worst disruptive, occasionally both.

Just ask my husband how many times I’ve popped up from the dining room table during meals over the years. It’s like my body has been set on “alert” mode to take care of any needs or clear any dishes. This was kind of helpful when the kids were little, but not so much anymore.

The figets show themselves during conversations, while attending a concert or watching TV. Nothing big – just a kind of restless feeling. My brain joins in too, and reminds me of things I could be doing instead of sitting around. I’ve often wondered why I behave this way. Well, I’ve come up with all sorts of possible reasons – pent up energy, too much sugar, a mental tick. And true to a Type A, I have pushed to myself to change and “Just relax already!”

But God had a different plan to offer me, and this verse from Psalm 116 sums it up beautifully. His desire is for me to have rest and peace. Boy that sounds good, doesn’t it?

The second part of that passage says where this rest comes from. Instead of trying to take care of everything myself, I need to see how much God does for me. Slowing down to look at His blessings calms my body and spirit.

I still fight the fidgets for sure. But now instead of jumping up from the table every time, I take a deep breath and remember God’s got things covered.

The Value Of Changing My Mind

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be a NASCAR fan, I wouldn’t have believed it. The idea then of watching a bunch of cars run around an oval track over and over seemed anything but fun. Yet here I am, spending almost 3 hours following the latest race on TV. And my husband and I have had a great time travelling to a couple of races together.

There have been other things over the years that I’ve learned to like. White fish never appealed to me at all until mysomeone prepared a delicious halibut dinner for me. And I never thought mint would make a good wall color – then I saw it brightening the bedroom up.

So what brings on a new attitude about things I’ve dismissed before? I think it happens when I can associate a good experience and outcome with them. That gives them new value to me.

I’ve gone through a similar process with my quiet time disciplines. As a young Christian, I struggled with reading my Bible and praying. I’d learned that God called me to do both each day, but they felt rote and dull. I kept on instead of quitting, though, if only out of a desire to obey God.

Finally, a wonderful thing happened – the words I was reading started to make a positive difference. Applying the lessons to my own life brought changes for the better. And I began to treasure the moments I had connecting with God through prayer. Whatever else I change my mind about, these will stay.

Psalm 30:11 says “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me joy.” God gave me the strength to hang on until I saw the value for me of having quiet time. And now I’m can’t imagine life without it!

Facing Change

When faced with change, I become a foot-stomping toddler inside. Big or small, major crossroads or little bends, all of them bring the same words to my lips –

“I don’t wanna!”

Change scares me. It upends my carefully constructed SIMS world, where I know my children will be home by 8 pm and there are no problems larger than choosing which cookies to bake. This world by the way has only ever existed in my own mind, but I’ve always had a really good imagination.

Can you relate?

My aversion to change was cemented early on. Between my 11th and 13th birthdays, my parents separated and divorced, and our house in small-town Pennsylvania was sold, fragmenting my family into three parts. The breakup was a sidewinding tornado, tearing up my home and hurling us apart. When the dust settled, I was in Connecticut with my mom, suffering from emotional whiplash.

“I don’t wanna!” Can that be a life mantra? I tried to make it mine.

I am 52 now, and another twister is bearing down on the landscape. It wasn’t set off by divorce or a house for sale. This time it’s about kids growing up and away, and me having to adjust to new physical limitations brought on by disease.

But, change is change. So how can I quiet the toddler within?

I found this verse, Psalm 14:26, and it seemed written for me.

 

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,

and for his children it will be a refuge

I love the image of a fortress here: strong and stable. He will surround and protect us. And God promises to be that for me and my family. When I’m caught up in the whirlwinds of change, I can focus on the seeming chaos around me or on the one who never changes.

So what scriptures help you face change?