Clearing Out Cobwebs and Curses


May we all be reminded today that WORDS MATTER…and learn to apply THE Word to every situation that doesn’t line up with it.

When I was about 19, a close family member (doesn’t matter which one) told me that I would never be able to do what I do in a big way because I was born without enough stamina. While it’s true that I have always tended to tire easily, I didn’t really recall again what that person had spoken (who loved me and meant well) over me until somewhat recently. And guess what? Sure enough, those words had stuck, thus far all my adult years. Whether in my subconscious or elsewhere else, an elder’s voice had unwittingly granted legitimacy to something negative, something that needed dealt with and not just accepted. It gave credence to a mentality that if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to succeed or to hold onto the accomplishments God’s gifts had enabled me to achieve…oh how many times I haven’t even bothered to try, because I could see the watermark where I could only rise so far and no more!  God didn’t vividly bring this When I was about 19, a close family member (doesn’t matter which one) told me that I would never be able to do what I do in a big way because I was born without enough stamina. While it’s true that I have always tended to tire easily, I didn’t really recall again what that person had spoken (who loved me and meant well) over me until somewhat recently. And guess what? Sure enough, those words had stuck, thus far all my adult years. Whether in my subconscious or elsewhere else, an elder’s voice had unwittingly granted legitimacy to something negative, something that needed dealt with and not just accepted. It gave me a mentality that if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to succeed or to hold onto the accomplishments God’s gifts had enabled me to achieve. There has been this watermark in my life where I would only succeed to a point and then would never rise any higher.  Many times I would see that fail point and scared me away from trying again.  But!  God didn’t vividly bring this to my remembrance to hurt my feelings, He brought it to light so that I could do something about it in the Spirit realm! How merciful!

Now I am determined to slough off that declaration and make a declaration of my own: I am an overcomer, I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and I will be–nope, I AM, right now–able to do what I do in a BIG way! I am breaking off that curse and I am getting strong for the next leg of my journey, to the glory of God. In Jesus’ name, I will not sit on the sideline wandering what might have been if I’d only had more in the tank! Not blaming that person here, I’m getting free from some sneaky little hidden things that are being swept out…and hopefully encouraging you to sweep some things out of your own closet.

Has someone spoke into existence a negative thing over your life, even out of ignorance? It is time to neutralize the sting of words and the consequences he or she may have set in motion. Begin now to search the Scriptures for what GOD says you are, what you can do, who you can be. Philippians 4:13 says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. By HIS strength, I rise above my own limitations, and SO CAN YOU. Stop repeating what others have done to you or said about you and look UP to your real Source. Beginning today, that’s not who you are anymore. Don’t give the devil the satisfaction of hearing you talk and talk about your past…because that tells him he has succeeded in scarring you!   It is important–very important–that you cancel out what THEY said by uttering aloud, with your own voice, what GOD says about you! What they said, what they did? Doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on where God is taking you. And when you set your mind to it, do what you’re doing not to prove them wrong, but to prove Him RIGHT! #callthosethings

Guilt-Zilla: No More Sequels

claw.jpgTHEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1 | AMP)

One of the hardest revelations about my shortcomings has the potential to become one of my greatest victory testimonies, if I can succeed in letting it shape me into a better person!  The Lord revealed to me, on what was pretty-much a sleepless night, that one of the biggest taskmasters and tormentors I have is Guilt…and that He wants me to do something about it.  This big Guilt-Zilla monster has chased most of the other motivators off the block and kept me all to its gnarly, ugly, hellish self.  I’m just being transparent with you, friends…allowing you to see the very human side of me that occasionally needs an attitude adjustment!  All of us are in desperate need of God’s grace.

So, why on earth, you may ask, are you plagued by guilt, Lisa? I feel guilty because:

  • I work all the time and have provided for myself a virtually nonexistent family life.
  • When I actually am working, I get interrupted countless times and then I sit there in a daze trying to get my concentration back; therefore time is wasted and I then feel like a bad employee.  I have less to show for my work than I believe I should.
  • I need to spend more time in God’s presence than I do on His payroll.  The to-do list isn’t getting me any closer to Him and it therefore keeps getting bigger and more out of balance.  I’m sorry, Papa.  You and I both know there are days when I’m running on fumes and You’re not the one to blame.
  • I get zero exercise and very little recreation, which means I’m not a good steward of my body; but when I’m out walking or taking a break or doing something I enjoy, I worry that people think I’m wasting time when I should be working.  Two-sided guilt. Ouch.
  • I am in considerable need of weight loss which means I need to move more and worry about what other people think a whole lot less.  I know I’m cheating myself and my husband by not taking responsibility for my body.  So yeah, guilty.
  • I find myself bitter and resentful that the only time I truly have to myself is when I’m asleep; so I dread checking answering machines and emails because I know there’s stuff in there that will further cut into time I don’t have.  I also resent the worry that robs me of said only time I have to myself–my sleep.
  • My house stays a mess; and without a plan to keep it from getting that way, it isn’t going to change.  Even though I work long hours, I feel I should be more on top of this and therefore–you guessed it–guilty.
  • I have done a less-than stellar job of managing my own finances.  Someone with an IQ of 137 should be debt-free with a sizable chunk in savings. Someone with that IQ should also have more to show for her accomplishments than a year and a half of college education.  Achievement quotient:  not impressive.  Guilty.
  • I never feel as if I’ve done enough.  I can’t please everybody.  I can’t please myself and I wonder sometimes if I’m actually pleasing God or if I’m just trying to appease the guilt monster within.
  • I am burned out, and in this moment I want with all my heart to disconnect from my job, the ministry, and life in general.  I am empty and so dissatisfied with my messy, substandard life.  I am the poster child of imbalance and I feel guilty about that too.

Ok, so I have been painfully transparent with you.  I have been drowning in a sea of my own making, held under the water by Guilt-Zilla and allowed to surface every few seconds to take a deep, desperate gasp of breath.

So am I a hypocrite and a fraud?  No, not really.  I’m just in a state of chaos and in need of the grace of my Savior.  My greatest sin in all of this is allowing that little pet tadpole of guilt to grow and take over my life, until he is bigger even that my dreams.

So today Lord, I crawl up into Your lap and humbly ask You to take me through a Romans 8:1 refresher course.  Matter of fact, erase what I actually think I know and start from scratch. I need You to show me how to put Guilt-Zilla out of my misery.

  • Help me to find room for both career and family, where I don’t feel like either is trespassing on the other.  I need some safe compartments and boundaries.
  • Help me multitask less and focus more.  The guilt monster has very little to feed on when I am doing whatever I’m doing (one thing at a time) with my whole heart and not on autopilot.
  • Help me to draw some realistic separation between working for Your church and really having relationship with You.  I keep forgetting that You don’t expect me to be on the clock 7 days a week just to prove that I love You.  You’d rather we just hang out together, job or no job.
  • Help me to regain control in the area of personal discipline, and to actually value the body You gave me.  Help me do more than just think about taking care of myself; I need to go there in more than just my wishes.  Help me to make better food choices and to get to whatever weight You know is my healthiest.
  • Help me to be a better steward of my house and my finances, so that the Proverbs 31 Woman doesn’t look like a lady I really despise for all her efficiency and um-attainability.
  • Help me to find some quality time beyond a few hours’ sleep each night.  Sleep shouldn’t count as my “me time.” You wired me to be a deep thinker and I need silence to do that.  Help me also to have time to be creative.  Help me to find a little fun too.  I don’t have much of that these days,  not like I should.  Help me to stop “working even when I’m not working.”  Help me to add the word NO to my vocabulary.
  • Help me to just get back to enjoying Your presence.  I’ve been Martha so long and I really miss getting to be Mary.  I’m way too careful and troubled about many things; help me to choose the better part that won’t be taken away from me.
  • Help me to feel a separation from what I’m not involved in at the moment, so that all my responsibilities have their own respective places.  I want to feel once more as if my job, my family, my ministry, and the people around me are truly gifts and not one more straw on the camel’s back.  Teach me to decompress by meditation in Your Word.
  • Help me to actually like being me again.
  • Help me to put You—just You—first in my life again, and help me find somewhere appropriate on the list for me, too.  I feel lost in the shuffle.
  • Help me to know when I’ve worked, served, given enough for one day, and to be at peace with enough being enough.

It’s a lot to ask, Father, but I believe You can help me to make sure that the Guilt-Zilla movie has no more sequels.  I know it’s time to deal, and if You’ll help me, I know I can reclaim my peace!  I ask all this in Jesus’ name…

Healing: Miracle for All Ages

Age hourglass As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now for war, both to go out and to come in.” (Caleb, at age 85 – as recorded in the book of Joshua, Chapter 14)

As many of you wait for healing to manifest in your bodies, let me dispel a myth that the enemy may be trying to circulate in your reasoning. God doesn’t grant healing based on age; healing was purchased in the Atonement, and manifests in our bodies as we exercise faith to receive it. Period. God is not like our modern healthcare system–not even a government-run healthcare system! “The system” would say that you don’t deserve a new liver because you were an alcoholic. They would say that based on your age, it’s not feasible to do heart surgery or give you a transplant. At your age, cancer treatment is beyond the acceptable practice; or dementia and clogged arteries and failing kidneys are to be accepted. You need to just accept that you are approaching end-of-life and that you aren’t as worth saving as, say, a 20-year old.

Don’t be upset with them…they’re mere humans. They are working with limited know-how, resources, and only so much money. They also have some among them who are also motivated by greed; maybe even a few who would like to play God…but not all. They operate in the carnal, natural realm. They’re good; they do a whole lot of good in their element, but their scope is limited.

But! When you approach God’s throne of grace to obtain help (and health) in your time of need, God is under no such restrictions. He will hear and answer prayer whether you have 50 more years to live or 50 more hours. When you have been satisfied with your number of days, you can transition out of a healed body into eternity instead of allowing the enemy to chisel you away to nothing.  Wouldn’t it be something to pass from a healthy body whose organs were viable enough to donate to the next recipient?  Think about that!

If no one’s ever reinforced that with you, then hear it now! It’s a real game-changer! God will continue to invest in you when you’re 95 just like He did when you were 15, because it’s impossible to waste what comes from an infinite supply. There’s not “only so much” healing to go around. And you–yes, YOU–have the same grace to walk in it as someone younger, more productive, more socially upright, and better-insured!  Don’t bow your head in shame and say, “I don’t feel right asking for healing when others are so much worse off than I am.”  Ask for yourself AND for them too!

When as an “old man” receiving the commission to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, Moses presented his terrible stuttering (and the self-conscious shyness resulting from it) to God as the reason why he wasn’t an ideal candidate. The Lord cooled his jets really quick by asking, “Did I not make men’s mouths?” The same God Who makes men’s mouths just so happens to also unclog arteries, restore sight and hearing, quicken damaged limbs, dry up cancers, and repair a diabetes-ravaged pancreas! He’s perfected making something out of nothing, and He doesn’t have to wait for someone to die to give you a transplant…wait, Jesus already did that!

Don’t listen to wicked spirits who would taunt you and say, as Job’s wife did, “Why don’t you just curse God, die, and accept it!” Rather, why not approach God’s presence today, having cleared your heart of doubt, unforgiveness, secret sins, and all hindrances…and present a claim ticket for that healing which is already been provided for you. God will not make you fill out any forms, put you on a waiting list, or ask you any health-related questions. He will not grant your request based on a limited pool of resources. Your answer is only restricted by how much you are willing to ask and believe for–so do exactly what the Word says you can do. Approach His throne boldly! Walk in your full potential, in Jesus’ name!

The Cheerfulness of Obedient, Smart Giving

basketWe have an abundance of “smart” electronics these days, don’t we?  Smart phones.  Smart cars.  They weren’t designed to keep us from having to actually be smart, though!  I’m talking today about giving, and how we can give intelligently by giving OBEDIENTLY.

There’s really a difference, you know.  The difference is the fruit that is borne from the seed we sow. Generosity is a noble and wonderful trait (the Bible says for us to be givers!) when it works in tandem with obedience to God.  We should indeed be cheerful and liberal givers; but it’s doubly important that we listen for God’s instructions, because foolish generosity is, well, FOOLISH. The whole of that text says this (I love the Voice Translation of 2 Cor. 9:7): Giving grows out of the heart—otherwise, you’ve reluctantly grumbled “yes” because you felt you had to or because you couldn’t say “no,” but this isn’t the way God wants it. For we know that “God loves a cheerful giver.” When our giving is God-directed, it is smart giving; obedient giving which isn’t given for ulterior motives, or given out of guilt or compulsion or a need to just feel good!

A generous parent, for instance, can harm his or her child through excessive giving not tempered by wisdom.  Would you give your child candy for breakfast just because he or she wants it?  Of course not!  But would you breed a materialistic appetite in your child by enabling him or her to get every single thing the child wants, just for the asking?  Do you operate in fear of not being your child’s friend, when in reality, your child needs you to set boundaries, to say no once in a while?  Following God’s direction will keep perfect balance instead of making the child entitled, spoiled, selfish, wasteful.  You can actually TEACH your child by anointed example as you give wisely.  This applies in every area of our lives, not just parenting!  Sometimes we have to say no to ourselves!  I know I sure do!  Read on.

Remember the song, “What a Friend We Have In Jesus?”  Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer…

That familiar verse perfectly sums up our lives when we don’t listen for His voice!  Yes, it’s true.  We’ve gotten used to just asking for things…perhaps we need to return to asking for Him to reveal His will in decisions we are facing.  It even applies to our giving of our time, talent, and treasure. I know all too well what it’s like to give just because it feels good.  The importance however goes beyond my flesh feeling good, and therefore, my motivation must have a higher purpose than gratifying my flesh!

How can one be a selfish giver, you might ask…sounds like an oxymoron!  It’s taken and is still taking time and experience, and also a deeper knowledge of my Lord through intimate relationship, to know that responsibility accompanies our ability to say yes.  My ability to say NO has in times past gotten me into trouble.  Hey Lisa, can you join this club?  Can you go here and do that and can you be available at all hours for anything anyone asks?  Oh yeah…I’ve been so bogged down with to-do’s which I agreed to in order to be a people pleaser.  Then, exhausted, I would find myself bitter at having no downtime, or nothing at all left.  Often, I’ve had not one piece of fruit to show for it, because I didn’t have the courage to say, “I’ll get back to you…I really need to talk to God before I commit to this!”

Well, go back to the passage in the Bible where Saul took the spoils of war after God had specifically told him not to…and then he tried to appease God by sacrificing some of the livestock on altars to justify his disobedience of a direct order!  Talk about insulting God’s omniscience!  The Scriptures tell us that obedience is better than sacrifice.  Saul’s disobedience would eventually cost him his kingdom…even his descendants would suffer consequences because of his foolishness.  We ourselves can undo all the good of our generosity whenever we sidestep what God has already instructed.  Why would we not take the counsel of the One Who actually KNOWS the outcome?  When we have His voice, we already have the inside track to what is going to be a blessing, be blessed, and bear fruit!

Bear in mind, He will sometimes direct us to give when it DOESN’T have that euphoric, how-wonderful-it-feels effect!  Can we respond when there’s a need in our own life?  Can we be as the widow who cooks her last meal for the prophet before there’s evidence we will have enough for ourselves? Don’t stop being generous, for heaven’s sake…but lay your heart and your feelings on the altar and allow Him to direct you to good ground.  Even good ground can’t produce its best yield if you cram the seeds too closely together!  Give your acts of kindness the best chance for a harvest by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  Instead of it just being said that you’d give someone the shirt off your back, let it be said that you heard from God and responded with the right thing at the right time!

“In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”  Proverbs 3:6 (AMP)

Displaced Horsepower

cart-horse“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33 AMP)

My devotional today is about timing, right priorities, and obedience. How many times do we get ourselves into trouble by short-cutting the process of our various aspects of living? I could list some of mine, but you’d get tired of reading about ¼ of the way through. I’d venture to say that a huge proportion of the troubles in our world have to do with lack of balance, impatience, and rebellion! The speeding ticket. The unsurmountable credit card debt. The impulse buy. The whirlwind relationship. Keeping up with the Joneses. The need for power. The addiction for material things. The uncontrolled temper. Selfishness. Am I coming anywhere close to your challenges?

We will never be put to shame if we follow God’s recipe for living. With Him at the top of our priorities pyramid, we will live within the healthy parameters of our bodies, souls, and spirits. His Scriptural instructions to us aren’t meant just to keep us under His thumbnail; as the Master Designer of all things, God already knows the boundaries of each created being. He has seen every scenario before it has had time to play out. He knows the point of failure, but He also knows the point of profound success! He knows exactly how to get you to the place of joy, peace, and overflowing blessing…and He is thrilled to share that information with you if you will hear Him and obey. Are you listening and following; or, have you crowded Him out and turned the volume up on other affections so that His voice is lost in all the drama and disarray you’ve allowed into your personal space?

Kids love “cheat instructions” on video games, but we are not kids. God’s plan isn’t to cheat us around the pathway to becoming the best version of ourselves; however, obedience to His will and His Word will feel like a shortcut compared to the harrowing, long detour we have to take when we follow our own inclinations and inevitably fail. Think of various places in the Bible where it was said a variation of, “And everyone did whatever he or she wanted.” Instead of us becoming more successful, more healthy, more benevolent, humankind becomes increasingly depraved. That expression, “follow your heart?” Don’t trust your heart! It will LIE to you! Rebellion against God’s proper order and timing can even cause something which is not created to be a sin to become a sin, such as sex outside the right boundaries of marriage.

I challenge you to sit and take an honest assessment of your life, as I am doing of mine. Are you piled high with regrettable decisions and utter chaos? It’s a good indicator that you’ve followed any and everything your flesh has suggested to you. King Solomon, so full of wisdom and yet so full of fleshly longings, ran the gamut of every pleasure and every pursuit. He denied himself nothing because he had the means to acquire whatever he wanted. Gushing with excess and finding nothing but emptiness after each new toy, trinket, project, investment, and relationship, he finally concluded in hindsight—as an older man—that to fear God and to keep His commandments is our entire reason for existence. In Ecclesiastes we see that the wise man gave himself over to backslidings in the “middle” of his life and, only after enduring sin’s consequence, concluded that the right way IS the right way.  Imagine what he could have achieved if he’d chosen to remain obedient to God?  How much peace and prosperity would his nation have enjoyed had he not compromised what he knew to be true?  Instead of co-existing with utter darkness, he could’ve spared generations and generations of his posterity from the curse of idolatry.  I don’t doubt that old man Solomon looked back with regret for the wasted years…

What causes us to feel so entitled about “having it all?” We can’t do it! We just can’t. If we GET it all, we may find ourselves emptier than ever; and like a horse pushing a buggy, realize that we have been doing everything the hard way. We want so badly to be recognized for all our hard work, our ambitions, our success, our education, our wealth, that we forget it really isn’t ours at all! Not in the sense of eternity. All that labor, that striving to get what we want in life, left behind as our spirit departs either to an eternal reward or eternal suffering.   And yes, even believers in Christ can have very, very out-of-balance lives. We can still make it to heaven when we die, but what goes with us? Are there others we’ve helped to follow God and to have rich relationship with Him, or will we cross over the threshold having never influenced the lost or shared the good news?

Remember this: when you put your life in its proper priority, you share in God’s perfect alignment of circumstances. You carry His favor into your everyday life. You exhibit His nature, and your relationships will thrive. You will rest from your labor and He will bring to pass whatever you couldn’t achieve through years and years of chasing your own rainbows. If you are all about others knowing how hard you worked to get where you are, that will be your only real reward: bragging rights. If you freely acknowledge that God has enabled you to become that champion, you will see a miraculous change in proportion to your obedience to Him! You will gain recognition or promotion or talent that you did not earn! I’ve seen it time and again in my own life…underachiever by many folks’ standards, but God has given me abilities that I didn’t have to practice to gain, didn’t go to school to learn, didn’t run in the “right circles” of influence to receive.  And yes, I am still having to choose daily to follow His lead instead of my own thing.

Put Him first today. Whatever you have to set aside in order to begin and end your day in His presence, do it. Talking to Him will set the course for the rest of those upcoming moments of your life. Listening to Him will keep you from wasted efforts, failed relationships, and forfeited opportunities. Obeying Him will put the cart where it’s logically designed to be positioned—BEHIND the horse!

“Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3 AMP)

The Maker’s Mark

2111280As I sat in the living room floor wrapping Christmas packages, I noticed that every few inches or so of this big roll of economy wrapping paper was imprinted with copyright information and the year.  Now, I paid all of three dollars for this roll of paper, so it amused me that somewhere in the Library of Congress records, this roll of disposable (and not particularly fancy, I might add) paper has a registered copyright that says no other human being has a right to claim credit for the design except its creator.  And my rabbit-trailing imagination pondered how many government employees, vast computer networks, and file cabinets are responsible for cataloging and keeping track of the billions and billions of items registered just like this one.  Why, even the roll of adhesive name tags was imprinted with little © symbols on each one!

I can appreciate the beauty of the copyright.  For the professional who relies on copyrighted works to make a living, I must concede that it’s a good thing not to have one’s hard work lost to someone’s thievery.  A few years back, being merely an amateur freelancer trying to break into the world of works for hire, I guarded my first few songs and compositions like a lioness with her cubs.  I dared not unveil my latest masterpiece until, months and months after I’d duly completed the paperwork and mailed in my fee, I would receive the documentation with the official seal on it that certified this creation was mine and all mine.  Over time, however, when the publisher was unable to find an artist to record my first “big” song, and my editorials had to be non-gratis just to make their way to the public eye, I came to value that seal of authentication less and less.  Now, I’m pretty much happy just to see my works not go to waste…and I’d probably be more flattered than angry if one of my works were plagiarized!  Ha!

We are so taught to prize affirmation in this society, to be credited with every accomplishment, to have a “like” for every random thought we post.  We crave it.  We feel we need it.  We dare not share our glory with another, and Heaven forbid that it might be said someone else thought of our idea first.  We have a figurative hope chest filled with all the things we pull out, on occasion, to remind ourselves that we made our mark and that we matter to the world.

And yet…as I ponder eternity and the Christmas message, the little “c” in a circle gets smaller and smaller, until it’s an unrecognizable speck on the page.  Truly, the only One who has a bona fide claim to ownership rights is our Creator.  A loving Father, Who sends His Son to earth to pay an ultimate price to redeem fallen mankind; a Creator Who has every right to demand what’s His, and yet He installs in each individual masterpiece something unheard of—free will.

I think, as well, of the given Son, Who lays down His claim to rights and privileges when He leaves a throne to don a rabbi’s shawl and some well-worn sandals.  He forfeits, for 33 ½ years, immunity from suffering, sickness, and mortality.  For that span of time, He permits mankind to do their worst to Him—and they do.

So today, as I give this copyrighted wrapping paper its one and only moment of glory in the spotlight before being bagged up and discarded, I will never know the person who designed the white snowflakes on a red background and then filed paperwork to see that no one else gets to duplicate his or her work.  I will, however, give praise and worship to the Creator Who made me and then gave me a choice to serve Him—or not.  I recognize that I truly am not my own; I am bought with a price.  I will give Him glory and due recognition for the hard work and investment of love He has made in me, and I will wear His insignia—His copyright symbol—with great gratitude and pleasure.  It’s my prayer that you will, too.

“He put his mark on us to show that we are his, and he put his Spirit in our hearts to be a guarantee for all he has promised.” (2 Corinthians 1:22 NCV)

©2012 Lisa Crum

Palace to Pig Pen…and Back (God’s Will Versus Our Will)

…”There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.  Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”  Luke 15:11-13 NIV

We know the whole story—a son wastes his father’s best, and then in a state of desperation, comes home, only to find forgiveness instead of a flogging.  We stand in judgment of him, like the other sibling who was so appalled that Dad wouldn’t at least make him grovel a little.  What our sanctimonious selves don’t realize, however, is that there are times when, instead of the good, obedient brother’s reflection, the person who’s actually staring back at us in the mirror has slop around his mouth and corn husks matted in his muddy hair.  We’re just like that prodigal in so many ways, aren’t we?

I sometimes tell folks, “I’m convinced that the good Lord has a whole lot more sense than I have;” and though it’s my humorous way of saying His ways are much higher than mine, it’s still just the stark truth.   I’ve come to know this, and occasionally have to re-learn it, from years of making foolish choices on my own before finally repenting and handing the reins back to an all-knowing, all-wise God.

When did the prodigal son actually get in trouble?  Was it in the gambling house?  The bar?  The brothel?  The pig pen?  No, it began when he went to his father and said, “I want it all.  Right now.  No strings attached, no one telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with it.” The inheritance was to be his eventually anyway.   However, his burning desire to have his own way—without any authoritative counsel—almost guaranteed this boy wouldn’t like the outcome of his imprudent request. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you ask for…”

God has a plan already in place for us; it’s His very best, and His perfect will for our lives is carved out of pure love and infinite goodness.  My pastor, who teaches frequently on eternity, reminds us that God’s order is sequential, not cyclical.  It is nothing like man’s “spinning wheel…what goes up must come down” philosophy. Our lives are a tiny speck on God’s eternal timeline; yet we so value our speck and make everything all about us, about our one short life.  Something in the base, carnal human nature—that “thing” in us present since the fall of Adam—feels cheated when we can’t be instantly gratified, when we can’t call the shots.  The backslider in heart takes the blessings of God with him and sets out to do it all his own way.  Worst possible choice with the worst possible outcome.

I’ve asked God amiss many times over the years, and in the times He actually said “yes” to a foolish request, I’ve had to live with those things I was so determined to have. How much happier, how much freer, how much less stressed, regretful, bitter, angry, confused we might be if we would just pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…” If we could only grasp and retain the knowledge in our minds that He really does have our best interests at heart even when His answer is not our answer.

You’re getting ready to suffer some whopper consequences if you’re asking for—or planning to do on your own—something of which you can’t honestly say to God, “Your will be done in my situation. If you don’t want this for me, I don’t want this for me.” When you can’t surrender a particular affection, desire, or thing to His will, you’ve skating dangerously close to committing idolatry AND are setting yourself up for some unhappy times to come.  It can be anything…a job offer, a sports contract, a record or movie deal, a home or car or some other material investment, a relationship. But, if you can’t offer it back to God and allow Him to decide if it’s right for you, you may be entering into a decision where much, much regret will follow.  You’ll despise the prize.

The enemy’s always tried to paint this picture—beginning with Eve in the garden—that God just dangles good things in front of us and says we can’t have them. What God actually does, however, is sets boundaries for us and yet allows us the freedom to choose…only with consequences when we step outside the protective canopy of His will.  The good news is, there is redemption for those of us who shake ourselves and realize that it’s time to go back home.  Our Father anxiously awaits the cry of repentance in His wandering children.  He’s not ready to dole out a beating, a bunk in the servants’ quarters, or a string of “I told you so’s.”  He just wants us to do right so that we can be His heirs.  He’s a Parent more loving than we can ever imagine, but does He mean business?  You’d better believe He does.  We may have to learn, over and over, the high cost of disobedience, but we serve a mighty good God.  He will make sure we get it right even if we have to learn the hard way.

Corrie Ten Boom once said something short but profound:  “Don’t wrestle.  Nestle.”  Put yourself at peace…whatever your circumstance, whatever your aspiration, your dream, your desire, put it in His hands and LET GO.  There’s nothing any more peaceful, more restful than turning loose of the struggle and committing your ways to His will.  He already knows how long you’re going to live, so His itinerary includes a fulfilled destiny in the time you’re allotted…if you’re willing to trust Him.

His palace sure smells better than your pad on Pig Pen Lane, too, in case you’re wondering.  Just saying…

©2012  Lisa Crum