Merriam-Webster defines faith as “belief and trust in and loyalty to God.” Now, as a Christian, I feel that I definitely have a strong belief in God. But, do I consistently demonstrate this faith by trusting that God has His hand in my day-to-day struggles and life situations?? Well… that may need a little work. I often get caught up in the normal ups and downs of my day, getting lost in the busyness. Even though my heart is usually in the right place, I often forget to slow down and think about God’s will and HIS overall plan. Just last year God taught me a valuable lesson about prayerfully letting HIM take the lead and having faith in His design and timing.
Not long ago I became aware of two young brothers that were in desperate need of beds. The thought of not having a bed to sleep on at night was just heartbreaking to me. I imagined them going to sleep each night on a hard floor and how impossible it would be to function and learn each day without being able to get a good-night’s sleep. I really wanted to help these boys each get a comfy bed of their very own. So I got to work! My friend Kim got in contact with the two boys’ family and asked if they would accept beds in the next few days if we could make arrangements. They happily agreed. I made many calls, reaching out to several contacts and was overjoyed with the results. Many generous people were willing to donate, shop, and help with delivery. Within just a few days our coordinated effort came to fruition and there were two brand new beds, box springs, and bed frames taking up every square inch of my office. In addition, brand new pillows, sheets, and comforters had been purchased and washed. Everything was ready to be set up in the boys’ bedroom and I was so excited to see their faces. That was when my project quickly fell apart…
I excitedly picked up the phone and called the boys’ mother to let her know that we needed to set up a time to deliver the new beds. For some reason, the mother now acted confused and said that they didn’t need beds anymore, but would take a TV instead. At that point I was speechless, not knowing how to even respond. My excitement turned to confusion and disappointment over the course of the conversation. I sat in my office and stared at all of the wonderful donations that surrounded me. How could I tell all the people that contributed that, “Oops, the boys don’t need beds after all!”??? I was embarrassed, frustrated, and upset.
Looking back, I should have stopped right there and prayed. Instead, I vented to a few friends and family members about the situation, asking for help in finding a quick solution. One that preferably did not include admitting to the people that worked so hard that my plan wasn’t going to happen. One friend suggested returning everything. All of the bedding was already washed, so that was not going to happen. Then my friend, Laurie, confidently said that there would be someone else that would be in need of these beds. FINALLY, I thought… I need to pray about this.
Over the course of the next two days I prayed that the beds would be put to good use. Boy did God answer in a big way! The following evening my small group at church volunteered at an after-school program near downtown St. Louis. As we were cleaning up at the end of the night, I felt led to ask one of the youth leaders at the church, Miss Penny, if she knew of anyone that could use beds. She immediately just stared at me, her eyes filling with tears. She finally answered by saying, “I can’t believe you just asked me that.” Miss Penny then proceeded to tell me that she met with parents just that afternoon who were really struggling. Their number one need at that time were beds for their two children who were currently sleeping on the floor. She had prayed just that afternoon for Jesus to provide the children with beds!! WOW!
Needless to say, the beds were put to good use with the family that had been part of God’s plan right from the start. What an example of God demonstrating His control of the situation all along! It just took surrendering to God’s plan and timing to see it unfold. Through this experience he guided me to the understanding that in doing His work, it is important that I have faith in God’s plan and let Him take the lead. In all my striving to “get the job done,” I lost sight of who is ultimately in control. God sees the big picture and in my excitement, my awareness of my limited vantage point was lost.
I find that in Ephesians 2 verse 10 (NIV), God’s word says
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Yes, I was created to do good works, but I am NOT self-sufficient. In Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) I also read that
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I realize that I am only human and as Rick Warren puts it in the book, What on Earth Am I Here For?,“If you want God to use you, you must know who God is and know who you are” (p. 271).
Through this experience, God taught me a powerful lesson about not only humbly surrendering to His plan, but also to go to Him FIRST in prayer when there is a bump in the road. I find that when problems arise, I often reach out to those around me instead of acknowledging my limitations and going to God for strength and wisdom. Applying this lesson, I now understand the importance of letting God work THROUGH me and not limiting His power by trying to be in-control and self-sufficient.