Just a few days ago I heard a quote from an author by the name Phillip Yancey. Since I heard it live, I didn’t get the chance to rewind it and make sure I got it all right so I could have some of the words wrong here, but the gist of it is this: “Good Friday and Easter have earned names on the church calendar. Yet in reality, we live on Saturday, the day in between with no named calendar spot. ‘Saturday’ is on a cosmic scale between the promise, fear and fulfillment. Can we trust that God can make something holy, beautiful and good out of a world of struggles? It’s perpetually Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come?”
I love that we are here together just two days after Easter as we begin our discussions on becoming more than good bible study girls in our struggles (Session 4 of the Bible study we are doing together!). It is particularly fitting, I think, because so many of us feel like we are living in a perpetual state of crises or struggles (minor or major) – sort of a “groundhog day” of Saturdays – waiting for Sunday to arrive.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to get caught up in the rut of living a Saturday existence – this land between the pain and the promise. The pain of the “Friday” can become somewhat dulled by today’s issues, and our hope for “Sunday’s” miracle may feel a little unreal or too far off to cling to in this moment.
Have you ever been caught in a Saturday rut? A day, or season, when you cannot seem to shake heaviness and irritation of daily struggles, (large or small)? A time when it feels like God’s favor has passed right over you and instead of hope, has left you with hurt feelings, a heavy heart, and feeling abandoned?
I have. I remember a day last year when I really felt like God hurt my feelings. So, in my misguided and ignorant frustrations, I told Him off.
It wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, as I’m sure you can imagine. I should’ve known better because any of the other times I’ve tried that, it sure never worked out in my favor. But, being human and all, I fell for Satan’s trap of believing that if God were really a loving and good God, He wouldn’t let bad things happen to me.
I’d had a particularly bad day. A boy at school made fun of my daughter and my momma bear claws were showing. I was behind in my work – both ministry-wise and at home. I had a bill that I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay. I had a Lupus fever and a rash that made me look like I was badly sunburned across my face. The kitchen was a mess and there was nothing in the fridge for dinner. I couldn’t find my wedding ring. My dog had hot spots that were bleeding and he wouldn’t stop scratching them. He was a mess. I was a mess. And so, I started to pray.
Well, that isn’t exactly the truth. I started talking to God; that much is true. But I was treating Him more like my administrative assistant than the all-knowing, ever-loving Father that He is. Here is what my “prayer” sounded like:
“Okay Lord. Here’s the scoop. I’m gonna need you to smack that boy upside his head for treating Ella in that way. I hope you find someone to treat him just like he treated Ella so he knows just how bad it makes someone feel. Oh, and when I head out to the mailbox, I’d love to find a surprise check in there for a few hundred bucks to help me pay the bills. And now that I’m thinking about it, if you really loved me, you’d never have allowed Lupus to take root in my body! Why would you do that to me? Just get rid of it, already! Don’t you know what you are doing?”
And on and on I went, telling God how to do His job, and telling Him why I thought He had done it so badly that day. I mean, He really hurt my feelings by not making life easy for me. I’m a good person. People like me. Why didn’t He? I deserved a charmed existence, right?!
Needless to say, the rest of my day didn’t exactly get better. My mood and my feelings got in the way of everything I was trying to do, and I blamed God for each thing that went wrong, including the woman who took my parking spot at the grocery store. I was so mad (and I am TOTALLY not proud of ANY of this), I even went so far as to make a comment on her physical appearance.
That must have been the straw that broke the His back because, at that moment, I felt like God took my hand and said, “Wendie, stop; that is enough. I made her, just in the same way I made you. She is beautiful to me. So are you. I also made that boy you wish ill of, and there are things going on in his world that you do not know that made him lash out at Ella. He is precious to me. So is Ella. I want you to know that I grieve with you that you suffer the effects of Lupus. But you have no idea what I have protected you from thus far and from what I things I will continue to protect you. I am always with you. I made you. And I love you. And I will always have your best interests at heart. You have no ground in criticizing me. It will do you no good and only make matters worse for you. ”
Convicted by mercy and humbled in grace, I went home and grabbed my Bible, searching the concordance for scripture on God’s love. The first verse to catch my eye was this:
But who indeed are you–a mere human being–to talk back to God? Does what is molded say to the molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Romans 9:20, NET
What a loving and MERCIFUL God we have that He would overlook my selfish, human tendency to blame Him for my faults and replace it with Truth. I wish it was always easy in our struggles to just remember THAT, instead of turning our honest need for His loving support into blame and anger.
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8, NIV.
God literally created a spiritual 180 in me, taking me from a “Saturday” of utter irritation and anger and pointing me straight to a “Sunday” of renewal, hope, and forgiveness.
I wrote down those words that I I felt Him speak to my heart – the words I wrote above. I sat with them for a little while and realized the power in what He had done.
After He stopped my whirling dervish-ness of complaining right in its tracks (“Wendie, that is enough”), He reminded me of who He is and who I am in Him. (“I created you…you are beautiful.”)
Second, He reminded me to turn my thinking over to Him (“You have no idea what I have protected you from</em>…”).
Third, He spoke my favorite Truth directly to me to remind me of His power. (“I am always with you.”)
Fourth, He drove me to stop in my tracks to thank Him for His amazing love and mercy – even in the middle of my temper tantrum. (“THANK YOU GOD that you love me no matter what I do.”)
And finally, He told me that His way is a better one than mine. (“It will do you no good, and only make matters worse for you.”)
What an amazing God we serve, indeed.
He provided me the blueprint for a very doable and applicable plan for those times when I am so very tempted to blame God (and/or others) for our own shortcomings, our struggles, and our mistakes; a workable plan to redirect my thinking. A plan that brings God into the very eye of the storm with clarity and assurance. And a plan I started to learn to incorporate into my life.
Later this week, I’ll go in depth into each of these five, practical steps here on the blog and show you how having a plan in place before struggles begin can help. For today though, just start by asking God to begin breaking down the walls you have built up onto yourself and try letting God mold you instead.
After Michelangelo completed his famous David statue, he was asked how he made it so lifelike and beautiful. Purportedly, his simple response was, “I just chiseled away everything that wasn’t David.” I love that. This week, keep that in the forefront of your mind, and…Let God Chisel!