How do I decide if something is really a mistake?
Life is really hard right now, and that’s okay. Really hard is a good place to be sometimes. I won’t tell you to learn to be happy about yours, because that never helps. I will tell you a bit of what God is showing Beth and me.
Tonight I felt like I should go outside and pray, so I did. That’s normal. Then it got not normal.
Side note: I hear God’s voice, and understanding that God still speaks is crucial to this story and ultimately to how we are to live. If that’s confusing, angering or interesting email me or give me a call. I’d love to talk about it. If it’s completely boring to you, you should stop reading this and take a nap or maybe take up sculpting.
Now let’s get back to the story. As I stepped onto the front porch God told me to walk around my yard. You might be imagining a big Texas sized yard where you can walk for an hour or two and not see the same tree twice. If that were the case, taking a walk around your yard would make a lot of sense. I hope to have that wonderful possibility some day. Not yet. My yard including the earth under my house totals 75 feet by 120 feet and is sandwiched between a whole bunch of other 75 by 120 lots with houses. So my front yard is maybe 1500 square feet in total. For non math wizards that just means really small.
But God told me to walk the perimeter of my tiny front yard. At 10PM it felt really weird, but I did it anyway. Just as I was thinking I had just done something stupid I realized I was looking at the hose laying out in the grass but in the wrong location. It needed to be walked over to the sprinkler so that I could easily water the grass after Beth showered. I thanked God for being so smart, and then He showed me something amazing.
In the words of Smee from Hook, “I’ve just had an apostrophe… Lightning just struck my brain.” I looked at my car in which I’ve been disappointed at times. God told me that buying this car was not a mistake. I felt like I paid too much for it. It’s too small for adding more people to our family. It will not help in moving to New Hampshire. I’m not sure if it could pull a trailer–maybe not even a bike rack. The thing I have to remember is that God told me to buy it. He told me to go to Crown Kia on Troup Highway and showed me this car specifically. He told me to pay the amount that I did for it. As far as car purchases go it wasn’t a great deal, but that’s not what ultimately matters. Is it?
Then I looked up at my carport which is attached to my house. I’ve had the same feelings about it so many times. It costs a lot to have a house. This one was built in the 1950s and may or may not have some problems. It also happens to be situated around REALLY REALLY REALLY loud neighbors. Our paintings and windows are often vibrating to the sounds of cleverly spaced profanity. We initially wanted to move to have a quiet restful home. Tonight God told me that this house was not a mistake. When we were house hunting I put my hand on the door handle, and God clearly spoke to me that this was the house He had for us. He told me the exact dollar amount to pay for it, and the guy who never goes lower on his fair house prices went down to the exact amount God had told me. It wasn’t the best deal in Tyler. It wasn’t the most attractive house in Tyler. It is by no means in the most peaceful quiet neighborhood. But those things are not what ultimately matter. Are they?
What makes something a mistake? When can I say that a decision was a bad one? I’m sure there are tons of snappy answers to that question, but I’m not talking about choosing the wrong color tooth brush. I’m talking about those decisions that really matter.
The answer is this. A mistake would have been disobeying God. James 4:17 puts it like this, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James is talking about a person planning his own life, not murdering or thieving or even lying. A mistake would have been to buy a car that was a better deal after I had sought the Lord. A mistake would have been finding a better house in a quieter neighborhood for half the price which is very doable in Tyler, Texas. Tonight a stupid mistake would have been to find a more reasonable setting for a quiet prayer time with God than strolling through my tiny yard like a weirdo.
I’m living through a tough time right now, but you know what? I’m finally okay with it, because I’m right smack in the middle of the will of God for me. I’ve learned that sometimes the will of God hurts, but it’s good. It’s never a mistake.
Beth’s comment needed to be tacked on here so more people read it.
I absolutely love that poem, Robin. Thanks for sharing it. I’m going to print that out or write it down in my journal– it’s just so beautiful. And thanks everyone for your encouraging comments! Every Christian plows through this sort of thing at one time or another, some more often and some less, but it’s such a relatable and, I think, key aspect in our walk with Jesus. We can fight, kicking and screaming, the whole way and miss completely the whole point of whatever it is God wants to do through the situation and come out the other side a whiny mess and even more recoiled to every discomfort. But I think what impresses God and what He’s really after is when we embrace that hard whatever-it-is He’s orchestrating and really flow with it and just let go and allow Him to do a work in us that produces a good and real change. How do you want me to respond, God? What should my attitude look like? What fears are you trying to break in me? When we recognize what a cool and kind thing God is doing when He lets us undergo extreme pressure and strain, how it allows all that nasty, murky water rise to the surface so it’s easy to scoop out and clean, it’s EASY to thank God in the midst of hard times. I’d rather go through life uncomfortably, constantly retraining my mind and emotions, building endurance and producing an unbreakable and unshakable confidence in the character of Jesus Christ, who sees me through all things, than walk through life comfortably and ease into eternity having been impotent and unremarkable on earth. A good man once said something like this, “We have all of eternity to be happy. For now let’s be useful.”