Thursday, January 24, 2008

Time to Change?

If you have been reading here for awhile, you know I am writing a book right now. It is a devotional for moms (Though, really, I believe the Truths in it are for everyone, and I would love for anyone to read it!) and though I took a break from writing for awhile, I am back at it now.
Over the past few days I have been thinking more about the format of the book and how I want to incorporate some "coaching" features. The thing I decided to do is include twenty-eight devotions so the book can be organized in four sections with a "Check Point" at the end of each week.
I am excited about these Check Points because I am going to use them as a conversation piece with the reader. My hope is for these conversations to be an opportunity for me to act as a mentor, sharing the ways God has been leading me, and encouraging the reader to seek Him more. As I write, I am praying for the women God knows will read this book, and I am asking Him to lead me to write what He wants to say to them.

The decision to include twenty-eight devotions meant I needed to cut a few out which I had already written. Since I do not want to "waste" these entries, I figured my blog would be the perfect place to publish them. So today I am sharing one of the entries that "didn't make it."
I pray God will speak to your heart through these words today!

Time to Change

For Matthew’s seventh birthday, his Grandma Hossink gave him a cowboy outfit – jeans, a long-sleeved denim shirt, a vest, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. Matthew loved playing dress-up in his cowboy outfit and I thought he was simply adorable in it. However, when he came downstairs dressed in his long pants and long sleeves on a day when I knew it was going to get into the upper 80’s, I suggested he might want to change his clothes. Matthew assured me he was quite comfortable in his present attire and had no intention of changing.
Mornings in the summer are sometimes rather cool and I understood Matthew was comfortable for the moment, so I dropped the subject. For the moment. As the morning wore on, though, I occasionally reminded him the temperature would be rising and he would surely be happier in shorts. Matthew continued to disregard my suggestions and told me he wanted to stay as he was. (This child can be very stubborn at times. I have no idea from whom he gets it!)
Sometime later, Matthew started running around the house acting like a cowboy on his horse. He was having a good time – running and hollering and kicking up lots of dust. All this activity caused him to work up quite a sweat and just as I was coming to tell him we needed to get in the van to pick up Joshua, he was coming to say, “You were right. I want to put shorts on.” Suddenly, the child who did not care to heed my advice earlier in the morning was insistent he must change his clothes now.
I looked at my little boy with sweat dripping down the side of his face and told him there just was not enough time for him to change his whole outfit. Honestly, I was not lacking in compassion for Matthew’s discomfort. The reality of the situation was, if I let Matthew completely disrobe and start over we would be late getting Joshua. We simply had to leave.
However, I knew we had enough time to get his shirt changed before we left and he would at least be a little more comfortable in a t-shirt. Matthew, on the other hand, did not think my idea was good enough. He yelled at me and flailed about as I tried to help unbutton his shirt. At that moment, I was so frustrated with this child I did not know what to do with myself. How many times had I told him in the morning he should change his clothes? Why didn’t he listen to me then? Why did he have to get all hot and bothered when it was time for us to leave? How could he be yelling at me now when I all I was doing was trying to make him a bit more comfortable for the ride? Was it really his goal in life to make me miserable?
Somehow, in spite of the frustration we made the change and got out the door.
As I drove down our street, I could not help but reflect on what had just occurred between Matthew and me. With Matthew’s best interest at heart, I had been making suggestions to him about what to wear. I knew something Matthew did not know about the expected temperature for the day, and in all my adult wisdom I tried to guide his decision about what to wear. The whole situation seemed very simple to me. Matthew should have thought, Gee. Mom has good information. She has more experience than me to know what to do with this information. I should listen to her and change my clothes. Wouldn’t any normal seven-year-old go through this kind of logical progression?
Perhaps it was my desire for him to think like an adult which caused me such angst when he finally wanted to change into something reasonable.

It did not take long for me to start thinking about how my encounter with Matthew was similar to the ways I sometimes respond to God. He has created me and knows what is best for me in this life. God has knowledge and understanding I do not have. Sometimes He reveals this information to me in His Word, through my spirit, or through another one of His children. It is all good information but sometimes I reject it, just like Matthew rejected what I said to him.
I realized the difference between the two scenarios, though, when I considered the fact God does not get frustrated with me each time I fail to listen to Him. It is impossible for me to count the times I have missed God’s instruction because I have either been too busy playing my own game, too childish to take Him seriously, or just too stubborn. Time and time again He has patiently repeated Himself to me until I finally understood. He has waited for me to listen and refused to give up on me. Thinking about my feelings of frustration with Matthew made me appreciate, even more, God’s unending patience.
After I spent a few minutes thanking God for being so patient with me, my thoughts moved on to wondering why I ever question Him. If God knows what is best for me, wants what is best for me, and does what is best for me, why do I ever hesitate to do as He tells me?
God says, Be anxious for nothing. (Philippians 4:6) But I worry.
God says, Cast your cares upon Me. (Psalm 55:22) But I hold onto them.
God says, Rejoice in Me always. (Philippians 4:4) But I focus on my circumstance.
God says, Nothing is impossible for Me. (Luke 1:37) But I doubt Him.
God says, Be content with what you have. (Hebrews 13:5) But I want more.
God says, Consider trials pure joy. (James 1:2) But I just want them to be over.
Oh, when will I learn? God is my Father and I am His child. Clearly, He is the One in this relationship who knows best. When I am being rational I realize I can trust Him fully. When I take time to think it through, doing what God says makes perfect sense. I am so thankful for God’s patience with me and for the ways He shows Himself to me in the midst of motherhood.

Your Turn: Have you ever had a situation with your child like I had with Matthew? How did you respond? How does God react to you when you are in your child’s position? Thank Him for His patience.
How do you typically respond to the things God says in the verses quoted above? If you are not heeding what He says, is it time to change?
I know you are busy, but I do hope you will spend some time on Your Turn and allow God to speak to your heart.

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Ceri said...

This really jumped out at me today, reading your post

"Time and time again He has patiently repeated Himself to me until I finally understood. He has waited for me to listen and refused to give up on me."

Am I glad he's patient and doesn't give up on his children!

Thanks for sharing that. :-)

Renee said...

If this is one of the devotions you left out, I am so eager to read what is actually in the book. God really uses your words to minister to my heart. Matthew and Allie have similiar days! Thanks for the encouragement!

Rochelle said...

Okay... I can't wait to read your book! There are many times when I have been less than patient with Keilani. Today was one of them. Then I am reminded of how patient He is with me, I take a deep breath and do my best to let her see Jesus in me. Great post!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Wow Karen, if this is one of rejects, I can't wait to see the ones that made the cut!!

Great stuff!!