When You Struggle to Say Yes to God’s Plan

If you struggle with acceptance of God's plan learn from my story and the example of Mary.

I remember a conversation I had with my daughter as I was tucking her into bed when she was about four. I said something like, “Anna, you are getting so big! Pretty soon you’ll be all grown up!”

And Anna, very serious at the thought of being an adult, looked at me and said, “Mom are there any houses on our street that are empty?” Awww…my daughter wanted to live close to me when she grew up.

So imagine my surprise when she got married and moved to—China!

Let me tell you I did not take this news well. Especially because not only did Anna and her husband move 7000 miles away—they had the audacity to take my grandchildren with them. No more chasing giggling toddlers through the halls, snuggling on the couch with them reading storybooks, or laughing along with Winnie-the-Pooh videos. Now my husband John and I had to settle for playing peek-a-boo on Skype and getting pictures of our grandchildren through email. As a result, I was about as upbeat as Eeyore on life-support.

Lately I’ve been studying the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and I was struck by how she willingly accepted God’s plan for her life. When the angel Gabriel came to tell her that she was going to be the mother of Jesus, she questioned how that was going to happen because she was a virgin, but she didn’t complain that being pregnant before marriage was going to make life difficult. She didn’t whine about being the subject of gossip. She didn’t even bring up the point that her fiance Joseph would surely not believe her strange story about an angel and a virgin pregnancy.

Mary simply said yes to God’s plan.

And because I was struggling with saying yes to God’s plan for my life I wondered: How was she able to do that?

I think it was because she believed Gabriel’s words, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). She believed that God was right there with her.

I wonder if she felt God’s presence at that moment. Seeing a heavenly being, hearing God’s words to her—it’s hard for me to imagine she didn’t have a sure sense of His love in that moment. In time held still, with God’s presence all around her and His love shining into her heart, all of the possible consequences of rejection and ridicule faded away. She said yes to God’s plan because she trusted that God was with her. And she knew that if God was holding her hand, she could get through anything.

But even when we don’t feel God’s presence, we have the promise that He is always with us. That same Messiah that Mary trusted and carried, promises all of us in Matthew 28:20,

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Gradually, I have been learning to say yes to God’s plan for my daughter and her family even though I wish they weren’t so far away. I’ve been learning to say yes because I am trusting the Lord is with me. If I hold onto God’s hand I can say yes, because He is with me–and with them.

We can say yes to God’s plan when we trust that He will walk beside us.

Question: What do you do when it’s hard to say yes to God’s plan for your life?


When Wait is a Four-Letter Word

Psalm 40-1

To me, wait is a four-letter word that should never be used.

Because I hate waiting.

When I’ve decided I want something, I want it now. I find it hard to be patient. I hate the delay.

But it seems to me that God likes that word–wait. He often uses periods of waiting in our lives. He rarely gives us a desire and then grants that desire right away.

Even King David who starts out Psalm 40 so confidently:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.

Psalm 40:1

shows that he doesn’t always wait patiently for the Lord.

That same psalm is a desperate prayer for help. For help NOW.

David says:

  • “Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord” (v. 11)
  • “O Lord, come quickly to help me” (v. 13)
  • “O my God, do not delay” (v. 17)

It seems David is in a desperate situation. His enemies are coming for him. His foes want to ruin him. Trouble surrounds him like mosquitoes on a sticky summer evening. And he wants God to come to his rescue–yesterday.

We often feel like that. Everything is going wrong. It seems like no one is there to help. Problems multiply daily. We pray and plead with God, but we are still waiting.

What can we do when we are in that place of waiting?

We can be like David who began his prayer for help remembering a time when God did come through. A time when all that waiting paid off and God heard his cry. When God got him out of the pit.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along. (v. 2)

He praised God:

He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God. (v.3a)

He looked forward to the time when He could tell others about how God came to the rescue:

Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord. (v. 3b)

And realized that periods of waiting are seasons to grow in trust:

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust, (v. 4a)

To me wait is a four-letter word. But waiting is something God often calls us to do.

When you are in a season of waiting, recall the lessons of Psalm 40:

  1. Remember when God has come through in the past.
  2. Find something to praise God about.
  3. Look forward to an amazing story of answered prayer.
  4. And realize that you have been given an opportunity to grow your trust in God.

Question: Which of those four lessons from Psalm 40 will help you most when you are waiting?


Are You Still Waiting?

If you are in a season of waiting, learn how to experience waiting in stillness and repose.

Last month I got a little good news. A magazine that I had sent an article to, notified me that they were going to publish it. Woo-hoo!

I was excited and surprised.

Surprised because I had sent the article more than three years ago.

It took three years to get the article published! Truthfully, I had pretty much given up any hope that they would actually use the article.

Shortly after I sent it to the magazine, they sent me a message saying they liked it, but after one year I was still waiting to see it in print. After two years I was still waiting. After three I was still waiting.

Lately, God has been teaching me more about waiting. This time He is using the words of Psalm 62:

My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. Psalm 62:1 NASB

I looked up that little word wait. In Hebrew the word is duwmiyah which means “silence, still, repose, still waiting.” That last phrase got my attention because I’m not very good at waiting. And if I do any waiting at all it’s drumming-my-fingers waiting. It’s tapping-my-toes waiting. It’s sighing-loudly waiting.

But duwmiyah is still waiting. Duwmiyah is waiting in quietness and stillness. This kind of waiting I am totally unacquainted with.

If I have to wait for an answer to prayer, I am restless until the answer comes. I don’t wait in stillness. If something I yearn for is a long time in coming, I tend to complain to God–constantly. I don’t wait in silence.

But God wants me to experience still waiting. He wants me to wait in quietness and repose because He assures me that He is going to come through: “From Him is my salvation.”

So what does still waiting look like? Believe me, I’m no expert, but I think:

Still waiting means trusting God to give me what I need when I need it.

Still waiting means picturing all of God’s goodness stored up for me for exactly the right time.

Still waiting means resting in God’s love.

Are you still waiting?

 Question: What do you tend to do when you are waiting for something?

When You Feel Like a Failure

strength of my heart

One summer my friends and I decided to have a fruit stand.

Only we didn’t sell fruit. And never mind that our street didn’t have much traffic.

We were sure that in no time, neighbors would stop by to buy all the extra tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers from our garden. My mom would have a little less to can and we would make a little cash for the candy store.

So my dad got an old table down from the attic and nailed on some long supports for a sign. I made the sign. Can you tell?

fruit stand027

The sign wasn’t perfect. The “fruit stand” wasn’t a roaring success. My brother, friend and I probably sold about 8 tomatoes, 5 cucumbers, and 20 glasses of lemonade during the week it was in operation.

The bottom line showed our fruitvegetable-lemonade stand was a failure.

There have been many other things that I have tried and failed. Twenty-plus years ago I started speaking at schools about classical music. That speaking career flopped. I also wrote a Bible study about contentment that was never published. I wasn’t very content.

But there is one thing about failure. It’s better than not trying.

Thomas Edison wrote:

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

So I keep telling myself: Keep trying. Yes, when you try something new you might not succeed right away. You probably will experience some failure. But keep trying. Learn from the failures and move on.

My fruit stand was a bust, but my friends and I learned how to count change, make lemonade, and pick tomatoes. My classical music lectures were a failure, but now I do get to speak to women’s groups about Christ’s love. That contentment Bible study is still in a file drawer, but by God’s grace two other Bible studies have been published.

So if you’re trying something new and your first attempt looks a little like my fruit stand sign, remember to keep learning, keep growing, keep trying. You don’t know how close you are to success.

Lean on the Lord, He is our strength–even in our failures.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

Question: When have you experienced a failure that later turned into a success?