This time of year, the first few weeks of January, is always exciting for me. There’s newness in the air and resolutions are still in full swing. Winter is still desired because of the new long-sleeved apparel I got for Christmas. There’s the occasional house with Christmas lights reflecting on cold, wet, dark streets at night. And, although I unashamedly criticize this behavior, I still kinda like it. We’re in the sweet spot of winter – it’s cold but we’re still trying to be cute in our finest new Christmas clothes that are looking pretty good given all the resolutions of diet and exercise. The crisp bite of cold and hope is refreshing.
But, guess what’s coming? February and March. The armpits of winter. Now, if you have a birthday in these months, let me just say I’m so sorry. These are the two longest months of the year – especially March. It teases us with spring and then drops snow or worse, ice, just when we’ve dusted off our shorts and slapped self tanner on our winter white legs. The cuteness of our new winter clothes has worn off and the children can only find one glove. March, in my opinion, should just be renamed…”over it”. January, February, Over-It, April.
And, by March, well, do we still need to discuss the resolutions? Honestly, that’s why I’m not really into resolutions anymore. I’ve found a much better motivation for exercise anyway – “if you can’t tan it, tone it”. And, since there’s no hope for a real tan anymore, toning it is.
But, I feel like something else happens in my heart as the despair of winter lingers into what should be spring. There is often a gloom of winter over my dreams. The prayers that feel unanswered…the dream that feels forgotten…and the resolution that is, well…busted.
In my last blog post, Big, Fat Miracles, I talked about the miracle that I desperately needed in my marriage. The anguish of trying over and over to fit old habits of unforgiveness and resentment into this new life until I finally surrendered. But, there was another frustration that I couldn’t even put into words until about a year ago.
I was watching a Facebook Live by Jon Acuff and he said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard…”You don’t control the miracle”. Call it a mic drop or a truth bomb…whatever. I call it life-changing.
“You don’t control the miracle”. The miracle that you’ve prayed for and maybe fasted for…you don’t control it.
At first, it seems a little harsh but, after thinking about this for a while, it actually gives me a lot of relief. Because, I’m not sure of the last time you performed a miracle but I’ve performed maybe, well … like, zero miracles. None. I’ve performed no miracles.
And, although taking myself out of the miracle business is comforting, I still really want the blueprint, so to speak, of my life. Wouldn’t that be nice? You could tell your friends, “sorry, can’t meet you for dinner next Thursday, God’s doing some miracle work from 6-8pm”. Or even worse, what if we knew the schedule and tried to pencil God into our life? Now, that’s another message for another day but, Lord, please help us humans.
I think that Proverbs 19:21 teaches this principle the best, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart. We all have a plan in our heart for our future. And, there’s nothing wrong with our plans but we must understand that while we are composing plans, God is composing purpose.
He’s composing the miracle…that thing that you can’t do on your own. He’s painting a story for your life that is so much better than any plan you could have possibly dreamed up. He’s constantly shaping and molding you into the person who, when ready, will live out the miracle.
But, I know what you’re thinking…WHAT ABOUT THE PLANS? Listen, I understand. I get it – you really want some of the plans to come true. And this whole “give it to God” thing makes you really anxious because you’ve really prayed and really longed for this thing that you really need…the miracle. Maybe you’re worried that God has forgotten. Maybe you’re anxious about the outcome. Maybe, right now, you just need a glimpse of the blueprint.
I’m finishing a bible study, “The Armour of God” by Pricilla Shirer, and she kinda knocked me to my knees with a couple of verses in Philippians. “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Now, there’s a lot to be learned from these verses and maybe one day we’ll unpack things a little more but, for now, I want you to notice three things:
- Don’t be anxious
- Pray with thanksgiving
- Present your requests to God
Y’all I’ve been doing this all wrong. First of all, I’ve got a thankful problem sometimes. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but sometimes I just complain a lot. Especially to God. I really need him to do a few miracles right about now and, in my most recent prayers, I may be found just telling him all about my problems. Like he doesn’t know. And, then I say things like, “God, I just want peace.” Again, Lord help us humans.
But, the scripture tells us what to do….imagine that. Let’s put it this way. When you get anxious….stop….pray with thanksgiving. This means thank God for your blessings before you give him the laundry list of requests. Then, present your requests to God and guess what happens?
The peace that transcends all understanding.
The peace that comes while you’re waiting for a miracle.
The peace that helps you stop trying to control the miracle.
So, while you’re waiting, remember, while you’ve been making plans, God is composing purpose. The purpose that’s wrapped up in a great miracle that he’s promised for your life. And, when the anxiety of waiting wells up…stop…and pray with thanksgiving. Thank Him for what He’s done and for what He’s doing in your life. Present your request and then rest in his peace. You don’t control the miracle and while that’s a little scary sometimes, it’s also unbelievably amazing. Because, the miracle of God’s purpose in your life is far greater than any of your plans.
***Image from beliefnet.com