By Barb Lownsbury
The swish-swish of the windshield wipers kept rhythm as I searched through the dreary, rainy parking lot for a close parking space. No way did I want to hike through this torrential down pour any more than was absolutely necessary! Ah hah!, I thought. There’s a spot!
I shifted impatiently in my seat, my turn signal joining in the cacophony of noise in my car, as I waited for what seemed like forever as the current parking spot tenant took her time to back up and leave.
Finally, red tailgate lights greeted me through the gray weather, signaling me that the space would soon be mine. Only the car backed up in a way that blocked my entry, and before I knew what was happening, another car quickly zipped in and took the spot I had been somewhat impatiently waiting for, even though I had clearly signaled.
Really?!, my mind yelled. This is so unfair! I glared at the other driver, not that it mattered. They ignored me all together and ran into the store quickly to try and beat the rain. I moodily circled the parking lot, my attitude matching the yucky weather all around me.
Isn’t that life sometimes? You get everything all lined up. You work to get the pieces in place. You struggle to maintain a positive attitude throughout, and then wham! Life cuts in on you and mucks the whole thing up.
Only it’s not a simple parking spot. It’s the promotion you felt like you deserved going to another, or the business you run continually losing money despite your best efforts. It’s the drug that lures you back after months of being clean. The circumstances that you’ve battled faithfully that continually keep kicking your butt. It’s the friend or partner you’ve loved that breaks your heart. It’s big stuff with big consequences, and the hurt and anger rush in like a raging storm, quickly enveloping the heart with frustration and pain.
In the tough spots of life, I’ve had many reactions. I’ve yelled at God, cried before Him, pouted and ignored Him. Prayed and cried out to Him. Always trying to make sense of my circumstances. Always trying to understand how there could be a purpose to this.
Let me let you in a powerful truth that after years of ranting and railing against God, I finally figured out – life is rarely fair, and it doesn’t always make sense. Well, duh, you might think. That’s no big secret! Hang in there with me for a sec.
See, it’s not just that life isn’t fair and doesn’t always make sense. It’s that it doesn’t have to be fair nor does it have to make sense in order for me to let go and move on. I may never know in this lifetime why God allows certain challenges or road blocks to cross my path. I don’t have to understand or wrap my brain around it. Usually, trying to figure “it” out is just wasted time circling the parking lot of life, stuck out in the rain, endlessly searching.
Life doesn’t always have neat, clean answers. But here’s the one I know – God always knows the answer. And He is ALWAYS working for my good. Whether He intended for me to go through something or not is rather secondary. As is whether or not that something has a larger purpose. My job isn’t to figure out all the answers. It’s to look for the next proverbial parking space, even if it’s inconvenient and in a completely different location, trusting my God will help me find one, then to park and move forward so I can get on with the job of living.
Two scriptures jump out at me. The first is Romans 8:26-28 which reminds me, “…the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
The other is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Okay. So that’s quite clear. My job isn’t to find all the answers, to make sense out of crazy circumstances or behavior. It’s not to always have to be strong. It’s to be real, to be present before God. It’s to trust He is formulating something good from the mess I’m experiencing. It’s to listen for His voice, knowing He will reveal to me in His perfect timing anything I DO need to know, learn or understand from what I’ve gone through. Or to not reveal it, and to trust the silence IS my answer.
The pressure is off. The load is lifted. I can re-focus on what is ahead. And the peace I have found from this posture of surrender? Priceless!
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Think of a time you’ve had difficulty trusting God. Maybe you are in that kind of a season now. Make some time to remember all of the victories you have experienced with God in the past, or borrow other’s stories of past victories if you don’t have many of your own yet. Doing this will remind you that God is moving even when you don’t sense or feel it.
Another tool that is really helpful is scripture. Find those scriptures that remind you of what is right and true. That comfort, challenge or inspire you. Post them in conspicuous places to keep them in front of you often. Soak God’s positive truths up like a sponge! His word has a way of pushing out all the guck and leaving behind only what is good.
Remember, you don’t need to have all the answers or figure out the meaning. That’s God’s job. Your job is to trust, lean into Him and surrender. When you do, the peace will begin to flow.
PRAYER Papa, thank you for your loving patience with me. My mind is always working, trying to figure it all out. Trying to understand everything around me. Help me to remember that you already have it all figured out, so all I need to do is lean into you and trust. Thank you for always being reliable and faithful, even when I am unreliable and faithless. Thank you especially that your mercy and grace are new every morning, given to me in a measure greater than I could ever use. How good you are Papa! How merciful! Praise you and trust you to work my life for your good purposes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.