I should never have prayed that way. You know, there are things you shouldn’t pray for: patience (right now, please), humility (ouchy things ahead!), for your faith to grow (you’ll get chances to trust and jump off of ledges) and more.
Inspired by the verse in Isaiah 43:19 when God says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I’ve already begun! Do you not see it?” I prayed for God to teach me how to live outside my comfort zones and to embrace new things because new means life and growth and health and movement and a promising future.
You may have heard the saying, “If you do things the way you’ve always done, you’ll get the results you’ve always gotten.” Nothing new, nothing gained. There’s nothing wrong with much of what has been but there’s so much more possible! Why stay back if God is promising something ahead?
That Isaiah passage is full of hope, conveying that God has more ideas and plans up His grand godly sleeve and is going to reveal it somehow, is already revealing some of it apparently!
I am no expert at embracing what’s new, and it seems to get more difficult the older I get. I don’t know if it’s because I’m amassing more years under my belt in which I’ve been used to doing things a certain way. Without even fully realizing it, I’ve nestled down into long-standing habits and mindsets that have become a little too comfortable. Those comfort zones in me so subtly become muddy ruts where my feet get stuck and then it’s easier to just stay put. Climbing out of the ruts would be more appealing if I knew how to get out or where I’m going or what’s waiting for me when I get free of the rut muck. To be honest, I also want to know that I’ll still be comfortable outside the ruts before I climb out. I’m held back by that pesky human tendency to resist uncomfortable, unfamiliar, unknown places.
I’m not opposed to the new, but I am a planner. I like to know how said new thing will be happening: what will that look like? What will it require of me? How can we prepare for it and make sure it goes well? Spontaneity is not my favorite and a real effort me because of this need to have a plan. Sometimes free Saturdays are torture because I don’t waste my day and so have to make a mental plan for what I want to do and in which order and how and so forth. That probably sounds kind of exhausting to some of you (a little glimpse into the overactive, kind of obsessive brain of Mimi). When things change abruptly without warning, anxiety rises up and it takes me a bit to calm down on the inside and get on board. Routine has been my friend.
This does not work too well with the way God works. He doesn’t need my help planning and seems to delight in not revealing the plan much ahead of time, if at all! I know HE is a planner, but my part is not the planning or knowing but the trusting and pressing ahead.
It helps me in times of doubt or worry to think of things He’s done in the past to show His love, to show He’s real, that He answers prayers. It helps my willingness to leave comfort when I remind myself of the ways God has worked out his plan for us, for his people in ages past and how He’s promised to for all time to come.
One such story is of Ruth in the Bible. If you’re not familiar with the story go read it. It’s not a long book and so sweet.
At the finish of her story, we can look back over the events in it to see that Ruth just so happened to get married to a man originally from Bethlehem and end up devoted daughter-in-law to Naomi. When their husbands died, they just so happened to move back to Bethlehem, and when needing food Ruth so happened to be a hard worker who went to glean in a nearby field. The field just so happened to belong to a godly, single, good man named Boaz, who just so happened to give Ruth special treatment, protection and lots of food. We then find out Boaz just so happened to be a close relative of Naomi and was able to marry Ruth, and then have a son with her, one of whose descendants would be King David. Farther down that same lineage would come Jesus, Son of God, the Messiah.
What looked bleak and bitter to Naomi and Ruth eventually revealed a plan God had been working the whole time to bring renewed hope and a future for them, not to mention being part of his bigger plan to bring His own Son into the world! He didn’t show them the plan ahead of time. But He worked His plan for their good. They just did what they needed to do each day and trusted Him.
I’ve learned before and am learning again that when Jesus said to live in each day and not worry about the next one, He was actually giving us a gift: the gift of not being responsible for making things happen, but of just trusting and being with Him, watching, listening to Him, following Him, yielding to Him.
For planners like me with a not so subtle control problem, it’s going to be hard and uncomfortable. But God reminds me, “Hey, you asked for this.” Can I learn to live for lengthy periods of time outside of comfort, uncomfortable but still at peace knowing I’m walking by faith, that I’ll get to see the new things God is doing and is going to do? I want to. I still pray that, Papa. Show me how.