I could hear the ramping up of emotion in the dining area from my room upstairs. My youngest son, who struggles with anxiety, had just survived his first few days of the new school year and was quickly unraveling from holding it together for six hours a day in front of peers and staff. As ugly as the meltdowns can be, I could see from the short time they lasted and the quicker recovery period that he is developing coping skills. Even so, this particular afternoon, I really didn’t want to be the recipient of his angst. I had been in a lot of traffic and went to my room for a while to get my peace on.
But then, the storm—the one where lightning is starting to flash and a big crash of thunder will soon follow. I’m so used to being hyper-vigilant that I almost ran down the stairs, but then I stopped myself. I heard something. My oldest son responded to the distress signal and calmly entered the room, speaking gently, rationally, briefly, and directly to his little brother. He was following all the instructions I offered him recently on how to bring Little Man down a notch.
And it worked.
I began thanking Jesus out loud in my room because it was amazing to hear someone else step in and do a better job than I often do. It was a relief of dramatic proportions. After about 20 minutes, I came downstairs, asked Little Man how he could have handled his stress better for the next time, and quietly affirmed his older brother.
I was not the one God put on this assignment, and had I barreled ahead, three people would have missed a blessing.
About a week ago, I had a decision to make. If I had acted on it impulsively, without seeking counsel, I could have done irreparable damage to a relationship. Instead, I prayed, wrote out some thoughts, buried them at the foot of the cross in my backyard, and waited it out. Turns out, despite my instinct to “let it fly,” God was saying, “Not now. Not time. Just be quiet. I’ve got this.”
My response: “Oh, man. Really? Cause if You could see all that is going on in my mind, You’d know I really need to offload it.”
And then there it was: He provided five people to hear me out and weigh in. Almost unanimously, I heard the same vote:
“I can see. I provided. Heal. Stay quiet.”
Again, I, with all my puffed-up sense of wisdom, was not the solution to my own problem.
God was going to take care of it. I was to stay the course.
I don’t know about you, but I am easily triggered into problem-solving mode. I like to “conquer” problems. I’m a born warrior in that sense. I’m comfortable enough with confrontation to automatically put that suit on as I enter a situation that needs (or I think needs) my help—
—but that can easily turn into a God complex.
It’s very easy, when we are in problem-solving mode, to turn off our listening ears. We don’t often stop to ask God first, and as a result, we can railroad over people.
Ever try to help someone who didn’t really want your help?
Yeah, me too.
When it was time to replace Saul as King of Israel, the Lord sent Samuel to a man named Jesse to choose one of his sons as king. As Jesse went down the line introducing each one, one by one they were rejected.
Jesse had not called his youngest son, David, because he was shepherding the sheep. He made an assumption that David wasn’t among those fit to be God’s chosen king. David was the youngest and least experienced, after all. And yet, God didn’t want Abinadab, Shammah, or the other older brothers for His king.
He wanted David.
1 Samuel 16:7-12, ESV, author unknown
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.”
Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.”
And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.”
Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.”
And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.”
I often assume I’m the only one qualified to handle a situation. I don’t even bother to pass other options before the Lord, because, after all, I know my own capabilities, right?
We can think of a thousand reasons why we are the answer to a problem because we consider how personality, experience, timing, etc., line up in our favor.
But sometimes, when a close friend has a crisis and our pride, compassion, and good intentions are tied up into being the one to save the day, God passes by us to give the assignment to someone else.
And instead of taking it as a disappointment, crushing blow, or insult, if we are truly striving to be in His will, we can receive it as a relief.
We don’t have to prove anything. We don’t have to be (and can’t be) our own or anyone else’s savior.
His solutions always work out. Do ours?
King David had a heart open to God. He was teachable and compassionate. What if Samuel had not listened to God and had chosen an older brother who wasn’t going to obey God as David did? What if Jesse had said “no” to bringing David to Samuel?
And what if we stepped in when and where it wasn’t the path God was setting before us? What if we took the crown that day from someone else He intended it for?
Had I rushed down the steps without waiting for God, my sons would not have realized they could be comforted (younger son) and comforter (older son). They would have missed a chance to establish a firmer bond for the future. I would have passed by the opportunity to see my older son show compassion and maturity and my younger guy learn to receive it from people other than his mother. I’m pretty sure his anxiety and mine would have lit a few sparks off each other. But instead, peace came within minutes.
Had I impetuously responded to a communication I received, I may have forever damaged a relationship, all because I didn’t listen. I wouldn’t have heard God tell me it wasn’t my crown to wear yet. He would place it on my head when it was. I shudder now to think of results that would have followed acting on emotional impulse.
What crowns can you lay down this week—or even better, not pick up? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we dodge the moments God calls us to in loving, encouraging, or helping someone else. There are people who prefer to never pick up the baton, and I don’t believe we should live that way.
What I am saying is that hearing His voice helps us avoid disaster and live in the full blessings of knowing when He is passing over us for a particular task and when He is anointing us for His purposes.
I’ve really screwed this up in the past, and now I’m trying to live more in accordance with:
God prepared our purposes in advance “that we should walk in them.”
I sure don’t want to walk in anyone else’s good works because then I’d miss the chance to walk in the ones He set in place for me.
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).