Taking It Step by Step
I was working with a woman recently who is in the process of selling her home of ten years. It had just been put back on the market after being taken off for a few months and just needed a little help getting it ready to sell. As we walked through her space, evaluating what could be done in order to enhance it, I began to feel her weariness in the form of defensiveness. I wasn't suggesting anything too major, just a little bit of re-arranging and de-cluttering however I could sense her becoming overwhelmed. Being a single mother with her son preparing to leave for college in the Fall, I'm sure she felt pretty alone in all of this. I have never sold a home personally but I hear it is one of the most grueling life experiences. It requires leaving our comfort zone and involves vulnerability as strangers come walk through your space and judge if it will meet their standards and needs. It forces us to be realistic with how much we can expect to get out of it despite how much we have invested. Selling a home is a lot.
As I drove home that evening, reflecting on our brief time together and the notes that I would be emailing her that night my heart just went out to her. Even more than the de-cluttering suggestions that I had to offer, what I wanted to get across most was for her not to feel overwhelmed but to take this step by step. While I can't know exactly what she was feeling, I believe that all of us can relate to her. Everyone has their struggles and battles that they are going through. Perhaps its a sick parent, the realization of infertility, or a sudden job loss. Maybe your marriage doesn't have that spark that it once did or you are struggling to find contentment in your job. All of these things are real and their hard, and incredibly overwhelming when faced alone. However they don't they don't have to be. Most of us are fortunate enough to have friends, family and a community that would love to give us the support and encouragement that we need. We also have a God that is far greater than our biggest dilemmas, doubts and fears. He sees us and wants nothing more than to love and help guide us on our journey. The way He does this though tends to be a way that people do not like. God requires us to take things step by step.
Its taken some time but I have come to love this way of God. For many years I wanted to be the one in control of my life; to come up with a plan and to follow it. I yearned for God to just reveal to me what exactly it is that I am supposed to be doing and where I am supposed to go. I wanted to know what to expect along the way. I pretty much was hoping that He would give me a map and a to-do list, send me off on my journey, and be okay with me calling every so often to say "hi" or for help, if I got stuck. This is not the way of God. While every now and then He will provide us a snippet of the future, for the most part He likes to take things day by day with us. He does this so that we are forced to realize that He is the one in control and that He is the one with the plan for our life. He has a plan for greater and better than we could ever imagine, which is why He doesn't often share it with us all upfront. He believes in us but He also recognizes our humanity, and so as not to overwhelm us, encourages us to put our faith in Him and walk.
This might sound a little odd but I really like reading about the Israelites walking through the desert for forty years. This past year I have been striving to read my way through the Bible, and when I made it to this part, I just really connected with them. I love that they had to literally give up their control and just follow God, some would say blindly. He would come down in the form of a cloud over the tent of the Tabernacle and when the cloud began to move, the Israelites would pack up their stuff and move too (Numbers 9:16-18). Sometimes they would be in one area for only a day while other times it would be for a year. They never knew where they were going but they knew that they had to put their trust in the Lord. Just like the Israelites I am not perfect at this. There are defiantly times where I complain to God and get upset when things aren't going quite as I planned. Just last night, despite things being so well and God answering so many prayers I just got tired and broke. I knew it was coming, as the past couple of days I had been absorbed in work and thinking about the future. God totally brought me to my knees, reminding me to take a breath, slow down and to take things step by step.
Along with their lodging, the Israelites also had to rely on the Lord for their daily sustenance. Every morning they would wake up and go out to collect the manna that God sent down to them (Exodus 16). This manna that they collected satiated them. It was just enough and satisfied them to the full. Matthew 6:11 of the Lord's Prayer, "give us this day our daily bread," was their reality. These people relied on God for everything and had no other choice but to rely on Him day by day. As I said, this used to be so hard for me and occasionally still is however I have grown to love this about God. It has brought us so much closer in our relationship as I am forced to wake up each morning, read His word and go to Him in prayer; asking Him to show me my purpose for this day. Like the Israelites, if we are to follow God we have to surrender control to Him. We have to lay down our worries and fears, understanding that we cannot do this on our own but need the power of an almighty God. He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us (Isaiah 41:9-10). We are His children and He has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11), we just need to release and take life step by step.