God's Will ~
(Part 2 of 3)
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm.”
Song of Solomon 8:6a
Jenna, my daughter and a freshman in high school, had one of those “best friend/arch enemy” relationships with Molly. On one hand they loved each other, laughed uncontrollably, and shared every thought and breath. On the other hand, they were hyper competitive rivals on the same cheerleading squad who could speak with ice to one another. Whenever you saw the two together, which was constantly, you could instantly determine if they were in “best friend” or “arch enemy” mode.
One morning as I took Jenna to school, I could tell things were not good with Molly. Even though early morning conversation is usually an unrealized art form in our morning car pool, I chose to venture into my daughter’s world with questions about her friend.
“So, Jenna, how is Molly?”
“Fine,” articulated quickly and firmly.
“Jen, I know things have been tough between the two of you. Have you thought about praying for her?”
My daughter did not move her stare from the passenger’s window. I don’t believe she even breathed. She didn’t offer a response, but I imagined her silence screamed something like “My Dad’s a crazy religious fanatic!” Much to Jenna’s dismay, I didn’t give up.
“Really, Jenna, have you thought about a prayer? Maybe something like: ‘God, help me to be who Molly needs me to be today,’ could you try it out?”
Either there was something interesting outside her window or she was diligently avoiding a look in my direction. Her lack of response encouraged me to continue.
“I mean, Jenna, I imagine that today is not going to go well. I can see you, sitting in class, contemplating the next moment you will likely run into Molly. You might be planning how you will stare her down in the hallway. I wonder if you will rally friends around your disappointment between classes. I bet you’ll spend time organizing your words, preparing your defenses, and nurturing your wounds. I can see how your day is shaping up and I was just hoping for something different. Prayer might help.”
My daughter replied without movement or sound.
“Because Jenna, if you did say a prayer, something like: ‘God, help me to be who Molly needs me to be today,’ I bet your day would be entirely different. What if you said that prayer ten times? What if you really meant it two of those times? What if you truly contemplated the significance of that prayer. . .just once? What could today be like? Maybe God could use a simple prayer for Molly as a way to bless both you and Molly. Even though you are praying for Molly, you just might receive peace in your heart. That would be cool. Wouldn’t it?”
It’s a good thing my self-esteem did not need a response. It didn’t get one.
There are two kinds of kids when it comes to exiting carpool. There are some who do not begin the process of packing their bag and putting on their coat until the car has come to a complete stop. Not my kids. They typically sit in their seatbelts with their backpacks on and ready to exit at the first sign of departure. Even as the car begins to slow down, they have their seatbelt off, their hand on the door handle and Fred Flintstone feet ready to meet the moving ground beneath them.
As we sat at the end of the line of cars, before Jenna could make an exit, I grabbed her wrist with my right hand, a pen from my pocket with my left hand, and I drew a fish on the inside of her wrist. She looked at it with horror.
“Jenna, now, every time you see this fish tattoo, say a prayer for Molly. Even if you catch a glimpse of it while playing the oboe in band, or while reading in English or walking down the hall, say a quick prayer. Jen, I promise you, God will hear you and make a big difference in your day!”
We pulled up a few more places in line and Jenna made signs of early escape. I gave her the pen and held out my right arm over the stick shift. “Jenna, put a fish on my wrist. I will be praying with you.” I believe Jenna conceded that there would be no easy exit from the car without pacifying my request. She quickly made the mark and bolted out the door to freedom and independence.
I drove to work and imagined the day ahead for Jenna. I prayed like crazy. That silly fish on my wrist became annoying because it constantly caught my eye and demanded my prayerful attention. The more I prayed, the more excited I became for Jenna’s spiritual journey that day in school. At the end of the day, I sat in our family room, eagerly anticipating Jenna’s return from school. I felt like Lassie waiting for Timmy to come through the door. I tried to look casual and uninterested when Jenna returned after cheerleading practice in Molly’s car pool. Jenna entered our home and threw her backpack on the floor.
“How was your day, Jen?”
She disappeared upstairs to her room.
I was cool with that. I could be patient. I could hear a report later. But a report did not come at the dinner table. A report did not come throughout the evening. A report did not come even as I kissed her goodnight. As I closed the door to her room, I could wait no longer.
“How did it go with Molly today?”
“Fine,” articulated quickly and firmly.
Then I stood in the hallway, disappointed. Surely this was a day when God could have stepped up and made a real impact in Jenna’s life. In the midst of my remorse, God put a spiritual slap on my forehead. Don’t misunderstand; there were no audible words. But God put a nugget of awareness within my being: It was not about the fish on Jenna’s wrist. It was about mine.
I nearly staggered with the thought. When had I ever spent the entire day praying for my daughter? What difference did that fish make on my personal journey? What did I learn about life? About prayer? About trust in God’s ability to make a significant difference in my relationships? Would I continue to pray for my children with that kind of conviction, discipline, and eager anticipation without a fish on my wrist?
Humbled, I walked downstairs, thankful for the lessons learned, determined to keep a focus on prayer, and willing to allow God to shape me.
Several days later, I noticed the fish on my wrist had faded. Jenna came down for her speed breakfast and I noticed her fish was as dark as the day I gave it to her.
“What? I showered.”
“Then, scrub your wrist with soap next time.”
Teenage sigh. “Dad, I drew the fish back in. When you put it on me the other day, I was ticked because you had the nerve to publicly embarrass me like that.” Jenna rubbed my head as she passed my seat at the breakfast table. “But today, I think I’m ready to give it a try.”
* * * *
You can read about God’s will for your life. You can study what others think about God’s will. Folks can tell you about their own experience. There comes a time when discerning God will for your life must be your own. Your will. Your plan. Your call. It is something you claim. It is something you pursue. God seeks relationship with you. It is yours to confirm or deny, pursue or neglect, grow or wither. God’s will is for you to love. Your life is a continuation of one choice after another to answer God’s will for you to be loving.
To all who stand at a point of decision making and desire to make your decisions a reflection of God’s will for your life, choose the greatest love. Drop to your metaphorical knees, find your vulnerable countenance, then ask God for clarity on God’s will to love. Imagine a fish tattoo on your wrist. Claim this clarity quest for your life. Consume yourself with prayer as you express your personal desire to comprehend what love demands of you. Silence yourself and listen. Love will show itself.
Choosing love can be simple, and other times it can be the seemingly impossible. Sometimes, various loving opportunities in your life conflict with each other. Sometimes, what it means to love neighbor competes with your self-love. Which loving do you choose? Today, it may seem like choosing neighbor is the right decision, but tomorrow it may appear the opposite. This is why prayer, silence, and listening are significant and vitally important. Ultimately, your choices boil down to decisions of love, and God is in the business of blessing love.
Do not be afraid! You are perfect. You are perfectly tasked for the love you are challenged to pursue. Perhaps you understand God’s love for you through your beautiful creation. Perhaps you have witnessed God’s great love for you through Christ. Perhaps you have experienced God’s love through the extreme power of the Holy Spirit. You know about love! You know how to love! Now choose love and know this: God will hold you up, continue to inspire, and support your loving response. God will place people and opportunities in your path to enable your journey. Feel the strength of God’s presence in this decision as you fulfill your purpose in life. Be ready-love is challenging.
There is no doubt, even though the call to love is not unique among humanity, the call to love is extremely personal and your response is unique to you. Be prepared; you may be so incredibly touched by love that you are inspired to find a vocation where living out God’s love becomes your daily occupational agenda. This is a moment when you feel love so deeply that you are compelled to give your every breath to enable love in others. This is when God’s love is so convicting that you can only imagine articulating it, sharing it, encouraging it as you become it every day of your life. Get excited; answering the call will demand exhilarating creativity! This path will force flexibility, require humility, and demand a variety of different responses over time. It will not always be popular. It will not always be easy. Ultimately, it will always be a blessing.
* * * *
May God’s will become my will, to love. May God’s plan become my plan, to extend love. May God’s call become my call, to inspire love.
Colossians 1:9 “For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased
praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of
God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,”
Regardless of your journey of faith, whether you are new to a relationship with God or a veteran on a faithful path, today consider how the two great commandments are more than suggestions from Christ. Perhaps, these are eloquent, precise, and profound articulations of God’s will for your decisions. They are God’s plan for your choices and God’s call on your life. Once you own these commandments, once you claim them as defining, once they consume you and challenge you; then you will know of the transformation that comes through them.
Be motivated! Be intentional. Consider something like a fish tattoo on your wrist that reminds you of this perspective and compels you to live differently. Every time you see it, may it illicit a prayer to love God, love neighbor, and love yourself. An intentional prayer like that will redirect your path, reshape your agenda, and redefine your purpose. You will become a vessel of love to people desperately needing it. You will become a vehicle of love in places where it is void. As you grow in this pursuit, as you fill yourself to the brim with love’s grace, the experience of love will bless and sanctify. The great commandments are just that profound.
In the opening welcome and introduction to this website, I shared the Scripture that inspired this online adventure, I Tim 6:20. This text is also the origination of the name; “Sacred Chatter.” However, my intent is not to be a singular voice. I invite your voice to be a part of the “chat” and I base this on another of my favorite Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” I am considering how I can provoke love and good deeds in places beyond where I live. This is my attempt to enter into a Hebrews 10 conversation with you over social media.digitally. Now, I am interested in your feedback. Consider what provoking you can provide with your own Sacred Chatter.
What’s important to you? What really matters?
Add your voice in Sacred Chatter.
Love is ours to provoke. Good deeds are ours to sew.
That the wisdom of Hebrews 10 may flourish and grow.
Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re potential mediums for the Hebrews 10 plan.