Proverbs 3:5 (the message)
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.
This morning, after dropping Leah off at preschool, Leighton and I made our way to the DMV. Time for renewal. Well, past time. Like five months past time! Yikes! As I drove home I thought, as I always do, about how next time I will be forty! Rivers will be twelve. Leah nine and Leighton five. Am I the only one who measures time by license renewals?!
Like they so often do while driving, my thoughts went to a deeper place…I began to think over the past five years. So much has changed. Jesus is always the same and so I can be different. My life, my marriage, my parenting, my friendships, my way of processing and perceiving life is different. Not perfect, no no. But different from my last license renewal. Oh yes, that’s it. Renewal. Of my mind, my heart, my purpose, my hopes and dreams.
One definition of renew says reestablish. Another says to make new or as if new again; restore. I bet if you are like me, there are some things you would undo. Some things you might redo, but differently. So often when this is our mindset we feel stuck or hopeless. What’s done is done, right? We made our bed. It is what it is. Spilled milk and all.
I don’t mind sharing it has taken me a while to write this post. My desire in writing is to be real and to let God lead my heart and what comes out. Sometimes it flows like a waterfall and sometimes it’s stop and start as I am determined not to write just for the sake of another post. So, after a deleted paragraph or two (or three!), I want you to know something quite true…whatever you find hopeless today, it’s not hopeless. That marriage you believe is a mistake, it can be reestablished. Your old attitudes and habits and addictions, they can be broken and you can be made new. Your heart so broken and empty from loss? It can be restored.
How do I know? Why make audacious suggestions that life can actually change? Because mine is changing. Not with the perfect formula prayer. Not with superior doctrine. Not because of anything I do or have proven. The one thing I’ve proven in my life is what a mess I am! Day by day, week by week, month after month…sometimes one step forward and two back…I take His hand. I had to let go of all my great Christian effort. I’ve been there. In church and saying and doing it “right,” except all wasn’t truly right inside. Is it irreverent to reach a place in your life when you question why your marriage is still in shambles if Christianity really works? Is it disrespectful to need to know why you can’t stop blowing up in anger with your kids if Christianity works? Is it wrong or a lack of faith to ask God why you got sick or lost a baby or battle depression if Christianity really works? I don’t think so. But healing begins when we not only ask our questions of God but listen for His answer and respond.
I’m just a 35-year-old woman overdue on her license renewal, but see I once was a 32-year-old woman so weary and confused about why my faith didn’t work better. And sadly there seemed to be plenty of answers to go around. Almost all of those answers involved something I needed to pray or say or do or believe differently or better. The brazen truth is I wasn’t completely convinced God wanted to answer my prayers because nothing seemed to really change. I knew a lot about Jesus and what I should and shouldn’t do. I knew what my church believed. I knew, too, that I didn’t measure up. Oh I suspect as long as our pleas for a renewal hinge on our best efforts we pray and hope in vain.
I used to read the scripture above and think, sounds great I’ll do that. Trust God. Listen for His voice. Except I really listened to and put my trust in other people I believed knew Jesus better than me. My Pastor, my mother, my friends. But you know, Pastor nor mom nor my friends bled and died for me…they could not know the number of hairs on my head…they could not give me Peace. Thankfully, they could point me in the right direction but they could not change my life. Their relationship with Jesus couldn’t heal my marriage, my heart and my hopes. I had to know Him for myself in a very real way.
Trusting God from the bottom of your perhaps broken heart, giving up on figuring out the answers for yourself and learning to listen for His voice only happens as we know Him for ourselves. See, I am no longer satisfied to know what He says to someone else. I want to know what Jesus has to say to me. When you invest your time and energy in knowing Jesus for yourself, you begin to recognize His voice in your life. You can follow His voice and life can change.
No matter how past due, it’s never too late for renewal.