{mis}understanding God

We practiced our routine for weeks. Over and over we kicked, turned, gestured and sang till we were perfectly in sync. Never had my brother, sister and I gotten along so well.

Over the summer, my sister and I had learned a song at summer camp. On our return home, we taught the song to our younger brother and made up a dance routine to it — much better than the choreographed number we’d done earlier for Wilson Phillip’s “Hold On.” Bored hours were filled with impromptu performances for family and friends. 

A Back-to-School Talent Show fanned the flame of theatrics that runs in our blood, and we knew exactly what we would perform for our audition piece. As the date approached, we perfected wardrobe, moves and words. There was not a doubt in our mind that we would breeze through the auditions and secure a place in the show.

Was it stage fright? Insecurity? Sibling rivalry? We’ll never know, but something turned our flawless dreams into a less-than-perfect reality. Timing was off, steps were missed and it was not our best showing. Disheartened, we walked off the stage and prepared to head home.

Before we left, I approached the music teacher, appealing to her humanity to offer us another chance to get it right.

Her words gave me the bolster I needed. No second chance was needed, we were already in! Rushing to my family, I shared the good news. She must have seen the potential despite the nervous flubs and flaws.

The next day I hung back as others eagerly scanned the list of acts to see if their name was on it. There was no urgency in my heart, no anxious wonder, I knew we’d made it.

But then…

Our names were not there.

Knowing a mistake had been made, I informed the music teacher of her oversight. With a confused glance, she asked me what I meant.

You said we were in.” I told her.

Still confused, she told me that although she had appreciated our efforts, we had not been picked to participate in the show. Now the confusion was mine, as I argued with her, relating our conversation from the previous day.

Oh, sweetie. I’m sorry. You misunderstood me. I meant that you had already had an opportunity to audition, and that everyone only got one chance.

Crestfallen, I walked away; unsure of what I’d actually heard the day before, and surprised at how wrongly I’d interpreted her words. I broke the bad news to my brother and sister: we would be watching the talent show that year, instead of performing.

::

As Josh and I prepared for our move to Washington, we anticipated all of the amazing things we could do, ministry-wise, for God. After over a decade of volunteering in churches, graduating from bible college, and becoming licensed ministers we knew that this was the moment we’d been dreaming and preparing for: vocational ministry.

Months became weeks, and weeks dwindled to days…and not much was panning out for us. The peace we felt about our move never budged, but we began to wonder what we would do once we arrived in Washington. The day after we packed up our U-Haul trailers and moved out of our apartment, we were bombarded with possibilities: people to meet with, churches to visit, ideas to consider.

Gingerly we stepped off the shore of caution, and waded into the waters of hope.

One by one things began to fizzle out, and our dreams with it.

Here is why I’ve been so quiet the last few weeks. I may have misunderstood God. Just like with the music teacher, I jumped to the conclusion I wanted to hear. It’s only been two weeks since our move, though, and I in no way want to limit what God has done and is doing in our life.

He without a doubt told us to move to Washington. I’m just not sure that He said we would immediately see our dream of working at a church realized. That may have been our assumption, rather than His revelation.

So, we’ve been quietly praying, watching, reading, worshiping, talking and seeking.

Today, while visiting a local church, the pastor gave a word from Luke 24:

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While  they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the mend said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” {Luke 24:1-7}

The pastor explained that God showed him through this verse that there were people who were looking at thing in their life {relationships, situations, dreams, ministries, etc} as dead, and that they need to be reminded of God’s Words to them, and His ability to resurrect the dead.

Facing trials, setbacks and doubt, it’s easy to forget the promises of God and the truth of His Word. To wonder if He’s paying attention, if He cares, if it’s worth it. In those moments, the only thing that can restore life to your soul is His Word. To be reminded that we were assured of meeting trials, but also that He would be there with us through them. That He never removes His eye from us. That He loves us.

Have you ever felt that you misunderstood God?

In those moments, what verses have brought restoration to your soul?

I’d appreciate you sharing them, because I know I could use some encouragement,
and I’m betting I’m not alone in that!

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23 thoughts on “{mis}understanding God

  1. So good to see you back, Melissa.

    I haven’t forgotten about you and after reading this post, I’m sure God hasn’t either.

    What a beautiful thought He’s given you!

  2. Melissa, you probably don’t have enough time for me to tell you all the times I have misunderstood God! As I am getting older, I realize that God often leads us slowly, one baby step at a time. His plan often not even making sense until weeks, months, years have passed. There are times I have gotten mad at God for not making things more clear sooner. I have questioned His goodness. I have had temper tantrums. Then I calm down and remember He is the only one I can fully trust with every detail of my life. He knows me better than anyone else and loves me more than anyone else. I remind myself that my ridiculous need for control will block any good that He wants to do in my life. So I breathe. I quiet myself before Him and ask Him to give me courage to let go of all my ideas, my timetable, my plans. I have to do this daily. On July 19, I read Isaiah 43:19 and it blew me away. “For I am about to do something new, see I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” This verse reminded me He’s got this. He’s got my mess. He is working on my behalf even if I can’t see it and even if nothing changes for a while.

    He’s got your situation, Melissa, right in the palm of His hand. Here’s the thing. Even if you did misunderstand God, He can still work it all out. He knows we are frail humans, and he has compassion on us. Your heart for Him and willingness to serve Him with your life, will certainly be used by Him in a mighty way no matter where you are. Hang on. A life following hard after Him is never boring, sometimes a rollercoaster ride, but He will light your path. His Word promises that.

  3. Psalm 23 v 4a (NIV) Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
    I will fear no evil, for you are with me:

    I like to focus on this verse….God is with us THROUGH the valley’s, we are not left to go through the ‘tough’ times alone. Also the shadow maybe His hand protecting us….can’t remember where I heard that….but these help me….hopefully they will help you too!

    • The thing I’ve always loved about that verse is that we’re walking through the valley, not sitting in darkness. There is movement, even when you cannot see. Thanks for sharing that, Beverly!

  4. My pastor was teaching on a few things this Sunday. Two of those things were patience and humility. He talked about hearing God’s voice and then waiting for the appropriate time. Obedience is just as much about timing as it is saying yes.

    “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” 2 Peter 5:6

    I’m praying that His timing lines everything up for you guys!

    • Thank you for sharing that, Tony! I believe 100% that God’s timing is perfect, and that He always reveals the next step at the proper moment. Sometimes you just have to wait longer between steps than others. :) Haha!

  5. The passage that comes to mind is the story of Bartimaeus receiving his sight. (Mark 10:46-52) He knew what he wanted, and trusted that Jesus could make it happen. The crowds tried to discourage him, yet he persisted all the more in his calling out to the Healer. Because of his persistance, Jesus provided Bartimaeus what he desired most.

    To me, this is such an encouragement to continue seeking Him for the desires He has placed in my heart, and to trust Him to do what He has said He would do. Though life provides crowds of discouragement, obstacles, and noises that make it seem as if He will not hear, faith and perseverence ultimately open my eyes and heart to all that He has for me.

    You are already pressing in, and are inspiring in your willing obedience to walk away from comfort and security, and wait expectantly for what He has spoken. I too will be praying for you and your family as you anticipate the amazing things that He has in store for you here.

    • Great message! Thank you for sharing that encouragement! Persistence, obedience, patience and faith are all required in this walk with Him, right?! I love it!

  6. Oh, Melissa! I know how this has been for you! Take heart! I hard a sermon this weekend (not exactly related, but applicable) addressing “why bad things happen to God’s people.” Sometimes God’s plan has parts that are uncomfortable, but He is often preparing things we cannot see. Think of David and his discouraging need for patience to see the Lord’s promise come to fruition. Think of Moses and his trek of shepherding due to others’ sin. There are many reasons things don’t always look like what we pictured. Remember the word from January? And if you did misunderstand, to misunderstand is not necessarily wrong…The Lord knows your heart. He knows that, bottom line, you want to serve Him. And you will. Praying.

    • I have constantly had that word from January on my mind. :) It’s been so encouraging for me to see that even then God was preparing me for what is happening now. Thanks, friend!!

  7. The fact that you have any awareness that you may have misunderstood Him is evidence of your humility and teachability. I KNOW that He will make a way for His will to be done in your life.

    I meditate on His Truth through song. I find one that expresses where I’m at, and just meditate on that and let it be my prayer. This one reminded me so much of your heart. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSlzFVZogcE&feature=related

  8. The verse that I have clung to the most the past few years is Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    Whether God closes doors or we’ve listened to him incorrectly or it’s just a matter of time, God will use it all for his glory. I take comfort in that. We must take action but there’s no fear in screwing up. Even if we make a mistake, it will be redeemed. And if we are to wait for his timing, then that too will be used for our good. God will use this transitional time for great things, Melissa. I’m confident of that.

  9. You’re in Washington! I hadn’t realized that you were already here. I know this feeling of misunderstanding God. Usually for me, it’s that I dream too much. But our dreams are good too. God gives us those dreams and created us with those dreams. It’s the “how” and in his timing that are difficult. I struggle with that a lot.
    Where in Washington are you? Anywhere close to Seattle? I live about 20 minutes North of the great city.

    • Yup! Been here for a couple of weeks now. :) I’m LOVING the rain! Haha!

      I too struggle with the how and timing of seeing my dreams come to fruition. It’s something God has been working on in me for years. :) I’d like to think that I’ve improved in that time…if only incrementally.

  10. Wish I could answer your question Melissa. My misunderstanding God is more in the area of “How long?” not “did we misread?” When I have had those times, Isaiah 40:28-31 was there at a particular time in my life. One that is holding me up right now is Jeremiah 1:17-19. Not sure if any of those apply to you, but i share them just in case. You and Josh are prayed for.

    • A few months ago I was studying the book of Jeremiah, and it was so encouraging to me when I discovered how unpopular Jeremiah’s message was. I had always viewed the book from the point of the audience, never from the prophet’s perception. Thanks for sharing those verses, Bill!

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