Rejoice! What causes you joy? What gives you the feeling that something great is happening or is going to happen? Is it football season? Is it your report card? Is it the bonus at the end of the fiscal quarter? Is it family gathering? Is it family dispersing? We may not use the word, rejoice, but it is present in our lives. What we rejoice about the most says a lot about what lies beneath the surface of our lives.
Jesus has a way of teaching us these things with great power and effectiveness. To teach this to the many people who were following Him when He was in the midst of His ministry, He sent 72 of them out into the towns of Israel to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and to heal the sick and lame.
4:00 a.m. is a popular time in the Kelley household. None of us should be up at this time or want to be up at this time, but most days we are up (at least two of us). Our youngest daughter, Piper, likes to wake up at this time. Sometimes our oldest daughter, Kairea, decides to join her just to make things extra interesting in the morning.
This morning was one of those mornings. I currently sit here at the dining room table in the camper we are staying at in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho which sits next to Sara’s sister and brother in-law’s home. Piper is sleeping in my arms and I’m doing what I do most every morning – writing. It’s now 6 a.m. local time and I’m just reveling in the victory of getting this little girl back to sleep. But our girls aren’t the only ones who don’t always want to do what they need to do. We’re all guilty of this. I certainly am.
Today and tomorrow, for people all over this country and all over the world, are days of expectancy. For two full days, we will take part in the 2016 Global Leadership Summit by the Willow Creek Association. If you’re not familiar with the conference, it’s one of the most popular on leadership in the country. There’s much reason for those of us attending to be coming to the table with plenty of expectations. But these expectations we bring shouldn’t be exclusive to today and tomorrow.
Today, I anticipate learning a lot. I anticipate having to be stretched outside of my comfort zone – I’ll be attending the conference by myself, so I’ll either be mute or I’ll start a conversation with someone near me. I have great expectations for the conference, but shouldn’t we all have expectations for each day we are granted life? That question got me thinking…
She’s the life of the party, conversing with all, entertaining most, but truly knowing none. She goes home feeling empty. Why does everyone but me seem to have people in their lives who care? The thought runs through her mind constantly. She prides herself on being friendly to all, but it’s been years since she has had a real friend. She is a lonely person. She is a person who has many around her, but feels alone at the same time.
Her pain is at the tipping point. She interacts with many, but at the end of the day, she has a lot of acquaintances and no real friends. She is an extrovert. Her story isn’t unique. She like many outgoing types. She is funny, great at telling stories, and can’t keep her mouth closed for more than a few seconds. Everyone assumes she is happy. She wants to be. It’s a desire she’s never been able to satisfy. She is a lonely person who needs to know something.
Lemons are easy, but what happens when life throws you darts?
What do you do when life sucks? Well, I’ve heard it said, when life throws you lemons, make lemonade. But what happens when life throws you darts? What do you make of it, then? A dartboard? Yeah, that feels lovely… Abandoned. Ever been there? Betrayed. Ever been there? Ignored. Ever been there? Insulted. Ever been there?
Like being stuck in the line of a dreadful carnival ride with nowhere to go but on, sometimes life can feel terrible. The lump in your throat grows ever larger as your turn on the ride gets closer. You know what is coming, but it’s as if the wall was not built on the border, but around you, keeping you on track to your nauseous demise.
The good things you do… It’s easy to take pride in your accomplishments. It’s easy to take credit for what you’ve done. It’s easy to look at the day, decide what you will do, go and do it, then go to bed satisfied. It’s easy. It’s also inaccurate.
How can I describe it? We’re more than a train on tracks controlled by a Conductor. We’re more than passive characters on the page of a novel – doing whatever is written by the Author. We’re more than vehicles traveling through space being steered left and right by the Driver. At the same time, we’re less than the Conductor, less than the Author, and less than the Driver. That’s the thing about accuracy, it’s not as easy.
Why the established and strong are headed to a dreadful fall
Anyone who has been through the muck of life in any significant way tends to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder when they reach the other side. The heart is hardened some. Defense mechanisms are created and are maintained in the background operating system of the subconscious. And then pride often comes in like the silent slither of a poisonous snake. Waiting.
That’s the thing with the muck – it can simultaneously lead you to repentance and it can plant a seed of pride in the depths of your heart. The muck can destroy your trust in people. It shows you who is really there for you. And sometimes you find that it’s a select few. Other times you find that it’s one. Other times you find that it’s none.
How God Said No to King David, But Flipped Everything to the Best Yes
You have it all figured out. Your plans are superb and they are God-honoring. How would God not bless them? How would He not give a resounding yes to them? Maybe you want to lead an initiative of some kind. Maybe you have a vision for a grand coalition of organizations and churches uniting together to address some real-world issue. I don’t know what your plans are. But you do.
And it may be the case that your plans have just not yet come to pass. Maybe it’s a not yet, but a yes in your lifetime. And only you can determine if it’s so. But here’s the thing: some plans don’t line up with God’s (at least not in your lifetime or not fulfilled by you, and sometimes not at all).