I woke up crying.
In the middle of the night, third night in a row.
You’d think by now I’d be used to this.
After all, moves aren’t exactly uncommon for us. Between our early adulthood as teachers and many years after that in church ministry, we’ve moved more times than I care to remember.
For months I’ve prayed for God to open and close doors according to His will. That He’d move us out of His way and use us in whatever capacity He chose for us. That He’d put us where He wants us.
Over and over again I’ve told Him: “My life is Yours. Whatever You want is what I want too.”
That’s why my middle-of-the-night crying jags were so frustrating. I’d prayed for His will and committed myself to Him.
Doors were closing. Others were opening.
EXACTLY what I’d prayed for.
So why was I struggling so with these answered prayers?
When Our Wishes Don’t Line Up With God’s Plan
Because it meant moving. Again.
Leaving behind family and new-found friends. Again.
Relinquishing a home in which I’d invested blood, sweat, and tears. Again.
Launching out into the unknown deep. Again.
For several days I wrestled with God. Slowly but surely, the gap between what I hoped for and His unfolding plan was filled with His presence and unfathomable peace.
All that was truly due to God’s love and grace rather than anything I did. But in the process I noticed a pattern that helped move me from wrestling with God to a place of peace, joy, and acceptance.
That’s what this post is about. And I pray it will help all who might find themselves in a similar situation.
When You’re Grappling With God
1. Recognize Who He Is
Have you ever noticed there aren’t enough words to truly describe God?
Nor are we fully capable of doing so. His thoughts and ways are infinitely above and beyond ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). As much as we’d sometimes like Him to comply with our desire to put Him in a box we fully understand, it won’t happen. It can’t.
But shifting our focus to who He is — even with our limited human understanding — helps when we’re struggling to come to grips with His plan.
- He’s our good Father (James 1:17). And He truly does desire our greatest good. He proved that at the cross.
- He sees and knows everything (Hebrews 4:13). The deepest part of us. What’s broken and needs fixing. What happened yesterday. Where we are now. What lies ahead.
- He’s sovereign (Psalm 115:3). His way is always for our good (Romans 8:28) and His glory (Psalm 19:1). His plan is perfect (Psalm 18:30). He is right in everything He does (Psalm 145:17-21).
- He loves us first and best (Jeremiah 1:5; John 3:16; John 15:13). And even difficult faith-stretching reveals His great love. If He didn’t love us, would He even bother growing us? (Hebrews 12:6)
- He’s promised to meet our needs (Philippians 4:19). Indeed our greatest need has already been met in the person of Jesus. Because He is our Shepherd, we lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).
- He’s always with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9). He’s whispered this promise to my heart over and over again during the past several months. There’s literally no place we can go where He isn’t (Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 139:7-12). In fact…
- He’s already there, ahead of us (Deuteronomy 31:8). That scary deep unknown is already inhabited by Him.
2. Remember What He’s Done
Another way to reach a place of peace is to remember what He’s done for us in the past.
Hasn’t He always been there for us?
We’ve all experienced struggles where we questioned if we’d survive. But each and every time, God brought us through.
That’s another part of His character we need to remember.
He is faithful. Completely trustworthy.
There’s nothing else and no one else so faithful and true as He.
3. Rest In Him
My wee-hours-of-the-morning sob sessions wore me out. My rest, at best, was rest-less.
Each day I’d drag myself out of bed, stumble to the coffee machine, and then launch into prayer, struggling to understand why.
I wearily put one foot in front of the other, lumbering through the day, only to fall asleep at dark-thirty and back awake again at my early morning wake-up call.
The next day, I’d get up and do it all over again.
But as I poured out my heart throughout those days, sometimes unable to even voice how I felt, He reminded me of who He was and how He’d carried us in the past.
Ever so gradually, my nights grew more peaceful. If I did wake up, I was able to immediately shift my focus to Him and sink back to sleep.
Without the tears. Without the fears.
When we’re weary and heavy burdened, we’re commanded to come to Him. It’s there alone we find true rest for our souls.
And in that rest, we find Someone who helps. When we submit to His light and easy-to-be-borne yoke, He steps up beside and lightens the load by pulling it with us. (Matthew 11:28-29)
So What’s Next?
We don’t really know, other than where we’re heading to start off with.
But isn’t that what faith is all about?
It means stepping out even when we’re unsure what that step holds. Living above “see” level. Trusting Him to illuminate the next step and the one after that.
In all honesty, there’s still a small part of me that hopes this is an Abraham and Isaac situation. That God will stay our hand and say: “I just wanted to see if…”
A part of me that prays one of those closed doors will crack back open.
Even the tiniest. Little. Bit.
But even more than that, I want what He wants for us, and I trust Him.
And I will do all I can to follow where He leads.
I’m blessed to know so many prayer warriors who faithfully pray for me and my family. I feel those prayers. And I’m grateful for them.
Below you’ll find a list of specific prayer requests for our current situation. Thank you in advance for your prayers.
As always, it’s my honor and privilege to pray for you as well. Feel free to contact me with your requests.
- Pray that God’s will is done in us and through us.
- Pray that we’ll be patient and wait on Him for the next step and the ones that follow.
- Pray that we’ll have clarity.
- Pray for wisdom and courage for us to follow His leading, no matter what.
- Pray that we’ll entrust — not just our lives — but the lives of our family and friends to Him as well. (This is a HUGE struggle for us…)
- Pray that He’ll be glorified in all we do, and that He’ll use us to draw others to Him.
- Pray that we’ll continue to rest in His promises, who He is, and what He’s done.
- Pray that He’ll continue to open and close doors in our lives, according to His will.
I’d like to close with a few verses the Lord continues to lay on our hearts.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6
All thing are possible to him who believes. -Mark 9:23
The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. -Deuteronomy 31:8
I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. -Genesis 28:15
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. -Isaiah 43:2
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11