When 2020 began, I assumed all would go as planned. School. Writing. Coffee dates. Ladies’ Bible study. School prayer group. Soccer momming. Discipleship. Vacation. Dates with the hubs.
I remember looking at 2020 with expectation, hoping to hone my writing, lose a little weight, and get through my plans with happy surprises along the way. I chose worship as my word of the year, thinking, “I don’t want anything to distract me from Savior and His glory – even my to-do list.”
I was so cute, wasn’t I?!?
In March, life-as-we-knew-it came to a screeching halt as we learned of this new virus called covid-19. We scrambled under stay-at-home orders. Months later, even as things begin to slowly open back up, we’re emerging changed with extended safety measures like face masks, continued closures, and concerns about how the virus will impact school in the fall – not the mention the anxiety from all of the unknowns.
Life remains shaken up. And honestly? My deliberate focus on worship flew out the window, as worry and survival took priority. Many of us are learning we have little control over much (a lesson I’m constantly learning with chronic illness), and the stripped-down versions of our lives are revealing idols we didn’t know existed.
The Queen of Ease
With any extended trial, my resolve weakens and I often choose the path of least resistance. Ease takes over my desire to patiently wait for a God-honoring solution; endurance take a back seat. I recognize this is not an admirable character trait.
Maybe some of these “if/then” thoughts sound familiar to you:
If my child would just try harder or was more naturally gifted in school or sports… then he wouldn’t have to struggle so much.
If my child had a different teacher… then she would do better in class and be better understood herself.
If my child would just listen to me … then they wouldn’t struggle with this fear or besetting sin.
If my child would just obey … then our household would be more peaceful.
In work or relationships:
If I had a different boss or they paid me more…then I’d enjoy my job.
If my husband were more engaged or affectionate…then our marriage would be better.
If that group at church would reach out to me…then I wouldn’t be so lonely.
In Coronavirus life:
If everyone would wear a mask…then I wouldn’t have to worry.
If they just do school online…then we’ll be ok.
If my kids just go back to school…then we can have a sense of normalcy and they won’t fall behind.
We rationalize that if our circumstances were better – or if we had more control over those circumstances or other people – then we’d be living our best God-honoring lives.
Months ago, a lingering parenting issue began revealing idols in my life that had climbed onto the throne of my heart (I previously wrote about it here). Maybe this extended upheaval of the norm is doing the same for you.
While we can expect “God to work all things together for good” (Romans 8:28), we should not use that as an excuse to be passive observers, to exercise disobedience, or to act as impatient control freaks. As we look for resolutions, we should ask, “What is my highest goal in this circumstance?”
In the middle of our own unresolved no-quick-fix situation, frustrated, I wrote this in my journal as a reminder:
What am I worshiping? Ease? Comfort? Convenience? A perfect family? How others perceive us? Control? God’s good results on my timeline OR His glory on His timeline?
The next day, I read this in my morning devotions:
“If we’re honest, it is often our belief that we know better than God and could orchestrate circumstances better than Him if we only had access to all variables,” Ruth Chou Simons writes in Beholding and Becoming*. “What we are really saying … I can avoid having to trust God if I can simply trust in myself.”
THE OBJECT OF OUR AFFECTIONS
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Psalm 115:1
My problem-solving could’ve brought about a satisfactory solution. I would’ve patted myself on the back for my expert parenting and quick thinking – but I wouldn’t have been driven to the end of myself and onto my knees.
A quick resolution would’ve brought glory alright – to me. But when the problem lingered, it became absolutely necessary for me to turn to God. Maybe the delay was, as Psalm 115 says, for the display of His steadfast love and faithfulness and for the sake of His glory?
Security and convenience became my idols.
The Psalmist in Psalm 115 goes on to talk about idols – and how those who construct them become like them. Over time, security and convenience became my idols, not the need to be a Spirit-dependent parent. My affections were on a job well done (by me), not on a God who gets the glory when resolutions come in His timing and in His way. My delight was rooted in myself.
“Our safety nets of control, strategy, manipulation, and wearing ourselves thin trying to keep all perceptions and plans going our way … fail us and show themselves to be hollow forms of security – man-made idols that cannot save or secure,” writes Simons.
While my desire for a resolution was God-honoring, my demand for how and when was not.
EXCHANGING WEAKNESS FOR STRENGTH
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Like me, you’ve probably read stacks of books on parenting and spiritual growth, attended seminars, listened to podcasts, and consumed blog posts on Christian living. We’re pretty studied up, but we often forget this vital piece: the Spirit’s work in us and through us.Not to me, O Lord, not to me, but for the sake of your glory! Psalm 115:1 Click To Tweet
Laying down all of our knowledge and one-size-fits-all formulas, we need to recognize (boast about, even!) our own weaknesses so that Christ’s power can be displayed. Are we willing to exchange our own power (in parenting and otherwise) for God’s work in our hearts and our children’s?
Back to Psalm 115:1, the glory is God’s. Are we stealing God’s glory for ourselves by insisting on our way, our timing, and our solutions?
As of this writing, our minor parenting situation still isn’t completely resolved, but as I lay down my idols of ease and convenience, I look forward to how God will faithfully work out a resolution in His time. Not to me, O Lord, not to me, but for the sake of your glory!
- Read Psalm 115.
- Are there “sneaky idols” that have revealed themselves in your life during 2020?
- How can God’s glory be shown through your (as-yet-unresolved) circumstance?
- How can you dethrone your heart idols and give God preeminence this week?
- When you face unresolved situations, pray “Not to me, O Lord, not to me, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1)
Each Monday, I plan to offer you a “Monday Goodness” devotional. I pray it will encourage you to focus on God’s goodness, His Word, and truths to help you cling to Him in life’s impossible. You can find past Monday Goodness devotionals here.
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