All I was trying to do was make memories. Instead I watched the sweat drip down the sides of his little angel face while he held out that tattered sunflower. He was hot. I was too but not to the extent he was. His legs are little ovens in the slippery New England summer. I saw that bead of sweat drop and my breath caught. In an instant the heart raged forth, even if for a second, I recognized it. I’ve known it before, worn it like a garment in certain seasons of life. What were you thinking God?
A mom friend on Facebook posted some beautiful pictures of a sunflower field at a nearby farm and I thought, “I could pull that off too.” And I did. Except it was hard and broke my heart a bit and most of the sunflowers were dead. Which had me reflecting on the story God has called me into and had me questioning Him all over again. Like an ebb and flow of the tide. We are fine, and then sometimes we aren’t. Why my sweet boy? Did I do something wrong? Did you see this happen God?
In those moments when I see the beads of sweat dripping down his face, falling to the earth, creating mud not flowers, there’s nothing beautiful in that moment. And I struggle with understanding how He is bringing good out of a little boy who needs clunky, hot prosthetic legs to run like the wind.
In our text this week, author Angie Smith discusses “Fear of God’s Plan for My Life” and I have to wonder how many of us feel this way, afraid of His purposes for us, feel like we’ve gotten the short end of the stick. Blind to the blessings, overly aware of the hurts, griefs and valleys? You see, dear friend, I want to believe that the God I serve is good. That although “his ways are not our ways” they are still better than my ways will every be, but in those moments, those tiny seemingly insignificant moments, when sweat gets swallowed up by the parched ground, I think to myself, “Lord! Feet. You make them every day. How hard is it?” And then the evil sneaks in, slyly at first and then with triumphal roar screams, “I could have done this better myself.” Like I have the power to form the precious life in the womb. And His question to Jonah, “do you have good reason to be angry” calms the storm.
We all get to a place where we realize our ways truly aren’t His ways. We question Him. We begrudge Him. We wonder. We wonder about the holes in our lives, the hurts, emptiness where there should be fullness, abnormal where “normal” reigns. “The relentless sun shines light in the crevices we have in our own lives, and on the abundance that everyone else seems to have” (pg 137) and we think, even if momentarily, that we could do it better ourselves. And we do well to remember the question and relinquish our hold on our lives to Him, recognizing humbly that this is His story.
They’re bent and broken and bruised. They’re missing petals lost to missteps and tumbles. He still has trouble walking on bumpy ground. They’re worn but still trying to be lovely. And they sit in my living room reminding me that life is bent and broken and bruised and we’re all still trying to be lovely. To believe that God’s plan for our lives is better than our ways could ever be—that is a place where I want to stay.
Friends, do not this day, fall into the temptation to believe that you can do it better, that you would be the better God. Choose to be reminded of your place. With lowly humbleness remember what Angie Smith reminds us so gracefully of, a constant dying to self which leads us into trusting the Father. Commit your life to walking beside your Lord, remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for all the brokenness around us. For the pain we have known, the questions that we have and the hurts in our hearts. Choose a place of worship where you hear His love falling around you like a summer storm, beating away the questions and the pursuit of control. Hand Him the reigns and fear not God’s plan for your life.