I have the tendency of being a hard learner of what God is trying to teach me. Recently, He again got my attention, and I learned a valuable (but hard!) lesson through it.
I’ve been wanting to repaint our bedroom, but our two closets were painted the colors of our walls, so that meant repainting the closets also. I was dreading this process but decided to finally tackle them. (And paint them white, so it would hopefully be the last time I’d have to paint them!)
After spending a long time taking everything out of my closet and prepping it, I began the tedious work of trimming around all of the shelving apparatus. After I applied the first two coats of paint, I determined that it was not wise to buy the cheapest paint with primer because it just wasn’t covering well, and it seemed extra runny. I glanced at my paint can to make sure it had primer in it…when my phone rang. I glanced down and saw the word primer, so after I hung up, I went back to my painting. Finally after I’d used up the whole gallon of paint and spent all day in my closet, it was DONE! I spent a long time getting my shelves back up and everything put back in place. I was struggling with feelings of frustration because I was hoping to get both closets done in one day, but mine took much longer than I had anticipated. (You know the feeling…I just want to get this thing done!)
The next morning, I found a mysterious can of interior white paint setting with the cans of exterior paint I bought for some outside work. I was puzzled about it, but then I felt this sinking feeling begin to gnaw in the pit of my stomach. I dug the empty paint can from the day before out of the trash, and, sure enough! I’d spent the previous day covering my closet with nothing but primer. The sinking feeling went deeper when I realized this meant I had to empty my closet again to add at least one coat of paint. Without the paint, it wouldn’t last and repainting was inevitable.
As I spent the next several hours alone again in my “prayer” closet with my paint brush in hand, I began to complain to God. “You know, God, I really had other more important things I wanted to do today. Is this really how You wanted me to spend these two days? Wouldn’t it be better for me to get this project done quickly so I can spend time with my little girls? I really don’t see the point of this! Don’t You think I have more valuable ways to spend my time today?”
Through this time, I began to be still before God, communing with Him. And He began to lay this blog on my heart. You see, the day before, I was simply focused on tackling this big project, while including some brief times of prayer. But this second day was now different. God had my attention. Even though it began with me having a whiny attitude, I needed to talk to Him. I was primarily focusing on God while completing my task. I wanted to learn the lesson He had for me in this.
How many times do we go through our lives, intently focusing on something when God stops us in our tracks and really gets our attention? Before that, we’re running around a bit like Martha in the Bible. Oh, we want to commune with Jesus, but we’re so easily distracted by our responsibilities. Or maybe we’re simply too busy having fun or making a name for ourself. After God gets our attention, that all changes.
Do you find yourself scrambling from one thing to the next? Is your goal simply to get things done? As you begin “knocking out” one thing after another, do you find yourself becoming more intense and frustrated? Maybe you’ve been sailing through life, having fun and making money, but, suddenly, you get a diagnosis that throws you for a loop. Or maybe an accident, death, loss of relationship, or hardship forces you to take a hard look at your choices and focus in life.
Those disappointments and trials you’re facing right now may not be as terrible as you think. Yes, it’s extremely difficult to face a terminal illness. It’s very discouraging and disappointing to not have that pregnancy you’ve been praying for. The pain of losing a loved one is heart wrenching. Financial pressure is hard. Wayward children, unfulfilled desires, relational issues, and health challenges can “stop you in your tracks.” But have you stopped long enough to find out that the very things you are complaining about and asking God to change may be His perfect will for your life? The things that may seem like frustrating distractions from what you want to do, may really be God’s best for you. It may be what is needed to keep your focus directly on Him. This is possibly God’s greatest purpose for our situations.
When we submit to the purpose of our testings, afflictions, frustrations, or difficulties, we can be assured that another one of God’s plans for it has been accomplished. The cross God has intended for you to carry right now may be the very things that you keep complaining about.
There’s nothing wrong with asking God for that baby you long for, that job raise, better relationships, or other answers to prayer, but there’s always much more to it. Remember, when God says, “no,” He always has a greater “yes.”
I’ve found that if I’m not content with what I already have, nothing else will bring true satisfaction. If we can’t find joy in our current condition, we won’t find it in a different one.
I believe God delights when we enjoy life, and He desires to give us “good gifts.” (Matthew 7:11) Those “good things” may include a freshly painted, new bedroom, a spouse to love, a new baby, a better job, or a specific answer to our prayers. But I’m convinced that whichever event He chooses to get our attention, it’s meant primarily for just that. To get our attention and to get our eyes fixed on Him.
What has been your recent focus in life? Like me, have you been plunging through life with your “paint brush in hand,” determined to conquer the tasks before you? Have you stubbornly persisted in trying to accomplish something that may not be God’s plan for your life? Have you discovered that He uses many different methods to keep your focus on Him?
Maybe it’s time for US to change our focus, rather than waiting on GOD to change our circumstance. Will you join me?
Cindy (For The Mullett Family)