Monday, April 15, 2013

Offering My Cheap Imitations

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV

I recently flew out to California with my eldest child to visit my sister.  Being her very first trip to the Los Angeles area, my daughter requested to see several of the popular tourist sights.  Of course, Hollywood was on her itinerary.  For those who have never been to Hollywood Blvd, you should know that this street is a complete circus act.  The Walk of Fame has its intriguing stars, but many of them run through dark, unsafe territory.  Hucksters hound you to buy their wears, and cheap imitations of Academy Awards along with other souvenirs are available on every other corner.

My daughter bounced onto the street when she saw adults dressed as favorite movie characters, excitedly thinking they were involved in cosplay.  (Short for costumed role playing.)  Enjoying that sort of thing, she was thrilled, thinking that she could get pictures of them and herself to show friends back home.  It didn't take long before a nasty guy dressed as Darth Vader started scolding her, telling her he wanted money to have his picture taken.  This quickly burst her bubble, impressing upon her, "All that glitters is not gold."

While I could shake my head, thinking my daughter naive and silly, I am no better.  I seem to have misguided perceptions on the best life has to offer.  Bounding forward with great expectations, I find myself disappointed too.

Yesterday, in my devotional time, I read in Experiencing God Day-By-Day*, "People will benefit far more from what God wants to give them than from your best plans.  Have you been short-changing the people around you by merely giving them your plans instead of God's?"  I had to fall on my face, convicted and repentant.  My best for those I love is no better than those cheesy Hollywood tchotchkes.  In fact, God tells us in Isaiah 64:6 that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags," in comparison to His goodness.

I couldn't help but think of all the wasted time and energy I have invested over the years in worrying that things would not go as I had planned or hoped for my children.  I was aghast wondering how many times I had been a road block to my family rather than God's conduit of blessings.  When the school year has been awful, as this one has for our youngest daughter; when our son is stalled in anxiety over getting stuck with an IV needle yet again this week; when a threatening illness bursts on the scene because of our youngest's compromised immune system; when that unexpected bleeding episode lands our son in the hospital, I too easily forget that the Lord can and does use such things to build human character and to glorify Himself.  I get stressed as I subconsciously think, "This certainly wasn't in the game plan!", and continue trying to force life back onto the track I think it belongs.

I need, we all need, to see God's hand at work in the daily life of those around us.  Rather than feeling dread that plans are delayed or derailed, a more useful view would be "I can't wait to see what God produces out of this!"  After all, some things can only be achieved through the pathway of pain.  I personally would not be the person I am today had I not endured much adversity.  Through such things, I have developed a thicker skin, a better sense of humor, more resiliency, greater flexibility, and definitely more compassion.  Why would I deprive my children of this type of learning?  

While every good parent tries to steer their child in the right direction, each of us needs to step back when God is rearranging our best plans for them.  We need to watch for where God is working in the lives of our loved ones and cooperate with that work.  Otherwise, we deprive those we treasure of the best Heaven has to offer and instead replace it with nothing more than a cheap imitation.

PRAY:  Heavenly Father, what a fool I am to think that what I have in mind for my child is better than what you are allowing!  Open my eyes to where You are working, and grant me the fortitude to cooperate with Your plans.  My heart's desire is Your best, Lord, for those I love.

*Blackaby, Richard, and Blackaby, Henry, (1997) Experiencing God Day-By-Day: The Devotional and Journal, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, p. 105

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