I wish I could be all “holy” and say the first thing I did on my little retreat was hit my knees and jump into prayer, but I can’t. My first desire was to snuggle down to a good chick flick. I knew I needed what I sometimes refer to as “brain candy”. I needed to decompress and just have some moments of little thought sprinkled with laughter. So I sat down with my catfish comfort food and popped in
“Two Weeks Notice” with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
It didn’t take long before I realized something that I had not really noticed before. Lucy (Bullock) was me to the next degree. In the opening scenes of the movie, she is lying on a yoga mat in protest of a historical building being torn down by a progress pushing - money hungry - powerful company. I smiled inside. “She is me,” I thought. She is what I so want to be in so many ways… she does what I think about doing in my head. I like her. No wonder I love that movie.
Well there went my hope of thoughtlessly watching a movie! Everything she continued to do went right along with things I WANT to do and I just continued to laugh at the whole thought of it.
There was a large plot of land for sale right outside our neighborhood. It was for sale for a long time. It was wooded and bordered a hidden little nature area that many people in our city don’t even know about. It was the home to many deer who often stepped outside the wooded area to eat and lay in the sun. And every time I saw that for sale sign and the word “Commercial” written on it, I would just fill with anger. I wanted to stand on that property with a sign and declare that we did not need another nail salon, another frozen yogurt attempt, another restaurant, or even worse… another strip mall that sits ¾ empty for years!
I often had thoughts of going out at night and tearing the sign down… or spray painting on it, “Let the deer live here and GO AWAY!” Thoughts of getting caught and nasty mug shots on facebook kept me away from that one! Or gathering like-minded friends and protesting with big signs. We could make our pleas on sheets and hold them up during rush out traffic. How fun would that be? But that is where it stayed. In my head. Lucy would have done those things… all of them. Hmmmmm. Again… I like her.
And then, not too long ago, we saw trees being torn down by bulldozers. My heart sank and I was yet again filled with anger and disgust. And then we were told what was going to be built there… a gas station. Mercy. Really? A gas station! I went postal inside. I imagined all the birds and squirrels and chipmunks and deer whose homes were being thoughtlessly destroyed and just wanted to go right up to those machines and kick them! I know. That would have sent them running! “Halt this needless, wasteful, and destructive operation,” would have just rolled off the contractor’s tongue for sure after such an act of protest!
Later in the movie, Lucy went on to show me up even more when she confronts Grant’s character outside his work place. She confronts him about his plans to tear down the community center and tries to make a deal with him to save it. He asks her to get in the car and asks to hire her! I laughed again. How many times have I thought about stalking Gary Kelly (CEO of Southwest Airlines) and confronting him about the way he/his company is treating the AirTran pilots in this merger. I have visualized myself walking up to him in an airport somewhere and presenting my thoughts in the most loving manner possible... with homemade cookies, even! Lucy would do that. Yep. She would. And then he would probably hire her and “One Love” (Southwest’s merger campaign slogan) would finally become a reality. And that corner of the world would be a better place where everyone received a free pair of rose colored glasses and lived happily ever after!
But I soon realized something else. God was not mentioned. Prayer was never offered. His will never consulted. And there was my revelation… Lucy relies on herself. There is one part in the movie where she doesn’t want to try anymore. And yet again, Lucy and I are alike. That was the very reason I was sitting there, in that moment, on that sofa, alone on my little retreat… because I didn’t want to try anymore. I was feeling defeated… just like her. I was eating catfish and she was ordering a crazy amount of Chinese food!
Parenting… marriage... balancing attempts… trying & failing… seeking… battling the enemy… it had all pushed me to throw my hands up in defeat. I was tired. I was not “seeing” progress… I was not “seeing” fruit from my labor… and yet that was it… “my”. I was relying way too much on “myself”.
I looked through a notebook I have of notes… notes on all kinds of things. And I found a statement from a book, “Marriage, The Journey.” I must have checked it out from the library. But the statement had stars all around it and so it caught my attention. “If you are disappointed in yourself, then you must have been believing in yourself.”
There it was… the basis of my wanting to give up… the foundation of my depletion… the root of my problem. My eyes were on myself instead of on the One who can deliver me from all snares, fill with me His strength, whisper to me His wisdom, guide me with His hand, shelter me from the arrows of the enemy, and clothe me in armor and righteousness.
As the movie ended, I smiled again. I love the ending. She gets the guy, the guy gets free of his bondage, the community center gets saved, and she gets to order Chinese food for two.
I love Lucy. I love her passion for all things right. I love her passion for taking a stand or lying on a mat! I love her desire to help the underdog and protest against the often destructive greedy machine of progress. And I love that she ever so sweetly represents my greatest need… my need for Him. My need for the Lord. She represents my passion and longing for all things right... and my need for the ONE who can make it all right... I CAN NOT.
As I thought about the above quote, it made me think of the story of Peter walking on the water towards Jesus in Matthew 14. As Jesus comes to them in the midst of a storm, Peter doubts who He is. He asks Jesus that if it is indeed Him, for Jesus to command him to come. Jesus responds with, “Come.” Peter starts walking towards Him… on the water. And then, Peter seems to take notice of what is going on around him… a storm. The scripture in verse 30 says, “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out saying ‘Lord save me!’”
The wind’s power, fear, and lack of trust are what caused Peter to doubt the Lord again. Peter is walking on water. That seems like a pretty powerful thing… something that would build my faith! (or would it?) And yet the power of circumstances around him proves more powerful… causes him to doubt Jesus again in the midst of something amazing… in the midst of a miracle.
I am not just like Lucy… I am also like Peter. I am smacked, again, with this scripture.
And Jesus responds by “immediately” stretching out His hand and catching Peter. But Jesus follows with a rebuke. “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (31)
That rebuke rang loud in my ears and pierced my heart. Those words for Peter are words for me.
Oh me of little faith, why do I doubt? Again. And again?
And that sent me into a word study the next day for hours on “faith”. As God revealed His word and as I sought Him, He answered and refilled and restored and renewed. My faith has been being attacked. My faith has been being tested. My faith has been being stretched. My faith will be increased!
I look forward to sharing some little sweet nuggets on faith with you soon.
Are you doubting God? Are you doubting His word… His presence… His promises… His power?
We are all like Peter sometimes. We are all human and we still battle the flesh… the flesh that tells us, moves us, and tempts us to act and move in our own power… in our own strength… in our own way.
And yet Jesus is the way... the only way… and His way is best.
If we could only remember that and walk in that truth daily. If we could only get our eyes off ourselves and onto and stayed on Him! Let’s try. Together.
I think it leads to abiding. And I know it leads to intimacy with Him and transformation. There really is nothing better than that.
I encourage you to claim at least two promises that will help you remember to trust in the Lord, to lean on Him, to wait for Him, and rely on Him. Write them down and put them in your car, on your fridge and on your bathroom mirror. Let them become the words that echo in your mind, heart, and soul. You will be amazed and encouraged by the peace and joy that comes from His word covering you and your day.
If you aren’t sure where to go in His word to look for promises… the book of Psalm is a great starting place. The book of Romans is another treasure box!
“Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6~
“As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me.” Psalm 55: 16-18~
Have a beautiful day!