God is willing to leave the 99 in order to search for the stray, lost one. He pursues us. I don’t think he ever stops pursuing us, whether we nonchalantly stray or run away with determination and rejection.
But he knows the process (and the outcome), and he is patient. Consider the prodigal son and his father. The son demanded what was “his.” (His entitlement makes me cringe. Yet it also makes me chuckle. He demands to sever all connection from his father yet leans into him and wants him to provide. Many people do the same with God – rejects him when life with him is inconvenient but looks to him when needing something.)
The father gives generously. I imagine he was heartbroken as his son – someone he loved tremendously and sacrificed for generously – walked away. But the father didn’t run after him. He didn’t roam the city streets to retrieve him. He didn’t try to find him in the pig pen and clean him up. He waited until his son turned homeward.
Then he ran toward him. He greeted and welcomed him with abundance.
God pursues with patience and wisdom. He knows the best approach. Follow his lead. Determinedly seek out reconciliation when it is right. Take a step back when someone’s choices are making the timing of reconciliation wrong. Discern well. Patiently pursue.
There were two dead baby bunnies lying on the edge of the parking lot. They were tiny.
I was thankful for my son-in-law’s attention to detail. He noticed a live one under my van…as I started to drive. I didn’t see it as I slowly pulled away then decided to stop and talk to he and my daughter for a minute. The bunny was exposed, dwarfed by the expanse of the large, nearly empty parking lot. Then he made a dash for cover – under my van again. He huddled closely to the inside of a tire.
My son-in-law tried to coax him out then took the “frighten him out” approach. It eventually worked but not for several minutes. The tiny bunny darted one way then another under the van to try to stay protected. He eventually huddled in the grass among a line of empty trash cans ready to be moved around the property for a large event. I knew he likely wouldn’t survive on his own, yet I also knew direct contact with him lessened his chances.
As I drove away, I smiled at his cuteness and teared up at his loss. I related to his desire to seek out the best place for protection while simultaneously coping with the reality of exposure and vulnerability.
Whether or not you are in the shade of shelter or comfort of soft grass doesn’t define your protection. You can be protected even when in the open with bright sun beating down on you. How you define protection is essential to how you seek it and how you end up experiencing it.
“Proud of all you’ve accomplished already.”
It was a dad’s encouragement to his daughter in response to a “thanks for being a great dad” comment. I understand the spirit of it. But we need to be careful what we encourage and admire.
Accomplishments are worthy of being acknowledged, but what about “becoming”? As in “I’m proud of who you are become.” Not who you are or what you’ve done but the process of growth with hope for the future. I have seen firsthand how elevating people because of accomplishments has impacted people’s sense of worth, as well as their pride and insecurities, which taint widening-circles in their lives.
When we focus on character and the process of becoming, we see warning signs as well as promising signs of what is to come, including possible accomplishments and failures. We invite people to become and grow through ups and downs. We allow room for a process instead of creating benchmarks to be attained and measured. Of course, there are plenty of accomplishments along the way, but they become one aspect of the overall process.
Instead of the framework by which the process is judged, when we invite people into a process of becoming, we value them as people instead of resumes, trophies, or tools. Our care for and encouragement of them is more about compassion and patience than judgment.
God does not procrastinate. Ever.
We might not like his timing. We might not follow him well. But his timing is purposeful.
There are plenty of examples of people thinking Jesus was delaying or late – both in the Bible and in today’s experiences. But he is not. Our experiences of life do not define reality of life. Our perspective of timing does not define the truth of timing.
We don’t have to like God’s timing to trust him to time our lives with purpose.
Two steps forward and one step back.
Some days that feels optimistic. In reality, it feels more like two steps back and one step forward.
In those moments, I choose to trust God is keeping me focused in the right direction, that I’m not stuck. I choose to believe God has placed me on a moving sidewalk, and he is helping me make progress even when I don’t feel as if I am.
You might feel the pull of yesterday on you today. You might not be moving forward at the pace you prefer, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t moving forward.
Look forward. Take a step. Stand firmly with God, and let him move the path beneath your feet.
A friend wrote she is in a “fiercely hard season.” Because of that context, she was particularly thankful for a sweet day reprieve. Context often clarifies our perspective and keeps us in check. A fiercely hard season not only allows a deep background on which we experience moments of brilliant, bold joy, but it also makes it clear how ridiculous we were to complain, mope, and quit during minimally hard seasons. Hard seasons and fiercely hard seasons are very different.
Invite the season you’re in to provide you with a broad perspective of your life. Wring out the purpose every season of the journey.
Sometimes what we think is freedom is actually a trap. We think we are stepping into freedom, yet we discover we are walled into something else instead.
On the other hand, when we fully engage in and explore what we feel trapped by, we often find there is freedom within it. We simply haven’t found it yet. We haven’t let ourselves change and be changed. We haven’t been willing to step into the discomfort long enough to consider our perspective is limited. We refuse to be humble and try something that frightens us, something that is promising even if we don’t see it at the time. We believe we know every outcome and consequence, but we don’t.
Let’s not assume we know what freedom is. Let’s find it, near and far. Let’s appreciate it. Let’s live it.