Sometimes you just don’t have everything you need at your disposal. Sometimes you just have to get creative. Sometimes God doesn’t give you the exact things you think you need, but He gives you ways to improvise and to improve your adaptability. I find that this practice makes it easier to be flexible in tense situations, “to learn in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11, ESV).
This is our theme for the day.
This morning I woke up excited for the day, though physically exhausted. Despite it being only the second day of this fourteen day stretch, I’m already feeling it wearing on me. I really need to build up my endurance!
I continued with reading through the book of Daniel and it’s already making me go “wow.” First of all, it takes place in Babylon, which is scary already. Second of all, they’re under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, and he’s apparently very particular and puts a lot of faith in his sorcerers, interpreters, and magicians. He has a dream and asks his wise men to tell him the dream first and then interpret it. That would be like me having a problem, going to my mom, asking her to tell me what my specific problem is, and then give me advice about how to fix it. Granted, because my mother knows me so well she could probably guess and get it right after a few times, but these guys had to tell the king his dream right the first time, and if they didn’t they would be torn limb from limb! Obviously the sorcerers can’t satisfy the king, so he orders all the wise men to be slaughtered. Thankfully, before this happens, God sends in Daniel with the answers the king is seeking. Despite how smart and faithful Daniel is, without God-given wisdom and knowledge he would’ve been killed along with all the other wise men.
While I was reading, I read this line: “He (God) changes the times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding,” (2:21). This is Daniel praising and thanking God for giving him answers needed to stop the king’s wrath, and it’s totally cool that he says “he removes kings and sets up kings” because he’s about to become the right hand man of a king. It’s important to know that even though you may be under authority (the federal government, principals, etc.), God is above that authority, and what He says matters most; He put those people into authority and He can very well take them out. But while we’re below them, we are to respect them so long as they don’t ask us to go against God’s word, trusting that God has everything under control even when control seems to be lost in a mess of politics.
The other part of this verse was “he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” You know how yesterday I was talking about comparing yourself to others and just not feeling smart enough? This verse reminded me that, regardless of my level of intelligence, ANY intelligence or wisdom I have is from God, and it is not my place to be upset about how much or how little smartness I have. It’s kind of like looking in the mirror and thinking about how awkward you might think you are. God MADE you perfectly; don’t you be dissin’ what He created beautifully and wonderfully. And this is NOT just for girls. I know guys struggle with self-image too, and this applies to you as well. God made you perfectly, whether your toned or skinny, big or small, tall or short; God sees what’s important, what’s deep, while the world because it in itself is shallow, sees only what’s on the surface. God sees Atlantis beneath the water, while the world sees only bubbles.
After reading more of Daniel, doing my other devotions, and talking to God for a while, I headed off to Word, Usage, & Style. I was kind of nervous about class…ever since that one class I’ve been nervous when writing my faith into my assignments. I’m afraid I’ll say something that will cause an uproar. But despite my fear, I continue to write about God and my relationship with Him; He’s just too much a part of me to ignore.
We get into class and I read my piece. I talk about when I pulled an all-nighter and missed World Literature, at the end describing the romantic simplicity of my relationship with God.
“>So, I think it’s safe to say that even though I messed up again and I was really disappointed in myself, God still had my back; He was still placing little things in my life equivalent to a sticky note on the fridge or flowers at work to encourage me and to remind me that He still loves me.”
As I read this line from my essay, a smile spread across my face and I was reminded of just how true it is. After I finished reading, my professor skipped right down to that part. I held my breath and waited. But instead of discouraging me, he said that he really liked how I wrote about my faith. He thought it was great how I made it so normal, so real, so much a part of everyday things. He told me he didn’t want me to think that he didn’t like my writing about God and my faith. I told him, not thinking, that even if he didn’t like my writing about God and my faith, I would still write about it anyway. I almost wished I hadn’t said those words, fearful of his disapproval. But he smiled and said, “I know.”
I was able to further describe my relationship with God to my classmates, about how so many people see Him as a distant, all-powerful being, rather than everything you could ever possibly need. I compared it to when you first start dating someone. You have those lovely fuzzy feelings and you can’t stop talking and thinking about them. That’s what being with God is like for me all the time (except when I’m being stubborn and think I don’t need Him…silly me). I’m not saying I’m dating God…now THAT would be weird. But the feeling is similar. God is so wonderful in so many ways. He really does “leave sticky notes,” like perfect parking spots at Wal Mart, or a sale when I thought I was paying full price, or an unexpected letter in the mail. He does “send me flowers at work,” like when I’m reading or studying or stressed and a friend texts me talking about how what God is doing in their life or when my mom calls and we talk about her day.
So yeah, the morning was pretty cool 🙂 This evening, during Botany, we were having a sort of end-of-class party, and I was supposed to bring fruit. I had planned on going to Mr. Coco’s, the fruit stand recommended to me prior to today, but I couldn’t find the place! So I went into every grocery store on Myrtle and after being checked out by strangers, insulted by passersby, and tripping over the same stupid rut in the sidewalk, I decided to go to the one store I had been avoiding: Kim’s Millenium Market VIII. I had only been in this store a few times and had never bought anything because it was all too expensive. But I decided to check anyway: it was the only choice I had.
Speaking of “sticky notes on the fridge,” whole pineapple was reasonably priced and so were strawberries…they were actually cheaper than Wal Mart! So I purchased the fruit and began walking back to my dorm. That’s when I began to think.
Wait a minute, I don’t have anything to cut this with…or anything to cut this on…or anything to put it in, like a dish or a plate or something.
Wait, I can cut it with my pocket knife….yeah, that’ll work. I’m not sure what to do about the whole cutting surface or presentation dilemma…
That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to worry. I was headed to lunch with Karly in a few minutes and I wasn’t going to worry about this small thing. I gave it to God once I left my dorm room, having put the strawberries in the fridge and the pineapple on my desk. Karly and I were eating lunch when she started talking about the C-Store. She explained to me that it was a convenience store on campus where you could purchase miscellaneous items (food, deodorant, shampoo, cleaning supplies, etc.) with your extra meal plan points.
IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN ABOUT THIS SOONER!
After I got over my lack of common knowledge, Karly and I headed over to the C-Store. They have everything in there! From packaged baby carrots to aspirin to Ben & Jerry’s. It was like walking into Narnia….okay, maybe not as cosmically life-changing, but you get it. As I scanned the many items on the shelves, I noticed 59 cent aluminum containers, the kind you would make ziti or baked beans in for a barbeque. Without a second thought I grabbed two of them, along with a few other things like granola bars and applesauce.
I dropped my purchases off at my dorm next to the pineapple and headed to Writer’s Studio. In Studio we talked about The Waves by Virginia Woolf. This book makes me so excited…I know, I know, it’s a sad book filled with suicide, homosexuality, and general distress in every character. Let me explain.
As we were discussing, as my professor described the characters as “looking for what else is out there” referring to their longing for something more than what they ended up with in life, I realized how plainly he was describing the human condition before God. Of course they’re looking for something more! Man begins a search for purpose and meaning and hope and importance from his infancy, I think, maybe on different levels at different ages, but man is always searching, until he finds what he’s looking for: God. The characters in The Waves had no hope and no solid point in their lives around which they could rotate their emotions; they were unable to be content with the situation they were in, lost in the waves of life and drowning beneath their questions and explorations of self. It’s classic books like these that, despite how dismal and controversial they are (though The Waves is less controversial than others), describe the human condition so perfectly, but fail to describe the Cure.
Writer’s Studio ends and I have an hour left until Botany. I still haven’t cut up the pineapple and strawberries, but as I walk back to my dorm for what feels like the billionth time in one day, I formulate a plan. Lin is in the room when I walk in. I say hello, throw my hair up into a messy bun, and clear off my desk.
Well, cutting boards are wood, right? My desk is made out of wood….
I disinfect the surface of my desk along with the blade of my knife and I begin meticulously cutting away the rind of the two pineapples. Lin turns around in her seat to look at me. I stop what I’m doing to look at her.
“Ignore me…I’m just cutting a pineapple on my desk with a pocket knife.” She shrugs her shoulders and begins working away at her laptop again. I finish cutting up the pineapple and begin cutting the leafy heads off the strawberries. Eventually my desk is clean and no longer sticky, my knife is washed and dried thoroughly (to avoid rusting), and I have two aluminum pans filled with a beautiful array of red and yellow fruit.
But I don’t have any plastic wrap.
I grab a plastic grocery bag, cut off the handles, and split it slightly up the sides, wrapping it neatly over my fresh fruit. No plastic wrap, no problem.
In Botany class, as we’re eating pizza, Oreos, and my fruit, everyone is talking about how good the pineapple is. I laugh and tell them the story. Their faces light up and are surprised when I finish. The conversations proceeding were rather hilarious.
There is one last thing I have to do before I can settle down in my dorm and dig into my homework: I have to go get Lin’s cake. I’ve been very good about keeping my surprises from her (unless of course she reads this and I just don’t know it, in that case I’m the worst surprise-keeper ever), and I didn’t want her to suspect anything tonight either, so I am acting as if I have completely forgotten it’s her birthday tomorrow.
Me and two other girls (I asked them to go with me so I wouldn’t have to walk to Path Mark by myself at nine o’clock at night) venture out to get the cake. I got her a small Oreo cake, along with a package of balloons and pink candles. I have nothing to light the candles with, but I have a feeling me and an open flame just shouldn’t be near each other, especially with a smoke alarm and a bitter fire department watching over the entire dormitory. I’m planning on blowing up all the balloons and putting them all over her side of the room and on the ceiling and everywhere (this will totally work because she leaves before me in the mornings), and I’ll put her caricature on her desk along with a note that says to look in the refrigerator, where there will be yet another note near the cake (with the pink candles in it) telling her Happy Birthday. Oh I hope this all works out as I planned it! If not….well, I guess it’s the thought that counts. But I really do hope she has a great birthday 🙂
I received more assignments today on top of all of my final projects, but they’re relatively short and easy to complete. God is totally working everything out…obviously not in the way I thought He would, but He is. He’s taking care of me, like He promised, keeping me stabilized even when Satan tries to trip me up, and believe me, he has. Tomorrow is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting and I can’t wait! I hope everything works out with that as well. If not, then I’ll just have to see it before I go home for Christmas 🙂
God is good 🙂
“Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he (man) will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” —Ecclesiastes 5:19,20, ESV.