Today as I hiked through the trails on Greek Peak, a ski mountain up near Cortland, NY, I wondered what on earth God does with teenage girls.
Do they know that He loves them? Do they know that the world isn’t ending each time mom says “no” about going out with a guy? Do they know that Christ intended for their crazed emotions to actually bring them closer to Him? Do they know that, no, the dishes won’t wash themselves, and yes, it’s your night to do them?
I know I didn’t when I was a teenager.
So my question is what on earth can I as a sixty-year-old woman living in the body of a twenty-year-old do to reach teenage girls without wanting to shake them by their shoulders until they understand who they really are and that they don’t have to live this way? And how much of being a teenage girl is just emotions, hormones, and, well, part of a phase?
How on earth does God deal with all of the teenage girls of the world?
But this is only one hurt in my heart tonight…how powerful is God, exactly? Why does He answer some prayers obviously and loudly, and others with complete silence? How do I handle that? How do I take it? Why does He wait so long to answer? What is He waiting for? How do I handle that?
I trust completely that He’s able to answer prayer, and that in the way He answers is only one small part of His sovereignty. He does see what’s going on, and He sees much more than I do. He’s been around much longer (much, MUCH longer) and is wiser and stronger and more powerful than I am and than I could ever comprehend. And yet here in my small wonderings, I put God in a box. I grow impatient. I grow frustrated. I grow angry. Because He’s not moving the way I think He should.
From teenage girls to regret, from marriage to shame, from identity to battlemindedness, I don’t understand. I have no idea. I am hoping, and searching, and waiting, waiting for God to move, and being prepared to trust Him even if I don’t get to see it.
The whole situation is absolutely insane. And I continue to search my brain and my Bible for a situation as absolutely insane as this one. Regardless of what the situation is specifically, I’ve found several times where insane situations became a bleak time…and then God showed up.
What about when a man of God confronted king Jeroboam in 1 Kings chapter 13? This man confronted Jeroboam with a sign prophesied by God. Jeroboam has constructed golden caves, inanimate objects, to replace the one and only living God. So, God sends a man to confront him about it. The man confronts Jeroboam with:
“O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’…..’This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.'” (1 Kings 13:2-3, ESV)
Well, the king reacts in a very poor way. He reaches out against the man and calls his guards to seize the man. Yet before the man can be seized, God in all His power makes Jeroboam’s hand dry up, “so that he could not draw it back to himself” (v. 4). And then of course the sign is fulfilled. The altar is torn down and the ashes are poured out from that same altar. Then the king asked for the man to ask God to give him his hand back, and He does.
That’s really insane. I don’t care what you think about the OT. That’s ridiculous. And yet it happened: a tense situation, and God showed up. And that’s not even the only one! Nor are situations like this exclusive to the Old Testament. So, why on earth is God not powerful enough to heal impossible brokenness, to make peace out of confusion, to swallow up bitterness, to quiet emotional storms, to make something beautiful out of something so incomprehensibly terrifying? Why?
None of this makes any sense. I have no answers, no guidance, no solutions, no idea. I just do not know at all what to do.
And yet God does.
He does. He knows the enemy’s hand. He knows the hearts of those involved. He knew all of this would happen, and He has a purpose for it. I don’t know what that purpose is, and I can’t understand why He chose this particular venue through which to accomplish it, but He did, and it will not be thwarted.
Tonight my family and I sat in the living room, after a long day of Dad and Jimmy working on a porch for a friend, my going hiking, Mom walking, and Gracie recovering from a week of summer camp. We watched the movie “McFarland USA,” a film based on a true story about a cross country team, starring Kevin Costner, and the fact that all of us, together, sat in the same room and watched and enjoyed a movie together was absolutely wonderful, a huge blessing.
And yet throughout the day I felt like nothing went right. My attitude this morning was poor. I reacted with edginess. I went hiking and struggled with bitterness. I was weak and exhausted. I couldn’t say anything right. I didn’t even feel like I had a right to pray…which of course meant that I really needed to. And as the day went on, the more I prayed and just talked to God about how frustrated, worried, frightened, and uncertain I was, the more focused I became, the more protected I felt, the more divine security I could settle into. By the time dinner and the movie came around, my head was back on my shoulder, and the conflict that interrupted it partway was less of a conflict because I had just talked to my Savior, because I’d just let Him know how I felt, poured my heart out to Him, as David in the Psalms challenges the Israelite people. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). And when Jimmy tried to high five me (as he does on a regular basis, several times within a handful of minutes) and I playfully rejected him, and he jokingly pouted for several minutes, I could handle his joking and take it as joking. And it was funny 😀 And that sounds silly, but earlier in the day I would’ve taken it the wrong way.
But my heart still hurts. It’s still burdened. It’s still yearning for healing in these situations of brokenness. It still longs to have God show up and catch us all by surprise. It still craves His presence and His show of power in a place where light seems scarce and hope seems lost. And I still don’t know what to do about any of it. But my identity hasn’t changed. God hasn’t changed. His word and purpose and desire and love hasn’t changed. His power hasn’t lessened, and His sovereignty hasn’t become diluted. He hasn’t given up…so neither should I.
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” —Psalm 62:8