When you are little, one of the first traffic lessons you learn comes when you have to cross a big street. The traffic is rushing both ways, causing your hair and your dress to blow up. You look at the myriad of lights, not sure which one to pay attention to. And the noise. There are horns, the whoosh of tires on pavement, and maybe the clicking of the signal that Mama says is for the people who can’t see. How does that work? But then, in the midst of the confusion, Mama takes your hand and gives you some very important directions.
She realizes that explaining the pattern of traffic signals to a two year old is futile. She realizes that the best thing she can do is to teach you these simple three word that will help keep you safe. And then, most importantly, to always hold Mama’s hand.
I’m realizing that there’s alot of places in my life where I’m alot like a two year old at the corner of a busy intersection. The demands around me seem overwhelming. The noise seems to come from every side so that it’s difficult to focus in on what I really need to hear. The temptation to just jump into the confusion – to fix it, to bring order, to just get through it – can be so strong. But I’m also realizing that my Heavenly Father has been speaking these words to me for a long time. Stop…Look…Listen. And I’m finally figuring out what it looks like for me to live like that. All day. Everyday. Not just at major intersections – but wherever I am along the road.
I’m realizing that when I’m faced with overwhelming needs, whether they come from a kiddo that is hurting, a neighbor that is grieving, or a congregation full of people that may just need to be seen – God works when I can remember to do these 3 simple things.
I need to press pause, step back and invite God into this circumstance. I need to remind myself that He is already at work to meet the hurts that I see. I need to refuse to jump in with my own agenda, thinking that I have the “fix it” for whatever is going wrong. I need to remind myself of the Holy Spirit’s role when I’m faced with overwhelming challenges: He sees it, He leads me in it, and He provide whatever is needed to meet it.
In this stopping moment, I need to look around me. Do I really see the hearts of those that God has put in my path? Am I willing to look beyond the careful exterior they’ve crafted for the occasion? Am I paying attention to the heart need of my teenager that is frustrated with disappointing people? Who do I see that God might want me to connect with?
And most importantly, I need this stopping moment to listen to the voice of the Spirit. He’s the one who has gone before me to to lay out the “good works, planned in advance that you might ‘walk around in them'” (expanded Eph 2:10). No. People aren’t “works”. But God has gone ahead of us and placed people in our path whom He intends for us to connect with, to see their hurt and speak hope in their pain. All I need to do is invite His voice to show me who that is – for this moment. And then step out and expect that He will lead. Not only that He will lead, but that He will do something great – something transformational.
I get to do something exciting this Fall. I’m teaching through the Book of Acts for one of the Women’s Bible Studies at Mission Hills Church. I’ve had a break from teaching for the past two years, but am so excited to get back into it. And it’s so funny that one of the transcendent themes throughout the Book of Acts is this idea
I’ll be posting some thoughts from a chapter each week as we work through how God wants to change how I think about Him, myself and my role in this world. If you live in the Denver area and don’t have a group that you can study God’s Word with, come join us!! Here’s the link to sign up:
missionhills.org/wbs (Click Thursday on the left tab, scroll down to Acts/Joy of Living to register)
I really cannot wait for our time together!! I get to partner with a new friend, Shelly Jane Ross who will be doing some of the teaching as well. She’s a fantastic researcher and loves to dig in to the things that might look confusing at first glance. I’m super-excited to learn from her.
Come join us – there’s a place for you!