We sat together… waiting for tomorrow to come. My dear friend, “Terri,” and I had sat here on her couch for many mornings, pleading with the Lord to do “whatever it takes” to bring her daughter back to Himself. We had watched as her anger fed a rebellion that came out in more and more new ways all of the time. But now, we sat together and waited for tomorrow, when a judge would announce what the future would hold for their dear girl.
It had been a year since a tragic accident had brought us all to Skyridge hospital to identify this young girl. We stood by as her parents, our dear friends, identified their daughter by a tattoo that only she could have had, because the rest of her was damaged beyond recognition.
Now this waiting was coming to an end. When the judge’s gavel came down, announcing a seven year sentence in a Colorado state prison, we wept. We wept deeply. But we didn’t grieve as those without hope. You see, during that year of waiting between the accident and her sentencing, we had watched as God slowly used this tragedy to turn a headstrong and hostile rebel into a young woman who longed to see God move in her as she sought His face and let Him rebuild her broken life. God began to fill the longing in her, numbed up until now by drugs, with a relationship with her Creator, the Lover of her soul.
God also began to change what she wanted from me. During that year of waiting, we started out sitting together in her driveway while she had a smoke and she’d come up with one shocking statement after another, just to see my reaction. But over time, they took on a new flavor. She began asking questions about how Jesus could give her a new start. After awhile, she did something that truly shocked me. She walked into my kitchen and asked to be in a girl’s Bible Study that I led “so that I can grow as much as I can, because I don’t think I have much time.”
Seeing the Worker of Miracles do His thing in her life during this past year would give us all the much-needed confidence to walk by faith in this seven-year journey that was ahead.
So even as we sat waiting for the judge’s decision, not knowing what the future held, Terri knew Who held the future. She knew that this same God who had worked to transform her daughter’s heart would hold her and keep her, no matter what came tomorrow.
We often walk fearfully because we don’t know what the future holds.
We think that if only we could see what was ahead and how God was going to “work through all things for our good,” then we might be able to walk with courage and confidence.
But what if it isn’t foresight that we lack… but hindsight?
What if godly courage doesn’t come from seeing what God will do, but rather intentionally remembering what God has done?
Over lunch the other day, my husband, Craig, and I were talking about what it takes to walk with a God-centered confidence into the future. Ironically, we talked about walking backwards. Walking backwards is focusing on the surety of God’s faithfulness, based on His character and our experiences, instead of on the uncertainty of our circumstances and the future. When we walk backwards, we can’t see what is ahead but instead have our focus on the places we’ve already walked. Since we can’t see the future anyway, we trust Him to lay out the path and set our feet where they should go. The confidence to put one foot in front of the other comes from seeing how He has guided in the past – and how He has been faithful where He has led. Here are some practical ways to do this:
- Make a Habit of Monument-Making
We are visual people who need constant reminders of how God has been faithful to us in the past. If your relationship with Jesus is new and you don’t feel like you have lots of examples yet, make a point to find someone who does. Listen to their stories and celebrate God’s faithfulness with them. Hearing how God has worked in someone else’s life inspires us to allow Him to work in ours. And if you have seen God be faithful, share those stories! Everytime you do, Jesus’ name is lifted up. Here are some ideas for creating monuments to remind you:
- Journaling – I’m not so good at this but have found that doing it on my laptop is way more practical than a written book
- Creating a God-sightings wall (even post-its or a big piece of paper, have one day a week where you make a point to add to it)
- Have everyone in your family find a rock that represents something God has done this past year and create “stones of remembrance”(see Joshua 4). We have a pile on the corner of our property that we made when we sent Rochelle off to college.
- Establish a conviction that God works for His greatest glory and our greatest good – and they are NOT mutually exclusive. He is always at work to accomplish both of these and they don’t compete with each other. Ruthlessly banish the lie that God is willing to sacrifice our good to accomplish His purposes.
- Build the practice of listening and responding to the Spirit’s leading. This has become a mantra in our family. The more I listen to the faintest hints of the Spirit’s leading, the more I obey. The more I obey, the louder He becomes and the more often I sense His leading and see Him move daily through my life to do crazy things I hadn’t even dreamt of.
We are headed into a new year. I don’t want to be the same person at the end of it as I am now. I want to see God lead me to new, terrifyingly wonderful places that I don’t even have a glimpse of today. I want to let Him transform my need to know, control, and determine by course into a faith-walk, based on the legacy of faithfulness that He has already built into my life. I want to let His faithfulness in my past provide the stepping stones for the risks He is calling me to take in the future. Don’t you? I’m looking forward to hearing your stories of God moving when you have made a point to listen to that still, small voice. Come tell me!! I’m around.
Oh, and I ran into Amber, the ex-rebel turned young mamma of two, yesterday at King’s Soopers. Her kiddos gave both my legs bear hugs and we caught up on what God has been doing in the last few months. My eyes got teary, as they always do, when He caused me to remember what a miracle He’d done in her life- transforming death to life, and ashes to beauty. When we hugged good-bye, I thanked God for putting that monument to His faithfulness, right there in the baking aisle next to the flour.