Saturday, January 28, 2012

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

A few days ago, while in the tunnel to board the last flight on my way back to Latvia, traffic got backed up, and I found myself at a stand still, staring out the window. To be more specific, I found myself staring at the pilot, a man probably in his late 50s, most likely of Russian decent, who had a stern look on his face, and a serious unibrow. In all actuality the man reminded me of someone who may have played one of the bad guys in one of those old black and white war movies. While looking at him and thinking about this my next thought was, "By walking onto this plane I am making the choice to put my life in this man's hands." About that time my eyesight shifted and I realized the co-pilot was observing me, observing the pilot. My next thought was "I'm putting my life in his hands too." About that time traffic started moving and I shortly found myself on the plane, sitting in my assigned seat, staring out the window at the wing my seat overlooked. I then began to think about all the individuals that were involved in making and servicing this plane and how there were no doubt hundreds of people that I was choosing to "trust" just by the simple acts of purchasing my tickets and getting on the plane. In a little over one month I had made this choice to board a plane built, serviced, and flown by people I know absolutely nothing about 8 different times. And strangely enough, this thought did not have me sweating bullets, or even really disturb me even the slightest bit.

But it did get me thinking about a relationship with someone I do personally know, my Heavenly Father. I am presently reading for the second time what I would consider one of my top five favorite books "√Źn a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson. The back cover of the books says, "What if the life you really want and the future God wants for you is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure...your greatest fear? The book is basically about saying goodbye to fear and hello to faith in God, not just faith that there is a God, but that the steps of good men truly are ordered by Him.

How is it that it can be so easy to nonchalantly entrust one's safety to an airline, etc, but when in the path of life one come to a crossroads, brickwall, he can find himself spiritually hyperventilating? I have no doubt God has came through for both me and for you many more times than any airline has, so why do we ever even question what the future may hold? There is a reason why I have decided to read this book at this certain time...because I know it would remind me of some things that I already know, but just could use hearing again. Thought I would share a few of the passages with you as well, you know, in case you too are at or approaching a crossroads, brick wall, or cliff and might find some of these words beneficial.
"Whenever I counsel someone who is wrestling with discerning the will of God, I remind them of this simple truth: God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go....If you keep in step with the Spirit, God is going to make sure you get where He wants you to go. He is always working behind the scenes, engineering our circumstance and setting us up for success.....Now here's the catch: Sometimes His itinerary entails coming face to face with a lion in a pit on a snowy day. But when you find yourself in those challenging circumstances, you need to know that God is ordering your footsteps. You can have a sense of destiny because you know that God has considered every contingency in your life, and He always has your best interest at heart. And that sense of destiny, rooted in the sovereignty of God, helps you pray the unthinkable and attempt the impossible.

This book is based on the scriptures in 2 Samuel that talk about a man named Benaiah who went down into a pit on a snowy day to kill a lion. The writer is making the point that we are to face fears & challenges, rather than run from them. Those who do so are referred to as "lion chasers".
Lionchasers challenge the status quo....they don't need to know what is coming next because they know that God knows. They don't need explanations for every disappointment because they know God has a plan.....The longer I live, the more I think spiritual maturity is less about figuring out the future and more about a moment-by-moment sensitivity to the Spirit of God. I'm not saying we shouldn't make plans. But you might want to use a pencil with an eraser and have a shredder handy...I believe in planning. I believe in goal setting. But there are some things in life you can't plan or predict. And that drives the obsessive compulsive part of us crazy. We want control, but the decision to follow Christ is a relinquishment of control. Following Christ is letting Jesus take the wheel. [and not acting like backseat drivers or asking "Are we there yet?"]

I am glad to say that at this moment in my life I am not standing at a crossroad, a brick wall, or a cliff. However, it is likely that, in the not so far future, I will be. (Hopefully just the crossroad :-) That said, much like the author, I too am very goal oriented, so when I don't have a plan, and God remains mum, that obsessive compulsive side starts to get a little stir crazy. I have also learned that absolutely nothing can be done to get God to speak any sooner. He is always on time, but, in my personal experience, rarely early. Therefore I have sufficed it to remind myself that on God's time clock for my own life it is only about 8 or 9 oclock and he usually announces the plan around 11..though He has full authority to wait until that absolute last minute. He does, however, always come, always speak, always provide, always open that right door, always provide that special need. He always has and He always will. And it has always been better than I could have even expected.

Before leaving a ministry conference I attended in Louisiana last week, I was riding with a friend to the airport, telling her about how I fly standby and how I had been so thankful to get a window seat with no one next to me on the international flight to the states. I had been the last person to board the plane, and even in the past when I have bought a pre-purchased ticket early, I have still always got that terrible seat in the middle of the middle row, sitting next to two strangers. I then prayed out loud, somewhat jokingly, that I would get the same kind of seat on that international flight back..window with empty seat next to me. I then told my friend she was my witness, for when it happened. Well, I didn't just get my wish for that for the international flight, but on all three flights I had to fly on the way home, two of which I flew standby. There were also many little needs and just plain "wants" that I prayed for before my visit home and to that conference, such as clothing for the cold weather here, certain restaurants I hoped to get to eat at,etc. Some things were very important and some were just desires. God came through for every single one. And believe me, there were quite a few.

If God cares about the little insignificant things, how much more does He care about us surviving those moments in our lives when we face lions in pits on snowy days? The author of this book makes the point that had Benaiah not went through those many heart pounding situations, he would have never had the exceptional resume that most likely opened the door for him to be put in charge of the king's bodyguard, making him one of the most respected people in the kingdom.

So, put on that lion slaying attire and remember that God does all things well, has your best interest at heart (if you have HIS best interest at heart), and is ALWAYS on time!

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