Uncertain Future, Certain God

I used to have the bad habit of flipping to the last pages of a book to find out what happened. Maybe you don’t have that problem, but have you ever wanted to know something that’s out of reach? Right now, I think we’re all wondering when life might get back to normal. Perhaps you’re wondering if you’ll be able to attend college in the fall or if working from home is now a permanent situation.

At some point, most of us have wanted to know the end without dealing with the drama in between. In real life, we often don’t understand why we have to wait so long for answers or why our prayers hit the ceiling.

I have good and bad news. The good news is that God never designed for us to know what tomorrow holds. In fact, not knowing deepens our dependence on the Lord and strengthens our faith in Him. The downside, from our perspective, is that there are some things we just can’t know right now. When we try to get what we want on our timeline, we create problems for ourselves and others. Perhaps we can spare ourselves some heartache by learning from others’ mistakes.

Choose to Wait instead of Rush.

The fall of mankind hinged on knowledge that God asked us to entrust to Him. God’s instructions to Adam and Eve were simple: They could eat of any tree except “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17 NKJV).

The serpent capitalized on our innate desire for knowledge when he tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5 NKJV).

Pause for a second. What if Adam and Eve had been content not to know? There would be no broken world. We would still be living in paradise!

The serpent used the urgent temptation to know back then, and he still uses it today. Urgency is not an attribute Scripture applauds. Instead, the Bible frequently repeats the command to “wait” on God and records the blessings associated with it. Consider Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:9, and Isaiah 40:31 for starters.

Yet the opposite of waiting is what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to rush ahead for immediate gratification or pleasure, because he knows that regret will hurt our relationship with God. We can spare ourselves much pain if we rest on God’s timing.

Let God’s Sufficiency be our Security.

Regardless of our life stage, we all face situations where God asks us to wait. For example, my husband and I recently bought a new home and are in the process of renovating it. Newsflash: Renovations do not happen overnight. We have made so much progress, but sometimes, it’s easy to become impatient. Yet much like house renovations, we ourselves are works in progress. God’s renovating work in our circumstances and spiritual lives keeps us going back to His throne of grace, asking for guidance and grace.

God’s renovating work in our circumstances and spiritual lives keeps us going back to His throne of grace, asking for guidance and grace. @kjhogrefe

And that’s a good thing. If we had all the answers, we could fall toward the sin of self-sufficiency. If we were in charge, why would we need God?

King David fell into this trap when he commanded a census (2 Samuel 24:2). Even Joab, his general, cautioned him against this decision. “And Joab said to the king, ‘Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?’” (2 Samuel 24:3 NKJV)

However, David disregarded the warning. Because he demanded to know the size of his kingdom, God stripped him of the very security his soul craved with a plague that decimated the people. God bluntly reminded David that his sufficiency and security come from Him alone, not from the scope of his realm.

Joab’s question to David is one we should ask when we find ourselves insisting on answers. Why do we desire to know? If we can honestly say the reason will strengthen our faith or another person’s, then we can prayerfully proceed. However, if the root cause has to do with pride or securing selfish interests, we need to stop and reevaluate.

Embrace Knowing God, not Knowing the Future.

There’s an old hymn that says, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along, we’ll understand why.”

I think the hymn writer had good intentions and wanted to encourage people that it’s okay not to know everything right now. However, whether we’ll understand one day is not something Scripture guarantees. Maybe God will or won’t take the time to gently reveal His plan.

Ultimately, knowing the details won’t matter. What will matter is that He remains the God who loves us lavishly, unfathomably, and infinitely. Knowing God is enough. We can rest assured that even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, God can more than supply any need.

We can rest assured that even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, God can more than supply any need. @kjhogrefe

Dear Father, please forgive me for trying to control my circumstances and wanting to rush ahead of your timing. I accept that even when I don’t understand how You are working, I can trust Your plan. Please use times of uncertainty in my life to bring me closer to You and to give me a greater awareness of Your presence. Amen.

~ Kristen

Rice Krispies®, Chili Powder, and Rushing Ahead

I was fighting a sweet tooth and since I’d made brownies the week before, Rice Krispies Treats™ seemed like a brilliant alternative. Besides, they’re basically instant gratification because they require only minutes to prep.

After spreading the gooey goodness of Rice Krispies® cereal and buttery marshmallows in my cake pan, I reached into the cabinet for some sprinkles. Deliciousness is 90% preparation and 10% presentation, right? Maybe the percentages depend on the person, but I always like to make my desserts pretty.

I started shaking the red dispenser, but something looked off. The red wasn’t red enough. It was a deeper burgundy color.

And then I read the label. Chili Powder.

I was doctoring my delicious treats with chili powder, not sugar cookie sprinkles.

When we rush toward gratification

I was in such a hurry to add the finishing touches that I didn’t read the label or take time to do a two-second inspection. If I had, it would have been obvious that the chili powder container didn’t look like sugar sprinkles.

Sometimes, we act the same with life. We’re in such a rush to get to the next phase of our lives that we grab what looks like the “real thing,” only to be disappointed later.

For example, have any of these If Onlys ever crossed your mind?

  • If only I could just finish school
  • If only I could meet the right guy
  • If only I could make the team
  • If only I could go on that trip
  • If only

The problem is that when we wish for instant gratification to our desires, we often miss out on the blessings of right now and mess up God’s recipe to provide in the best way.

When to stop and read the label

Like it or not, life doesn’t come with a label. Can you imagine what ours would say if it did?

  • Caution: Do not converse with prior to coffee consumption.
  • Directions: Dose regularly with sunshine for optimum results.
  • Warning: Introvert requires good books and quiet time to recharge properly.

What would yours say? In all seriousness, though, even if we had labels, they would have one problem: They would be about us.

Instead, we have something better. God’s Word directs our focus off ourselves and toward Him and His plan.

If you find yourself wanting to rush ahead, open a copy of the Bible and meditate on truths like these:

  • Jeremiah 29:11-12: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (ESV)
  • Psalm 34:8-10: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (ESV)
  • Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

How to Move Past Mess-Ups

Maybe you’re thinking, “But, Kristen, I’ve already grabbed the chili powder.”

I hear you. So have I. Plenty of times. But you know what? Chili powder on Rice Krispies Treats™ wasn’t a total fiasco. A gentle sprinkling was almost unnoticeable, and I caught the problem before I doused the whole pan.

No matter how big you think your mess is, God’s grace can redeem it. His Word says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a ESV).

Bring your mess to God and be honest with him about it. Ask him to put his grace to work in your weakness and bring about good through the mistakes. He will.

~ Kristen

I’m honored that this article appeared in the fall issue of the Girlz 4 Christ digital magazine. Hope it’s a blessing to you! For more great content for teen girls, visit girlz4christ.org.

Tweetable

Rice Krispies®, Chili Powder, and Rushing Ahead – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Lies the Enemy Tells Us about Being Single

This week’s post talked about God’s timing, and I think it’s “timely” that my guest post for DailyPS.com on singleness also published the same week. In every season of life, most of us would probably admit we’re “waiting” for something … to get through that advanced math class, to hear back on college applications, or to receive that long-awaited promotion.

Many people are also waiting and wondering when their relationship status might change. Though I don’t often blog about singleness, I think this topic is important, because it’s often misunderstood. If you’re single or know someone who is, I’d encourage you to click over to DailyPS.com to read the full post.

Regardless of your “status” or the item on your “waiting” list, the bottom line is this: Live abundantly where God has you today.

Post excerpt

Often, we single adults don’t stress about our relationship status until someone suggests we should. Not long ago, my church’s youth pastor shared from the pulpit how he met his wife online. The woman in front of me twisted in her seat and raked me over with a look that said, “Sweetheart, what are you waiting for?”

Well-meaning though she was, she doesn’t know my story. Well-meaning though people may be, they don’t know yours. Whether through not-so-subtle suggestions or other prickly tactics, Satan can make us question our confidence in Christ.

To deflect his darts, we should consider Paul’s challenge to the Ephesians, equipping ourselves “to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11 NKJV). Dictionary.com defines wiles as “a trick, artifice, or stratagem meant to fool, trap, or entice.”

In other words, wiles are lies that parade as truth, and perhaps we’ve entertained a few before. Something’s wrong with you. You’re not good enough. You missed the bus.

When lies rear their heads like ugly dragons, the only way to slay them is with truth. Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s Word “is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (NKJV). It’s the weapon we need to defeat the doubt and live the abundant life God’s planned for us (John 10:10).

Click here to read the full post.

Our Maker’s Metronome

Click, click, click. Beep, beep, beep. That metronome used to drive me crazy as a beginning piano student. If you play piano (or some other instrument), maybe that little device was the bane of your early musical years, too.

Of course, my teacher had my best interests at heart, and thanks to her persistence and the nagging of that metronome, my timing improved. All along, I knew its steady beat was right, but I still resented it.

Am I that way with God’s timing? Are you? We might say we believe His ways are best, but truthfully, we’d rather speed up the tempo. However, when we rush ahead of God, we miss His perfect plan. Two Old Testament characters learned this lesson the hard way.

King Saul forgot his place.

As Israel’s king, Saul enjoyed many privileges and responsibilities. Offering burnt sacrifices was not one of them.

During the second year of his reign, he faced a critical test. Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, gathered to attack. Their numbers were “like the sand on the seashore in multitude” (I Samuel 13:5 ESV). In response, the men of Israel fled and hid themselves.

Although the text doesn’t contain the message, King Saul must have sent for the High Priest Samuel to come sacrifice to the Lord and intercede on their behalf. In reply, Samuel sent word he would be there in seven days (I Sam. 13:8).

Can you imagine the tension building inside Saul? His forces were scattered, and he couldn’t do anything to rally them until Samuel appeared. His panic grew as more men disappeared with each new dawn. At this rate, he wouldn’t have an army left to face the Philistines.

Finally, the day arrived, but Samuel did not. Too impatient to wait any longer, Saul offered the sacrifice himself.

Guess what? The Bible says that “as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering,” Samuel arrived (I Sam. 13:10 ESV). Saul armed himself with excuses, but the bottom line was that he had disobeyed God. As a result, Samuel declared that God would not establish Saul’s kingdom (I Sam. 13:14).

Do we try to take things that don’t belong to us—or perhaps aren’t God’s design for us right now? Losing our place in a musical piece might leave us embarrassed, but getting out of sync with God’s plan can only bring regret.

Abram and Sarai rushed ahead of God’s plan.

In Scripture, God made a covenant, an unbreakable promise, with a man named Abram.

  • In Genesis 12, God promised to make him “a great nation” (vs. 2) and give the land to his offspring (vs. 7).
  • In Genesis 13, God told him that his descendants would be like “the dust of the earth,” meaning that no one could count them (vs. 16).
  • In Genesis 15, God declared that his children would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (vs. 5).

There was only one problem. Abram and his wife Sarai were old and childless.

Perhaps at first, Abram believed God without question. But ten years passed from the initial promise when he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4). Maybe he needed to “help God along.”

He wife suggested he have a child with her handmaid. The result of that union was a boy named Ishmael, but he was not to be the son of promise. Instead, God told Abram and Sarai they would have a son named Isaac (Genesis 17:19-21). He changed their names to Abraham and Sarah to underscore His promise that they would be parents of not just one son, but of many nations (Genesis 17:4, 16).

God’s promise came to pass, though not on their timetable. Twenty-five years after the promise in Genesis 12, Sarah bore Isaac to Abraham, now 100 years old (Genesis 21:5).

Although God always keeps His word, we often grow impatient. We think our timing is better—only to complicate our circumstances.

God’s promises endure.

Is there something you’ve been praying about for some time? Does God seem to be saying no or not yet?

God’s Word provides the encouragement we need to persevere. As we spend time in the Bible, we can identify unchanging truths and apply them to our circumstances.

Let’s look at one of them from Abraham’s story. This man had his share of doubts, but the Lord told him: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1b NKJV).

I wonder if these words were God’s way of reminding Abraham that greater even than the child of promise was His own presence in Abraham’s life.

Try placing your name in that verse. Say it out loud.

Do not be afraid, ______________. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.

The Lord is our shield and our reward—even while we’re waiting, even if God ultimately says no or reshapes our request.

God’s timing is always perfect.

We would never tell a metronome that it’s timing is wrong and ours is right. We’re aware, sometimes painfully so, that it’s on tempo and we’re not.

If we wouldn’t argue with a mechanized device, why do we argue with God? How often do we tell Him that He needs to answer our prayers … for a friend, a relationship, a growth spurt, a scholarship … NOW?

Even though we may think our timing makes sense, the truth is we can’t see or understand God’s schedule. In the Bible, the book of Isaiah speaks to this very truth:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV).

Let’s stop resenting His timing and learn to conform to it. Our unchanging God has planned the perfect rhythm for our lives, and when we follow it, we can enjoy His best.

~ Kristen

This post first appeared in the Girlz 4 Christ Fall Issue. To read more great content for teens girls, subscribe at girlz4christ.org.

Tweetable

Our Maker’s Metronome: God’s timing is always perfect – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)