I think God laughed.
Or did that thing we people do when we shake our head and laugh at people who are flailing badly at something.
Okay, okay. Maybe not laughed, but He was definitely doing something as He watched me hitting those branches. They were in my way and I was venting my frustration.
By slapping at them.
See those branches in the distance? Yeah, they are in my way. In fact, they are always in my way when I walk down this street. In the winter, they are hanging low, heavy with snow. In the summer, the tree is in full bloom and the branches hang low just like you see below.
I am forced to walk in the street to continue my walking.
Common sense would dictate that the owners of this tree would trim it back so as not to inhibit people walking on the sidewalk. Why won’t someone do something about this?!
Common sense would also dictate that I deviate from walking this route and go another way. I shouldn’t have to change when it’s not my fault.
I do sometimes.
But, I like walking this route. I like looking at the people and cars around my ‘hood. Not sure why, but I just like seeing what’s happening around me.
When I venture this way, however, forgetfulness reigns supreme and I don’t remember this pesky tree.
Did I mention something about common sense?
I sometimes think I’ll sneak back late at night and just cut the branches off. No one will see me at night – I tell myself – and I’ll clear a path for better walks. And who knows, maybe others would secretly thank me too. I mean, I can’t be the only one who thinks this.
I am neither stupid enough or brave enough to even attempt such a thing. The thought crosses my mind, but I would never carry that thought to life.
And on this particular day, it did again as I beat back those branches with my hand…while walking in the street, of course.
That laugh though. Ha!
Did God laugh? I swear I heard a laugh in my head. Maybe it was God or maybe it was just me. The idea of me slapping at those branches makes me laugh.
Or roll my eyes.
In that moment, though, I had a revelation. Not the knock-your-socks-off life change type of revelation, but it did prompt a question.
Sunny – How often do you beat against an obstacle expecting change?
How many times do I complain about an obstacle or challenge in my way and expect that just by complaining things will change? How often do I blame someone else for my problem instead of owning up to the issue being ME?
I keep doing the same thing (walking the same route) over and over and over again expecting different results.
I pray the same prayers. I try the latest and greatest Christian strategies. I read the same books over and over again. I sing the same songs.
Same thing. Same results.
Same route. Same problem. No change to my actions and the issue remains.
Pardon me, my impatience is showing. My mind begins to wander to the result portion of this dilemma. How do I get to the result?
Instead of trying to just slap (push) away the problem, what if I invited God into the equation – God, will you help me? What am I not seeing, Lord? What am I not hearing? Jesus, what is my next step?
By changing my mindset, I change how I work through it.
The issue is still there. MY problem is still a problem. Ignoring it or going a different route, while that may work for a while, it doesn’t help me in the long run.
It only teaches me to run away.
Running away from problems – physically, mentally, emotionally or yes, even spiritually – only robs us of growth. Growth of character. Growth of strength. Growth in our relationship with God.
But, facing our problems means work. Work within us.
What’s the answer then?
I would love to sit here and say that I’ve got this all figured out. Or, that I always call out to God, but I don’t. More often than not, I try to figure it out on my own.
Sometimes in life, there aren’t any answers to make a problem “go away” or resolve it. It is just always there.
Hanging over us like those branches.
So what then? What do you do when it seems like there are no answers or ways out?
Invite God into the overhang.
Invite Him into the jungle.
Invite Him into the problem, challenge, issue, dilemma or whatever you call it. Invite Him in.
Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.
It may not change the situation. But, it will change your perspective by getting your eyes off the problem and onto Him.
As it says, “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”