When Your Ducks Don’t Do This

I get this immense satisfaction when I leave for work in the morning with nary a wrinkle in my clothes, my makeup smudge-free and my hair looking as sleek as it’s going to in this super dry climate. Ideally, I’m also leaving behind a clean house, paid bills and folded laundry. Better yet, I somehow managed to squeeze in a workout, make a dentist appointment and write down that plot twist I thought of at 3:00am.

Ah, put-together.

It’s a glorious state of being, prized by women everywhere. It’s also elusive (if not an outright fantasy).

It became frustratingly elusive for me as July rolled into August. My manuscript was due during the same week as I was trying to get a week ahead at work in preparation for the vacation I hadn’t even begun to think about packing for. My ducks weren’t in a row, they were tumbling about in a frenzied yellow mob. Put-together was replaced with very different descriptors.

Flustered.
Overwhelmed.
Stressed-out.
Anxious.

These words remind me of the reluctant Old Testament hero, Gideon. Chosen by God to deliver Israel from the oppressing Midianites, this man faced a daunting task. I don’t blame him for asking God more than once for a sign, some assurance of victory for him and his underdog warriors. To our trembling hero, God said this:

“The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’” Judges 7:2

An army of over 30,000 men was whittled down to 300. Yet they conquered their enemy.

Sometimes, in those moments when we feel the least put-together, the unfathomable power of our God finds its opportunity. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Friends, if you’re feeling flustered or overwhelmed, remember that your help comes from a God who loves to save those who realize just how desperately they need Him.

Give Up

I love snow.

I realize it’s a risk, saying those words in February. If you’re one of those people who think snow has no business falling after it’s done its duty by providing you with a white Christmas, I apologize.

But since I love snow . . .

There’s nothing like venturing into a wintry forest, seeing the blankets of snow heaped on the glistening evergreen branches overhead. Or strolling across a bridge downtown, the usual bustle of the city softened by the newly fallen snow that renders footsteps silent.

Unfortunately, before snow, there’s November. The wonder of October, with its red-and-gold fall splendor, gives way to brownish-grayish gloom. The trees have released their glorious leaves.

But maybe that’s the point.

A wise woman once told me that she’d pestered God for direction in her life, but the heavens remained silent. Finally she went ahead and gave up. (Gasp!) It seems we’re told from the time we’re kids to never give up. As Thomas Edison famously stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Yet this woman gave up. Like the trees that relinquished their leaves in the fall, she relinquished whatever elusive heart’s desire she’d been pursuing. And that’s when God answered her. That’s when she found the direction she’d been looking for.

I don’t think she was undermining the value of working hard to make dreams realities. But for her, the change came when she emotionally let go and surrendered to God’s plan, even if it didn’t match her own.

Here’s the amazing thing about God: His plan often unfolds amid twists and turns, setbacks and seeming dead-ends, making way for possibilities we’d never have imagined. As it says in Isaiah 61, He gives us beauty for ashes.

He does it every year. Once the October trees release their leaves, we must brave November . . . and then comes the snow.