Battles, Direction and God

If you haven’t noticed, I have been studying the life of David lately. If you don’t know, I am a Paul lady. Like hard-core crushing on him fandom. I have been for years. But the more I dig into David’s life I see why he was the man after God’s own heart. I see not so much the perfection of kingship, the shepherd turned victor.

I see the imperfect. I see the man. I see a man who went hard to be in wait for God’s promise, who was humbled in worship of God because he saw glimpses of the glory of God, promises fulfilled by only Him. I connect to the intimacy David sought with God. But the biggest piece I am learning in David’s life is that he went to inquire of God. Not of others, not of his own mind. He went to God before anyone or anything else early in his life (we aren’t to Bathsheba yet y’all).

Before engaging in a battle, he went to God.

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I mean c’mon y’all. Do you do that? I’ll own that I do not. I let worry, fret and anxiety rule my mind and heart rather than going into intimate time before God to seek His will and direction in it. I either avoid battle or bear down straight into it a la Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards in season 6 (you know what I mean). I let emotions rule, or compartmentalize them away into avoidance.

Yet David, the great warrior and king in the Old Testament stops to convene with God, to seek God above all else. Because that’s what God desires of us, to seek Him out and be in intimate relationship with Him. To be the first we run to in times of worry and anxiety, not the very last.

It means instead of running through best and worst case scenarios, we run to His feet. Instead of searching through our friend list to text out for prayers, we search our hearts and minds for the lies that have shaken our foundation in Him. Instead of posting to social media vague diatribes for commentary, we sit in silence with God, listening for Him.

My life, my heart, could do with more of God and less with worry. Could yours? When the worries come, and they will, can we cling to God alone, taking them to Him and then listening for Him? Can we still our anxious hearts in the firm foundation of Christ, and allow our sense of control to be relinquished to God?  Can we turn to songs of praise in the midst because the Lord of all has given us a place of refuge and is in control of it all?


Psalm 34 is not only a song of David but a battle cry of facing anxiety and worry. It’s one that I have found to bring me back to intimacy to God instead of running after the fear misplaced in this world and circumstances. Recently I stumbled upon the Psalms album from Shane and Shane with their version of Psalm 34 as well.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalm 34: 1-8 (ESV))

Maybe not. 

I applied for the job. I interviewed and felt really great about it. I had the balance of experience and education, along with willingness to learn and grow in the position. I honestly felt like I was the perfect candidate. But several weeks later, after an enthusiastic email to check how the committee was doing on the search I got the pat email from the lead. They’d gone another direction and hired from within. 

Ouch. 

And I wondered why I had even gone through all that to be disappointed and let down. I felt like God had specifically been leading me to this position, and that this was exactly what He had been working on me for. I wasn’t crushed but I certainly felt like God and I were on different tracks. 

I have friends talk about their job disappointment, loneliness, hard situations where they’ve felt like God has left them or forgotten them, or that it’s a sort of punishment. While I don’t think God punishes (only disciplines) His children, we sometimes a lot of times juxtapose our feelings and desires upon God’s will. I’ve even been in these same situations of hurt, loneliness, forgottenness and toxic jobs asking God why He’s left me. 

Recently I was thinking and praying for a friend’s situation, and their heart, when I found that maybe I’ve had this all wrong. Maybe in this God isn’t wishing I’d pray more about changing the situation, but that I’d listen and change my own heart perspective. That my focus inward had allowed me to be consumed with my will and way to fix it instead of waiting, listening and being open to His direction. 

“Look as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My Hand…” Jeremiah 18:6(b)

You see I’m the clay, He’s the potter. I don’t get to tell Him what to make me into….I can try but I’ll be left a messy heap on the wheel. He’ll continue to work me over with His hands and I’ll be a stubborn clay needing more water added as I grow dry. The potter isn’t so concerned with how the clay wants to be worked as He is the need He knows for it and it’s usage. 

I may think this job isn’t what I am supposed to be doing, but He’s got a plan to use me in it for His time and His good. I may see this place I’m in, whether physical location or mental state as not what I can be best used in and He knows the plan for His kingdom is being worked out in me days, weeks, months down the road right there. 

Maybe He’s called me to walk loneliness, hurt, exile or a difficult job out with Him. To bear out His image in those instances, those hard days and weeks, simply so that it brings another into the fold, it advances His kingdom and His will. Maybe it’s about letting the potter decide the use of the clay over and over again, and being formed into His image for His work and not what I think is His work. Maybe it’s about drawing in close to Him and not to my own feelings and will. 

Maybe it really is all about Him and not about me at all. 

That Year in Birmingham

In a couple of weeks I’ll be headed to Birmingham for an event. At one time, just after college, I called Birmingham home for a year. I have been back once, for a little over 24 hours, in those 13 years since I packed up a that Uhaul trailer with my dad and grandfather and booked it back to Tennessee.

In planning my trip back down, I couldn’t help but recall the first time I went to B’ham as a freshly-educated college grad knowing I had a job in baseball. One week in I was crumpled on the floor of my kitchen telling my sister it was a mistake to be there. That I had somehow made a terrible decision, living five hours from anyone I knew, and I wasn’t possibly going to be able to make it in this city that didn’t offer me much.

Part of me cringes at that memory because of the emotion of it all, remembering how bleak my outlook was and how incredibly alone I felt in that city. The other part of me rejoices though, because I am 13 years wiser from it. God drew me there, whether I wanted to recognize it or not, for a purpose and a reason. He led me there, to get me right here. He did some significant work in me over that year that I can only see in hindsight, and allowed me to work out who I was in some difficult moments.

Throughout my time in B’ham I made some poor decisions, I will own that entirely. My way, my will and my attitude won out on several occasions but I am also able to see how I needed to work out that in an environment where it was me dealing with Him without distraction or other voices bringing solace. Being there allowed me to see where He was not leading me and I was taking my own path and my own way. It brought me back to Him in a way which if I had remained in Knoxville I would not have seen nor chosen.

In so much hurt and grief we cannot possibly see how it’s for our good while we are in it. We cannot see how being alone in place, a place we don’t like and the circumstances aren’t how we would craft them could bring anything remotely resembling His good for us out of it all.

But it does.

It did for me. I am pretty sure it will for you too, if we let go of our expectation of the situation, our will and our way and accept the work God is doing without knowing what it is. The end result isn’t the point, it is what you are going through that’s refining you and making you who God intends you to be in His image, as His reflection and not your own.

The whole process, in the circumstance, in the location, in the job, in the relationship…all of that is the point. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of distance of years or miles to see it. To see how one of the worst and hardest times of your life was also one of the best parts of your relationship in Christ, with God through the Holy Spirit.

But we have to allow it. We have to accept it. We have to be willing to go through it, even in the ugly, even in the lonely, even in the longevity of it all. It’s never about us. It’s about the work He’s doing, we just have to receive it.

A Hearing Problem

I have a pretty steady routine during the work week. So much so that I find it bleeds into my weekends. My internal body clock is just set for some reason and I often don’t have to set an alarm on the weekends. I find I am waking between 4:30am and 5am on Saturdays and Sundays. Yes, I get up about that time each day during the week. As I have moved my running to the mornings this has been incredibly helpful to start my day off as often as I can with a run and get a glimpse of the sunrise.

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Even in this new routine of sorts, I find how comfortable it is to become lulled into a routine that when thrown off can cause the mind to go haywire. One routine I find I do far too often is have noise on, at all times. Even as I type in my office at home I have the tv on HGTV in the living room and the dishwasher running in the kitchen while the dryer runs upstairs. I love writing with noise, which is another reason I often work on it at Starbucks.

For many of us the noise becomes routine in our lives, which comes int eh form of busyness as well. We stay so busy and our lives get so loud we often don’t hear what is being said to us. The hurt in a voice, the text that is an SOS from a friend, the pain in a friend’s eyes. Even the voice of the Spirit gets drown out in the midst of our lives as we attempt to fit it all in, most often under the guise of “living life.”

I can get to a point very quickly where I let the noise speak to me more than I let Him. I don’t push pause on life, on the noise of the world, as I go about my day. Instead I notch up the radio, I pick another playlist, and I go on with my day simply because that’s my routine. My routine has allowed everything else in but in return pushed His voice, His words, out. It’s lent itself now to a bigger problem of my hearing, where I find myself seeking Him each day when I haven’t taken a moment to truly listen for Him in moments. I give Him a designated platform at a pre-determined time. If He doesn’t speak then I turn up the noise of my routine instead. Seeking answers elsewhere.

So I have a hearing problem…and it doesn’t come with old age but with choosing the distractions of this world and all the noises of life. Much like the noise-cancelling headphones my dad has for his hearing issues, I need to cancel out the noise of life more and more in order to listen for Him in every moment. I complain about His quiet and yet I don’t turn down life in order to truly listen for Him.

It means choosing quiet instead of a playlist. It means filling my time engaged in means which He can speak to me instead of turning on the television. It means getting comfortable with the solitude of no sound in order to be present and aware of Him speaking, breathing into every moment of my life. It means turning off life in order to live it for Him.

Hear instruction and be wise; do not neglect it.

Proverbs 8:33

Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Proverbs 19:27