Originally published Friday, 08 August 2014.
A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding draws it out.
Proverbs 20:5 NAS
If there’s one thing I’ve seen stifle effectiveness in my own life and in the lives of others, it’s unresolved issues. Sometimes our issues become so loud in our minds and hearts, we can’t get “us” quiet enough to receive from God or be of use to Him in the lives of those around us.
The Lord taught me this lesson in a way He knew I’d never forget. In high school we had a Christian club that met at lunch. One of the students had a pro football player at her church and managed to get him to come speak. We bought pizzas, announced our fancy-schmancy speaker and had the best turn-out ever. Our football player shared about his life before and after Jesus. It was a glowing event for this handful of high schoolers to pull off with little help (our school administration was decidedly unsupportive of the club, but legally we were allowed to have it, so we tried to be effective and respectful witnesses). As I picked up used plates and cups left over from the pizza feast, a girl came up to me and said she wanted to believe in Jesus and His offer of salvation. But...the biggest, hardest “but” I’d ever heard followed next... but she’d experienced some painful, traumatic events in her childhood that made her feel that God didn’t love her, see her or care. Her feelings crowded out the little bit of faith she had to believe in His love and salvation. Her words touched a nerve too close to home. A place of entirely unresolved pain. She said, “If you can explain how it is God could allow that to happen to me and at the same time how He could love me and save me, I will give Him my whole life right now.” I couldn’t explain. I prayed. But I couldn’t explain because I hadn’t let God touch the place in my heart that needed that same explanation. I told her honestly, I don’t know how He could allow it, but that He did love her and she could believe and be saved. She said, “It’s not enough” and walked away. I turned away as tears of too-many emotions welled in my eyes. I cried for both of us. I’d been part of the event planning team. We’d prayed for hearts to be turned to Jesus. But at that very moment, I severely lacked the understanding to make our prayerful planning a reality. Why’d she have to ask me? Why not someone else, someone who could have answered? Who didn’t have my issues? That moment God grabbed my heart and we began the journey down the path of healing. I couldn’t let those issues, my issues, be a stumbling block to someone else. I’ve prayed for that girl for years since, and in my heart I truly believe that if God went to the ends of the earth for me, He won’t let my mistakes get in between Him and another one of His children. I so very deeply hope that the seeds of longing for a relationship with God in that girl took root and blossomed. That day was probably a step along her journey to Jesus, but it was also the beginning of a journey for Jesus and me, too.
Whether it’s answering the hard questions, or simply processing enough of life to draw out dreams/plans that God has placed deep in your heart to bring them to fruition, processing life with your Maker will only bring blessing and peace to your soul. We need His wisdom, understanding and perspective to fulfill the purposes and plans He has designed us for. We can plan to be used of by the Lord, but if our issues trip us or others up because we don’t have the Lord’s understanding over a matter, we won’t be as fruitful. We might have dreams and plans for great things, but without His understanding it’s very likely we will miss a valuable facet of His intention for us.
As you press into the Lord this Summer, take purposeful steps to plan and process with Him. Make your plans for this sweet Summertime and the upcoming Fall with Him, pray over how you spend your vacation, and if you’ve got unresolved pain in your heart seek His perspective over it.
Here's a free pdf. download of journaling prompts to get your started on processing everything from dreams to disappointments with the Lord.