Ben and I are going through a period of uncertainty right now. There are some things we’re praying about, and trying to discern our next steps.
For most of my life, I’ve hated these kinds of situations. I want to have a plan, and know exactly what’s going to happen. But this last year, God has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him, and walking in faith, taking one day at a time. I don’t get it right every time, but I can definitely see that He’s been strengthening my faith muscles!
Every once in a while, though, the temptation to think too far ahead trips me up. Suddenly I catch myself worrying about all the things I’m trying to leave in God’s hands.
This recently happened again, early one morning. For some reason, I just woke up feeling anxious, and before long, I was all busy in my head, wondering how we would work everything out.
Realizing I was heading into dangerous territory, I got out of bed and started on the little things I do each morning, until I finally settled down with my Bible. I’ve been reading through Matthew, and that morning, I was up to the passage about Jesus feeding the five thousand.
As I started reading, a verse I’ve read many, many times suddenly grabbed my attention. I didn’t even know why at first, but it seemed to jump out at me, so I read it again a couple of times to figure out why it felt important.
“He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” (Matt. 14:19)
As I read it over, I realized there in front of me were laid out three steps for how to move ahead when the way doesn’t look clear.
What Jesus did in that specific situation can be done any time we are waiting for direction from God: He looked to heaven, He gave thanks, and He took action, having faith that God would make a move.
Look to Heaven
When I keep my focus on God, I don’t worry about stuff. But when I start looking too far ahead and trying to control everything, anxiety kicks in. If I remember to keep my eyes on Jesus, “looking up to heaven”, there is peace.
It’s like that old song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”…
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
I sing that song when I need to remind myself to keep looking to heaven, instead of all the distractions around me, which cause me to lose trust in God’s care and provision for my life.
Gratitude has the power to melt away all kinds of negative feelings. It’s very hard to feel worried when I start thanking God for all of the ways He’s been faithful.
We can thank God for all He’s already done, but in this verse, Jesus thanks God for what He hasn’t even done yet. I’m trying to do this, too. God knows our needs. In times of uncertainty, I’m choosing to trust that God will make a way, even before we see what it is. I’m thanking Him in advance for all He will do in the future!
The Bible doesn’t say exactly when the miracle of multiplication occurs in this story. Does it happen somehow as Jesus is tearing the food into pieces? Does it happen before He breaks the bread? Who knows, but I love how Jesus digs in and gets to work!
It reminds me to start walking in faith before I know exactly how everything will work out. I can’t sit around waiting until I know every detail – sometimes I need to get moving, and put my faith into action.
It reminds me of a quote by Charles Stanley that I’ve always loved, which goes something like this: “If God asks you to run through a brick wall, just start running, and pray He’ll make a hole.”
It would be so much easier to get the miracle first, and then take action, but a lot of the time in the Bible, miracles happen on the way.
I would absolutely love to know how everything is going to work out for our family, but there is actually something beautiful and exciting about not having a clue, and keeping on our path anyway. Even when our way is uncertain, I want to travel it in a way that honours Him. I could get very stressed and worried right now (I’ve done it before in other situations when waiting on God), but how much better to do it with peace, joy, and a thankful heart!
Look to heaven, give thanks, take action. I’m not saying it’s a magic formula that leads to a perfect, wealthy, successful life. I’ve learned that most of the time, things don’t turn out at all the way I think they will, or want them to. But somehow, even the hard times can become good and beautiful because Jesus guides us through.
It’s not easy to do these three things – it takes a lot of practice, and it’s hard to keep the mind disciplined enough to stick with it. But the Spirit enables us to do what we can’t, and the more I practice, the more appealing it becomes to live a life of faith.
Look to heaven, give thanks, start moving. And then, who knows what will happen next?!