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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Advice?

By Lisa Karon Richardson

The other morning I was getting ready to face the day. I took a shower, (impressive, I know) and then I opened the bathroom door to let some of the steam escape since the fan is broken. The scent of Pantene, Dial, shower gel, and lotion, mingled in the steamy haze. Max the dog wandered in and in the random way my mind often works I thought: “It smells kind of strong in here. I wonder if I smell that strong… Am I one of those people who smell as if they have marinated in their perfume?”

I looked down at the dog and saw the unmistakable curling of his lip. For an instant I wished I could ask him if I had overdone things. A second later I came to my senses. Of course I wouldn’t ask the dog. That was ridiculous… A dog’s sense of smell is super sensitive. Any advice he gave on the matter would simply be overkill.

I know what you’re thinking. But I assure I am at least technically sane.

And I have a point.

How many times do I consider going to God for advice on some issue I’m facing, only to write off His opinion on the matter. Don’t look at me like that. I know I am not the only one who has ever done this.

We (I insist on using the plural, even if I am alone) sometimes beg God for guidance, but when it comes we turn our noses up. “Well yes,” we think, “that’s all right for you. You are 100% holy. Of course, you think like that. You are way more sensitive to this issue than is necessary.”

It hasn’t escaped my notice that this easy discounting of God’s good sense generally takes place when I don’t particularly like what I’m hearing. It’s pretty easy to embrace direction that leads you where you want to go. Not so easy when He is leading us away from something we want to do, or worse leading us toward something we don’t want to do. Maybe that’s why God so often asks something of us that is beyond our comfort zone, beyond our expectation, even it seems, beyond our capacity.

Forgive this next analogy. I hope you’ll see the point I’m trying to make. Hunters use dogs, precisely because they can smell more than a man can. In fact, the dog’s nose is said to be 1000 times more sensitive than a human’s. Point being that the hunter doesn’t know where the prize is. Neither can he see the trail, but he trusts his dog’s sense of smell. He doesn’t insist on trying to take a certain path, because he knows that he will find his prey only if he allows the dog to lead.

In our lives, when we have a dream we are chasing, we’ll do better to follow His lead, even when we don’t understand the route He’s leading us down. If we trust His guidance we will not be lost. In the spiritual scheme of things, "to obey, is better than to sacrifice."

What are you asking God about right now? What are you willing to do with His answer?

16 comments:

  1. I am asking God to lead me out of bad relationships and into good ones - ones that inspire - with people who encourage one another and build each other up.

    Another phrase I often pray is: God, let me be your ink.

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  2. Mary, I love that prayer! Perfect for a writer, or anyone who wants to see God make a mark on the world.

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  3. Beautiful, Lisa.

    I have to share a little about I book I finished yesterday. "In the Arms of the Immortals" by Ginger Garrett. It's a bizarro medieval thriller about the black death. And I'm still not sure I understood everything.

    But...she had some insanely beautiful moments in it. She has an incredible way with words.

    Here is a quote from when the main character is questioning her guardian angel (a huge beautiful but scary looking creature) about "why" the black death happened.

    He said, "You do not have the language for those answers. I cannot give them."

    The main point of the book is that we need to stop asking "why" and start asking "how."

    "How then shall we live."

    Dina

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  4. You are not alone, Lisa! My desire is to follow His lead, whatever path that entails, but sometimes that is easier said than done! Thanks for the encouragement!

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  5. DIna, that quote reminds me of something C.S. Lewis might have written. He always has a way of giving me a new perspective I've been trying to get my mind around how much higher His ways are than ours, and I don't think my feeble understanding can even come up with an analogy for the difference, much less understand it.

    D'Ann, it's good to know I'm not alone!

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  6. Lisa girl, I love this post. I love the doggie too. I talk to my animals all the time. :)

    I'm praying for a focused and organized life. Not only for my writing purposes, but for work and home as well. Some family members have ADD and I think I've absorbed it into my being. I've never felt so unfocused. To me that's a signal to get back into the Word big time.

    I plan on going to church tonight, but I woke up with a cold, it's frigid here, and I'm thinking, maybe I'll just stay home and read my Bible tonight and focus on Him.

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  7. I want to really be able to hear. God just brought me through a very difficult year and now things seem so calm. Am I the only one who finds themselves in the calm and wonders 'how long with this last?'

    I'm feeling so optimistic and encouraged in my writing goals. I want so much to be published but I want to be able to hear God if He says no, or not now, or put it aside. Would I be able to listen, or would I need a billboard sized sign from Him? Because it's sure a lot harder to listen when it's not what you want to hear!
    I know His ways are better so I don't want to find I've been sticking my fingers in my ears and humming. know what I mean?

    Mary, you are in my prayers.

    Thanks Lisa Karon. Beautiful devotional this morning. Is that the actual photo of Max, by the way?

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  8. Deb, I am the same that my writing is the hardest area for me to hear from God right now. It is also the area I most need to write down when I do hear Him speak, because I can let myself get into such a tizzy over it.

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  9. I love your analogy, Lisa. Crazy how we are so willing to follow and trust a dog's nose, or trust an airplane to stay in flight, or trust strangers who work for the bank with our moneyand yet we are so often quick to dismiss God, whose presence sustains us moment by moment.

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  10. Ladies, I love hearing the prayers of your heart. They are all so beautiful so unique and so very, very precious.

    Deb, sadly that's not Max. Max is a mix between a chihuahua and a dachshund. Bloodhounds have the best noses of all, and I thought that puppy pic was adorable.

    Jill, sadly I know the scattered/unfocused feeling you describe. I'm praying for you. I think it is just a part of your 'season' You've got a lot of loose ends hanging and that until something is settled in those areas I imagine it will be difficult to focus on anything.

    Wenda, you're so right. Even people who don't believe in God exercise faith every single day. They just don't always recognize it.

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  11. What a beautiful devotional, Lisa. You spoke right to my heart. I am guilty of not tursting God, discounting Him and His love and care, when He is the greatest provider, protector, and ally I'll ever know. Why do I do that? Ugh, ugh ugh.

    Writing is one area where many of us struggle as we trust and hope, reach and wonder... I pray that in this process -- whether or not I'm ever published -- that I'll be pleasing to Him and not do it all on my own, which I confess that I sometimes do. And that I build up instead of tear down.

    Mary, I love your prayer. I want to be God's ink, too.

    Dina, that is a fabulous quote. I agree with Lisa about it being akin to CS Lewis to me; he was extraordinarily gifted at phrasing deep and wondrous things so simply.

    Thank you, Lisa!

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  12. Great prayer, Susanne. If we can just please God, nothing else really matters does it?

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  13. Lisa, I agree. It is so easy to follow when things are going they way we want them to. But oh so hard to follow when it's out of our comfort zone. This is one area where I really want to be able to discern God's will and his leading from my own desires or discomforts.

    The doggie picture is just precious.

    Thanks for drawing me out of my comfort zone today and making me take a nice hard look at some things.

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  14. You're not the only one. Last year I learned major lessons about obedience. I suspect my lessons are not done.

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  15. Thanks Suzie. It sure isn't easy learning these lessons, and it doesn't seem to get any easier with time.

    PatriciaW, your comment made me think of that old Sunday School song--He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took him just a week to make the sun and the stars, the earth and the moon and jupiter and mars. How loving and patient he must be, he's still working on me. Did anyone else sing that as a kid?

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  16. Lisa, I've never heard that song. It's adorable.

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