Just where is that man?! I sure knew where I was. Hmmph. I was frantically putting up all the wet kid snow gear by the fire, boiling water for the ever-loved-snow-day-comfort-food, Kraft mac n cheese, and preheating the oven for dinosaur chicken nuggets. By.My.Self! Of course, all of this mad-mama-multitasking while cold water-soaked through my socks from the melted ice left behind on the kids’ journey across the living room to the fireplace where I demanded their snow gear be hung to dry.
In my furry, I glanced through the open blinds in our front room, across the three-day old snow-covered lawn and saw that man…scraping snow off of our elderly disabled neighbor’s driveway. That’s just where that good kind soul of a man is that I married. Being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Just where is that man? Not the first time I had thought this, I reflected on how my perspective truly has changed over the years. A shift occurred when I started repeatedly seeing the best in my husband instead of the worst. I started telling myself good stories about this man with whom I had chosen a lifetime instead of bad ones. I started seeing my husband as the wonderful person God created him to be instead of one given to me to fix. These “new eyes” have allowed both he and I to grow closer to God together and as individuals. My older, more cynical eyes, selfishly demanded that “that man” provide all that I need to grow and to be happy.
So many things in this life tempt me to turn inward and believe that I deserve more than what God provides for me. There are blogs, articles, books, podcasts, movies, TV series – even words from peers. They all tell the same story; the story they tell is a lie. The story features “self” as the center of marriage, family, friendship, workplace, church and any other place of human connection. The story begs me to find confidence in self, material possessions, prestige and the like.
And the story is compelling.
It is very tempting to believe I have the ability to be in control of my own destiny and that I can incite all necessary change myself. Self help books and professors of empowerment fill me with words that excite, motivate and lure me to action. They promise reward for the digging in, the standing firm and the putting on of the oxygen mask to self first.
While it is very important to care for self, it is equally very dangerous to make self an idol.
I believe in a better story, a true story, featuring a King who conquered sin and death by living a life of self-sacrifice, love, forgiveness and humility. In this story, this King is in charge of my future. He is in charge of my self, my marriage, my family, my friendships, my place in my workplace, my place in the church…He, the one who has the power to conquer my biggest fears in this self-focused world. The one who even conquered death.
Jeremiah 17:5-8 says, “This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who, trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
I love this Scripture passage as a way to refocus my mind on where my confidence must come. Blessed is the one, who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. The Lord likens placing our confidence in Him to being like a tree planted by water. When a tree is planted by water, its roots continually have access to life. This type of tree has no reason to fear any calamity that might come its way. No worries about a drought! A tree placed in this position of access to living water would be the last to fall! No worries about heat! The nearby stream would provide continual water to keep its leaves green, its fruit ripe and it’s trunk sturdy.
This type of tree…it…never…fails to bear fruit. Can you even imagine? Never failing to bear fruit? What exactly does that look like when we consider this type of tree is who God wants us to be? Our fruit bearing does not resemble fall-crisp apples, Florida oranges or sweet, tender and juicy peaches. Our fruit bearing is of the spiritual kind – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I imagine myself, standing by a stream, as a this type of tree, the quiet beauty of nature surrounding my heart and mind. I imagine being connected to my Savior in this place, a place without distraction, without worry and without fear. I close my eyes and feel peace as I acknowledge His bigness and my smallness. I feel relief in the letting go of trying to do it all myself. My feet are planted on His solid ground with continual access to His wisdom, His goodness and His guidance. I don’t have to figure it all out.
This is the confidence we are offered in Christ. This is the confidence that can break barriers and restore broken hearts and relationships. This is the confidence in something so much bigger than ourselves that we experience a shift in perspective. This is the confidence that turns the flight attendant’s oxygen mask hierarchy instruction on its head. My King doesn’t even need an oxygen mask so He lovingly holds mine in place.
Just where is that man? How about this as an alternative…Just where am I? Just where is my heart? Just where am I in my relationship with Christ? Just how can I have full confidence in Him to meet my every need? Choosing Christ to be my source of confidence allows me to don new eyes and no longer even wonder just where that man, that family member, that friend…is. Instead, I rest in the peace that comes only from assurance that Christ will provide for my every need.
It’s just so much less about me. It’s just about Jesus.