When we were eating at Freebird's we noticed that previous diners had taken their foil wrappers and made them into figures they then displayed on the bricks on the wall of the restaurant. I tried and failed to make a cross (out of Parker's foil) that would hold together! I pictured my little cross sitting beside the little foil cowboy on his little foil horse, or next to the sword and shield (turning it into an armor of God message) or as a counter point to the witch someone had left behind. These were delusions of Freebird grandeur! It is sad when your artistic abilities do not meet your artistic aspirations in a fast food establishment!
Third, I was reminded of the complicated issue of God and sports. This brings up so many topics from how to acknowledge God in your sport (Tebowing?), how to win and lose graciously, and the one I often struggle with: how to pray for your children when they are competing.
As I sat in the stands Friday I was tempted to pray that Bailey would make the finals (similar to praying for a win). I then thought of all the other girls and all their moms and I thought about how God knows what each person needs to do that day, everyone can't win, everyone can't qualify. So what I prayed for was that I would be AWARE that however Bailey placed in the race I needed to align myself with God's will. I needed to come to the place where I could accept graciously His will for her running and her life whether we were disappointed with the outcome or not. Bailey did qualify, just barely and went on to place 7th in the final earning All-Big 12 honors and a medal. I then found myself in a different circumstance. I was not having to align myself to an unwanted outcome...now we were happy, we were celebrating!
|Bailey is in black and gold with the #1 on her shoulder.|
This brings me to the fourth and final thought. Why do we feel guilty when we are happy and why are we sometimes less engaged with God when things go well? When Bailey or Parker have lost races or performed less than hoped for I feel completely engaged with God. I am struggling and asking Him, "why when they have worked so hard have they come up short? Why have You (God) brought them this far for them to be disappointed? What is the purpose in this? Please help me accept the bad as well as the good! Please help me keep things in perspective...people are suffering while I lament over a sports event! Please help Bailey/Parker not be discouraged. Please comfort them. Please help them get through the disappointment without doubting You or themselves." These may not be the "right" prayers but I am completely engaged with God, nonetheless.
Contrast that with the quick "Thank you" I send up to heaven when the outcome is good. I might manage another quick "thank you" as we rush out to eat and relive the race over quesadillas and chips and salsa. Only later do I return to God and really thank Him for His many blessings and think through what His plans and purposes might be. This time, and I think it was primarily due to making crosses every day, I was more engaged with God during and after the happy moments.
In Bible study we are studying the book of James. The lesson I did today talked about the verse, James 5:13 "Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise". Beth Moore, the author of the study, wrote: "We will run our race on one leg if we can only engage with God in our suffering and sickness. He is the author of life. 'From Him and through Him and to Him are all things' (Romans 11:36)". We can talk about coincidence or God's timing another time but I did notice that I happened to read this lesson on happiness at just this time and that the verse talked about running. Deliberate or happy accident these coincidences (or accidents by design) make me happy!
She mentioned another verse, "The Lord be exalted. He takes pleasure in His servants well-being.".
I think one of my problems is that I feel badly for the other competitors because while we know what it is like to win we also know very well what it feels like to lose. Also, I don't want to appear obnoxiously happy nor do I want to say something that would push someone away from God. If you say, "We are so blessed by God" do we imply that we think God did not bless the runners who didn't medal, that somehow God chose some over others?" I do not believe that is the case. In the end, I focused on the blessings that I knew were legitimately mine to claim. I was blessed by God and thankful to Him that Dean, Bailey, Parker and I were all together, that we are healthy, that we love each other and enjoy being together and that we had something fun to celebrate together! . Our ultimate blessing and the one we don't focus on often enough is our salvation through Jesus Christ! Isn't it always appropriate to celebrate that most amazing gift?
We were also blessed to share our happiness with friends: Bailey's friends and teammates who stand by her through good and bad, friends who came to the meet to see Bailey compete, Mizzou friends who joined us for dinner to celebrate after the meet, friends at home who are always encouraging and share in our celebration as I excitedly post updates on Facebook and in text messages. God is good, that does not change with our circumstances. I cannot let my inability, during bad times, to comprehend that truth keep me from fully embracing the same truth during the good times!
|I'm not sure this even qualified as cross making! I used the etch-a-sketch app for Iphone to make this cross.|