Not too long ago, I found an amazing recipe for biscuits from scratch. Thinking they would be great for Thanksgiving, I decided to make a practice batch to see if we liked them. While the professional photograph portrayed magnificent golden-brown rosemary, apple, bacon, and white cheddar mounds of deliciousness, my final product turned out more like one of those hilarious baking-fail “nailed it” memes.
Knowing the old, broken, dough cutter I was using would not, (pardon the pun), “cut it,” I went to Williams and Sonoma and bought a brand new set. These puppies were legit.
The second batch of biscuits turned out much better. I tweaked the recipe and improved my technique which resulted in biscuits that were savory, consistent in texture, and even in height and circumference. They were a hit at the Thanksgiving dinner table and even made the "let's have these next year" list!
I like things to be like that: consistent, smooth, even, stable, and... oh, did I say, consistent? Just ask my family.
I like God to be that way, too. You know, to roll out the dough of all of our lives at the same level of thickness and for the holy biscuit cutter to descend and to create predictable, logical, and easy-to-fathom circumstances in all of our lives. No tension… no conflict… simply when God says ‘this,’ we get ‘this.’ When He says ‘that,’ we get ‘that.’
While I know that’s complete folly, and while I know the Scriptures about God being God… Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent, I wanted to share an experience in my faith journey that reminded me how subtle and pervasive that biscuit-cutter mindset had saturated my thinking.
Feeling drawn one Saturday morning to worship in song at the piano, I set my stuff aside, sat down, and played, singing whatever song came to my mind. Pouring my heart out to God, I eventually was led to a decades-old song, “To Every Generation.”
Reflecting on God’s goodness, the words (and surprisingly, the chords) came easily. “You have been a shelter, Lord, to every generation, to every generation. A sanctuary from the storm to every generation, to every generation, Lord.” As I sang, my mind drifted back to the numerous times over the years when my world was rocked and I had turned to that very song and sang it at that very piano… when our twin daughters were stillborn... when my dad passed away... when my grandmother died... when we left what we knew in Pennsylvania to move to Tennessee... when my sister breathed her last breath on earth... when I left the security of a ministry position after 16 years on staff... and now, this Saturday morning, wrestling with the inner turmoil of trying to process circumstances that were peace-consumptive.
As I opened my heart to God’s open arms, I felt safe enough to, as was described of Benjamin, “let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves, rests between His shoulders” [Deuteronomy 33:12]. When I exhaled, sensing God’s embrace, He gently spoke. “There has never been a time that I have not been who I am. I have never failed to be a shelter. In every painful experience of your life, I have been a sanctuary from the storm. Son, the conflicting emotions and struggle you are feeling in your heart and mind arise from a place of your limited understanding. You see, how I choose to be a shelter is unique to every situation. And your response to the times when I have moved contrary to who you think I am has been hidden resentment, passive withdrawal, and self-consolation.”
And with the utmost tenderness, He pressed further, “You’ve had unspoken disappointment about how some things in your recent journey have unfolded. And you have been questioning whether I truly have been a sanctuary to every generation, especially to your mom.”
Boom! And there it was.
Honestly, I felt an odd mixture of emotions: Exposed… and yet safe. Vulnerable… and yet protected. But, truth be told, I mostly felt relief. Like something I had been fearful of speaking… the spiritual elephant in the throne room… had been brought into the fullness of perfect Light.
And just before I could defend the undercurrent of my disappointment asking, “Well, what about….?” He tenderly spoke His word from Isaiah 55:8-9. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
“Son,” He tenderly said, “I AM a shelter… to every generation. Would you trust that as I was with Amanda and Catherine, with your dad, with Grammy Dick, with you through every transition, and with Liz, so I was with your mom in her passing? And even with what is burdening you this morning, would you trust Me?”
“Your angst over these many months is rooted in your inability to recognize that how I shelter and how I choose to manifest myself as a sanctuary are rooted in the kind intention of My will. So, My beloved, I am asking you to trust Me, even with this.”
Through tears, I sang, releasing my confusion and resentment and declaring with fresh reassurance, “You have been… You are… and You will be a shelter, Lord, a sanctuary from the storm to every generation.” I also confessed my limited and narrow understanding and asked God to displace my biscuit-cutter perceptions of how I think He should always manifest His attributes with fresh anticipation of the full breadth of God’s unlimited creativity, loving intentionality, and supreme grace.
Perhaps as you have been reading this, you recognize similar patterns in your thinking. May I pass on to you what the Lord is showing me? Biscuit cutters belong in the kitchen, not the throne room.
When the Psalmist said, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place [our refuge, our sanctuary, our stability] in all generations” [Psalm 91:1 AMP], there was no fine print about how God would manifest Himself as that refuge, sanctuary, and stability. Nor was there any mention that He would move the same way each time we are in need of protection, security, and reassurance. God is uncontainable and expansive and has unlimited capacity to reveal himself as “shelter” in countless different ways.
Instead of pouting, whining, and withdrawing when God has moved in ways that are contrary to our current understanding of His character and nature, we are invited to rest in the assurance that, “As for God, his way is perfect; The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him” [Psalm 18:30]. Indeed, “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of Lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes” [Deuteronomy 10:17].
So beloved, it’s time to release any undercurrent of disappointment, acknowledging that our finite mind cannot comprehend the ways of an infinite God. Trusting in the relentless love of God and in his innate goodness, we can discover the gift of peace that God has offered that far exceeds the scope of our understanding. You are loved, you are seen, and you are heard.
“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen” [Ephesians 3:20-21 AMP]. And, amen.
If you have been feeling discouraged about your past, a dear friend shared this song with me that offered a different perspective. Praying that Foundations would be a reframing encouragement to you as it was to me.
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