By Heidi Bliese
Right now life feels a little like a childhood game I used to play called “Mother May I?” One person was “mother” and would stand at the end of a long sidewalk and grant requests for how far participants could move forward towards the finish line. My siblings and I enjoyed playing this game and did so all the time, but on occasion (probably more often than we’d like to admit) the frustration of the competition got the better of us and it ended in a not-so-pretty display of complaining that it “wasn’t fair” and “you were choosing a favorite.” As Christians, we can take a different approach and see it as “Father May I?” with the participants being God’s children spread out around Him on their journey to the finish line: Heaven. In hard times, my sinful nature causes me to view this earthly life as a competition, and return to the views of my 6-year-old self who believes because I am not “winning” God doesn’t love me as much as He must love everyone else. Thanks to social media, comparing ourselves is fairly easy, for instead of only experiencing the joys and sorrows of our own lives, sites like Facebook allow us to now be a witness to every-day events in the lives of others whom we would classify as acquaintances, friends of friends, or even strangers. It is at these times that Satan starts to whisper lies of discontent into my heart, seeking to draw my attention away from the Father. But even as I am browsing someone’s status or pictures and am feeling unsure about my own future, something always happens in my life that awakens me to my sin of coveting and sends me running back to the Father. Instead of seeing myself in competition with those around me, I need to keep my eyes focused on my Lord and Savior, for “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). My life is unique and most importantly, every step has been planned by my Father, for “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). Instead of viewing the events of others’ lives as a reason to lose contentment with my own, I strive to remember that the dreams I hold so dear to my heart and pray about every day were put there by Him, and He will fulfill them in His time.
Some days will be harder than others, because we are human and will continue to sin (Romans 3:23). But after a long night of weeping, nothing is more comforting than returning to His word and reciting the words of Psalm 116:7, which states “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” And He has. It doesn’t take long to look around at my room, friends, and family, and be reminded that I have been blessed beyond measure. It is also a reminder of what our prayer life should look like; to have a humble heart in prayer is to remember that our Heavenly Father hears all prayers, and answers them, as we are reminded in 1 Peter 5:7, which states, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” True, these answers may not always be what we want, but in the hardest of times, continue to seek your heavenly Father in prayer, asking Him to give you peace and whisper the words of Psalm 46:10 into your heart, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Although it can sometimes be so easy to play the comparison game, God sees each one of us as individuals, and holds our lives in His loving and more than capable hands. He may not be granting you that one giant step that you’ve been waiting and longing for—but our loving Father will never deny you any kind of movement that takes you closer to Him. Whether it is a baby step in the form of a whispered thank you to Him, or a giant leap into His arms during your most desperate moments of prayer, God, our Heavenly Father, will always be there waiting with the promise of love, grace, and compassion. And you can be certain of that love and forgiveness by the sure promises of your baptism, His absolution, and His Supper. This message is so clearly stated in verse two of the hymn “Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me” which states, “Lord, when the tempest rages, I need not fear, for You, the Rock of Ages, are always near. Close by Your side abiding, I fear no foe, for when Your hand is guiding, in peace I go.”
Heidi Bliese is a graduate student at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois and sometimes wishes she had never heard the word “thesis.” In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing scholarly articles and promoting a Christian worldview while debating social issues. You can email her with questions at Heidi.firstname.lastname@example.org.