Ingredients

I hate choosing favorites. I am so indecisive, and I have the hardest time just choosing one “favorite” of anything. So I won’t say this is my favorite message of all time, but I have never listened to a message more than this one.

Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX, preached an amazing series on the book of Ecclesiastes. In 2009, I spent a few weeks working for the 2010 United States Census. I spent hours canvassing around Iowa to map residences and update their maps from the previous census. I listened to the entire Ecclesiastes series during that time, and I still can picture walking down streets in Waverly and Denver when I hear these messages.

The fourth message, Ingredients, was just what I needed at the time. Ten years have passed, and I have listened to this over and over and over as life keeps happening and I regularly turn to this beautiful reminder of how God orchestrates all the ingredients of our lives so perfectly. I have shared it with a lot of friends, and I decided to share it here today.

My heart is a bit heavy as some people who are close to my heart are facing tough cancer diagnoses, challenging courses of treatment, and questions about what their future will hold. Many of life’s circumstances can cause us to wonder if God is paying attention or if He cares. Oh, friend, please listen to this beautiful word and be reminded of His deep love for you.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37-39‬
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Abundantly More

Creative. Artistic. Dramatic. Talkative. So, so talkative. And this week, I decided relentless. Not just persistent, but absolutely relentless in pursuit of what she wants (usually something from me).

These words describe Isabella, my 9 year old. She has some great strengths that will serve her well in life. She also has to work harder in some areas…like math. This year, she had some extra help and still she was not caught up to where she should be. The school recommended that we pursue math tutoring for the summer. As soon as they mentioned it, a little pang of anxiety struck me. Isabella is unique. Many adults adore her, some don’t know quite how to take her. I prayed that we could find someone in the former category as she would be meeting with this person 4-5 times a week all summer long.

Isabella’s wonderful 3rd grade teacher suggested a name, a woman who had taught music to Isabella when she was in kindergarten and possibly first grade. I didn’t know her well, but I remembered her as kind and always smiling. I asked Isabella, she didn’t have any problems with it. So we made arrangements and waited for school to end.

Isabella has been meeting with her for 3 weeks now. A few days ago, I remembered my early anxiety in anticipation of the whole scenario. I teared up as I immediately recognized God’s great faithfulness. This woman has been the perfect teacher for Isabella. Isabella works well one on one. She responds much better in that environment, and this whole arrangement is so good for her. Her teacher works hard on math, and she has told me that she is very happy with the progress they have made so far. She also cares for Isabella as a person, and she works with her personality and cares about the things that matter to Isabella.

I honestly could not have hand-picked a better person for this task. If it had been up to me, I would have labored over names, wondering how they would work with Isabella and if they could handle her intensity. But it wasn’t up to me, I prayed and left it up to God. He picked the right woman, and I send off a happy child every day to work with her tutor. She has never once complained about going.

The answers to some prayers take years to unfold. I must confess, I sometimes grow weary in waiting for the answers to some of those prayers. But in the meantime, God answered this small prayer that meant a lot to me, and He did it so beautifully. I am reminded of His great love for Isabella tonight. He chose a perfect tutor for her, and in the process He also deepened my faith in His ability to provide for her in the future.

And He reminded me that He hears all the cries of my heart. All of them. The wonderfully worded ones, the groans and cries without words, the ones I don’t want anyone else to overhear. He hears them all, and He knows the heart behind each word. One of my favorite verses to remember when I think I am asking too much of God is Ephesians 3:20-21.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

He can do more than we can even think to ask. He can and He will. Keep believing, and I will, too.