FAITHFUL LIVING: Tough times call for tough questions

Desire, ask, believe, receive.

— Stella Terrill Mann

“Feeling a bit bombarded by opportunities?” my husband asked the other morning as he watched me contemplate my life over a cup of steaming coffee.

“It’s those eyebrows of yours,” he kidded, “They’re all bunched together and you’re staring into space!”

I must have looked pretty funny, sitting there with my hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, deep in thought. It was an early Saturday morning which means one thing at my house filled with teenagers: there was a blessed quiet and I took full advantage. And as much as I truly enjoy kid noise, I also take pleasure in a dose of quiet. In fact, my family knows I must have some daily think time or I feel cluttered and hurried.

Only this week I have been wearied by the number of things to think about.

For quite some time, now, I have been telling God of a newly discovered spirit of adventure. May I be bold and daring! I whispered to Him the other day as I pumped gas into my car. I’ve contemplated the possibilities long enough. It’s time for ACTION!

Such dialogue with God has everything to do with practicality. Perhaps you are wondering what task to volunteer for or job offer to accept or business opportunity to invest in. I think taking such matters to God is perfectly acceptable and good … necessary, in fact. But beyond all this, maybe we should be asking a batch of other questions, as well: Why did God create me? What are the gifts God has granted to my use and how might He use them to work this world? Of the multitude of opportunities out there and the limitless number of needs, how am I to respond? How do I set a course for my life, then stay on that course when there is so much that threatens to take me off course, producing nothing but heartache and failure?

I admire those who know themselves well and easily identify how they fit in and what they are to do. My young friend Caitlin can produce such amazing artwork I cannot imagine her not taking fine arts classes when she eventually attends college. And every time I look at a framed picture of a bird I have hanging in my home that was created by my husband when he attended the second grade I smile: at 46 he is still impassioned by anything that has feathers.

Lifelong interests bring us deep joy and satisfaction, so why is it we often sacrifice or, worse, ignore these areas of our lives?

It is here that I believe God dares to venture with us, yet this comes as a great surprise to many who only see God as a distant, demanding entity. In the Bible we read that God longs to give you the deep desires of your heart. We can be assured that this is a team effort, for God likes the interdependence that is created when we question Him, requesting His direction and strength and insight. And in this era when people value quick information and willingly submit to instant gratification, no matter the cost, I believe that God longs for us to be less reactive to life and more contemplative, instead. There is certain nobility and decided growth when we anguish about the choices that lie before us. When we sit quietly and wait on God to speak to us.

What are you trying to teach me, Lord? What plans have you already devised for my good that will reveal your love for me? These are the questions of a faith-filled individual, questions that will be asked again and again over a lifetime.

So what does all this have to do with next week’s agenda? A great deal. If you are depressed and stressed, struggling and juggling, it is never too late to begin asking the tough questions, venturing toward a little heavenly intervention. Perhaps it is time to avoid what seems easiest or will please people most and consider, instead, what might be God’s will. To begin building a consensus deep inside that combines our skills and gifts, interests and obligations, with God’s direction and energy is sure to clarify the muddy waters, bring energy, vision, and deep joy to these hurried, complex lives of ours.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is

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