Getting in the Way: A Relationship Story
There was a moment when I knew I was in love with Jon, the man who would become my husband …
For the longest time I just couldn’t figure him out. Did he want to hang out with me after work because (literally) everyone else was asleep? (We were the ONLY two people who worked second shift.) Did he just think of me as a friend? Every time I was near him my heart jumped. Here was someone who had a deep commitment to Christ, who I could really talk to, who “got” me, who was a lot of fun to hang out with, and who (I thought) was pretty good looking! My emotions kept building and building. He was more than just a crush to me. I was madly in love!
How did he feel? Did he feel the same? I didn’t know.
Finally the opportune time came. We both had off the same day from work.
Jon: “Would you like to go to see a concert with me? It’s playing right here on campus.”
Me: “Sure! Do you want to meet there?”
Jon: “Yeah, I’ll meet you by the entrance at 7pm.”
(Was this a date!?) At 7pm I found him near the entrance and a mutual friend of ours, I’ll call her Helen, came bouncing up to us.
Helen: “Oh, great! I’m so glad someone else I know is here. Where are you guys sitting?”
We told her we hadn’t found seats yet and the three of us sat down together. The concert was great. We had a blast. It was over now and the seats were clearing out.
Jon looked at me and smiled.
Jon: “Are you hungry? Maybe we can grab a snack at the Snack Shop?”
Me: I smiled back. (How I loved those deep brown eyes!) “Sure.”
Helen: “That sounds great! I’m starving.”
The three of us marched over to the snack shop. We each ordered something small and sat at the table to chat. We finished our meal and began walking out. Jon turned me towards him, looked at me, and smiled again. (His smile made me melt!)
Jon: “There’s some art exhibit down the other side of campus. Do you want to check it out?”
Me: “Yeah, let’s go.”
Helen: “Oh, I’ve been wanting to see that!”
Me: (Would she never leave?)
The three of us strolled down to the other side of campus. The exhibit was small, and it didn’t take much time to view everything, but now it was getting late. The three of us decided to head back to our apartments.
Helen: “Goodnight! See you guys tomorrow!”
Me: “Goodnight!” (Finally!)
Jon walked me to my door. It was really late now. Too late for any more hanging out. Time to sleep.
Me: “Thanks for walking me back.”
I turned, and made to move into my apartment and shut the door. Jon stopped me.
Jon: “Oh, I forgot! I still have that video you lent me. Let me bring it back to you.”
He ran up to his apartment and then came running back. He knocked on my door, and after I opened it, handed me the video. Then he proceeded to tell me his feelings for me had gone way beyond friendship. Would I be his girlfriend? I happily responded that I felt the same. He confessed, grinning …
Jon: “I wanted to tell you earlier, but Helen kept getting in the way!”
Getting in the Way: A God Story
We have some dear friends who are missionaries in France. They were on furlough this summer and Jon and I chatted with them about all that God was doing there in Paris. They both have the gift of evangelism and as I heard their stories, I marveled and said, “How do you know what to say?” My friend Kristi replied, “We just go where God tells us to go, make ourselves available, and try not to get in His way.”
Get in God’s way? Wow! That was a thought I had never really considered before. How often do I do that? Shamefully, I must confess as I prayed about it, that I do it all the time. I like to tell myself that I get in His way for very good reasons, but of course, there is never a good reason to get in God’s way. On the contrary, it can lead to disastrous results. As I look at scripture, I see many people there that got in His way as well. Not surprisingly, their reasons for getting in God’s way look quite a lot like my own. Let’s look at three of them:
But I’m helping God accomplish his plan! This is for something good! Sometimes I see something good — But we HAVE to get this curriculum! But junior HAS to play sports. But Pumpkin MUST do drama. We desperately NEED a date night. We’ve GOT to get together with them this week! — something I want for my family, for my children, for my marriage. When I insist that it has to happen, when I try to move heaven and earth to provide the finances, to get the babysitting, to change our schedule, to get my husband to agree with me, etc. When I am going to great lengths to accomplish what I consider to be a great goal, I may be getting in God’s way.
God in his grace had promised Abraham and Sarah a son. However, ten long years went by and Sarah had not become pregnant. Finally she decided to “help” God along. She went to great lengths to get the “son” God promised. Genesis 16:2 “so she said to Abram, ‘ The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant, perhaps I can build a family through her.'” Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant soon gave birth to Ishmael.
The truth is, God doesn’t need our help to accomplish his plans, and Sarah’s desire to help God backfired in ways she would never have thought possible. When God finally blessed Sarah with baby Isaac, the conflict with Ishmael began and continues between their descendants to this day. Pushing to get something for my family that we “NEED” may have disastrous results as well. If I am pushing, pushing, pushing … I am getting in God’s way.
But I’m trying to prevent something bad from happening! As mothers we desperately want to keep our family from experiencing hurt, from going through rough times. It’s part of being a mother. However, sometimes we go to great lengths to protect our families from pain. When I say, “This will NEVER happen in our family!”, when I pout, complain and argue about the circumstances we’re experiencing, the position we’ve lost, when I block a family member from going down a rough road, when I desperately try to make things easier for a sick child, I may be getting in God’s way.
Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed, and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside. Mathew 16:23 “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
The truth is, God often allows pain in our lives, in our children’s lives, to teach us something. And blessings, along with a deeper, more intimate walk with the Lord of the Universe often come after trials and grief. God’s blessings came through Jesus’s sacrifice. If I am blocking, blocking, blocking …. I am getting in God’s way.
But I’m trying to speed things up a bit! Sometimes I get so frustrated with how long it takes for something to get done. When I insist things need to be done a certain way, or by a certain time, when I try to manipulate things to my best advantage, when I pout and complain because things haven’t been finished yet, or my husband is taking “too long” in making a decision, when I urge and nag my husband and children about things around the house, when I find myself getting anxious or agitated because things aren’t the way they should be, I may be getting in God’s way.
Mary wasn’t content to let Jesus choose his own time to reveal himself. She knew he was the Messiah. Why was he taking so long to begin his kingdom? John 2:3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
The truth is, God is master of time and He always has a reason for his “delays”. Even the delays and missed opportunities of our husbands, children, and family members will always work out for His advantage. Patience and a graceful, peaceful spirit shine like diamonds before Him! Knowing for certain while I am waiting that He is Good, having the faith that He is in control, to be still and know that He is God — these are the habits God desires in me. If I feel anxious, and I find myself constantly urging those around me … I am getting in God’s way.
Psalm 50:9-10 “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”
Acts 17:25 “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Copyright January 21st, 2016 by Gwen Fredette