Trusting God with the Unfinished

trust unfinished+

 

I walk into the house and I’m immediately confronted by the mess in the kitchen. Cups on the counter, dishes piled in the sink, papers and mail scattered in disarray on the table. Though I don’t complain aloud, it’s clear from my exasperated expression that I’m unhappy.

 

My daughter sighs. She’s spent several hours that morning doing something for me. Yet here, in the moment, I still want more. And she voices what I’m sure she often feels, “Sometimes it seems I can never do it all right. There’s always something you’re unhappy with. There’s always more I could have done.”

 

I carry her words with me for days, saddened by my behavior. She is completely right. I often overlook the things she does well and focus on what isn’t right. And it seems there’s always something that I’m unhappy with.

 

A friend shared a similar struggle as she listened to her grandchild read. While she was overjoyed to see her granddaughter overcoming some of her prior reading difficulties, she privately pointed out to her daughter the areas that were still not right. And gave some suggestions to make things even better. Rather than rejoicing at her granddaughter’s progress and her daughter’s diligent efforts, she focused on what needed improvement.

 

Later, her daughter mentioned how painful that interchange felt. All of her efforts in teaching her daughter to read were simply disregarded because the end result didn’t seem quite right.

 

As I listened, I was sharply reminded of my own shortcomings. My desire to fix everything. My focus on what was not done. And then my friend said the words I needed to hear-  “I realize that I need to keep my ultimate focus on God in the midst of the unfinished.”

 

Yes. That was it. I need to have my eyes on Jesus rather than on the problem. To trust Him rather than fixate on what is wrong, I need to look at the whole situation. Notice what is right. Celebrate small victories. Dwell on the positive.

Paul says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things… practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9b.

 

When I fail to practice “these things,” peace eludes me. And when I dwell on what is imperfect, my dissatisfaction leads to a gnawing sense that somehow it’s my responsibility to fix the problem.

 

I constantly fight this tendency to focus on what’s not right in my own life. And more importantly, I have to fight this tendency in my parenting. I feel I need to fix all of my children’s weaknesses. Rather than entrusting them to a sovereign God, somehow I have decided that I need to make my children as perfect as possible. And, of course, I can see with absolute clarity everything they should do, could do, and haven’t done.

 

In my saner moments, I wonder why I expect everything to be perfect right now. Why don’t I trust God with what I cannot see? Why does everything have to look finished today?

 

As I look at the life of Jesus, I see that He was completely content with the unfinished. Or what looked unfinished. As He was going to the cross, He could have looked around at the disciples, the people whom He had poured His life into, the people whom He was entrusting His ministry to, the people who knew Him best, and been dismayed. No one understood Him. Judas betrayed Him. Peter denied Him. And the other disciples ran away.

 

But Jesus knew this wasn’t the full picture. God was still working in the lives of these disciples even after Christ’s death. We are witnesses to their transformation in the pages of Scripture – how they were changed from fearful and often arrogant men in the Gospels, to fearless witnesses for Jesus in Acts, and to compassionate humble elders in their letters.

 

Jesus saw past appearances. He did not despair over the present. He trusted that God was working when no one else could see it.  He trusted that God would use these frail, unpredictable, unreliable men to take the message of the gospel and turn the world upside down. He trusted God to do the work that God began.

 

This same God is working in my life now. And in the lives of my children.  He is calling me to look to Him in every situation. And to look through the eyes of faith at what is happening around me and in me rather than through the lens of frustration or fear. He is asking me to be content with the unfinished and the imperfect, to celebrate the small victories, and to trust that He is working in them all.

 

I am ever grateful for God’s life-giving, sanctifying grace, for the greatest unfinished work in my life will always be me.

  • September 8, 2016 - 1:47 pm

    nebonita john - Thanks for sharing this small experience of ur life….I got encouragement by reading this….god bless you.ReplyCancel

  • September 9, 2016 - 7:33 am

    Allyson - When I saw your name in my email inbox this morning, I felt like a dear friend had written me! I hope you rested well this summer. My daughter just started kindergarten and is having trouble following the class rules. I have been wrestling back and forth with letting God be my daughter’s God and trusting Him to continue the great progress in her that we’ve already seen. Your words today are a reinforcing reminder of how to move forward. Thank you Vaneetha!ReplyCancel

    • September 9, 2016 - 1:08 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful the Lord used this to remind you that He is ever working, even when things don’t look quite what we’d like to see. I need to remind myself of that daily!ReplyCancel

  • September 9, 2016 - 7:39 am

    Tamlyn - Thank you. I so appreciate your honesty, and can’t tell you how much of an encouraging and timely reminder this was for me.ReplyCancel

    • September 9, 2016 - 1:06 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanking God that He used this in your life- because He is definitely teaching me this in mine!ReplyCancel

  • September 9, 2016 - 8:47 am

    Keith Magnuson - As I finished my devotions this morning and turned to my mail, I was honestly heartened to see you name jump out. Your message touches an important issue in my life — learning patience and contentment.
    Your insights bring Christ to the forefront for me and I deeply appreciate the wisdom you share.
    Thank you, Vaneetha! I’m glad you’re back.ReplyCancel

  • September 9, 2016 - 10:02 am

    Arlene G. - Hello dear Vaneetha!

    I can’t remember how I first stumbled across your website. Perhaps there was a link on the True Woman site. At any rate, I
    remember reading some of your articles and being so blessed. I have found a new online friend and sister in Christ in you! I signed up to receive your blog posts through my email, and received this one today! By God’s grace, I, too, am learning to
    “dance in the rain.” In 2014 my precious husband of 31 years went home to be with the Lord after a 3 1/2 year battle with terminal cancer. I have also been struggling with chronic physical pain these past five years, and it has worsened this past summer. By His grace, I am trusting God “in the midst of the unfinished.” My story has already been written out from before the foundation of the world. God has called His children
    to trust Him as the “Divine Playwright” of our lives. What a merciful, loving and FAITHFUL God is He!

    Blessings,
    Arlene G.
    Ps. 73:25-26

    P.S. I so look forward to reading more of your articles as God brings you through your “story.”ReplyCancel

    • September 9, 2016 - 1:02 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad the articles have been a blessing. I’m sorry for all you’ve gone through and are dealing with now but trusting that God is doing something beautiful in you and through you. He is the Divine Playwright!ReplyCancel

  • September 10, 2016 - 9:37 am

    Effie Darlene Barba - As always, beautifully written. Your willingness to always share your life with such clarity and vulnerability makes you such a gifted writer.ReplyCancel

  • September 10, 2016 - 9:06 pm

    Carlene - Vaneetha – I’ve had a heavy spirit all week, struggling to pinpoint what was wrong. The Holy Spirit revealed my sin to me today and it’s exactly what you have shared. How timely and what a gracious God to open my eyes to the truth and then lead me to these healing words! Thank you for sharing your struggles with fellow sinners.ReplyCancel

    • September 12, 2016 - 4:57 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful that the Lord used this, Carlene! God is so good.ReplyCancel

  • September 17, 2016 - 10:46 am

    Pat - My daught forwarded your message from 9/8. Right on! Thank your for ministering into my life. Blessings to you & your’s.ReplyCancel

    • September 17, 2016 - 4:46 pm

      Vaneetha - You’re welcome, Pat. Thanks for writing!ReplyCancel

  • September 25, 2016 - 12:42 am

    Matthew Arntzen - Thanks for the beautiful reminder! Life’s been challenging as I’d lived with so much trauma from childhood that perfectionism became a standard I’ve always ended up running from all my life long with the booze and drugs…God’s opened the door to where I’ve been able to finally hear it’s okay to be imperfect and that He who is perfect can work marvelous things in my latter years. Thank you so much! And I can only credit Him for finding your page that had this message for me today. God bless!ReplyCancel

    • September 27, 2016 - 10:54 am

      Vaneetha - God does work wonderful things through our brokenness. That is the glorious truth of the gospel. He makes masterpieces out of messes so we can rejoice!!ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2016 - 10:06 am

    Leah LaRosa - I’ve just now read this post and I’m so glad I did. This is me. I’m often torn between seeing the gift or the progress, instead of the mess that is so obvious in front of me. My son who struggles with demons from his past, has come so far in his recovery. Choosing to stop drinking and moving to a new town to be closer to family. But, I want more and now! (Can’t you just hear my foot stomp and my hand on my hip?) It’s painful to watch the slow progress. To see the mistakes he’s still making. To feel so useless and helpless. All this good advice in my head left rattling around and leading me to complaining and worry. God reminded me again today through your post, that He began the “good work” in my son and what I see may look like the “mess” of that process. I need to see past the mess and keep my eyes on Christ and trust Him with the result. Thank you for your faithfulness to write the words he speaks through you. Thank you for your reminder and encouragement to keep looking up. To see the beauty.ReplyCancel

    • November 4, 2016 - 3:34 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks so much for writing, Leah. That is such a struggle for me – and always has been. I write to remind myself of the truth and your comment reminded me once again. I’m so glad that Jesus is so patient with us all.ReplyCancel

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