Knock, knock…. KNOCK, KNOCK!!!

I struggle with being discouraged too easily and reading the wrong thing into roadblocks.  It came as a complete revelation to me that just because the initial answer appears to be “no” that doesn’t mean God wants me to stop trying.  Perhaps He wants me to try a different way, use a different approach, or wait…  You know, persist.  Persevere.  Ask and keep on asking.  Knock and keep on knocking.*  Seek Him out.  Pray a bit more.  Fast, even.

That’s hard for me.  I was raised in a “No means no” world, and I tend to be like that myself.

I found myself in adulthood with the mistaken impression that if something went wrong with my plans, then it wasn’t meant to be.  And, the inverse:  If God wanted me to do something, He’d make it easy for me.  <facepalm>  I can’t believe now that that was my understanding of blessing.  I thought if something was His plan for me, that if I was following His path, that surely He’d make the way smooth.  Proverbs 3:5-6 does say that He will direct our path if we’re trusting in Him, but it took me years — YEARS — to understand that sometimes, He directs our path through some pretty rocky terrain.

I remember my first months of marriage, and me being really shocked with how difficult it was.  I cried every day for the first three months.  Part of that was from difficulty adjusting, and part of it was, “HOLY CRAP.  What have I gotten myself into???”  I was really panic-stricken, because I thought that my husband Martin was God’s plan for me, but if he was, then why were things so *@&#)(*&!! hard???  So, I thought that maybe I had heard wrong from God, and now here I was, stuck in a marriage that was not of Him, stuck because I didn’t believe in divorce, and if I had made the wrong decision, I was going to have to suck it up and live — until death do us part — with my poor decision.

I didn’t understand that many, many, many times, God uses difficulty to refine us, to teach us, to draw us to Him, to bring us to maturity…

Ease ≠ God.

At least, not necessarily.

I think I had fabricated a holy-ish interpretation of the obviously fleshly maxim, “If it feels good, do it.”  I had turned it into, “If everything goes smoothly, God is in it, so it must be right.”  Turns out, that’s not in scripture.  That’s just not His way.  Lying on your back in a green field, looking up at the puffy clouds as they float by is pleasant, and there truly are some beautifully pleasant times with God;  He is a God of peace.  But, He is also a God of discipline.  I mean discipline in the best sense — the ordered, structured process by which we reap something fruitful from our well-directed labor.

I’m thinking of my garden right now.  It has been an unending metaphor for my life.  “If I pick the right seeds — heirloom, native, organic — and plant at the right time, and tend it properly, I will have LOADS and LOADS of abundant produce, and I will share it with everyone, and I will can the overflow, and we will save on groceries, and I will be productive, and my husband will appreciate my efforts on behalf of our family!!!”  Well, it hasn’t turned out like that.  I did a whole lot more learning in the last six months or so than reaping.  These past couple weeks, I have been preparing the soil for a better harvest…  About 3″ more of (organic, homemade) compost, about a 1/2″ layer of sand, a handful of Ironite, a sprinkling of gypsum, turn over the soil as deep I can, mix it in, mix it again, turn it again, get down on my hands and knees with a little trowel and little cultivator and try to work every cubic inch of soil, down at least 12″.  THAT IS HARD WORK.  I have worked up a sweat.  I have gotten sunburnt.  I have gotten COVERED in dirt.  And it takes all day to do about 20 square feet.  All day.  Sore muscles, quarts of water consumed, swatting away the flies…  Ugh.  It hasn’t been pretty, that’s for sure.

But, I have hope, you know?

I’m not as idealistic (which is a whole ‘nother topic — harmful idealism) as I once was about the garden, and I find myself saying, “Well, maybe the winter crop still won’t be fruitful.  But I’m going to keep on trying, keep on learning, and I’m not giving up.”

I know, I know… I’ve already blogged about this.

This post, by the way, is NOTHING like what I set out to write.  I was going to write about how a young woman wanted me to be her unofficial doula last year, and I invested HOURS of time on her, and when it came to labor, she totally chucked all the natural stuff out the window and had a pitocin-and-epidural birth and was disappointed by the results, and how she didn’t feel euphoric when the baby was born (drugs’ll do that, because they’re endocrine disruptors).  Then, she got pregnant again, and didn’t invite me to the birth, which I was OK with, because the first one was a hard disappointment…  But her first words to our mutual friend after her second son was born was, “I wish Karen had been here.”  Which made me happy and sad.  I should have at least asked if she wanted me there, instead of saying to myself, “Hmph.  I’m not even going to offer, because if she really wants to do it naturally, she’ll ask.”  Gah.  I feel like a slug for having thought that.  AND, it’s one more instance of me giving up too easily, letting my disappointment beset me, and that keeping me from doing something I really should have done.

I remember one night in a small group Bible study, about fifteen years ago, and a guy named Doug said something about seeking God out, and that sometimes, it’s like God plays hide-and-seek.  I was offended.  That went against EVERYTHING I believed.  God doesn’t HIDE from us!  If God wants us to know something, or do it, He will let Himself be known.  We don’t have to LOOK for Him!  Doug said that God hides in such a way like we might with a small child — with a big toe sticking out underneath the curtain which we’re hiding behind, or we might cough a bit.  I cannot begin to describe my shock.  Then Doug had the audacity to Scripturally back up what he was postulating, using verses in the Song of Solomon.  The whole thing really… well, I don’t know if it changed my paradigm right then, but it at least started the process.

And, I think Doug was onto something there.

He’s now a pastor at my church, too.  😀  Turns out he does know a thing or two.


The moral of the story is, instead of expecting God to just appear with an orchestral crescendo and sprinkle magic pixie dust on my life and make it easy, I’m learning to look for His big toe, the hint of His presence, and not be so easily discouraged when He doesn’t show up with blessing like I thought He was supposed to, in the way I want Him to.

He DOES bless, but He doesn’t bless by making things EASY.  Martin IS the right man;  it’s just that marriage is hard work, and honoring my husband and laying down my life — in some ways literally, in some figuratively — for him is hard.  The garden isn’t flawed just because it needs some hard work, not the garden in my back yard, nor the garden of my life.


*“ask” in Matthew 7:7 — αιτειτε  verb – present active imperative.  In other words, you DO it and you keep doing it.


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on August 10, 2011, in Character Development, Christian Living, Christianity, Desert Gardening, Encouragement, Family, Marriage, The Dear Hubby, Vineyard Phoenix. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Ah yes – I love Graham Cooke’s illustrations of what God can be like. Graham also says that after we “find” God in our hide and seek time, that He likes to grab and tickle us. 🙂 I believe the point Graham was making is that by “hiding”, or rather, backing away a bit, God allows space for his children to mature. He takes His hands off the wheel, so to speak, so that we can grow in our own ability to drive. Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers communicates that it takes about 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Gladwell says it takes “doggedness” to become successful You’re putting in your hours, Karen! You’re becoming really good at maturity! Love you.

    • I didn’t know that was from Graham Cooke! I thought it was from Doug. 😉 That’s not surprising. Man of excellent metaphor and illustration, both prophetic and otherwise.

      Yes, for me, that time has been integral to my growing maturity. Am I still going to go after Him when He’s not standing behind my shoulder, whacking me on the head? Am I still going to seek Him when what He’s asking of me is not apparent? Am I going to blame Him for my troubles? Am I going to question His sovereignty? What am I going to do when things are …. pending? I want God to direct my every step, every thought, every word. And those are good desires to have, but when my steps, thoughts, words, actions aren’t clear-cut, what am I going to do then? Those times, I think, are really critical in our growth as Christians… They have been in mine, anyway.

  2. I agree with the bit about God’s way not being “easy”, boy have we thought otherwise.

    I have to grumble about the pregnant mom. The story reflects her choices. She chose to not invite you in and you did the right thing by not inviting yourself in. Those are good boundaries on your part and a lesson for her to ask/invite you into her life when she needed to. In this she is learning about life. Truth is, its very hard for moms to go against the grain of intervention-laden hospital births. I wanted a med-free birth, I had one emerg C-sect, one natural….I high-fived the doc afterwards, and one choosing an epidural. Each had their merits. I remember how dang vulnerable I felt in each…the lack of control. Tough stuff. The glory of the 40’s is having lived a bit. Sounds like you got it. BTW, I’m easily discouraged too…..

  3. Beverly Schmidt

    I like the though of God playing hide n seek with me. It makes me smile. I can’t help but think of how I will play hide n seek with the kiddos in my life of whom I have a relationship and love. However I don’t and would not play with those I don’t have those things. In fact, if I did try it would be creepy. All that to say I’m glad God has a relationship with me and loves me enough to play hide n seek with me. Glad He leaves His big toe hanging out though so that it is fun and not frustrating!

  4. If this was facebook, I would click “like” for this post, haha… Yup, if life were automatically easy when following God’s will, I would be questioning even more than I do now about what the heck we are doing in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, hundreds and hundreds of kilometres away from family, among people who are beyond apathetic…

    • I have done that with posts — try to click “like” when it doesn’t exist. I keep meaning to find a way to add a FB “like” button to each post. There is a “share”, but not a like.

      What ARE you doing in the tundra? 🙂 Just curious.

      • Haha, we’re not QUITE in the tundra (that’s probably about another five or six hundred more kilometres north of here, at least). My husband is pastor of an extremely small Pentecostal church. I don’t even know if churches in the States come as small as ours, haha… But God has called us to minister in Northern Ontario, difficult as it is. The population here is small and the towns are all very far apart. To give you a perspective of how sparse the population in Northern Ontario is: the population of Ontario altogether is about 12 million… The population of Northern Ontario is something like 750 000, but areawise, the 11.25 million people of Southern Ontario live in about 1/5 of the whole province. Maybe. Look it up on a map… 🙂

  5. And I so enjoy your honesty, Karen. Smooches, Kathy

  6. Hi Karen,
    I found your site when I was looking for gluten free, cassein free sugar cookies for my grandson. I soooooo enjoyed your honesty and vulnerability in this post. Knock, knock , knock. I will send it on to my daughter who you remind me a lot of. She’s so wonderful and I admire her worship and walk with the Lord so much but she’s very hard on herself. I pray that you can both see yourselves how Papa sees you. 🙂

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