Do you remember those posters from the 90's. It was like "everything I know about life I learned from my kids," or "everything I know about life I learned from my dog." Well this is the goat edition.
First, I want to say that I am going to make comparisons between myself and the goats. Here is why that is ok. There are three ways that we can get to know the Lord. His creation, His word and our experience with Him. His creation is meant to cause us to be in awe of Him and to see his handy work. His word is where we get to know His story. Our experience with Him is how we learn to be in a relationship with Him. When I am dealing with some of the animals He created I reminded of things that He teaches me in His word. I know that probably sounds like a very simplistic mentality, but for me when I am paying attention to creation and created things around me what I know in my brain about the Lord comes alive to me. So yes, I am going to compare myself to a goat. Ya know what else, God compares me to a goat too. In His word He calls us His sheep. Sheep/goat, there is not much difference. So stick with me.
Proverbs 3:21-26 has been bouncing around in my brain since I read it a few days ago. It says, My Son, let them not depart from your eyes--Keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, not of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught. I love how God tells us that if we keep wisdom and discretion in the front of our mind we will have sweet sleep. Wisdom is acknowledging that God is God and discretion comes with walking with the Lord. For me, when I try to be God in my own life my sleep goes right out the window. When I remember I am not God, and God is God I have sweet sleep, easy! (And everyone laughed and laughed because it is not easy to remember you are not God.) But that is not the part of the scripture I want to write about tonight.
Look at the part of that scripture where it says "Do not be afraid of sudden terror, not of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught."
Look at that sweet girl! Totally unafraid and confident. I took this the day after we had a really nasty cold snap. (nasty cold snap in TX means it was 28, don't hate us because we are warm down here) The goats were jumping around, running, leaping and playing, loving every minute of freedom. They were sure their foot would not be caught! Now here is the problem, they had complete confidence in themselves. Let me show you what happens when they are really confident in themselves.
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Sydney came in from the barn this morning and said that the girls had a sorority party in the barn. Apparently they made the confident decision to open their stall door and trash their beautiful barn, their stockpiled hay, peed all over everywhere, tried to break into their grain can and finally pushed the cabinet over to get to the animal crackers. (yes, goats eat animal crackers, yes, it's ironic I know, I didn't make the rules) Let me show you what the barn normally looks like so you can really feel the magnitude of the situation.
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See there, contained goats, clean barn. Now basically, and don't tell Sydney this, but, I have been watching them all day waiting for them to keel over. I mean, they ate so much food last night! If they were horses they would for sure be dead. (or at least need a $10,000.00 surgery) Surprise, surprise they are still alive. For sure they were worn out from their night-time adventures, they looked a little hung over and sick to their little goat stomachs. But, they pulled through. They were confident in themselves and made a decision that did not serve them well. The fall out from their party was that Sydney and I spent 2 hours cleaning the barn after school today. We were cleaning up after someone else's bad decision.
And here comes the comparison. I have confidence in myself and make decisions all the time that don't serve me well or that leave fall out for someone else to clean up. I get all, "Girl Power!" or "I Got This!" or "CHARGE!" and full steam ahead I do something.......please see exhibit A:
Wait for it....
Yes, I did! I confidently decided to cut my own bangs, and then hair spray them straight back. Look, the 80's happened to all of us. Thank the Lord that Rachel's hair on Friends showed up in the 90's to save us all from ourselves. Anyway, with absolute confidence in myself I walked into that picture day knowing I NAILED it! The fall-out is that my parents had to hang this on their wall for a whole year!
I am confident in myself. I do things all the time based on my own confidence level. I sign up for things I can't really commit to because I am so confident in myself. I say yes to things based on if I think I can do them. I don't do things I don't think I can do. I have a confidence that would make Julie Andrews proud.
Now listen, I'm not hating on Julie Andrews because let's be honest, if you know me at all you know I want to be like her, or Celine Dion. I'm just saying, what happens when you have all the confidence in the world in yourself and things still go terribly wrong?
As I study that proverb from above I see the glaring problem. It says, "Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and He will keep your foot from being caught. The Lord will be your confidence, He will keep your foot from being caught. I have to be confident in the Lord. The Lord is the one who will keep me from being afraid and will keep me from getting caught. Confidence in myself only leads me to lean on my own strength, as I have shown you, I cannot be trusted. (see picture above) The confidence that I get to draw on comes from the Lord. I have Jesus to be confident in. He is perfect, and strong, and doesn't make mistakes. He also wants me to know Him. Just to drive the point home for me, the Lord put this Psalm in my path today:
For you will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop,
by my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength,
AND MAKES MY WAY PERFECT.
He makes my feet like the feet of deer(or goats),
and sets me on my high places.
He teaches my hands to make war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
Psalm 18: 28-34
For someone who has been struggling with feeling like a joke and identifying with naughty goats, that Proverb and this Psalm were music to my ears. Do you see that? By My God I can leap over a wall for My God is perfect. Who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. JESUS, I LOVE YOU!!!! Thank you for being my confidence and strength. Thank you that I don't have to rely on myself but that You are my ROCK!
A word on that word perfect because that can be a trap for me. I read perfect and I think my path will be without mistakes and "right." Well let me tell you that is not how God thinks of perfect. His ways are so much greater than ours and He is in the business of teaching us about His perfectness. So a perfect path for us is one that shows us our imperfections and points us to His perfectness. Those bumps on our perfect path make us realize our need for the perfect savior.
So as I read back over this I think, "Gosh this flies in the face of everything our culture teaches." We are the "be confident in yourself" generation. Self-esteem ranks higher than truth. "Everyone wins," "I'm gonna be me," and "YOLO" have taken the day. Well let me tell you something, I lived that life and it is a LIE. Putting confidence in yourself will disappoint you every time. You will wake up like the goats did, in an alfalfa induced hang over wondering where it all went wrong. I'm writing this to my own kids now. Brock and Sydney, put yourself aside and follow the Lord. Don't follow your heart, you can't trust it. It will lead you to do things based on your own strength and try to fix things that only the Lord can fix. The Lord is the only one you can trust. Your very life depends on it. It will take humility, you will have to admit that you are not perfect and that God is. Do it! It is so worth it. He will be your lit path, He will enlighten the darkness and He will be your rock. This world and our culture is sand, Who is a rock except our God? Be confident in the Lord.