Smoothing the Rough Places

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

It was one of those frustrating days.

I think the rain started it. I usually don’t mind rain until I have to go out in it. I even enjoy listening to the soft patter outside when I’m tucked safely indoors with a good movie and a blanket. It’s when it pours on me that it bothers me.

That day, it poured on me.

I was running errands in the rain when I got a text from my son at school.

I never hear from my son at school.

He typed only three words, but they tied my stomach in knots. He confirmed the realization of his worry about a project he’d worked hard on the night before. It didn’t work. Though I tried to text him back, he gave me nothing more. His silence left me with only worry to consume my thoughts— about his grade, about what he was feeling in that moment, about the disappointment I knew I’d see on his face when he walked through the door that afternoon.

And I wanted to fix it for him, but I couldn’t.

Isn’t it amazing how one little thing has the power to send us reeling? All the work I had planned for that afternoon seemed lost behind the shadow of this one thing.

I felt like throwing a tantrum. I may have even started to once I had returned to the safety of my home. Just for a minute.

But then I took a breath and shifted the direction of my thinking. I turned my attention to the One who knew before my son ever selected his courses what this semester would bring. And although as a mom I hate watching my straight A student struggle through this class—I hate seeing his confusion and disappointment as he works so hard with less than results—deep down I know that God has a purpose in it.

So with a heavy heart, I determined to look up.

I walked toward the couch, carelessly picking up the Jesus Calling calendar I hadn’t looked at in over a week. “Ok, Lord. What do you have for me today?” The words didn’t carry much confidence, but even I heard within them the whisper of hope as I flipped through the pages toward that day’s date. Here’s what I read.

TRUST AND THANKFULNESS WILL get you safely through this day. Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining: those “sister sins” that so easily entangle you.

How does He always know? I kept reading.

Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily. The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes. Thought patterns of trust become etched into your brain. Relegate troubles to the periphery of your mind, so that I can be central in your thoughts. Thus you focus on Me, entrusting your concerns into My care. [February 21, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson, 2004]

Do you find it amazing that Jesus always—somehow, some way—meets you right where you are? At least, He does when you’re willing to meet with Him.

“Trust and thankfulness will get you safely through this day.” I couldn’t help but think about  Matthew 6:25-27,

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life . . . Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Indeed. Worry only robs our hours from us. Yet worry is what we do. Our natural instinct sends our thoughts running through one scenario after another, trying to figure out which calamity will come to pass. And let’s face it. We usually settle on the worst case.

But God says, “I’m holding all of this in my hand. You don’t need to obsess over this. Let your thoughts settle on me instead of your problem. I have the power to make the rough places smooth.”

When we focus our minds on God and His goodness, it becomes easier to practice gratitude. And gratitude, dear one, alters our feelings. Instead of grumbling and complaining about the rain and that teacher who refuses to teach, praise emerges. And soon you find that tightness in your stomach replaced by growing peace.

Bits of unwanted news don’t have to derail our day. We can practice Romans 12:2,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

We can fix our eyes on the One who holds the key to every blessing, inviting Him to come near. And when Jesus enters, dear one, the enemy always flees.

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