Guest post - meet Kaitlin

If any of you are discouraged by the college kids and 20 somethings that surround you, I have good news for you.  There are some exemplary young adults out there and I happen to know a bunch of 'em.  I get to hang out with several from time to time and I am in awe of their maturity, their intellect, their zest for life, their depth, and their walks with the Lord.  I asked one of these "kids" to write a post for me.  Be prepared to be blown away....Meet Kaitlin....

First thing’s first: I don’t know what it means to suffer– I mean, truly suffer. I have never known what it is to be in desperate want of any physical need. I’ve never had to overcome (beyond extended family) the deep sorrow of death. And, by sheer grace, I have never been dealt true tragedy. The Lord has overwhelmed my life with love, joy and provision (via both Him and other people) beyond anything I could possibly deserve. So in terms of a series, guided by my hero Mrs. Suzanne, on guest writers who have undergone sufferings in life, I could not be more unqualified. (And trust me, if I thought she’d be willing to publish a blog post written entirely about how much I love, respect, look up to and want to be her, I would have written that instead.) But when I consider the heart, mind and spirit struggle I’ve wrestled with most in my walk with Him, it has undoubtedly been the longing and waiting for things I want but don’t now have.


I’m the youngest of three, and in addition to all the baby-of-the-family trends I likely confirm, my mom often tells the story of having to learn, when I was first born, that to both settle and entertain me, I had to be held facing out. I wanted to see everything. I wanted to be aware of what everyone was doing, part of all that was happening, confident I wasn’t missing out on anything. Fast-forward 23 years, and you find a girl who still hates naps, still is curious about surrounding people and stories, still wants to see all options and still likes to leave all doors open. As a kid, that could be pacified by a quick 180 in Mom’s arms. But as an adult, that often translates to wanting things (specific things, in certain circumstances, in my timing) that the Lord, in His great wisdom and greater love, simply did not choose (or has yet) to grant. So in those times, throughout those struggles, I’ve learned to do two things: (1) examine what He hasn’t given me and the desire ultimately at the root of it, and (2) remember and cling to the truth of the promises He has given me: promises to satisfy, to supply every need and to give me all good things—today, in these circumstances, with or without that thing I long for now.


First, in examining what the Lord hasn’t given me, I remember the story of Balaam in Numbers 22. Balaam wants to go forward. He thinks he’s supposed to go forward. He has places to be and things to do that are forward. He was even acting on a call from God to go forward (v. 19). But in that moment, at that point, his annoying donkey wouldn’t let him go. Three times Balaam smacks her in frustration. Because seriously, what’s more agitating than an immovable object (or circumstance or silence) that stands in the way of what you believe to be the perfect path? But the donkey saw something that Balaam could not see (v. 23). The donkey saw an angel of the Lord with a drawn sword, and the angel did not appear, at the moment, to be Balaam’s biggest fan. Despite this undesired delay–an unplanned interruption in Balaam’s seemingly well-laid course–there were greater things happening in the spiritual realm (i.e. a sword-wielding angel) than Balaam could see, and by not allowing Balaam to go forward, despite how much he wanted to at the time, God was actually extending a momentarily incomprehensible grace (for Balaam’s own good) by choosing not to grant what Balaam wanted most. Elisabeth Elliot often says that some of God’s greatest mercies are His refusals. I think she’s right.


I am so grateful for the encouraging, challenging, believing friends the Lord has used to bless my life beyond measure and point me to Himself. But sometimes, I think we (“we” being an intentional first-person pronoun, because I can be the most guilty of all) are tempted to give well-intending but misleading assurances that have strayed from roots once found in scripture. For example, I’ve often heard that we should be confident we will receive what we now long for (a specific position, different circumstances, future marriage, even children), because we desire those things, and God has promised to give us the desires of our heart. This is true. Psalm 37:4 confirms that He will. But this promise is given on the condition preceding it: that we delight ourselves in Him, acknowledging that our true and only source of joy, satisfaction, purpose and content is in Him. This means, though, that we don’t ultimately want what we (in our narrow perspective and limited understanding) think we want for us. We want what He wants for us. And this is promised to be far better and far more valuable—both in this life and in the one to come.


Second, I remember what He has given me. Confession: for better or worse, I often take Hebrews 4:16 very seriously and confidently declare God’s truth and promises (as found in His Word, not as assumed in my head) before Him­–not because I think He needs to be reminded, but because I know that I do. So I declare them with my mind until I believe them with my heart. God promised that those who seek Him would lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10), meaning that anything I long for now but do not have (at least in my timing and in the form I now desire it) is not good. He promised that just as He watches over and provides for the lilies and sparrows, so He will do for us, because we are worth far more than they (Matt. 10:31). He promised that He knows what I need before I even ask Him (Matt. 6:8). And He promised that if I first seek His Kingdom, that “all these things,” all these things I really need, and all those things I ultimately long for (found at the roots of the things I’m shortsightedly longing for now), will be added to me as well–not according to my timing, my ways or my best-laid plans, but according to His. Thank goodness for that.


Even so, there’s a lot I don’t know. I don’t know whether the things I am currently tempted to pity and sorrow over not having are truly good things. They may be things He wants me to persistently ask for in faith (Luke 11:5-13), or the obstacles standing in the way of them (the unknowns, the silences, the seemingly unanswered prayers) may be stubborn but God-ordained donkeys, blocking my path from what I wouldn’t actually want if I could see them for what they truly are. But here’s what I do know: there sure are a lot of incomprehensibly good things He has promised to give those who love and seek Him that I do want (or at least would want, if I could see with His eyes), and yet leave on the table everyday.


He has made so many bold and unfathomable promises in return for following Him that are “immeasurably more” than all we could ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20)–worth far more than anything we leave behind, or anything we do not have yet think we lack. He has promised to satisfy us– in the morning with His unfailing love (Psalm 90:14), and with His good, so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:4-5). He has promised that, if we do not grow weary in doing good and do not lose heart, in due season, we will reap (Gal. 6:9). He has promised that, if we dwell in the shelter of the Most High, we will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1). He has promised to work and act for us as we wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4). He has promised to bless us as we fear Him (Psalm 115:13). And He has promised that if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, He will lift us up in due time (1 Pet. 5:6).


But perhaps best of all, He has promised that He will not be slow to fulfill those promises as some–like me, in my often faithless impatience and prideful frustration–understand slowness (2 Pet. 3:9). He will give me all good things (as I seek Him and His Kingdom) and will grant my desires (as I delight myself in Him, taking on His desires as my own) in His perfect timing and ways. And He will not delay. So at the end of the day, at the end of those prayers, at the bottom of those tears, I remind myself that even in my earthly desires—which the enemy longs to use to distract me from the only true source of fulfillment, goodness and life—that, ultimately, as Bob Goff said best, “Whatever it is we’re aiming for, God’s better.”


But beyond all the truths of Scripture, all the words of Jesus and all the personal testimonies of friends, there is one additional lesson that has given me great assurance, confidence and peace in looking to the Father throughout my periods of uncertainty, of longing and of waiting: watching my own father (fondly referred to, by my two-year-old nephew Hayden, as Dan-Dan) become a granddad to my sister’s precious kids. Maybe it’s because, being the youngest, I didn’t have the chance to watch my dad be a father to other young kids (at least, not any younger than me), but it is truly unreal how much my parents love those two. They are the absolute joy of my parents’ lives. And while Mom provides the unfailing patience and tireless enthusiasm, it is Dad’s deep compassion and quiet love that often strike me most.


I think Hayden is, in some ways, the fourth son Dad never had. And for that reason (and many others) I genuinely believe that if there were anything, absolutely anything, Hayden wanted that was (a) good for him and (b) in Dad’s power to give, Dad would give it–as absolutely soon, and in the absolute best way, as he possibly could. But if Hayden asked Dad to let him touch the hot stove (just one time, because it looked so fun, because it surely couldn’t be that bad, because he could make a very thought-out case, because everyone around him said it’d be great) no matter how much Hayden begged, and no matter how much sorrow, resentment and frustration he harbored for being refused, Dad would not say yes. This is not because Dad doesn’t love him, or because Dad doesn’t want him to have all good things or because Dad wants to inflict hurt, but precisely because of the opposite. And in terms of a heavenly Father who loves me even more, I know that, regardless of what I now see and understand—as He gives and takes away, as He answers and remains silent, as He grants and refuses—He is doing the very same, on an infinitely greater scale, for me.


Of all the things I long for in life right now, I do not always know which are good, God-given desires and which are hot stoves that I want to touch because, with blinded eyes like Balaam’s, I cannot see them for what they truly are.  But what I do know is that our Father rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6), He will meet our every need in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and at the end of the day, whether with Him and all these things we want, or with Him and Him alone, His grace is, and will always be, sufficient for me (2 Cor. 12:9).

Yep, this kid is incredible.  One of the most authentically humble, selfless and Christlike people I have ever had the privilege to know.  Take just a few more minutes and listen to her speak at her UGA graduation Spring 2013.
 Kaitlin Miller.....