I only have 2 articles of gray clothing. TWO. An old college sweatshirt and an old college hoodie. Needless to say, both of them were given to me because I very much dislike the color gray. I really do. The color gray is not quite white but it’s not quite black either. It’s just an unsure color—unsure of what it actually wants to be. Yuck!
Similarly to tangible items, some periods of time, places, and emotions can be characterized by color too (ex: “the blues”). And yes, that awful gray color can also be used to describe such intangible things. What I have learned is that sometimes life can appear BLACK/DARK and sometimes it can appear WHITE/BRIGHT. Other times, however, things are GRAY. Honestly, I find it most hard to trust God and his plan for my life during these GRAY parts.
“What are gray areas or gray times?” you may ask.
The GRAY is any place or time of uncertainty. You’re NOT where you WERE but you’re also not where you’re going either. You’re kinda in the middle— in limbo. It’s like being in a hallway surrounded by a bunch of doors, or on the elevator not sure which floor to get off on. It’s a time of transition. A time of GRAY.
During these times, you may feel unsure and uneasy. That’s completely normal. It can be a scary time. A frustrating time. As mentioned in last week’s post “Plot Twist: Trusting God to Write Your Best Story”, we as humans are nosey and like to know what God is doing behind the scenes.
However, when I think of the gray times and gray places in my life, I am still intent on being GRATEFUL. This is because God is good ALL THE TIME (and all the time He is good).
Like the old saying goes “Praise Him in the Hallway”. God is still in control and He is still working on your behalf even when you’re in the GRAY AREA. The King James Version of Jeremiah 29:11 reads “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end”.
AN EXPECTED END.
So even when we see gray—- such an unsure color (not knowing if it wants to be black or white), God sees an expected end. A certain color. A sure thing.
When I think of actually being “grateful in the gray”, I am reminded of the story of Abraham and his encounters with God on the mount. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you” (Genesis 22:2).
I want to highlight a four key points about God’s instructions to Abraham here. Stay with me, please.
- Not only did God tell Abraham to take his son, he specifically told Abraham to take his ONLY son. Do you realize how important only sons were to their fathers back then? They were heirs to everything their fathers had. They were the one who could preserve the family and keep the family going for generations and generations. But God’s instructions were clear. “TAKE YOUR ONLY SON”.
- God described Isaac as “the son whom you love”. Let that marinate for a second. Not the son you don’t really care about. Not the son that you just simply like. THE SON WHOM YOU LOVE. Wow. Abraham loved Isaac but he was still ready to follow God’s instructions and sacrifice him.
- God instructed Abraham to go to the region of Moriah. He didn’t even give him an exact location ya’ll! No exact coordinates. No particular name of the mountain or hill. He simply said go to the region. And guess what? Abraham complied.
- “To the mountain I show you” was the last part of God’s instructions. So again, no known exact location beforehand. God basically said wait until you get there to find out.
If I can be completely honest, unlike Abraham, I probably would’ve had tons of questions about this particular set of instructions. My only son? Whom I love? To a “region”? At the top of a particular mountain that you won’t tell me or show me until I get there?
Something that stands out to me is that Abraham never once questioned God’s instructions. He didn’t ask “why?” He didn’t ask “Is there another way?” He didn’t whine and say “but God”. He didn’t try to bargain or negotiate. Genesis 23 reads that “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about”. EARLY, ya’ll! EARLY. He got up early the next morning and loaded everything necessary for the sacrifice and headed to the place where God has “told him” about.
Whew! Sounds like a man on a mission to me. Even though he didn’t know the why of God’s instructions, even though he didn’t know what was going to happen next, even though he was in that GRAY, he was still up to the task given to him by God. Still grateful that God has spoken and chose him.
Abraham trusted both God’s will AND God’s way of completing that will.
While we are in the GRAY times and spaces in our own life, will we be like Abraham and declare “Lord, here I am”? Will we trust God and His plan for our life even in the GRAY? Will we be grateful even when we don’t know the reason behind his instructions?
The end of this particular story goes like this…… Abraham took his son Isaac to the top and laid him down and prepared to kill and sacrifice him just as God has instructed. However, suddenly he was stopped by an angel of the Lord before he could and was provided a ram to sacrifice instead. Genesis 24: 14 goes on to say that “Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.””
THAT GRAY PLACE.
THAT SPACE in which you’re not quite sure what’s going on or what God is up to.
THAT GRAY AREA.
I may not like the color gray but that doesn’t mean something beautiful and bright can’t become of it. Let’s always be grateful in the gray. You never know how God is working to do a new thing. “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” Isaiah 43:19
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