Cupcakes and Sunshine: parking lot revelations: lemonade

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

parking lot revelations: lemonade


I do a lot of car-sitting. I think it's one of my favorite things. It's a safe place and a quiet place in the busyness of each day. My car was the first place I ever remember really praying, and has since become a holy place- a place where I can feel God's presence and peace, and I'm able to be still. I spent the first few months of my freshman year of college driving back and forth from Athens, Georgia to my aunt and uncle's house in South Carolina on the weekends, and spent hours on the hot country, winding roads and then interstate I-85, 95 degrees, windows down, learning about Jesus and who he is through prayer and podcasts. I've spent a lot of hours driving back and forth from Georgia to Texas and Texas to Georgia, some long, winding roads, I-20, windows down, 95 degrees, learning about Jesus and his love for me some more through prayer and podcasts.

Sometimes I'll run and pick up groceries from the store, and then pull up in our apartment parking lot in Dallas and the next thing I know, I've been sitting in my car for minutes, sometimes a couple hours, just thinking and praying about life. (& then I realize I have to refreeze my ice cream and once-frozen vegetables. oops!)

I'm pretty sure my car has seen its fair share of laughs and tears. and maybe some occasional spilled coffee when I'm more in the rush, than the "sit-still" moments.

My car has seen my good, bad, and ugly for sure. But so has Jesus. And he accepts me and loves me in my brokenness and uncertainty. And I can rest and be still in Him too. Sometimes God just meets me right there in my car in the parking lots and the times of transit and the times of waiting at red lights, and well, just the times of waiting in general. And the things he's been teaching me lately-some parking lot revelations- started with a Chick-fil-A lemonade.



Chick-fil-A is a holy place in its own I'm pretty sure. And after hopping in my sweltering hot car, sweat pouring down my face, as I was sipping my ice-cold lemonade, in the parking lot, I looked down at my perspiring styrofoam cup and realized that I've been juggling a lot of lemons lately.

You know, when life gives you lemons? and you make lemonade? The trials and hardships you're supposed to turn around? I've been juggling a lot of them- pondering when and where and how I should make lemonade. I've been wondering why the lemons are a lot more sour than I've wanted them to be. And I've asked for some sweeter lemons because I thought I had graduated from the season of sour lemons already.

I've taken the strength-finders personality test a few times, and each time Positivity is my number one strength. I see the good in situations. The glass half-full. AKA, making lemonade is one of my strengths. But I think our greatest strengths can be our greatest weaknesses.

Growing up, I was a professional lemonade maker. I was a big fan of lemonade stands and called over all the neighbors to sell lemonade with me often. Then, my first real-life lemons began to hit me pretty hard, and in tough situations, I took those lemons and turned them to lemonade quick. Making lemonade became a way to cope, because I couldn't imagine how life would be if I wasn't making my own lemonade. I think then, and sometimes now, I've been trying to squeeze and extract a lot of sweetness out of a bunch of sour lemons, without tossing those lemons up to the Lord first. And my anxiety builds and I cripple under the stress of thinking I am the lemonade maker.

I don't have to do it on my own. He lifts our loads. He carries our burdens, but we have to let go of those lemons and trust Him with them.

Sometimes I get so tangled up in trying to make lemonade, that I forget His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Psalm 68:19 is one of my favorites that I have to constantly remind myself: "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Daily. Not yearly, not monthly, but daily. 

1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." He cares for you. He cares for me. Not yearly, not monthly, but daily. In the here-now, He cares for you. And what a burden lifter it is to know that I don't have to make this lemonade all on my own.

I think if Paul lived today, he'd be someone who knows a lot about lemonade. He was once a bad apple working with some sour lemons. But the Lord used him and his steadfastness and perseverance to share the gospel in the worst of places- prison. In Acts 20, Paul says he was expecting some bitter fruit: "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. Except that the Holy Spirit witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me." Like Paul, in our journeys and travels, we can expect some lemons. 

In letters Paul wrote from prison, he urges: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." In a time of most uncertainty, Paul wasn't worried about making lemonade. Paul was thanking Jesus for those sour lemons, letting the lemons grow and refine him, and then tossing them back up to God. "For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." Whoah. 

He writes in Corinthians: “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul knew God was going to pave the path before him, and he knew those sour lemons were making him stronger. He delighted in the lemons.

Like a car in transit, this time is a journey. I think I keep expecting an ultimate end direction or a landing spot. And I'm resting in that maybe I'm just taking the slow, scenic route until I get there. With maybe a few lemons to pass up. The journey is sweet. We can let the sour, bitter lemons set us back, or we can sip on it slowly. So that's what I'm working on these next couple of weeks- trusting more and more in the lemonade maker, and savoring the journey slowly. A refreshing revelation, really! 

So if you've been feeling like you've been making a lot of lemonade lately, I say hey, go for a ride, listen to a few podcasts, pray a lot, and grab yourself an ice-cold lemonade. Because Jesus says this journey's going to be sweet enough with him, if you just trust in the lemonade maker.

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