I like planning, order, and predictability. Those who know me best smile at routines that I have created that move me through one day and into the next. Spontaneity can make a person fun to be around but if that ‘fun’ person cannot be relied on to keep commitments- the fun evaporates in the heat of frustration. For me, given multiple obligations, a certain kind of structure is necessary. If I slack off for a few days unfinished tasks pile up quickly. It is possible, and I fall into this trap, to be so committed to my plan that God gets squeezed into a little box of my own design. Frequently I must remind myself that He owns me, that those things that I see as ‘interruptions’ can be opportunities He creates.
Last week when I slipped and fell, I realized that plans had to change, that limits were being forced on me. More than once since then I have grown tense, frustrated by the forced slow-down. Then I tell myself that even though God did not trip me up last Wednesday, He knew my path and He can use all things for His purposes if I am willing to let go of my plan and trust Him for His! A painful knee, a traffic delay, a missed appointment, a phone call out of the blue — these can be opportunities to find new grace.
Yes, friend, in ways that cannot simply be coincidence, our God can use the days we see only as part of life’s chaos to lead us to greater grace and for His glory.
Writing in Philippians, Paul tells that he is in prison for preaching the Gospel. He had not blocked out a year in his calendar for that! Was he raging at life, cursing the misfortune? Not at all. Look at the grace he shows. “I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.” (Philippians 1:12-14, The Message) He is not simply being positive. He sees the fruit of faith!
This Friday, it is quite likely that more than a few of you are dealing with people and circumstances that are not working out like you planned. Your agenda has been tossed aside, your best plans destroyed. Will you trust Him to lead? Paul, who praised God from a prison cell, believed this whole-heartedly: “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29, NIV)
Oh, let’s not become fatalists. Let’s not foolishly say “it’s all good.” The sins of others and my own willfulness introduce situations into our lives that do not line up with the perfect will of God. The faith-builder of that passage is the promise that God operates outside of time and human limitations; great enough to accomplish His ultimate purpose in us. What is that purpose? To shape us into the likeness of our Savior. The Psalmist sang, “Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.” (Psalm 23:4, The Message)
Frustration will come today – big and small. Make yours a response of a beloved child of God, trusting Him. Don’t curse it, pray. Don’t stew in anger, give it to Him and ask Him to sort it out. Thank Him for the promise that He is working in it for your good to accomplish His purpose. Let go of the need to be in control of your life. Look up and pray: “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, NIV) You will not only know greater peace, you will also allow the beauty of His holiness to shine through.
The word from the Word is a familiar Psalm. Spend some time meditating here, won’t you? Repeat this simple phrase-
Don’t fret. Trust. Delight. Commit it to the Lord!
“Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.”
(Psalm 37:1-6, NKJV)
(a simple song of trust, listen and worship)
God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way,
He works in ways we cannot see,
He will make a way for me.
He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to His side,
With love and strength
For each new day,
He will make a way,
He will make a way.
By a roadway in the wilderness
He’ll lead me,
And rivers in the desert will I see.
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain,
He will do something new today.
God Will Make A Way
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