“I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me
and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.“ John 15:5 (ESV)
“With God, all things are possible.”
When I read, hear or say this, I usually emphasize the “all things are possible” part.
Today, I can’t get past the “WITH GOD” part.
The hard truth – one that I don’t like to admit – is that I have a tendency to be more self-centered than Veruca Salt. The hard truth is that I want what I want when I want it. and often, “I WANT IT NOW!”
If God isn’t in it.
If God doesn’t want it.
If God doesn’t want it for me.
If God knows that it will lead me away from Him.
If God knows that my current desire ALREADY pulls me away from him.
If God knows that my current desire might be counter to His plan to draw people to a saving knowledge of Him and to accept His gift of grace.
If God knows that my current desire might be counter to His desire for a living, intimate, dependent relationship with me and/or someone else…
then, God’s not in it.
Even if “it” is possible and I go after it on my own – withOUT God, I will fail. Maybe not fail in the eyes of the world, under the world’s definition of success, but I will fail.
Because all my dreams and goals, if pursued withOUT God, lead me away from Him. And when I fill my life with things that exclude Christ, those things amount to a
“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
I can pray and ask God for what I want and/or think I need to achieve my goals, but in the end, He is all-knowing and all-powerful. I either trust His sovereignty in EVERY situation or I don’t.
No middle ground.
He knows what is best and He has the power to make ANYthing happen.
When I live grounded in that awareness, disappointment doesn’t form a pit in my stomach like it does when my mind is relentlessly plagued with multiple scenarios of “what ifs.” I know my current situation is a result of God’s providence.
Sometimes, my disappointments are actually His protection, preparation or redirection.
When I COMMIT my will to Him and GENUINELY trust Him to lead me in His way,
“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
I can do everything I know to plan and prepare,
but in the end, the result is not up to me.
I need to pray and seek wisdom and be a diligent steward of the gifts and talents God has blessed me with,
but in the end, GOD is all powerful and nothing happens to me that He doesn’t will or allow.
Sometimes He allows stuff I don’t particularly like.
Sometimes He works a miracle in the middle of an impossible situation.
Remember. God is Sovereign.
When you live grounded in that truth, the pressure to force circumstances is lifted. When you are confident that God is in control, you can experience peace in the middle of trial.
Ask God to help you practice His presence in your moments and your days. Ask Him to help you make wise decisions as you strive to be a good steward of your relationships, your time, your body, your money and your stuff. Love God and Love others.
Don’t stay still, waiting for Him to say GO.
Take the first step and stop if He says “no.”
I’ve been posting memory verses on facebook for a few weeks now, a new verse starting every Sunday. Every day, I post an new image from pinterest and sometimes write a short commentary on the verse. We’ll find out how consistent I am, both on facebook and now here on my blog. Here’s the first post for this week:
“[…this is the Word of the Lord…] ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” Zechariah 4:6b
I don’t know about you, but when there’s a problem, I want to fix it.
Whether the problem is mine or someone else’s, the most frustrating thing in the world is when I am powerless to change circumstances for the better. But what is better? Who am I to decide that? Who are you?
We can be so arrogant in our pain sometimes, thinking a loving God wouldn’t – couldn’t possibly – want or use this circumstance to accomplish His omniscient understanding of “better.”
The first image for this week’s #memoryverse reminds me of a story. I’ll paraphrase, so if you’ve heard it before, bear with me. A young man asks God what He wants him to do with his life. God tells him that every day, he is to go and push a giant rock at the bottom of a valley nearby. For twenty years, the man pushes the rock. All. day. long. After twenty years (I would have lasted a day), the man finally cries out in frustration “God, I’ve done EXACTLY what You’ve told me to do for TWENTY years and that rock hasn’t even moved a fraction of an inch!” God looks at the man with compassion and replies, “I didn’t ask you to MOVE the rock. I only asked you to push it. Look at your arms. Your legs. Look at your body. Look at how strong you’ve become.”
oh. I didn’t consider that.
The promise of Isaiah 66:9 tells us “‘In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,’ says the Lord.”
Are you suffering and all your efforts feel as futile as pushing against a giant rock all day long? The rock may not be moving, but REMEMBER.
It’s possible, that in His sovereign will, God may have placed that rock in your life. He may have just allowed Satan to throw a rock at you. Regardless of the source of the rock, there is peace that comes from the confidence that God is redeeming every pain for ULTIMATE “better.”
Sometimes, He uses rocks to make us stronger.
While I don’t claim to know what God’s “better” is with regard to the circumstances of your life, I can say with confidence that, above everything else that’s going on in your life, His “better” is that you will be drawn closer to Him and that through an intimate, living, dependent relationship with Jesus, you will be transformed. I pray this confidence and peace for you today.
Four years ago, I was content to sing by myself. in the seclusion of my mini-van.
Leading worship never crossed my mind.
Four years ago, I was content to write a blog. about recipes and how to use a neti pot.
Writing a book never crossed my mind.
Four years ago, I was content to lead a monthly psuedo-Bible study. sitting in comfortable chairs in the living rooms of friends.
A speaking ministry never crossed my mind.
Why did you allow me to go 4 years in this direction if it’s not the place you wanted me to be? How long do I have to stumble around in this mess I’ve made? How long till I figure out how to climb out of this pit? And how long after that will it take me to turn my face and feet towards next?
I have NO sense that these things I’ve been pursuing are from You.
I have NO confidence in my ability to figure out where to place my foot.
so I find myself unable to take a step.
I’m standing still.
by the nagging thought that I have to let it go.
all of it.
And every time the thought crosses my mind, I cry.
dammit. dammit. dammit.
I do NOT cry.
and it’s really starting to tick me off.
Crying is a flippin WASTE of time. When I’m done, nothing has changed.
Except that I have a headache. and my mascara is shot.
And so I take the chicken walk.
If these desires are not from You – if they are, in fact, selfish – I’m asking you to TAKE them.
TAKEthemTAKEthemTAKEthem. I don’t want them.
LET. THEM. DIE.
Painlessly would be my preference.
But part of me knows that if You really did allow these desires to grow over the last 4 years – only to get me to this place of recognition that I love them too much – you did it to teach me.
That I need to be satisfied in YOU, Jesus.
I need to find joy in YOU.
Leading worship isn’t enough.
Writing about You isn’t enough.
Telling people about You isn’t enough.
YOU are enough. You should be enough.
Part of me wonders.
That You’ve allowed me to go so far down this path because You needed me to be this wrecked about being so selfish.
Some say I’m under spiritual attack.
if so, Satan’s doing a damn good job.
But I have to ask myself.
Am I being disciplined?
Am I being pruned?
Are these thoughts from You?
I can’t discount the possibility.
I can’t automatically assume that Satan is attacking me with doubt and discouragement.
Because You are sovereign, I believe nothing happens to me that You don’t allow.
Is that what I’m being?
Right now, everything I see about this ministry I’ve been pursuing is about me. What I want. Me trying to manufacture something. If this is true, the hours I’ve wasted are incalculable. If this is true, I need to turn my back on this self-indulgent disobedience. And if this is true, it completely sucks. Because even after looking straight in the face of this possibility – even knowing I need You to be enough – without these dreams – I’m still mourning the death of them.
Lord, if I’m wrong, you’re going to have to show me.
Smack me upside the head.
because I don’t trust my judgement.
and I am SICK TO DEATH OF THE WHINING.
and seriously. I’m OVER the crying.
It is NOT working for me.
I don’t want to do it anymore.
“To say to Him that something else satisfies you more is the opposite of worship. It is sacrilege.” Desiring God by John Piper
CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”