God’s Will

Leaning Into God’s Will

The encouraging posts about God’s love and care for us are in abundance these days. You will find them on blogs, social media, and in many articles. We so desperately want to be reminded that He will see us through whatever lies ahead. And it is so important to be reminded of this. I share this message often myself here on the blog and over at the Growing4Life Facebook page.

But there is something else that we really need to remember.

Many years ago, I read a book called Green Leaf in Drought. I was so impacted by it that you will find it on my Favorite Books page here on the blog. I hadn’t read it for years, so I decided to pick it up again. It seemed like it might be even more relevant the second time around, given the concerns and fears we’ve experienced over the past year.

Yesterday, I finished it. It’s a short little book and I highly recommend it (I’ll add a link below for anyone interested). When communism started to fully infiltrate China, most of the missionaries left immediately. However, a few were unable to leave. This book is about a family that was held there for almost three years before they were released by the government to come home.

The lessons that they learned are important lessons for us all. I am not going to say a whole lot about their story so I don’t give too much away for those who want to read it. But I do want to share one important lesson they learned that is critical for us all. Perhaps especially right now.

When they were about a year and a half into their coerced stay in China, things were really bad. They were almost starving, fuel was hard to come by, and people were punished if they talked to the “Imperialists” (as they were known) which led to extreme loneliness. And then, on top of it all, imagine being a missionary and being told by the foreign government that you are not allowed to talk to anyone or to leave your house? Their whole purpose for being there could not be carried out and they were left in the nondescript corner of a foreign country with few resources and even fewer friends.

At one point the wife, in a state of fretting and restlessness, waited impatiently for the Lord to rescue them. She was frustrated with the Lord’s timing and, though she was submitted to His Will, she was none too happy about what that “will” was. One day, as she spent time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer, something dawned on her. What would happen if she would gladly and joyfully yield to God’s Will for her life instead of begrudgingly agreeing to it? What if she were to act more like a daughter carrying out a loving mission for her Father than a slave that was forced to do the master’s will? She resigned herself to lean into God’s Will and thus began a change of heart.

As she took this step of joyful submission, the peace and joy that had been missing from her Christian life came flooding in. She recognized that living a joyful life dedicated to the Lord in spite of their trials would be a light that the Chinese Christians could see, even if they never said a word. These conclusions were drawn in the midst of horrible circumstances that neither you or I could even imagine and will hopefully never have to endure. A few months later, God helped her husband understand the very same thing.

As they purposed in their hearts to have a good attitude, Satan did his best to discourage them and they were hit with even harder trials than before. But the peace never left them. The peace and joy they experienced was completely unrelated to their circumstances, just as we are promised in scripture.

I believe this is more than a little relevant for us today.

Or shall I say I find it relevant for me?

You see, I find my heart filled with sorrow and even anger when I think of the world we are living in currently. I feel like I am on the set of a movie that just won’t end. The masks, the social distancing, the vaccine, the economy, the dying small businesses, the election, the unbelievable compromise of Christians we trusted, and then there are the strong opinions about all of these things. The realization that whatever world my kids and grandkids grow up in (if the Lord tarries), it’s going to be quite a bit different than mine. The awful uncertainty of what lies ahead, always there like a dark shadow in the back of all of our minds, no matter where we live in this world. All of this makes my heart just ache and I can even grow angry if I am not careful. The world we lived in is no longer. And life as we have known it is over.

But this book convicted me. We—you, me, all of us—are here right now because God has ordained it. We are in His Will for our lives. We are going to be relatively ineffective as believers if we are focused on all that we don’t like about this new world instead of leaning into His will. We are going to be filled with dread, unhappiness, and fear if we are begrudgingly living in this new world. But if we joyfully submit to where God has us right now, we will show a lost world that God is true to His Word and we will be able to encourage and edify struggling fellow believers.

Do we want to be bright lights for Christ in this new world? If the answer is yes, than I am convinced we need to lean into God’s Will instead of resist it.

On a practical level, we will be faced with a variety of small tests and trials each day. How do we show this in the midst of family disagreements over the whimsical “laws” put in place by over-reaching governors? How do we show this in the midst of our disappointment in the way our churches, workplaces, or schools are handling things? How do we show this when someone asks us to wear a mask or move away from them? How do we show this when we hear more bad news? How do we show this when yet another discussion comes along regarding all that’s going on? How do we show this each and every hour of our lives?

I am not sure of the “how” but I am sure of the necessity of this. You see, if we are dragging our feet and have a bad attitude, then this will show in all of our words and actions. (I am talking to myself here as much as to you!) But if we joyfully yield our will to God’s, then this, too, will show in all of our words and actions.

Look, we are all here. Stuck on a ride we can’t get off. Watching the prophecy of scripture come to life in a way we never thought we’d see. But I can say with 100% confidence that this is where God has placed us.

For such a time as this.

No amount of railing, wailing, or flailing is going to change it.

While I am not saying that we don’t work actively to help change what we are given an opportunity to change, it’s pretty fair to say that most of this is completely outside of our control.

But it’s not outside of God’s control and, in His vast knowledge and incomprehensible Sovereignty, He knows exactly where He’s placed us in the history of this world.

So let’s not just resign ourselves to live in this new world but let’s choose to joyfully live in this new world. Let’s show the world that God’s peace and joy is not based on circumstances.

And, on a bright note, living in this time of history may actually mean we are the generation that is raptured! How awesome would that be? It seems more and more likely each day.

So may we all ask God to help us be joyfully submissive as we walk this path we don’t really want to be on. He is sufficient and He will supply our needs. And, eventually, this will all be behind us as we face the prospect of a marvelous eternity together with Him in heaven.

 

 

—If you are interested in being encouraged further by reading the story of Arthur and Wilda Mathews as Isobel Kuhn writes it in Green Leaf in Drought, you can find it here. (This is not an affiliate link and I receive no compensation for you clicking on it. I am merely pointing you to where you can find the book.)

 

 

It’s Just a Car

The other night we arrived to set up a booth for our company at a local community fair just as it began to rain. The sky had looked threatening on our drive there, but little did we know what those clouds held. We were no sooner under the tent when rain began to pour out of the sky. Not drop, not shower, not stream, but pour.

As we stood there under our {aluminum} tents watching the rain, the storm that was bringing it drew closer and closer. Until suddenly it was right over us. Lightening with incredibly loud, cracking thunder immediately following. No counting the seconds in between to see how many miles away it was because there were no seconds to count!

At that point, I decided to take the short run to my car and wait there. Aluminum or no aluminum, I was going to get in my car. So I ran over and hopped in the passenger’s side to wait it out. I had no sooner closed the car door when I saw something flying towards my window. Someone else’s tent, complete with metal poles, had lifted in the wind and was attacking my car.

My daughter had seen it all happen and, as she opened the door to wait with me, she said, “Mom, you do not want to see what that just did to your car.”

It was raining too hard to even look at it, so I took the next few minutes to sit in the car and reflect on the unseen scratch. This car was purchased only a few months ago with no dents or scratches. It wasn’t new but it was new for me. Of all the cars we have ever owned, this one is my favorite.

But it is just a car.

I thought of those people who are impaled by umbrellas on a windy day at the beach. Could I have been hurt by that tent? Not impaled, but perhaps hurt. I missed that flying tent by just a few seconds. Literally. None of the many people huddling under tents at that fair had been struck by lightening or had been hurt in that frightening storm. There were just so many things so much more important than my car.

As disappointment washed through me, thanksgiving for God’s physical protection came along with it. So, too, did the realization of how minor this really was. I have some friends and family members going through some really serious trials right now and remembering them shrank the car incident into barely nothing.

Funny how perspective can do that for you.

No deep spiritual lesson today–only a reminder to “not sweat the small stuff”.

It is so easy for us to get so riled up about the stuff that doesn’t matter. And, normally, I would have a tendency to do that, but, oh, how things change when trials abound that are so much bigger and of so much more eternal weight.

Our goal should be to keep perspective even when we don’t have that comparison. To not sweat the small stuff, even when all seems right with our world.

No easy task, of course. But it sure does make life more enjoyable, doesn’t it? And, more importantly, these small annoyances and frustrations are good practice for us in learning to submit to God’s sovereign will and to maintain our testimony when things don’t go the way we planned.

As I climbed out of the car, I hesitantly turned and looked at that scratch. My daughter was right–it was pretty bad. I wondered how long it would take to get on the schedule for repair and also about who would pay for it. But, lo and behold, God had a great surprise in store for me!

The owner of the tent that hit the car? It was our mechanic. Of all things, it belonged to our mechanic. And they are fixing the car at their cost this weekend. I am still marveling about that one.

 

 

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