God's been slowly taking me through the concept of trusting in His sovereignty and learning to listen to His voice when it comes to plans and desires. This past week especially, this has been very prominent. God topped off the things He put on my heart with the chapter my small group was assigned to this week about discernment. It seemed to be exactly what I had concluded this week about how to discern God's agenda versus my agenda, His will versus my will, and His desires versus my desires. It was encouraging to hear because it sort of validated that I was on the right track with how I go about this pursuit of what God has planned for my life. Trusting God's sovereignty is so much easier to say than to do! Every day, I tell myself that I know God knows what is best for me, and I can trust that He will make that happen if I willingly surrender it to Him. I wish I could surrender something once and never have to do it again. In my human-ness, I like to sneak off the altar whatever it was that I just put on it. It is wearisome work to surrender over and over and over again, but at least in doing so it has become a habit to identify when I have put my wants first and go back to that place of surrender. I am so glad for God's patience with my indecisive tendencies! I would have told myself long ago, "Just make up your mind already!" if I were Him.
The things God brings me through might not make sense to me, but they make perfect sense to God. When Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, God used it to save a nation from famine and to continue the lineage of Christ. Joseph might have thought sitting in the prison cell that what he was going through made no sense, but by the end he could look back and say, "God turned into good what you meant for evil." Jesus let Lazarus go party in heaven before calling him back to his earthly life. That might not have made much sense to Lazarus; I know if I were him, I wouldn't want to have traded that heavenly celebration for the pain and affliction on earth. But Jesus had a purpose and a plan in it. He waited to go to Lazarus in the first place "for the glory of God, so that the Son of God [might] be glorified by it." Even Jesus himself faced a struggle that was not in line with what he preferred for himself. In Max Lucado's words, Jesus "begged God for a different itinerary: a crossless death. From Gethsemane's garden Christ pleaded for a plan B. Redemption with no nails. 'Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.'" I love the word "yet" in Jesus' prayer. My own pleas sent heavenward seem to mimic this form: "God, please let it happen this way! But what I want even more than that is to be content with the plan you have in this. Your will first, not mine."
The things I'm facing might not make sense all the way. I can certainly analyze every possible angle and give myself every potential excuse as to why God might have chosen to do things this certain way. But I don't think I'll know until the time has passed, and I can look back as Joseph did and see the outcome. But I am encouraged that God hasn't left me to do it on my own.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God." Isaiah 43:2-3
The psalm comes to mind, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." My prayer is that what I desire would match with the things that God desires for me, that what happens in my life would be listed in God's agenda, and that my aim would be to willingly surrender my will for His, whether it makes sense to me or not.
Keep trusting, my friends. Don't doubt that God is sovereign even though your struggles might not make sense.
God's Handwriting He writes in characters too grand For our short sight to understand; We catch but broken strokes, and try To fathom all the mystery Of withered hopes, of death, of life; The endless war, the useless strife,-- But there, with larger, clearer sight, We shall see this--His way was right. -John Oxenham, 1913