Last night a long time friend called to share disappointments he is facing in his life. While in his twenties he had in his mind what his service to God would look like, and how it would play out. Over the years, however, the demands of supporting and raising a family, of developing a career, and dealing with the intensity and complexity of life in a major metropolis, have exacted a far greater toll on him than he ever imagined. At mid-life, he finds himself exhausted, struggling with depression, and disoriented as to what his purpose in life should be. As we chatted, several thoughts came to mind:
First, it is God, not I, who determines the direction of my life: In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his stepsA man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way? I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Pro. 16:9; 20:24 ; Jer.10:23) Observe Jesus words to Peter, in foretelling his martyrdom, I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, Follow me!" (Jn. 21:18-21) (See Psa. 33:11; 135:6)
Second, God often accomplishes his sovereign and mysterious purposes without explanation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: What have you done? …I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Dan. 4:35; Isa. 46:10) (See Psa. 33:11; 115:3; 135:6) How, for example, am I to comprehend the fact that God directed Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife; instructed Abraham to kill his son, and took away everything that was most precious to Job, one of his righteous adherents?
In humility and with childlike trust I am to choose to surrender myself to the Lordship and sovereignty of our incomprehensible God: My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughtsDestruction is certain for those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, `Stop, you are doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, `How clumsy can you be!’. (Isa. 55:8, 9 NIV; 45:9 NLT) (See Psa. 92:5; Hos. 14:9; Rom. 11:33 -36)
Philip Yancey said, "We are asked to live out the life of Christ in the world, not just to refer back to it or describe it. We announce His message, work for justice, pray for mercy, and suffer with the sufferers. . . .He has given me joy and love and happiness and goodness. They have come in unexpected flashes, in the midst of my confused, imperfect world, but they have been enough to convince me that my God is worthy of trust. Knowing Him is worth all enduring."
Third, Gods plan for me is not primarily about what he wants me to do, but what he intends for me to become: Christlike. The reality is that most spiritual transformation transpires through suffering: Werejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Rom. 5:3, 4 Selected) The suffering allowed by God in Romans 8:18-27, culminates in our conformity into Christlikeness: We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son (Rom. 8:28 , 29a Msg.)
"In a way I wish I could take to heaven my old, tattered Everest & Jennings wheelchair. I would point to the empty seat and say, Lord, for decades I was paralyzed in this chair. But it showed me how paralyzed You must have felt to be nailed to Your Cross. My limitations taught me something about the limitations You endured when You laid aside your robes of state and put on the indignity of human flesh. At that point, with my strong and glorified body, I might sit in it, rub the armrests with my hands, look up at Jesus, and add, The weaker I felt in this chair, the harder I leaned on You. And the harder I leaned, the more I discovered how strong You are. Thank you, Jesus for learning obedience in your suffering…You gave me grace to learn obedience in mine." Joni Eareckson Tada
QUESTION: Have you come to this level of mature perspective in responding to Gods sovereign plan for your life?