God Has a Plan

Some would like to think that the whole human race is the children of God, but not so. It is true that we are a creation of God, but from a relationship perspective, all are separated from God by sin. The Scripture tells us that before salvation we were children of wrath; “…you were by nature children of wrath, but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:3-5)

When we put our trust in Christ we became someone we have never been before. We passed from death unto life. We are now a new creation with a new worldview. We once followed the world’s perspective on life, now we have a new perspective.

This new perspective/worldview affects everything in our life. We now see the world through the eyes of God’s Word. Our reaction to the world’s disappointments and failures now has a spiritual component. We realize God is involved in every aspect of our life, and with that involvement He has a divine plan and purpose. When we hurt or suffer a great loss God is there to comfort us, but sometimes He often reveals a divine purpose in our suffering.

To illustrate my point I want to share a story recently sent to me by a dear friend. It’s the story of how the old gospel song “Precious Lord” came about.

“Back in 1932, I was a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago’s south side. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. I didn’t want to go; Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child, but a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis. I kissed Nettie goodbye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back. I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope. on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED.

People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home. All I could hear on the other end was “Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead.'”

When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that same night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart. For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn’t want to serve Him anymore or write gospel songs I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well. But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis.

Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died.

From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him. But still I was lost in grief. Everyone was kind to me, especially one friend. The following Saturday evening he took me up to Maloney’s Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows.

I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me then. I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody. Once in my head they just seemed to fall into place: ‘Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn, through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.’

The Lord gave me these words and melody, He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power.

And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.”

Tommy Dorsey

(For those too young to know who he is, Tommy Dorsey was a well-known band leader in the 1930’s and 40’s.)

God’s answers are wiser than our prayers.

Created for a Purpose

Within God’s economy, man is destined for God’s best. God’s intention is to call man to Himself, to place him into the family of God, and then to use man for His own purposes. In other words, we are saved for a divine purpose.

Notice this calling in 2 Timothy 1:9;
“…according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”

In other words, God is not concerned with what you can do for Him. It’s not about our talents and abilities. He doesn’t need us to accomplish His work. All God asks of us is “to surrender our bodies a living sacrifice.” (Romans 12:1) God’s desire is for us to rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross, and then surrender our life to Him to use as He sees fit.

In the secular world, the call is to dream big dreams and go after the gold. But in God’s economy of things, God says die to self and allow God to use you as a conduit of His power and grace. We can do more in one moment of allowing Him to work through us, than many years of working and striving in our own strength.

The Scripture says, “Be still and know I am God.” This is an admonition from the Lord that is encouraging us to lay aside our agenda, stop and wait to hear His voice, and then do what He tells us to do. If God is not speaking, then were probably not listening intentionally.

God’s plan and purpose for you is realized by applying the following.

1. Admitting that you have no plans but His plans. (Jeremiah 29:11)
2. Acknowledging your inadequacy and inability to do it on your own. (John 14:26)
3. Proclaiming apart from Him you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
4. Apply intentional listening – be still and wait on God to speak (Isaiah 40:31)
5. Depending on God to “do it all for you.” (John 16:13-14)

God created and designed you for a purpose. His purpose for you is designed around your unique personality, people skills and personality. When we surrender our life, abandon our dreams and plans to Him, He fills us with His life, and just by walking in Christ, the will of God is automatically done and His purpose for us is realized.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16)

The Pivotal Moment

For three years the Disciple’s lives had been consumed with ministry. Not so much a physical ministry of hands one ministry, but one of learning. They had been in a spiritual laboratory, sitting at Jesus’ feet watching, listening and sensing the love of God in its purity, power and holiness. Then as they daily walked with Jesus they observed Him in action, loving the unlovely and drawing people to God. Jesus was an example of a man perfectly submitted to the will of God and filled with the Holy Spirit.

If there was ever a job you couldn’t wait to get up to every morning, walking with Jesus everyday was such a job. Watching Jesus heal the deaf, raise the dead, make the cripple walk and love the socially cast-out sinner had to be the greatest job ever.

Initially the disciples believed that Jesus was going to physically restore His kingdom on earth now. They thought they were going to be delivered from the dominion of the Roman government. Apparently the masses also believed that. When Jesus taught about being the bread of life the Scripture says, “…many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.” Jesus then asked His twelve disciples, “do you not want to go away also?” (John 6)

Yet another pivotal moment was about to occur in the life of the disciples. The more they walked with Jesus the more they began to realize that Jesus didn’t come to earth to destroy the Roman government. He came to set the spiritually captive free and give eternal life to all who believed.

This next pivotal moment began to unfold when Jesus started praying what the Lord’s Prayer in John 17. Picture this moment in your mind as Jesus started to pray. This was the time when Jesus and His band of disciples were at the height of their popularity, great miracles were occurring, the masses were following them, and then Jesus begins to pray.

“…the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee…I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you have given me to do. Now glorify me together with yourself, Father, with the glory which I had with you before the world was…and I am no more in this world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in your name…but now I come to you; (John 17)

I don’t believe the eyes of the disciples were reverently closed at this moment, agreeing with the Jesus in His prayer, saying “amen, so be it Lord”. I think they were wide-eyed, looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders, wondering what this prayer meant.

Yet, looking back at this event after the resurrection they realized that this was a major pivotal moment in their life. This pivotal moment would become the very foundation doctrinal teaching of God’s grace.They also remembered the rest of this prayer recorded in John 17;

“20″I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “

The extraordinary truth that Jesus revealed to them is a new concept of relationship prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah several centuries earlier. This was a promise that God would personally indwell them and would be always with them, and in them. This good news is this promise is not just for the Apostles but also for us today.(Jeremiah 31:31-33)

20″I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;

God’s desire for us is that we live out of and enjoy our union with Christ. Because we are placed in Christ, and Christ is placed in us at salvation, we came into a divine union relationship with God.

What’s my point? For every pivotal point in our life, God is there with a revelation of Himself. If you undergoing a season of doubt, fear, suffering, or testing, remember that this is a pivotal point where more than likely, God is giving you a new revelation of his goodness and his glory.

It’s not about fairness

How many times during your lifetime have you made the statement, “That’s not fair”? We learn early on that life is not fair. You would think that we would learn from our childhood experiences that this thing called life is not fair. But most of us adults carry this secret hope inside of us that we will discover everyone will treat us fairly. We think when most people get to know us they will treat us fairly.

Then through the circumstances of everyday life we are reminded again of the naked truth that life is not fair. As a committed follower of Christ we understand that because we live in a fallen and sinful world, life is not always going to be fair.

It’s not fair that we get cancer and our neighbor who lives a wicked and vile life is healthy as a horse. It is not fair that the teacher intentionally gives our child a hard time and makes them hate going to school. It’s not fair that the slacker at work gets the kudos and promotions while we slave away unrecognized? Or maybe your beef is with God about Him not being fair. Why do you have to suffer when other believers, who are not as committed as you, are seemingly trouble free?

It is one thing to acknowledge that life is not fair, but another thing when we foster a constant mindset of unfairness. Having the unfairness chip on our shoulder reveals our Worldview. A worldview is the lens with which we view life. Our concept of life, our basis for decision making is connected to our worldview. There are basically two concepts of a worldview, the secular worldview and the Biblical worldview.

Carrying around a unfairness chip is characteristic of a secular worldview. A secular worldview says, “Life is not fair and I am going to fix it no matter who I have to roll over to do it. I will make sure I get recognized because no one steps on my rights to be respected. No one is going to treat me that way.” You can plainly see that there is no end to the constant push to “make life fair”.

But to the committed follower of Jesus, life is not about fairness. Our Biblical worldview tells us that life is not about the world treating us fairly, but it’s about giving our life as a living sacrifice. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for you own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. “ (Philippians 2:3-4)

There is a paradoxal principle at work here. When we give our life away then our life is enriched. We honor God by giving value to others. To a believer, life becomes about constantly giving our life away so others will be drawn to Jesus by the quality of His life in us. This worldview has no room for concern about unfairness.

Our Biblical Worldview teaches us the Christian life is to be lived from a position of rest. The Biblical concept of resting is taken from the belief that God is sovereign, which means that God is ultimately in control. Nothing ever escapes the knowledge or grasp of God. It reminds me of the old saying, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurred to God?” He is never surprised or caught off guard when life treats you unfairly.

You see it’s never about, “What are you going to do rectify your unfair treatment?” It’s about experiencing God’s sovereignty in the midst of the unfairness. Our focus needs to be listening, watching and observing God as He accomplishes His design for your predicament. Remember, God works best when we take our hands off the situation and trust Him.

It’s not about fairness it about obedience. Do you believe that everything comes from God, even when we are treated unfairly? I am not suggesting that God caused the person to treat us unfairly but I am saying that God allowed us to experience the unfairness. You may ask, how is that about obedience? It’s about obedience because we must properly respond to the challenge the Lord has allowed to come our way.

It’s like temptation. When temptation comes our way we are to be obedient to the scripture when it teaches us that for every temptation there is a way of escape, “God will provide a way of escape.” (1 Cor. 10:13) When we are tempted we should look for and take the way of escape.

In the same manner, when unfairness comes our way it should be our queue to obey the Lord, “Don’t be anxious about anything (like unfairness), but (bring) everything to God by prayer (devotion and worship), supplication (cry of humility), with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And then the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

What’s the bottom line? When we experience unfairness it’s a test from God. When faced with unfairness, will we give our life away, even to the one who is treating us unfairly? Will we rest because we know that God is in control? Will we be obedient and bring it to God in prayer, allowing Him to give us a peace that passes all understanding, even in the midst of being treated unfairly?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Are you a product of your circumstances?

Here is a question to ponder. “Are you are a product of your circumstances or is God’s process at work in you?”

Joseph had a prophetic dream that one day he would be a ruler and his brothers would bow down to him. His father, Jacob, was so proud of this prophetic dream that he made Joseph a coat that blatantly reflected his future position. But the celebration was cut short when Joseph’s jealous and angry brothers seized an opportunity to sell Joseph to the slave traders.

The next few years for Joseph brought servitude and bondage. Until one day he was ready to assume his prophetic role as ruler. Why all the years of servitude and bondage? Because Joseph wasn’t ready to assume such a key position that would eventually save not only Egypt but also Joseph’s own family.

During those years, how many times do you think Joseph cried out to God for deliverance? How many sleepless nights did he endure trying to sleep in a damp, filthy prison cell? Why did God deny Joseph’s deliverance for so long? Because the Lord knew Joseph needed to stay where he was a while longer, at least until the refining process was complete.

God was preparing Joseph for something that required skill, humility and a disciplined work ethic. And God knew exactly what it would take to get Joseph in shape to handle such a grand task. The crowning moment for Joseph was not his rise to power and greatness as the second most powerful man in the world. But his greatness was revealed when he displayed humility and forgiveness when dealing with his brothers.

Joseph’s brokenness allowed him to see God in every circumstance of his life. His brothers were caught red handed, and deserved to be exposed and punished. But Joseph saw his brother’s betrayal as part of God’s plan to deliver a nation.

How have you handled God’s season of delays? If you are like me not very well, huh? Well, you are not alone. The same disciples that were in the upper room at the Last Supper telling Jesus how they are willing to suffer and die with Him, later denied they knew Him at all. At the cross they were hiding, not willing to stand by the cross and publicly declare their allegiance.

But there’s something about the fire of adversity that burns off the dross and presents us as pure before the Father. The heat humbles your soul and allows you to get rid of your unbelief, your impurity, and your fear. The fire of adversity produces a clearer picture of how God is at work in you.

So instead of being a product of your circumstances, allow your circumstances to be your refining fire moment that purifies your soul, and makes you a by-product of God’s Grace.

“Every person who crosses us, every person who discourages us is God’s way of breaking us. It creates a deeper channel in us for the life of Christ. The only life that pleases God is His life, never our life. Our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His. We can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared for God to bring our life constantly to death. “ (Roy Hession, Calvary’s Road)

Living In the Moment

One of my greatest weaknesses is a lack of patience. I believe the older you get the more patient you should become. I think I may be a slow learner in that area.

Recently I was in a checkout lane at the local Wal-Mart. Not many lanes were open but there were lots of people standing in line to be checked out. I immediately thought, “20 checkout lanes and only 3 lanes open? I can’t believe it, why don’t they hire enough employees? Don’t they know I don’t have all day long? This is ridiculous.”

Reflecting back on that moment, I was not only ashamed of my outburst of anger and lack of patience, but I was also reminded of how often I neglect living in the moment. If God is fully aware of our every moment, and all our circumstances, then wouldn’t it be to our benefit to take every moment and redeem it?

Maybe the Lord intended for me to be stuck in that long checkout line so that I might turn to my fellow shopper behind me and make a new friend. Maybe that person needed encouragement or maybe I needed to hear their story so that I could say to them, “How can I pray for you?”

Some of the most effective and God appointed moments have been an unplanned encounter with someone while running a shopping errand. I am learning that every moment cannot be measured by a clock or a yardstick. A time and space mentality will cause me to miss the moment. Besides, from eternity’s standpoint all we really have is the moment.

If the “moment” we are living in is uncomfortable or unpleasant it’s natural to look forward to a time when things will be better. But when we fixate on the future and focus on getting out of this season of life, we miss the nuggets of wisdom and grace that God may have for us. This is wisdom and grace that comes only as we learn to live in the moment.

Living in the moment helps us to realize that life is short and you can’t recapture the past and you can’t live in the future. All we have is the present. Psalm 39:4-5 reads, “My life is no longer than my hand! My whole life is but a moment to you.” (Living Bible)

When we fail to capture the moment we have a tendency to live without self-discipline or self-control. Our whole life is controlled by “when things get better”, rather than “God teach me what you want me to see, to know and to feel in this moment of life.” We often miss the value of suffering and what God desires to teach us in the context of the moment.

Whether your moment in life is smooth sailing or your moment of life is unpleasant and uncomfortable, I want to challenge you to live in the moment. Look for God in every moment of your life and expect to find nuggets of His grace.

I want to encourage you to consider a statement that I have recently taken to heart:
“Recognize the value of each moment. Each moment is precious because it will never come again. Wherever you find yourself, look for God in each moment and in each situation.”

Waiting on God

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He cut off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly soon emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man expected that the wings would enlarge and expand to support the body, which would contract in time, but neither happened. Instead the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never flew. In his kindness and haste the man didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon was God’s way of forcing fluid from the butterfly’s body into its wings, so that it could fly once free from the cocoon.

Sometimes our struggles are exactly what we need. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong and we could never fly! With our flesh we fight life’s struggles. We are impatient during the learning curves. We fail to understand that our obstacles are the very thing that allows us to soar. Jesus said, “If you reign with me you will suffer with me”. The context of this verse has to do with becoming a true disciple. That means suffering, by way of life’s struggles, is necessary to be called a legitimate disciple of Jesus Christ.

I like to refer to our daily struggles as God’s way of bringing a little brokenness. Sometimes that means a sense of “momentarily being out of control.” Being out of control gives us a feeling of having no place to turn but God. That’s exactly where God wants us to be – acting on our faith and trust in Him. Besides, even if the struggle and discomfort is a direct attack from the enemy, God always means it for good.

Joseph had the proper perspective when he explained to his brothers, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” So next time you get in a jam – don’t try to exit from the cocoon too soon, more struggle may be necessary. Wait on God’s natural timing so you can fly.

“Consider it all joy, my brother, when you encounter various trials, know that the testing’s of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

God is always on time…if we wait on Him

One of the most difficult tasks a believer encounters is waiting on God. Our experience, knowledge and impatience seem to get in the way of waiting on God.  Of course, we are not the only generation that has that problem.King Saul had a similar problem prior to encountering a major battle against the Philistines.  The Israelites were out manned, had inferior weapons and were relatively inexperienced.  They needed God’s instructions on how to do battle against the enemy. Per God’s instructions, Samuel told Saul to wait on him at Gilgal on his arrival before going into battle. Samuel would be there in seven days to make the necessary sacrifices prior to the battle.When the morning of the seventh day came, Samuel had not arrived. Saul panicked, his soldiers began to scatter and Saul didn’t have the Lord’s direction for battle.  Saul could have stood his ground and said, “even if Samuel doesn’t show up until days later, I am going to trust God’s Word and wait until I hear from the Lord.” But he didn’t, he took matters into his own hands.We learn from 1 Samuel 13 that Saul took matters into his own hands, and ordered the on-site priest to make sacrifices without Samuel.   In doing so, he sinned against the Lord and committed a grievous sin.  This failure to wait on God cost him his kingdom.

Samuel did show up on the seventh day, just as he promised. It may have been late in the day, but he arrived on God’s timetable.   Saul’s impatience cost him his throne. Samuel said, “Your kingdom shall not endure…God has sought out for Himself a man after his own heart.”

Saul faced a crisis, a pivotal moment in his life.  His decision to “not wait on God” changed his potential and even altered his destiny.  From that moment on his life was filled with trouble, personal tragedy and eventually suicide.

It’s a time of crisis for us when we are forced to decide whether we will wait on God by faith, or get impatient and take matters into our own hands.

God’s character is the same today as it was in the time of Saul. He’s never too late or too early, He is always on time, regardless of how dire the circumstances may appear.    It doesn’t matter if things seem out of control; we are to walk in total confidence in His ability to deliver us.   It’s a matter of walking and living by FAITH.   

Yes, it’s difficult to learn to wait on God, it’s a lifelong lesson.  We must go through seasons of crying out to God and then experience the pain of waiting on Him to deliver us.  But the rewards and blessings of waiting on God far out weigh the pain of taking things into our own hands.  We must learn to experience the pain of discipline by waiting on God, or we will experience the pain of regret.  In the end the pain of discipline weighs ounces but the pain of regret weights tons.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on unto your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
He is risen indeed!  Have a blessed Easter
Larry

When God is Not Speaking


“And yet it is true that this God who desires to give Himself to you, will often conceal himself from you – from you the very one who seeks Him.” (Guyon)

If you have been a “God Seeker” very long you have experienced the above statement on at least a few occasions.  Why does a God who loves us so intensely seem to close a deaf ear to our prayers, especially in times of great need? There are at least three reasons.

First, God wants us to be on a track of continually pursuing Him.  If you are the typical Christian then you, like me, have a tendency to get spiritually lazy when things are going great.  We may have our daily devotions and shoot up a few prayers during the day, but we lack passion in our pursuit of Him.  We may not say it, but we sometimes live like, “God I am ok now, but I will be sure to get really serious about prayer if I hit a snag I can’t fix. You will be the first one I call on.”
Every committed follower of Jesus is quick to call upon the Lord when things begin to get out of control, and it should be that way.  However, God’s higher desire for us is to pursue Him even when times are good. God created us for fellowship with Him. It is the instinctive nature of a child of God to pursue a deeper and richer fellowship with the Father.  So when we sense those times when God seems to turn a deaf ear to our prayers it is a sign that we need to examine our passion of pursuit.
Secondly, it is a test of our faith.  Do you really believe, even in the absence of a manifest presence? As a faithful follower of Jesus our faith is continually tested in numerous ways.  The deeper your walk the greater the test.  It’s like the old story about the man who was chased by a bear. In his attempt to out-run the bear he ran over a cliff and on the way down latched onto a limb. While hanging there in midair, hundreds of feet from the valley floor he called out to God to help him.  God said do you trust me, the man quickly declared, yes, I believe and fully trust you.  Then God said let go of the limb.
Sometimes trusting God when we don’t see a logical way out is like the above story.  We must trust God and be willing to let go of the limb because of who He is and because of His proven faithfulness in the past. Each time we come to one of those moments and we trust God even though our emotions are all over the place, our faith is increased. How does our faith increase?   Because in the end God gives us what we really needed even though it is not what we prayed for.   Faith must be tested in order to grow and have real value.  Now you know why Paul said, “I thank God for various temptations.”  He knew that faith produces endurance.
Thirdly, during times of dryness we learn something about ourselves.  There is a point in my conference presentation when I ask the audience who is the person that gives you the greatest problem in life? A few may answer the “devil”,  and one time a man said it was his wife, but the overwhelming majority of people answer, “ It’s me”.  During times of spiritual dryness as when we turn toward pursuing God we begin to see ourselves as we really are.  We quickly realize how our whole world is revolving around ourselves. We see our unforgiveness, our quickness to set someone straight, our self-protection and all those things that point to a lack of brokenness.
I vividly remember military boot camp.  The best way to describe it was they took all my rights away. I couldn’t go and come as I pleased. I couldn’t talk unless spoken to and I had to go to bed and get up when they said, even when it meant getting up in the middle of the night marching for hours. I had to march in the rain, crawl through the mud with my rifle under barbed wire with machine gun fire above my head.  It wasn’t fair, why was I treated so badly, and subjected to such dangerous circumstances. I didn’t sign up for this! I just wanted to join the military.  And to top it all off, they wouldn’t let me do things my way.
It wasn’t until the end of boot camp that I realized their overall purpose.  They were breaking down my self-sufficient, undisciplined will. Their goal was to make me a good soldier, one who followed orders without question and was ready for conflict in a moment’s notice. Wow, what a proud moment when our barracks came together as a unit.
In a similar manner, that’s what God is doing in our life. He allows us to experience trouble we can’t escape, people we love that we can’t fix, and failures and disappointments we think we don’t deserve. In addition to all of that there are bouts of loneliness and despair.  All because He wants to break our stubborn self-will, give up on our own self-sufficiency and fully cast ourselves on Him and Him alone.
Life in the Lord’s army is paradoxical   To receive you must first give. To save your life you must give it away to others.  But the rewards are heavenly – rest, joy (inner peace), and daily fellowship with the Creator of the universe.
Next time you feel God has withdrawn from you remember these three things: (1) God is testing your faith: (2) He is showing you your self-sufficiency and: (3) it is His cue for you to readjust your priorities and pursue Him like never before.  Gaze on Him and be transformed.
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:18)