"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD"
There are so many people including myself that are struggling and hurting. People waking up every morning wondering what in the world is happening in their life and why God is allowing the pain that they are experiencing to take place.
So many times, we truly believe that we have given God every part of ourselves. We believe that there is really nothing more we can do but truthfully, we are walking in deception. Many are pleased with the twenty minutes that may give God each day if that and think that showing up on Sunday morning is all they need to live righteously. What a wicked web we weave when we fall into those lies that Satan uses to deceive us.
This past week there has been a lot of joking around about the providence of God. How He has a bigger picture for our lives than what we can see in the moment that we are living. Back in high school, I participated in a youth musical by Michael W. Smith that was about this very thing. The story is about a high school student who is accidentally killed and how it affects those in her life as they try to figure out why she is gone. It is the discovery of how God used her life while she was there to lead those to Him. I had not thought about that musical until this past week and it has led me really to reflect on my situation and the situations that those in my life are experiencing.
I have written in the past about the distress that we cause in our own lives. Sometimes we choose to take control of our own lives and think we know exactly what it is God wants us to do. We start making decisions on our own choosing to go our own way and we end up falling flat on our faces.
We cause our own distress out of disobedience to the Lord. We find ourselves in the middle of a storm and the only one, who could end it, is the One we are running from in the first place. How many times do we run away from God instead of into His arms? Clearly, His arms are the safest place to be and there is protection from the elements of the world within His arms.
Sometimes we think that not all may deserve God's mercy and grace and so this attitude will put us in harms way especially when we try to take care of situations ourselves instead of turning it over to the Lord and obeying Him.
- Sometimes we cause our own distress. We can easily make a situation far worse than what it may be by not acknowledging God and giving Him control of it or our life.
- By trying to take control ourselves, we end up in a dark, cold, and lonely place until we become broken and recognize our need for a Savior and His mercy and grace.
- Once we call out to Him, He will deliver us no matter what we have done or where we have been because of His love and forgiveness.
Jonah 2:8 says, "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." A point to ponder is this: we think of idols as a wooden statue or money or TV but there is more to it than just these things. It can be people pleasing or lack of faith and trust in the Lord and these types of issues can become our idols. We worry about what others may think or whether or not God will really provide or pull us out of whatever situation and it becomes our focus instead of God. Because of our disobedience and lack of faith, we cause ourselves more distress and may miss God's grace and blessings. Wow, what a revelation!
Clearly, there are two important messages that we should not forget. First, we should never run away from God because it will not bring about positive things. When we run, we can cause some serious storms for ourselves that we can avoid if our focus is on pleasing and obeying Him. He IS the calm in our storms. Second, His grace and mercy are for everyone. We are not to judge who is worthy of His forgiveness because Christ died for everyone and He extends His grace to all. When we forget this, God will quickly remind our narrow hearts by those storms we encounter.
The question becomes, how does this all tie into the providence of God for us? Well, He has our life already planned out for us. It was written before we were born and He has gone before us and prepared the way which means when we choose to follow Him and not our own way, the road ahead will be much easier to travel because He knows just where we are headed. His providence is what we should search and strive for instead of our own agendas and plans. He knows the plans that He has laid out for us. His plans are to bring us hope and they are for our good when we seek after Him. We should find peace in knowing this and turn toward Him and His ways. By doing so, the storms of life may not be as long and as hard to endure.