I’m sure you know what I mean. We trust God because we know that he is fully capable of carrying us. We know that he has the best plan for us, and that he has every resource in the universe at his disposal to accomplish that plan, and yet…
Ugh. We step down. We want to walk where we want to walk, in the way that we prefer, in the time we have planned, and we expect that we will end up exactly in the place where we want to be. Only we don’t.
I usually end up on some god-forsaken island that is over-populated with doubt, fear, frustration, loneliness, depression, oppression, rejection, self-focus, and/or remorse. Has your journey of self-sustaining independence and pride led you there lately?
We know that God made us for his purpose, and we know his purpose is good, because he is good – but sometimes we let fear lead us to believe that his purpose is not good enough. We fear his plan is not as lofty as our plan for ourselves; or perhaps, it is too lofty, and that fear prevents us from trusting him.
We want to tell God what he needs to do to get us where we want to be. If he doesn’t do what we want him to do, we do it for ourselves. We forget that he is the potter, we are the clay, and he acts on behalf of those who wait for him. He comes to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember his ways (Isaiah 64:4-9). Yet, how frequently do we patiently wait for him to accomplish his plan, in his time?
We know that when we gladly do right – when we embrace God’s wonderful boundaries (and, yes, we know they are wonderful) – that he will move mountains to come to our aid. Yet, we don’t always do that which is right, nor do we do it gladly.
We know that God will not abandon us; he has promised to those of us in whom his Spirit dwells, that he is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 24). While we gladly rest in the security of our salvation, do we fail to rest in the security of his wisdom and choices for our lives?
Could it be that we have not yet learned how to be content where God has us? Jeremiah Burroughs defined Christian contentment as “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”
That perfectly describes the person who rests in God’s loving embrace as God gradually unfolds his purpose for them, but, that doesn’t always describe me. I’m not consistently sweet. I don’t always have a quiet, gracious frame of spirit. I struggle with submitting to and delighting in God’s distribution of the consequences of my actions and attitudes, let alone all of my circumstances, and in addition, I sometimes foolishly question God’s wisdom.
When one more of those attitudes prevail I find myself trying to walk on my own. You’d think by now, I would realize that I don’t know where the Evil One has buried the landmines, and that the only path my feet recognize is the one that leads straight to the Island of Disastrous Results.
However, God is so very gracious toward his children; when we attempt to walk on our own, he allows warning signs that we need to learn and heed.
Fear is a huge warning bell. When we fear something – anything – more than we fear God, that fear is the call to scurry back into the safety and protection of God’s powerful and strong embrace. Only God is big enough to protect us and keep us secure.
However, we may let fear signal us to grab our walking shoes and lace them up. We are afraid of being alone, irrelevant, overlooked, taken for granted, useless, or _______ (you fill in the blank), and so we decide that God’s plan isn’t working for us and we set out to find our own way.
Distance from God is also a blaring siren to heed. God doesn’t move away from us. He is always with us. He promised that he has hemmed us in, he is behind and before us; we cannot escape him, (Psalm 139:1-18), so when we don’t feel close to God, it is because we have moved – we have climbed down and put on our walking shoes.
Are you living in fear? Do you feel a distance from God? Confession and repentance are landmarks to lead us back to the intimacy and security of his loving embrace.
Confession is easy: it is agreeing with God that he is right. We must confess our sins, and because he is faithful and just, he will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Repentance means that we turn away from the sin that so easily entangles us so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).The amazing thing is that while we are running the race, it is God who gathers us in his arms and carries us close to his heart, (Isaiah 40:11).
This Christmas season, if you have wandered off on your own, will you yield to the warnings that God has allowed – I believe you will hear God calling you home to his loving arms. Will you run like the wind, and return to the One who can calm all your fears, the One who has a perfect plan for your life, the only One who is fully capable of accomplishing it?
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