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Caution: U-Turn Ahead

August 6, 2018

I met a couple at a convention recently who are preparing to move to the city to help with outreach to Orthodox Jews. They spoke of how they were planning to go Africa to help with mission work there, but within one year God literally remolded their hearts and thoughts towards where He wanted them to be−with the Jewish people. They have a beautiful story. The results of how God worked in their life are powerful. Their journey to this point is chock full of God moments that should inspire one in their own walk with God, and, while it did do that, I also came away with a question that lingered like sugar-free after taste.

Why, when this family was already aiming at something good and God-glorifying, why did God go through the work and trouble of rewriting their story and changing their hearts towards something else?

This question clung like a burr as I left the lunch table. They were smiling and wondering at His goodness, but I’m walking away scratching my head, having been reminded once again that God is still a mystery to me.

But I will see this again the next day. A young lady tells me the tale of a young man among us whose life-long dream was to become a missionary pilot. He aimed everything towards that end. In his last years of high school he took the pilots test with high hopes and ambition…but he failed. And with this particular test, there were no second chances. He would never be a pilot. He was color blind. Though still wondering the “why?” question, he is preparing to go on the mission field in another way as the Lord leads.

These stories, though redemptive, have left me wondering about whether or not God cares about our dreams, desires, or even preferences. I know the pain of hope deferred and have had my share of desires denied. God was always good, but I still don’t have all the answers and perhaps never will. Job, one of the most stricken men in the Bible, never got an answer to his “why?”, though he did experience depths of God in ways he never had before. I wonder what life was like for him after it all. What kind of man was he after losing everything? After having a whirlwind encounter with Almighty God who drilled him with incredible questions about His power and sovereignty and then redemptively restored Job’s loses?

How do we trust when life is can be so uncertain? How can we know what to aim for when it could all be swept away with one closed door? How can we live life with purpose and direction when God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts so much higher than our own? Why is it that some people have one, good, driving purpose for their life and attain unto it, while others also have good and worthy ambitions which are thwarted at every turn? How do we dream about the future within the reality of God’s soverign will possibly recharting our course? Why are some seemingly “blessed” while others are “denied”?

“It is easy to fear when you see loss. It is easy to feel apprehensive when you see hurt, damage, new wounds, and pain. These are precisely the things that love does away with…When we rely on ourselves, we are always fearful. We are always worried about what we might lose. We are afraid of rejection…of abandonment. We live out the vulnerability of the world. A world where some gain while others lose…Fear, confusion, and doubt are intertwined and they all base their power from the absence of love.”*

In this excerpt from A Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot provides pieces of the answer to this probing question of God’s love and sovereignty. She says, “Purity of heart, said Kierkegaard, is to will one thing. The Son willed only one thing: the will of His Father. That’s what He came to earth to do. Nothing else. One whose aim is as pure as that can have a completely quiet heart, knowing what the psalmist knew: ‘Lord, You have assigned my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure’ (Psalm 16:5, NIV). I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say that there are things which happen to us which do not belong to our lovingly assigned ‘portion’…? Are some things, then, out of the control of the Almighty?

Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are cancelled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter…A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. All is grace.”

I have much to learn about my Eternal Father whose depths are unfathomable. If all is grace then I have no rights to dictate what is “good”. He makes our “lot secure”. It all comes back again to childlike trust that simply says, “Yes, Lord.” and doing so with absolute confidence that His sovereign will and perfect love will shepherd us towards His intended purposes−for His glory as well as our good.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. -1 John 4:18

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*https://www.christianquotes.info/images/john-piper-quote-presence-hope/#axzz5NPZSrhcC

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