We fear what we think may happen in the world we see. But the world we don’t see is the source of our real fears. Our spiritual lives hold the solution to it.
(Photo: By Alex Micheu Photography from VILLACH, Austria Uploaded by Sporti CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
That’s what happened with Jacob.
Returning to the land of Canaan forced Jacob to face a problem he had run from 20 years earlier—his deception of his brother Esau. As he approached the border of Canaan, angels of God came to meet him.
The presence of the angels gives us a critical reminder during our times of fear.
Okay, let’s make a quick list. If you had to write down what you need, what would top your list? Let me take a stab at what you might write.
(Photo: courtesy of ooomf)
If you’re like most folks, your list of what you need may read something like this:
- I need a new iPhone, Android, techie-whatever.
- I need more money and more time.
- I need my spouse to listen to me.
- I need more respect at work.
- I need a friend.
What DO you need? Ask that question to ten different people, you’ll likely get eleven different answers. But your needs aren’t subjective.
God has revealed what you need.
God’s leading is often strange. That’s because He doesn’t share the plan. He keeps it a secret. We want God’s plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.
(Photo by Tom Butler, courtesy of oomf.com)
Genesis began with God blessing all He created. But the fall of man, Abel’s murder, the rebellion at Babel, and the global flood gave cause to doubt that there would be any recovery of that blessing. Genesis 3–11 sketches more than 4,000 years of suffering that people experienced under the curse of sin.
But God’s plan chose one man through whom He would resurrect His blessing for all mankind.
Your life may seem in chaos as well. But God has a plan He is hiding.
The annual holiday Yom Kippur begins always reminds me of a surprising conversation I had in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. A Jewish woman approached me and engaged me in a talk.
She somehow knew my affiliation with a radio ministry and told me we needed to broadcast to the nations God’s way to be saved. I told her that was, in fact, our passion.
She smiled and shook her head no.
Then she shared with me a list of things all Gentiles need to do in order for God to accept them. I recognized some of the standards as being from the Ten Commandments, and I told her so. Again, she smiled and shook her head.
“Those commandments are for the Jews,” she said.
“Do you keep them?” I asked.
Sometimes waiting on God feels like you’re dying of thirst. That’s what David thought as he wandered in a thirsty wilderness, running from a problem he couldn’t solve.
Chased by the jealous King Saul, David took refuge in the Wilderness of Judea and prayed, “My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
This barren land is a picture of our own challenge with waiting on God.
It also pictures the place of refuge God provides for us while we wait.
Not long ago, my jaw dropped as I calculated how much I had spent on tolls that year. This painful revelation forced me to reexamine my commute. I decided to take the access road to work each morning instead of the highway. But I discovered I pay either way.
I pay in time or in money. In angst or in cash. Unfortunately, I seem to have more of time.
So I pay my time at stoplights.
After two years of navigating stoplights and memorizing their patterns, I have concluded that someone, somewhere, is smiling at me behind some camera.
Maybe it’s God. (He’s smiling at you too.)
Someone else’s stuff always seems better than ours. Yes, always. Even their struggles seem better. Have you noticed? The temptation to compare yourself with somebody else can be devastating in the Christian life.
When Peter first met Jesus, the fisherman followed the Master out of a motive for glory and a prime seat in the kingdom of God. Peter wanted to be the “greatest” in comparison to others.
But after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, a single conversation along the shores of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha changed Peter’s whole frame of reference.
That conversation can also help you not compare yourself with the lives of others.
It can free you to follow Jesus as an individual.
Tough circumstances of life always change our minds about God. They either tempt us to doubt what He’s promised, or they draw us closer to Him in faith. But we never stay the same.
God’s plan for your life is revealed and tested in times of struggle.
If you’re struggling today, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of God’s plan for you.
Joseph shows you how.
Most people live for dreams. It’s a quest, really. Clinging to ideals of how life could and “should” be, they chase those dreams like a carrot on a stick. Always within reach, but never gotten.
I guess we’re all wired to pursue the ideal. The world calls it following “your heart,” and we Christians refer to it as “the will of God.”
But in truth, we generally settle for nothing less than our version of how life ought to be.
Any search for the ideal needs only to look at the Garden of Eden to see the futility of that pursuit.
God points us a different direction.
God will lead you places you would never choose. Unwanted places. Because the Lord is much greater than you and I can imagine, it makes sense that He wants for us more than we ever dreamed.
God wants you to trust Him, and you’d like to do so. He wants you to glorify Him, to know Him, and so do you. But really, you often want to trust God only when you understand Him.
Too often, that desire to know the Lord slices His list of attributes in half.
When you and I settle for anything less than all of God, we also settle for less than all we can become.