How tuned in are you to the timing of God’s plans for your life? -AF
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV
As we begin this New Year many of us are looking ahead with hope and promise. We say this is going to be a year of finally accomplishing long deferred goals. Maybe it’s reaching your idea of your ideal weight, simply getting in better shape, taking a dream vacation, spending more time with family, growing your family, getting that new position/job, starting that new business, or just spending more time in alone or in studying your Bible. Whatever it is we are encouraged by the possibility of future accomplishment, dreams met, and the opportunities in the unknown, working in our favor. But wait, how long will this optimism last one month, two months, maybe longer or maybe even less. Maybe even worse yet this optimism has already passed. The statistics favor the latter. The truth is that motivation has its peaks and valleys. For most of us the excitement quickly fades and we can easily return to the status quo. On the other hand motivation may remain at its peak but when life kicks in it is no respecter of goals, New Year resolutions, the best laid plans, or even determination, no when life kicks in it often presents challenges, roadblocks, barriers, it plays defense, even sometimes using well-meaning people or even those wearing the disguise of the well-meaning. Unfortunately, depending on the intensity and perseverance of the obstruction this can derail even the most driven individual much less those who have seen their dreams driven into the ground or shattered year after year with the unexpected challenge upon challenge. For example you may have just received a promotion which came with an increase in pay and you are looking forward to finally being able to pay off that student loan debt and maybe even to begin looking for your first home, all of sudden your child, spouse, or a parent gets sick and the effect of bills or the emotional strain of your sick loved one on your own health begins to show. Maybe you also find yourself in a worse financial situation than before the raise as your new income now makes you ineligible for aid in paying some of these bills. This is a fictitious scenario but I’m sure it has happened and as sure as the sun rising and setting that something similar will occur in 2016. The question, what does this all mean and why? Is life just pouring out good and bad, at least from our perspective, until it’s over? Is life just out to get us or is there a bigger plan?
I was recently having a conversation with a friend and the story of Joseph’s life, which is one of my favorite Bible stories, came up. The specific area of his life was when Joseph, already sold by his brothers into slavery, taken to Egypt and resold, had now been falsely accused of something and thrown into prison. While in prison he met the Pharaoh’s baker and butler who had offended the Pharaoh in some way and had also been thrown into prison. They both had dreams one night and Joseph seeing that they seemed troubled asked each of them what was bothering them. After they each told him their dream Joseph, through the gift that God had given him, interpreted the dreams. The interpretation was that the butler in three days was to be restored to his position while the baker in the same period was going to lose his life. In three days things happened just as Joseph’s interpretation stated. Joseph however, had made one request of the butler and that was to remember him and speak of his situation to the Pharaoh or someone that could relieve his circumstance. For you and I we might have patiently anticipated that in a few days maybe allowing even up to a week that we would at least have a visitor from the palace and have the hope that our situation was in the process of changing but the Bible records that it was two full years before the butler remembered his fault and Joseph was brought out of prison to now interpret Pharaohs dreams.
Do you think that Joseph might have been excited to finally get out of prison even for a few moments? Do you think that he might have held some kind of animosity toward the butler? Do you think he might have wanted to ask the butler what took him so long, two years, really… two years? I tend to believe that Joseph’s character had further been refined by those two years and this opportunity was one that he was not going to spoil with feelings from his past or his previous circumstances, he was going to focus on his present opportunity. The refining of his character made him ready to be used in the moment and to witness fully God’s present deliverance and His future plans. Pharaoh testified of Joseph’s readiness when he declared “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the Spirit of God? …As much as God has showed you all this, there is no one as discreet and wise as you are.” Joseph’s present deliverance brought together his past and future possibility in one moment and he was appointed that day as ruler of Egypt second only to Pharaoh (Gen 39:1-41:45).
God always knew the plans that he had for Joseph, and had even shown him in dreams when he was younger. Though Joseph could have made wiser decisions as a young person the circumstances both good and bad that he found himself in were refining and shaping him to be a more faithful person and wise leader. He was to become a man of Faith by his Submission, not to circumstance but to the will of God. The ultimate example of Faith and Submission is our savior Jesus who by faith left heaven, walked this earth, was subject to the effects of sin in this world, but who was submissive to His Father’s will in all things (John 6:38) and ultimately overcame this world (John 16:33).
Trust God’s plans even if the methods seem suspect. The past, present, and future are all a part of the re-creation of the crowning element of the original creation story, mankind. You see God’s plan is to be reunited with us. In this process our characters should begin to reflect His sons which will often mean using methods that seem less like creation and more like destruction. Along this journey of life the loss of a job may be the impetus to launch that multimillion dollar company. The loss of a spouse or a child may be the impetus for self-discovery or to return to school and eventually discover the very cure that will save millions of other families from experiencing that same loss. The final destination lies ahead though the journey is ours to walk and experience. Submitting is just as difficult as acceptance but like King David our request should be MY God create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me (Ps 51:10). Again trust God’s plans even if the methods seem less than perfect (Jer 29:11). We trust far less reliable people with areas of our lives everyday even after they’ve proven to be untrustworthy (Ps 118:9, 146:3). The author, creator, our redeemer in whom we live, and move, and have our being has overcome and by faith we too will overcome and be free to experience new life this year and beyond (Acts 17:28, 1 John 5:4). Be brand new, walk by Faith and in Submission to His will.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
Dear Lord, You are good. And You are good at being God. Therefore, I trust Your plan and believe that You’re allowing this to happen for a reason. It may be hard, but I’d rather be close to You through a thousand difficult moments than apart from You in a thousand good ones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. – Lisa Terkeurst
Hold On, He’s Strong, and Walk Boldly With Your God.