Friday, June 30, 2017

Asking in Difficult Times

We have had some tragic things happen to families in our church recently. The impact of these has pushed through many in our church and even into the community. Often in these tragic times, we wonder why God would allow these types of things to happen to children or to families who are trusting and following Him.

Nothing remotely comparable has happened to me or my family. But we still have difficulties and struggles. And even in these relatively minor struggles we ask why. We often wonder and ponder how and why such things occur.

Job did. Job lost everything--his animals and his wealth; his family; even his health. And Job had sought to follow God faithfully. He didn't curse God when he lost what he had. But he did ask lots of questions: Why was I even born? Why should I continue to hope? What future do I have? Why have you made me your target? (Job 3:11; 6:11; 7:20) Job wondered why things had happened to him since he had sought to be faithful and follow God.

This week I sat in funerals, listened to words from my pastor, and have pondered these issues. And in my limited understanding, one particular thought became abundantly clear. The question is not WHY. The question to ask in these difficult times is WHO. Who is the One that is Ruler? Who is the strength and comfort? No matter what, who is ultimately the victor?

When God speaks to Job, this is the question God offers: Who laid the cornerstone of creation? Who set the boundaries of darkness? Who established the seasons? God asks question after question about these things. (Job 38-41) And what is Job's reply? "I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours is thwarted." (Job 42:2)

When things are difficult and even tragic, we can know that we are still in God's hand. God holds us and helps us. He is there. And we can trust Him, even when all it seems we see is darkness.

So I'm going to give up on WHY and focus on WHO.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lest We Miss His Kingdom's Goal

Traveling on this journey of the Christian life is continually revealing. I (Scott) continue to see God at work, leading us and providing for us. I continue to see how I fail Him daily. And sometimes when I look back to earlier times, I wonder if I'm regressing rather than progressing.

I remember times when I was more faithful to pray. I see times when it seems I was more connected to God than I sometime feel now. I wonder if my life was more as it should be with God than it is now. However, as I prayed and pondered on these things, a new thought gave me pause. Maybe, in my continual journey with God, I am more aware of things in my life that are not what they should be.

Maybe as I mature, I see areas that need attention. I see where my pride fuels actions. I see times I neglected to act as God would lead. I am more attuned to the pull of disobedience. As God chisels away things in my life, more of the underneath is brought out, areas that laid hidden but now have seen exposed to His light.

So I rejoice in these newly discovered areas. I do not rejoice that I am still immature and worldly. But I rejoice that God is at work, helping me discover them and, hopefully, releasing them to become more as He would have me to be.

Today I read these words from the hymn "God of Grace and God of Glory." This is the third verse (you know, the one that Baptists often skip!).
Cure your children's warring madness;bend our pride to your control;shame our wanton, selfish gladness,rich in things and pour in soul.Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,lest we miss your kingdom's goal,lest we miss your kingdom's goal.                         --Henry Emerson Fosdick
These words, written in 1930, could have been penned today. Often our society - and we Christians in our society - focus on selfishness and pride, rich in things but poor in soul. I see God working on my own selfishness and pride, things that I did not (maybe chose not) to see in years past. Or maybe I was just too busy focusing on other things that needed to be chiseled away. 

A large part of our journey now has been trusting God and not ourselves. I pray that God would work to keep me focused on His kingdom's goal and not on my own selfish ambitions or my own ideas of what should be happening in my life.