The Wrestling Match

862415_58406763Job did it, Jacob did it, Jonah did it and we do it. Many, if not all of the people in the Bible have wrestled with God’s will. Job wanted to die, but God didn’t take him. Jacob wanted to rule, but God showed Jacob he was in charge. Jonah wanted to hate, but God said to love. We want our way and we don’t always get it. We don’t always like that which God allows or asks of us. What mother of a sick child delights in their child’s sickness? Who asks for declining health or loss of employment? These events can come upon us like a whirlwind. Can’t wait to talk to Job about his whirlwind one day. What about the unforeseen accident that renders you helpless or lifeless? The out of nowhere pink slip that leaves you wondering “where did I mess up?” Why do we react so strongly against what God is allowing in our lives? Why do we wrestle with what we know God is telling or asking us to do?

Fear, plain and simple. The all to familiar feeling that makes you sweat and hits you right in the gut. We fear that God is making a mistake. We’re afraid that we can’t handle or cope with what He’s allowed in our lives. We fear the process of change because we don’t like to hurt and change usually hurts. It’s just not easy. When we’re asked to change we have to move from familiarity to faith, as we tally up the costs we may determine we just can’t pay the price. It’s too high. “You’re asking me to go, do and accept what?” Fill in the blank. What comes to your mind? Besides the fear, we just like to have things our way. Life isn’t like a burger joint, where you decide you don’t want pickles and they’re instantly removed. No pickles for you or you just won’t buy that burger. Wrong! We don’t always get to pick and choose what happens to us. We struggle against the thought of having to eat pickles, because after all you’ve never liked pickles and it’s just ruining your burger. Enough about pickles. I actually like them, but you get my point. We want to stay wrapped up in our own cocoon of comfort. The cocoon of safety and familiarity will become a prison if we stay there too long. It will keep us from evolving from a caterpillar to a glorious butterfly. The fact is our life is like the weather. As they say in Tennessee “stick around long enough and it will change.” Did you catch that? I’ll repeat it, because I need to hear this myself. Your life is like the weather, stick around long enough and it will change. Oh, there are some things that never change. God never changes. The rising and setting of the sun never changes. The flow of the tide hasn’t changed and the fact of aging and death still eventually affect us all. Life though is mostly ever-changing. Even the skin cells on your body regenerate constantly. Even though God does not change, He’s in the changing business. In fact I believe He likes it. God’s all about change, changing us. Henry Blackaby stated in his book Experiencing God,  “You can’t stay the way you are and go with God.” We are called to change. God delights in our changing. We can’t be set free until we go through the process of releasing that which binds us. We can’t experience a renewed mind unless we go through the renewing process of replacing old thoughts, with new ones and that involves change. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so if we’re gonna serve a God that loves change we’ve got to be willing to accept change ourselves. Even when our heart is crying out, “No, no, no!” It’s not supposed to be this way. Who are we to question God? We are to submit our requests to Him, going confidently before the throne, I’ll be praying right along with you, but pray mostly for God’s will and your heart to be in agreement with His.

Our Pastor recently addressed a group of us at my church about an upcoming change that seemed to come about rather suddenly. Our “whirlwind”. He alluded to the fact that we have a false sense of control in our lives and it’s so true. We make our plans as if we by the making of them can override God’s. Sometimes things will go our way and we will be healed or be blessed in some way but,often times we won’t get what we ask for. Or if we do get an answer it’s different from what we had expected. We’re only kidding ourselves if we think we have control of our lives. We can’t even will our next breath. As painstaking as it is at times we need to let go and let God! If we don’t we may end up like Jonah, in the belly of a fish! We don’t have to like all that God allows. God understands our hurts and He feels them as well. We need to know that despite the pain we are we are growing. Our growing pains will mature us to be more Christlike. God in His infinite wisdom knows what’s best. Trusting Him and believing in faith that He is in control and truly loves us will bring our hearts to peace and then we will step away from the wrestling match of our will against God’s. God’s guidance and providence is stronger than we are and the sooner we realize that the better off we’ll be.

Clearing The Way To Know God’s Will

1341750_91353374Being in God’s will is a very popular topic of study for a lot of Christians. We all want to be where God wants us to be don’t we? I know  I wrestled with the will issue a lot as a new Christian. I remember struggling internally over different situations, not knowing which course to choose, fearful that I would somehow miss God’s will. Part of my problem was, I’d made so many wrong choices when I was living apart from God, that I felt unsure of myself.  Myself is the key word here.  I was depending more  on myself than on God to lead me. I had to learn to trust that God would guide me and that I didn’t need to depend on myself, to choose the right course of action. Nowadays when I’m praying about a situation or decision, I’ve come to know that God will indeed guide me. The main thing I need to do is, not jump back into the seat of authority. I hope these guide lines help you to hear God more clearly.

  1. Pray that you can discern what the Holy Spirit is telling you..
  2. Ask for God to reveal anything within your spirit that may lead you astray. (Example: sin, selfish gain or greed)
  3. Check to see if the situation is addressed in scripture.
  4. Test the answer against God’s word. It shouldn’t contradict.
  5. Seek out godly advice. Is the person you’re going to for advice consistently following and living a life for Christ?
  6. Ask for prayer
  7.  Make sure you are at peace. You may feel slightly nervous if God is asking you to step into something different, but peace will over-ride any nervousness you may have.

Sometimes it takes a while before you get an answer. The best thing to do it that situation is wait. 

A great bible study that I highly recommend is Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God, by Henry Blackaby.

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned

1282219_97975456Imagine yourself in this scenario: You’ve been praying about asking out a special someone. You feel that God has led you to go through with it and you call them up to ask them out for a date that night. You have a great new restaurant in mind. You’ve heard good reviews about the food. It’s not just any old restaurant it’s the kind where you don’t eat with plastic utensils and get your ketchup from a communal pumping station. So, you reach your potential date on the phone and they agree to go out with you! You’re thrilled! You have a great feeling about this night. You go through the rest of your workday on a cloud spending a lot of time thinking about the steak your gonna order and the things you’ll talk about. So you finish you’re work day and are now pulling into the restaurant’s parking lot with your date. You’re both smiling as you open her door to the car. You can smell the aroma of delicious food as you walk towards the entry. You joke and say, “They must know what I’m gonna order, I smell it already.” As you open the door to go in your heart sinks; not only is the restaurant packed, but you realize you forgot to call ahead for a reservation. It will be at least an hour before you can even get in to eat. You manage to find another restaurant in which to eat, not getting the steak you’d been wanting. And to make matters worse you realize you’re date isn’t really the right person for you. You’re disappointed that what you’ve thought about for so long didn’t turn out well.1395612_80122675

It’s not an easy thing to accept when our plans are changed or our hopes are dashed. Many times the things we think will happen don’t pan out for us, or if they do, we decide we don’t really want that which we’ve spent so much of our time and energy trying to get. So how should we respond when things don’t go as planned? We need to be submissive to God and accept that He knows best and is in control of our lives. God’s plan prevails. Jesus is our ultimate example in submission to God the Father as in the garden of Gethsemane he prayed this prayer “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). If Christ humbled himself in submission, it’s fair to say we need to as well. God is Omnipotent we are not.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

 

Sometimes We Wonder If God Is Working!

Sometimes we wonder if God is really working in our midst. I know I’ve been frustrated when I don’t see things happening. That’s when trust is tested- when it feels like your prayers are not breaking through the ceiling! Hold fast! God’s timing is not our own! Success is sometimes not evident! Hang in there!