I don’t know about you, but I know that personally I have a hard time staying in the moment–the “here and now.” After almost three years of unemployment I long for the day when my life will finally get off “hold” and move forward again. I pray almost every morning that this day, this week, this month it will happen, but for the past many, many days, weeks and months it has not happened.
I get discouraged. I get lonely. I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. Sometimes I plead with God. Most times I ask why this seems to keep going on endlessly. I do not know why it does not end. No doubt there are folks who might be reading this who feel “stuck” in the same or various similar circumstances (a bad marriage, a horrible job, excruciating financial losses, long term illness, and the list goes on) and wondering the same thing as each day passes and nothing seems to improve.
It’s not that God feels distant to me. No, that’s not it. After these past three years I know that He is very much involved in my life on a daily basis. But as He told Isaiah long ago, He says the same thing to us in Isaiah 55:8-11 (MSG):
8-11“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
God’s ways are, indeed, way beyond our comprehension. He doesn’t need our counsel when it comes to running the world. Job 38-41 clearly states this fact. What we see and live out in our individual lives is only a tiny microcosm of what is really going on “out there” at any given moment in time.
I am also reminded of what James had to say to us in James 4:13-17 (NASB): 13“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
So, if we believe (and I do) that God is sovereign and has control over everything that takes place in this world (the good and the evil), we must relinquish our control and yield to His will and not our own. Daunting as it may seem, even when we exercise our own will instead of His, He is still in control even over the evil that comes our way (however, do remember that we do have an adversary in this life who is the god of this world; but even he is ultimately under God’s control–and his power was broken forever at the Cross but he still has sway over this world until it ends). From Genesis to Revelation the Bible clearly reveals God’s sovereign control. And, as James reminds us, we are but a vapor that is here only a very short time when one considers eternity.
Also, as James reminds us, there are two kinds of wisdom in this world (James 3:13-18): 13“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” The Message Bible states it like this:
13-16“Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
17-18“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”
After almost three years of unemployment, my prayer each and every day includes asking God to give me His wisdom for that day, and help me not to lean on my own wisdom (which I have come to learn over time isn’t wisdom at all). I find myself no longer asking for employment opportunities but rather asking for Him to unfold His will for my life for that day (this day–today) which encompasses much, much more than just finding another job.
So, what then is the best advice for us as we wake each morning to another day (regardless of our circumstances)? James still offers us some of the best advice (James 4:7-10): 7“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Not the most popular advice in Christian circles today, but it’s the only advice that works if we truly want to know and serve God. As James 4:4-6 states in The Message Bible: 4-6“You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that ‘he’s a fiercely jealous lover.’ And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that ‘God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.'”
Humility is not a sought-after trait among the “successful” in our contemporary society; however, with God humility means everything . . . and He gives His grace in full measure to the humble.
And it’s His grace that I need to make the most of this day–today. I’d rather be humble before God, then wise in this world’s eyes. How about you?
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