Let’s face it. When it comes to our relationship with God, from His perspective it has to often seem like a one-way street, where we are constantly seen with our hands out, often calling to Him in times of great need when He may not have heard from us for so long, He doesn’t quite recognize us at first.
Of course, God always recognizes us, knows what we’re up to, and HAS A PLAN for whatever is happening in our lives, no matter how helpless we currently feel or how bleak our present outlook. In Bible class today, we discussed some of the really crisis moments different members had faced, moments so terrifying that they were forced to look to God in a complete realization of just how helpless we human beings are. In those moments, these people truly experience the all-encompassing power that is God.
More importantly, they learned a key lesson that they have taken away from their experiences: God is not through with them yet! He has plans for them in this world that they are yet to achieve. He has journeys for them for which that crisis may have been the first step or for which they have not yet taken a step at all.
As I listened to these shared stories, I was struck by the realization that God has a plan for us even when the crises in our lives are entirely of our own making. What if your crisis is spending more money than you can afford to pay or choosing to go out with someone you know your parents wouldn’t approve of, much less God? Now, because of those decisions, you live in fear of phone calls from debt collectors or have wound up married to a non-believer who may be abusive to you.
God has a plan for that. This fact does not mean that He wanted the bad things to happen to us. We live in a fallen world. Bad things are going to happen. But God has a plan for your life that includes bringing to the good something for you, for your family, or for others in this broken world from the ashes that are the destruction crisis may have punched into your life.
Does this mean that we might as well sin, or even live a sinful lifestyle and just expect God to make something good out of it? Of course not! Whenever Jesus reached out loving arms to sinners, He always loved the sinner but hated the sin. He never let them part from Him without warning them or entreating them to turn from the ways they knew were wrong.
The Bible offers us example after example of people who looked to God for their deliverance but who also kept doing what was in their power to do to move that deliverance along. The woman at the well knew that her current live-in was not her husband in God’s eyes and that she would have to end that relationship. The disciples fished. Paul made tents to earn his living as he spread the gospel. Instead of being greedy and holding out hands that have not tried to help themselves, these believers did what they could and looked to God to fill in all the gaps only He is able to fill.
I find this truth that God is working His plan for me even when it doesn’t feel like it a key to throwing away a lot of the anxieties I have put on myself when it comes to what I think He wants from me. First of all, whatever happens in my life is going to happen on God’s time, not mine. Secondly, I have made decisions in my life about what jobs to take, whom to marry, what kind of schooling to get, and I am not the only one living with those decisions. God is too. He knew what I was going to decide before I decided it, and He also knew how He was going to use those decisions in my life to do something good for Him, if I will only keep tuned in to His frequency.
So, what am I worrying about all the time? The little things, material things, things that have more to do with my pride in skills God gave me in the first place that I shouldn’t be taking pride in but giving to the glory of God. If I must put thought to something (and the thoughts shouldn’t be worrisome; Jesus told us not to worry), shouldn’t it be how I can love God more in my life, how I can reach out to other people in love, how I can line up my actions with the instructions so clearly laid out in God’s word?
What does God need from me? My faith in His truth, my devotion to His word, my love for Him and the other humans around me holding our hands out, crying out rightfully to the sky but sometimes forgetting the good those hands can do grounded back on earth in fellowship and as God’s helping hands for others around us.
What will God “work to the good” (Romans 8) for you this week? Can He get some of what He needs instead of being the One giving?