God has placed in each one of us a feeling that lets us know we were meant for more. It’s a holy calling that reminds us to keep moving forward and that the place where we are now is only temporary. He uses places in our lives to prepare us for positions He wants to give us. However, when we become discontent in the place we’re in, the enemy plays to our sympathies telling us we deserve a higher position. His plan is two fold. First, he wants to get you out of the place you’re in prematurely before God has finished His work. Secondly, he wants to make you desire a position that is different than the one God has for you in order to slow you down in your progress towards God’s plan.
David’s place was a pasture. The position he was preparing for was king. He had to remain in the pasture watching sheep facing lions and bears in preparation for being king. He had to go into a valley to face a giant, and he lived in caves running from King Saul. I’m sure his mind was telling him he deserved his position in the palace while he lived in those caves, but he didn’t give into the voice. He trusted God’s plan and timing for him to receive the position. Each time the position presented itself to him to take, he stayed in his place waiting for God to open the door. Because of that, God honored him in the position of king more than any other king.
In Mark 10, James and John wanted the position of Jesus’ right and left in the new kingdom. Jesus asked if they were able to endure the suffering that comes with those positions. Ignorantly they said yes. In verses 39-40 Jesus said, “You will certainly drink from the cup of my sufferings and be immersed into my death, but to have you sit in the position of highest honor is not mine to decide. It is reserved for those whom grace has prepared them to have it” (TPT). They wanted a position before they were prepared in their place. The beautiful thing Jesus illustrated here is that grace prepares us in the place we are in now for the position He has for us. His grace is sufficient to guide you and strengthen you in the place you’re in right now so He can give you the positions He’s planned for you. Be patient and trust His plan and ignore the sympathetic lies of the enemy.
In the darkest time of my life, I was so upset and angry I couldn’t eat or sleep for days. In the night, I would lay down, but I couldn’t sleep. As tears rolled down my face, i began to sing a couple of songs I learned as a kid. The first one was “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength,” and the other one was “Rejoice in the Lord Always”. As depression and bitterness we’re trying to make theirselves at home in my mind, I could only combat them with these songs. I knew that I was in a bad situation and that adding in those two things would make things worse. I tried to remember that God knew what I was going through, even if He wasn’t stopping it, and that joy would give me strength to endure anything.
When I was younger, someone once told me that there’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on circumstances so it comes and goes based on my condition. Joy is internal and not based on any external situation. It comes from understanding that no matter what my condition is, I’m still loved by Jesus and there is nothing that can separate me from it. When you learn to look at your life through the lens of Jesus’ love rather than your cure circumstances, you learn to have a joy that gives you strength no matter what you’re going through.
Psalm 31:7 says, “I will be glad and rejoice because of your constant love. You see my suffering; you know my trouble” (GNT”. God is very much aware of your pain, your suffering, your stressful situation or whatever you’re facing and He knows how to work it our for your good. Even though you can’t see how anything good can come from it, keep trusting in His plan and resting in His love. Let joy spring up from within you and turn the ashes of what was your life and what could have been into fertile soil for God to do something new and unexpected. His joy will strengthen you and His love will sustain you through whatever comes your way. Keep trusting in His plan.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my son to get ready, and then, before he gets ready, he asks, “Where are we going?” I usually tell him, “It doesn’t matter. I said to get ready, so get ready.” Instead of quickly obeying, he constantly wants to know all the info before doing anything. As a parent, it can be frustrating. There are things he needs to know, and there are things he doesn’t need to know. I simply want him to obey when asked to do something instead of questioning everything I tell him to do.
Even though I know these frustrations as a parent, when the shoe is on the other foot, I act the same way. How many times had God told me to get ready or to go somewhere, and I want to know all the details before I do anything? There’s also those times where I know where He’s leading me, but I want to know all the steps first. It’s like I’m my own child when God is the father telling me to do things. I wonder how frustrated He gets at our questioning and inactivity while He’s waiting for our obedience.
Proverbs 20:24 says, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT) As children of God, we need to understand there are things we need to know, and things we don’t. God knows everything we are about to do, and how He wants it done. Since the beginning of time, all He has asked is that we would simply trust Him. He’s looking for our obedience without having to understand everything. We need to have enough faith to trust His will, His plan and His directions without questioning them. Simple obedience yields eternal benefits. Just like the old song says, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way.”
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Do you ever find yourself letting your mind wander through all the possible outcomes of a situation? Before you know it, you can lose a couple of hours or even a day. I’ve been known to lose sleep just thinking about all the “what if’s”. When I was at a dead end in life and was forced to file bankruptcy, I couldn’t find any outcome that was positive. I was worried sick over how hard the next seven years were going to be. I couldn’t stop thinking of all the implications of it, not to mention the embarrassment. I got caught up in an endless cycle of thoughts that were detrimental to my well being.
God knows all too well how our minds work. I think that’s why Jesus dealt with those of us who are constantly living in the future of “what if’s” instead of in the present what is. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (MSG)” He was very plain in that verse and His words hit home with someone like me.
When I give my attention to the “what if’s”, I take away from what God is doing in this very moment. I lose sight of the reality that He is creating in my life right now. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I have no clue how my current situation will end, but God does. He knows all too well what tomorrow will bring and what I need to do today in order to prepare for it. When I worry about the possibilities, I miss out on what He’s showing me right now in order to help me tomorrow. That’s why He wants me to give my entire attention to what He’s doing today, not what He’s going to do.
In the second part of that verse, Jesus assures us that God will help us with what comes next. He’s not going to let you walk into a trap and then abandon you. He’s not going to hang you out to dry when times get tough. People may do that, but God never will. Jesus said that He will help you with whatever hard things come up and will be there for you when you need him. Deuteronomy 3:18 says, “The Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.” I don’t know what hard thing you’re facing today, but God does and He’ll help you deal with it. Don’t use today’s energy worrying about tomorrow’s problems. God is with you right now, using whatever it is to produce things in your life that won’t grow any other way. Trust His plan and lean on His strength.
Because I said so. I have never liked that phrase. Has anyone ever given that to you as an answer when you wanted to know why? I got it all the time as a kid, and it drive me nuts. I’m a person who needs to know why, and that doesn’t give me sufficient information. I probably got a lot of spankings over it too. Eventually I learned to obey my parents without understand why, even if I didn’t like it.
As an adult, not much has changed I still like to know why. When God asks me to do something I don’t understand or if something happens that I don’t like, I still want to know why. I don’t always get an answer though. I guess that’s better than, “Because I said so,” but at least I don’t get whipped for asking. God is big enough to handle my questions, my frustrations over not understanding and my emotional outbursts.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 says, “Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life” (NLT). It’s taken me a while to learn to accept not always knowing why. On those times where I don’t understand, I let my trust lie in the fact that God is good and sees a bigger picture than I ever could.
We may not always get the answers we seek from God. When He’s silent, I try to recall all the times in my life when I didn’t understand His plan. When I look back, I can see that He’s always had a plan, and that what He does in my life is bigger than me. If I’ve surrendered my life to Him, then I’ve given Him permission to use it in any way that He sees fit. That includes good things and bad things that I don’t understand. I’m still learning to accept the way He does things, even if He says, “Because I said so.”
When I was young, my dad taught me to play chess. I love the strategy of chess, the need to think ahead, and the anticipation of your opponent’s next move. What I don’t like about chess is when my King is on the run, and is being backed into a check mate situation. I don’t really like to lose, and in chess, you can usually see it happen before it does. Being powerless to help in any situation makes me feel a lot like that. I don’t see a way out, so I’m powerless to help. In real life situations, I get weak and tired from worrying about the outcome, especially if I can’t see the way to victory.
Maybe you’ve been there to. You’ve either been in or are in a situation where there’s no clear path to victory. You feel powerless over the outcome, and you’re tired from all the stress and mental exhaustion. When we are tired and mentally exhausted, our immune system grows weaker. We become more susceptible to illness. I think that why in Proverbs 17:22 Solomon wrote, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (NLT).
I know can be hard to have a cheerful heart when everything points to your defeat. That’s why I love the promises God gives in Isaiah 40. Verse 29 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” It’s in our weakness that God gives His power to us. It’s when we are powerless over the outcome that God gives us the strength to continue. We don’t have to see the outcome 5 moves in advance. We can trust God that His will, will be done. We can trust that whatever comes our way can be used for our good.
If you’re tired, weak, and exhausted from trying to find the solution, give it to God. Lay it down on the altar and give Him control of the outcome. Your worrying about it isn’t going to solve it. He wants to give you strength and the power to handle it though. The final verse in Isaiah 40 reminds us, “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” It starts with putting your trust in the Lord.