If you only knew what God had in his plans, you would stop worrying. You would have peace, right?
A big, leather-bound book with crisp yellowed pages coated in ink penned ages ago falls onto the table before you and opens to the very page which begins your life’s story.
In this book is written every detail of your struggles, your triumphs, your dreams, and your fears.
There is an entire chapter dedicated wholly to the monster under your bed that you feared so much as a child. Another passage describes the loss of your first tooth.
You read an account of the death of a loved one. You find the name of the person God chose for you to marry. Your life literally stretches out before your eyes as your shaking fingers eagerly turn the pages in search of answers.
You read until the last day written and then you stop. You stare at the date of your earthly departure as flashes of names and events yet to come dance across your temporary brain.
Now you know everything.
What will you do with this knowledge?
You’re not going to like the truth but you need to know so listen close:
Knowledge will not give you peace.
It didn’t give Adam and Eve peace in the garden of Eden. Their peace came from a relationship with God.
When the two disobeyed and ate the forbidden fruit the fall of the world separated them from God. That was what they traded for knowledge.
Would you trade your relationship with God for being like him?
You are not God, you aren’t supposed to know His plans for your life, and you certainly shouldn’t consider yourself quite capable of making your own. (Read Job 38-42 if you need to understand more about that.)
He doesn’t give you all the answers because he knows that’s not what you need. Thankfully, He loves you far too much to give you what you ask for when it’s not good for you.
God offers himself to you.
What I find beautiful in this offer of God giving himself to us is that He already gave us everything we wanted through relationship with Him. His plan in the garden started out with the best for us.
In the beginning and the end, the only way to wisdom is to seek that very thing which we so easily discarded for knowledge in the garden: a relationship with God.
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
As we completed the last page on our calendars I stopped, like most of you, to remember what God had brought me through these past few years. Finishing the World Race in 2013 was one of the most life changing experiences I have ever had. I went back to something I wrote months before leaving everything behind to start this crazy mission trip. My written words were humbling proof of the Holy Spirit working and I’d like to share the power I read in them with you.
11 countries in 11 months. This is what I wrote before I left in July, 2012:
Feb. 12, 2012
Every page of God’s word is dripping with reason so clear to me only by the Holy Spirit. If this is what I believe, that Jesus is LORD, then it’s time to live with Him on the throne of my life. When I consider my friends and family members, I know that God’s heart breaks for the lost and so should my own. If I were not here, who would preach Jesus to my own loved ones? Are not others’ loved ones, God’s loved ones, just as valuable? He has chosen me. I know now that He is all I need. The world needs Him.
From the treasures stored up in heaven, to the glory of my God, I have more than enough reasons to go. Every reason but comfort. That even, He promises He will give of Himself. Further, I believe I have been designed for this very purpose. It is my passion to speak the gospel shamelessly, fearlessly. To encourage. To go. To dive into new and unknown places. To love even strangers. To serve others with my unique gifts; be it cooking, making music, creativity, or just laughter from joy. HE is my passion. What makes my heart come alive. In all I am weak, He is strong: He is my heart, my commitment, my comfort, my perseverance, my strength.
I cannot paint Him with words. He is so real. I know this is my purpose. To follow Christ.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.”
I am sent. Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The need to hear it. Romans 10:14 “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
Love God. Love others. Love God=Love others. Matthew 22:37, 39 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.”
1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”
Matthew 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will receive eternal life.”
Matthew 9:37 “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
Matthew 26:39 “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 25:23 “His master replied, ‘Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with little so I will put you in charge of much. Come and share in your master’s happiness.’”
To be a part of bringing Jesus to all the nations. Revelation 7:10 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”
To be like Jesus.
Because I have nothing to fear:
Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Romans 8:38 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
I don’t know what new mission I will be called to in 2016. It could be anything, I could be staying. Whether we go or stay it’s important to remember what the Lord has done in our hearts and lives.
Let us not be like the wandering Israelites as we walk into this gift of a new year.
Remember where God has brought you from.
Instead of planning your future, ask him how you can be a part of His plans.
“The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
No matter how deeply we come to know or understand God, we will never run out of new depths in our relationship with Him. There’s no ceiling.
He is enough, and then more. And then MORE. Always.
I’m learning today, as I have many times before, that faith is not a jacket. You don’t put it on and wear it for the rest of your life.
Each day we make a choice to live out what we believe. For followers of Christ that’s what picking up our cross daily means. We give our whole hearts, bodies, souls and minds to God on a daily basis. We bet our lives.
We go all in.
Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead, victorious over the death that separates us from God the Father. He gave his whole life not just in death but each day he lived blameless on this earth, for us. We are called to lay down our lives that we might take up his. That means everything.
These are a lot of words for someone who may not be familiar with the Bible verses I’m drawing from so I want to take a moment to show you what I’m talking about.
God made the earth. He said it was good. There was a special garden named Eden where he walked with the people he made, Adam and Eve. They had a close relationship and God delighted in spending time with them. There was no sin in the world. It was perfect.
One day God’s enemy disguised himself in the garden and started to lie to Eve, convincing her that God didn’t have her best interest in mind. He convinced her to eat fruit from the one tree in the garden that was off limits. It was a matter of good and evil. When Eve ate that fruit she became aware of the difference between good and evil. She was able to disobey God, sin. That’s when creation fell. The world became broken down to the very last particle and no soul would be able to live in community with God because he was too perfect and holy. Sin became an unbreachable chasm between God and the people He created to love and be loved by him.
God had a plan. After He left the garden He set a time to send his Son through the power of his Holy Spirit to be born of a virgin named Mary. This son would be fully God and fully human, and he would live in perfect obedience to God. Jesus came and lived a perfect life in our place and then died on a cross to pay the penalty of all our sins- from the sins you have yet to commit down to the very first one when Eve mistrusted God, taking the fruit. He took on all the weight of sin that leads to death. Victorious over the power that sin once had to separate us from God, Jesus rose from the dead.
Because we were broken we couldn’t fix ourselves.
We are not just good people who do bad things, it’s in the fabric of us- already there when we are conceived. God is just so he could not simply forget our sin. God also gave us free will that love might be real so he could not simply control us into obedience-that would negate a relationship with us. He is also merciful. Instead of making us pay for our sins to set the world right, He sent his son to pay for them himself.
If we confess that Jesus is Lord and repent of our sin, we are saved through Christ who paid our debt. God wants every one of us to experience that perfect relationship with him that He made us for.
We get a choice.
Even as a Christian I am continually faced with the greatness of my sin and the depth of grace that saved me from it at no cost to myself. Out of love.
Dying is hard.
I know God intimately and personally, and I’ll spend the rest of eternity getting to know him more. Yet I still find it hard sometimes to keep trusting, to keep believing in who He is. Even the smallest promises are a struggle at times. He says he will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. ALL things. How could I not be in constant joy through every suffering knowing that there is a PROMISE of GOOD?
But I am human. I have God’s holy spirit in me working to make me righteous like Christ, but I still sin. Mistrust.
Day after day I have to die to my own will and choose the life that Jesus died to give me. I ask for God’s help when I’m not trusting. He promises that a mustard seed of faith is enough.
Whetheryou have a seed of faith growing in you or you’ve been rooted in faith for a long time, sink back into the wonder of the gospel with me and marvel. How big the Father’s love is for us.
He did everything right. We messed it up. He fixed it. We still mess it up. He loves us anyway. We will keeping messing it up. He will NEVER stop loving us. We get to spend eternity with Him, in unmatched beauty, glory and love far greater than we can fathom.
That’s pretty amazing. Worth giving my life for I’d say. Even more. If it’s all true down to the very last detail, that’s worth everything.
This morning I had the incredible opportunity and privilege to share the gospel with the tender-hearted first grader I nanny five days a week. His parents are not believers, subscribing to new ages beliefs about spirituality, science, and happiness. I look for every opportunity to share Jesus at work; it’s no coincidence I’m here. It started with a question about the weather.
“Where does the weather come from?”
I told Manix the Bible, (after explaining what the Bible is some months ago), talks about how God holds the wind in his hand and tells the lightening where to go, (Job 38). Pretty awesome stuff- especially for a six year old who adores superheroes.
His intrigue carried over to this morning when he asked, “So God holds the earth in his hand? That means he’s in outer space!”
I have to tell you, explaining the fact of God being present everywhere-to a six year old-was tricky enough, but the entire gospel too?
I jumped through that open door like a woman wearing a parachute. Holy Spirit, remember? Moment by moment, question by question, the Lord gave me the words to explain to a little boy who knew NOTHING about God the Father and Jesus Christ because God brought me into his life, what it means that Jesus Christ is our savior.
I mean, savior from what?
Manix didn’t know he needed to be saved from anything.
How do you tell someone they need to be saved?
I started from scratch, letting the creation story become the segue from our weather discussion. He was amazed.
“Wait, God made the dinosaurs? Cool!”
Then I told him about the sneaky, lying enemy who disguised himself as a snake and convinced two of the first people God made to disobey Him.
“Wait, God has an enemy? Can I see a picture?”
I want to tell him to look around at all of the bad, evil and tragedy around him in the world. I wanted to tell him every that time he hears a lie, thinks he isn’t loved, or does something he knows is wrong- that’s what the enemy of God looks like.
But I didn’t, because I wanted to make sure the enemy didn’t steal the spotlight.
Too often I think we can focus on sin in and around us and forget to marvel at who God is. I wasn’t about to let the enemy distract from an opportunity to share the gospel with Manix.
To cut a narrative short, me and the Holy Spirit BROUGHT IT. 🙂
What I want to ask you is this; do you know the gospel?
I mean really know the gospel. By heart. Could you tell it in story form? Bullet points? Personal testimony? Interpretive dance? (I’m not suggesting all of you try that one.) It’s imperative as Christians we are prepared to make the most of every opportunity, (Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5), because the faith of a little boy might one day spread to a nation.
3 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 4 They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. 5 This one will say, ‘I am the Lord‘s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord‘s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.”