I tend to want my own way, but God tends to do things differently.
If I had it my way,
my kids would be perfect, my money would never run out, our house would self-clean, the people in our life would be perfectly kind, considerate, and just, and my energy levels would always keep up with my demanding schedule. Scratch that–I wouldn’t have a demanding schedule.
If I had my way, I’d live a Pinterest-perfect life, thank you very much. But sometimes, God’s given me trials, instead of the tiaras and truffles I asked for.
See, God knows that I’ll be truly happy when I am holy. God’s made me in His own image and while selfishness reigns, I’m defiling that image and misrepresenting Him. I can never be happy until I am living as I was created to live.
He has mercifully spared me from my own ideals, knowing better than I do. He’s seen fit to use what I would consider “strange” means to make me more like His Son. Upside-down methods, bumpy roads, unacceptable situations, and bitter pills. Yuck.
God, in His Providence, seems to have super-ceded my dreams.
I noticed in my study of Philippians that Paul wanted to go to Rome as a preacher, but God sent him as a prisoner. Not exactly what Paul had planned, I’m sure.
But you can’t read Philippians without realizing that Paul knew a secret that produced peace and joy: You can further the Gospel of Jesus Christ in chains as well as in freedom. When your mind is God-centered, the circumstances barely matter. A mind, fixed on Christ, experiences God’s perfect peace.
Bonus: Your ministry expands, as you can reach people in chains that you’d never reach if you were free.
They’re about the worst possible problem we independent Americans can imagine. Nobody’s gonna tell me what to do or how to live my life. I’m the master of my own destiny and I call the shots.
And yet God uses chains. They’re those things that hold us and limit us and make us crazy.
They’re the unwanted things in our lives–that critical person, that illness, that wayward child, that broken relationship. Chains are the one thing you can’t control. That one thing you’d wish away in a heartbeat.
Yet, in chains, we can praise. In fact, it’s when we are in chains that we must praise.
Every limitation and irritation we have in life must be seen as from God’s hand. End of story.
The sovereignty of God super-cedes our circumstances. They may not be planned or pleasant, but they are from our Father’s good and loving hand.
I like to picture God’s hand reaching down through the clouds to me, holding whatever particular trial I am facing, as though He is giving it to me. “Here,” I imagine Him saying. “If you trust me through this, THIS GOOD THING THAT YOU CONSIDER A TRIAL, will make you more like my Holy Son.”
My mind wiggles and contorts, trying to escape like a toddler who wants to get down off his mother’s lap and run when he’s supposed to sit still.
It helps me to remember that nothing comes to me except through Him.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
Not only does God illuminate my way, he also shields me from anything He deems not good for me.
He “screens” my life. He allows certain things and not others.
And I’m so glad of it.