Monday, October 10, 2011

But God...

Things don't always turn out the way you plan. When I woke up yesterday morning, I had a straight-forward schedule: eat breakfast, take a shuttle to the Atlanta Airport, and fly one-way to Los Angeles, where I would be picked up by my roommate to be brought back to the Bible college campus. Well....breakfast and the shuttle worked out as planned, but the flight was a different matter. Sometime between when I got my ticket and got to my gate, the gate for the flight changed, and I didn't hear about it so I missed my plane to California. When I checked to see when the next flight to CA was, it turned out that there were no more flights from GA to CA. The next soonest flight to LAX was through Milwaukee, which I'd have to go through Baltimore to get to. Sooooo.... I took the flight from Atlanta to Baltimore, then got on the flight from Baltimore to Milwaukee. And from Milwaukee I finally made it in to LAX.

So why am I writing all of this? I'm writing partially because I have some time to kill, but I'm also writing because I think there's a lesson to be learned here. At least for me. I was really angry and upset when I found out they had switched my gate and that I had missed my flight. I was so set in my plan for how the day was supposed to go, that when I was forced to deviate from that plan, I was really irritated and upset by it. All I could think about was how many extra hours I was going to have to spend in the airport, and all that I was going to be missing by getting back to campus a lot later than planned. I got my new plane tickets and started making calls to let my parents and others know what had happened, and started arranging for different transportation back to campus. Reluctantly, I adjusted to the new plan, but it was with some complaining and sighs. 

Well, I've had some time to contemplate the issue and I've come to realize that this whole scenario that I was in can really (unfortunately) relate to how many of us live the Christian Life. I don't want to sound like I'm pointing fingers so I'll just continue to use myself as the example, but I can see that sometimes I live out my relationship with God much how things turned out at the airport yesterday. Somehow or another I make a plan for how I think things should be going in life, and as long as everything is all set and going smoothly according to plan, I'm content and on good terms with God. However, if He decides that my plan isn't the best and starts to change things around, I start to question and complain and resist. I don't mean to react this way, because I love the Lord and I want to serve Him...but when I allow my flesh-nature to have even the smallest handhold...this is the inevitable result. 
"But would just be so much quicker and easier to go about it this way..." 
"But God...if I do this, I'm going to miss out on such and such...."
"But God...But God...." You can fill in the rest; whatever applies to you in your life. But the point I'm trying to make is this, and I think God's word states it best: 

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even though we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7)
"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10)
"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive." (Genesis 50:20)
It's easy to get comfortable in our faith and forget who God is and all that He has done on our behalf. Without even meaning to, it's easy to start thinking we deserve things, and when we don't get them, we complain and are not shy to show our disappointment. It's easy to think that we are running the show, and that we can keep what we like and toss out what we don't. But God doesn't work like that. When I chose to give myself to Him and accept His gift of life, I died to myself and the life I now live is only in Him. I'm entitled to nothing apart from what He chooses to give me, and I need to rejoice and sing instead of complain and sigh...because what I have in Him is AMAZING! Also, no one forced me to make this decision, I did it of my own free will. I am a servant by choice. Privileged to be so. 

He holds my very life in His mighty hand. Because of His great love, even though I was dead, I am now alive! Because He has given me His spirit, I can know His salvation and His Will. Because of what He allows (or disallows), I know that my good is always in His mind....whether or not I can see or understand what is going on in the present moment. All He asks is that I trust in Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. That I humble myself, so He can lift me up. That I lean on Him and not my own understanding. So if I'm going to say "But God" I don't want it to be in a complaining spirit. I want it to be in proclamation of His Goodness, His love, and His sovereign will over my life and all creation. Sure, there may be some delays or unexpected changes of course in this journey. There may be times when it would seem easier or better to do it a different way. But the plain truth is: God knows everything. So should I trust my future to my own finite understanding, or to the God of the universe whose understanding is both infinite and everlasting? I think the choice is obvious. But I also understand that saying something and doing something are two very different things. I'm learning this the hard way, but at least I'm learning. I can't lie and say that this is easy - God knows it is not - but I can honestly say that it's going to be worth it. Day by day, little by little, I'm learning to lay my own agenda at His feet and ask Him to help me walk in His.