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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Aligning our will with the Lord's

This week in our study of the book of James, we see St James warning against making plans without without seeking God's will first.

James 4:13 "Well now, you who say, today or tomorrow, we are off to this or that town; we are going to spend a year there trading and making some money'" He is supposedly speaking to rich, arrogant people, but is he not also speaking to all of us?

I'm big on planning. I make lists, I keep notes, budget books. I hold on to old lists to help me remember to write new lists... sound familiar to anyone?

I don't like when the unexpected happens. I've never been an impulsive, "lets just do it" kind of person. That would describe my younger sister.. guess who was the one that had more fun growing up and made the rest of us get in trouble with her? ;-)

If I have to go somewhere, I need notice to pack everything we might need. I'm the girl who is most likely to have that thing you want cause I plan so much that I would pack a first aid kit just to go to the beach with everything including stuff in case somebody got stung by a jelly fish. I spend more time planning for a holiday and stressing the small stuff than anticipating the holiday itself.

James 4:14 "You never know what will happen tomorrow; you are no more than a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears"

Ah, the fragility of life... perhaps that's what makes some of us so cautious, careful... UPTIGHT!!

We're afraid to go and do things on impulse without planning for unexpected situations. We go everywhere with an umbrella.. even if the skies are blue. We wont leave the house without our credit cards or our cell phones.. just in case. We always need a safety net.. a back-up plan.

James 4:15 "Instead of this you should say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we shall be alive to do this or that'"

Do we really surrender to God? Do we really say "your will be done" in every aspect of our lives? When we have major decisions to make or have a problem? Sometimes we feel afraid to leave it all up to God, we feel that we must DO something or be prepared and have a back-up plan. I don't know about you, but there are times when I can't seem to let go and let God do His work and I gnaw on the problem like a dog with a bone.

Proverbs 16:3 tells us "Commend what you do to God and what you plan will be achieved" and in Proverbs 16:9 "The human heart may plan the course but it is Yahweh who makes the steps secure"

When we plan, do we acknowledge that God alone has charge of our futures? Do we accept that what we want and the way we want it may not be what His will is for us?

Oh, its been a long, hard road of purifying and being molded and shaped by our Creator. We all know what the fires of purification feel like.. when God is trying to take the dross from the silver so he can actually work with us, but....

.....s-l-o-w-l-y, God has been transforming me...

to rely not on my own human strength and intelligence but on Him...

not to plan for every eventuality but to trust in Him to take care of me and my family as well.

Praise God! He never does anything by half measure. He is taking my husband along for the ride too!

My testimony is this... two people who could be considered to be stuck in their ways, since they are both in their forties... are now becoming "let's just do it" people!

Not because we're going through middle-age crisis ha! ha!..

... but because we know that if He takes us to it, He'll take us through it! We know our Lord has got our backs, we know that He is in charge.

Of course its not always easy because we have our human natures to deal with, our weaknesses and the shadows of our old ways of thinking and acting, which tend to want to peek out in times of stress or when we're weak because we have not nourished ourselves enough with His Spirit and His Word.

I mean, I still make lists, I still plan.. and there are times when I still want to be in control and to DO something.. yet it has become easier to surrender. When it gets tough I get on my knees, I ask my husband to pray with me, I turn to God for strength.. He NEVER, EVER, disappoints!

The sweetness of surrendering to Him is unlike anything else in this world! What freedom there is in letting Him take the wheel and knowing that our destination is pre-ordained and crafted by a loving God who desires what is best for us. No more gnawing at bones, killing ourselves with worry.

One of my favourite bible passages is to be found in Luke 12:22-32 where we are told that we are not to worry... that God, who takes care of all His creation, will take care of us too, whom He has made in His own image and likeness. This has actually been my life verse these past 18 years or so. It was through this passage that I surrendered my life into His hands.

Having given up my job to become a homemaker and struggling to make ends meet, God formed a covenant with me one day, using a bird outside my bedroom window to remind me that he takes care of all things and if I am obedient to Him and do His will, He will do the same for me. "Luke 12:31 "No, set your hearts on his kingdom and these other things will be given you as well"


Want some examples of how our God repays our trust in Him?

Grace #1

My eldest daughter is at university in her 2nd year. We did not have the money to send her, yet we prayed and trusted that if God wanted her to go, somehow she would. After exhausting our savings in college applications and different fees, she narrowed down her choice to one university that had given her two scholarships. We still did not have the money.

As the day drew nearer for the deadline, her father and I just kept on praying, trusting that God would do what was best for our girl. Just a few days before the deadline to get everything organised, God placed it on the heart of one of our relatives and he offered to pay her first year! Oh, what a flurry of last-minute planning and purchasing! God even made it possible for me to accompany them as my husband was supposed to take her up alone. A tremendous grace from God as this involved airline tickets and a hotel room and rental car.

As the first year drew to a close, we had a little money in the bank... not enough to pay for the new school year. We knew that if God wanted her to continue.. he would provide. She was chosen, miraculously, out of a large number of students, to become an RA, which pays room and board. She also got another job (which in itself is a miracle) and has since earned another scholarship which reduced her fees and that is how she is still at university. We don't know how she's going back next year.. but we know that God wants her there and He'll make a way!

Grace #2

Recently, we made a snap decision to not send our youngest daughter to the school she's been registered for since birth (that's how its done here unfortunately, if you want to have a spot kept for you). I felt it placed on my heart that we should try another school. We, miraculously, got her name put on the registration list for this school at the last minute.

I was afraid to give up the spot at the first school because of the last-minute attempt to get her into the other. It was when I surrendered my fear to Jesus that clarity came.. I felt Him say that I had to trust Him and let go of that place. We talked it over and my husband agreed it was the right thing to do. When he called the first school to tell them that we were not going to accept the space, he was told that they would keep it for her anyway and if we changed our minds we could send her. Talk about an awesome God!!

We then found out that someone else who had registered before us for the new school was told that they were full, but we were called to attend registration! We registered her and, barring her passing an assessment (which is in God's hands.. totally!) she will attend this school come September, where she will be taught about her faith as part of the curriculum.

What a mighty God we serve!!

God has seen fit to leave that outlet for us, so that if she doesn't for some reason pass the assessment, she still has a place in the original school!

Sometimes it is only when we are willing to surrender the things that hold us, the things that we hold on to, that we allow God's grace to flow and only then can we see with clarity what His Divine Will is as everything begins to fall into place.

Grace #3

Our second daughter wants to go to university too.. where is that money coming from? Well, we just found out that she's been offered a scholarship at the university of her choice. We're not sure of the amount yet.. we'll find out tomorrow. Nevertheless, I think I see God's hand in this too.. another outpouring of His Grace upon us. I'll keep you posted!

These are just three examples... there are so many more I could share!

Surrendering our lives to God is the surest way to true peace. Planning but knowing that He knows best and His will is to be accomplished... accepting that Will and praying always, constantly for discernment of His will.

Lord, may my will always be in alignment with yours. Please grant me the wisdom and discernment to know your will and the grace and strength to accept it and to do what you ask me to do.

God's blessings be with all of you and thanks for reading this realllly looong blog! lol!

Shine on, shine strong for Jesus!


Dawn Dausman said...

I so appreciate your candidness, Lisa. Thank you for this reminder. I have been reading along with you the James study (are you in a GMG group?) and this week has hit hard re the Lord's will part.... you should see my mind, it's a mess! I'm sure I'll blog it out when my frame of mind is set straight. Bless you, friend. D

e-Mom said...

Awesome post! I tend to be a planner too... it's a gift. However, it can work against us, that's for sure.

I've learned to be super-flexible, because, guess what? My husband is the spontaneous type. Together, we've created a wonderful life--but it did take some time to give up my "controlling" ways.