A few months ago, I received a call from one of my children. He was sitting in a parking lot an hour away from school with a smoking vehicle. The car was dead.
Usually, this particular young man is more than capable. However, this situation was beyond his experience, and he was unsure about what to do next. After discussing the situation, we agreed that the only thing to do was to call a tow truck. I had to leave for a meeting with my pastor and said I would call him later to decide the next step.
As I drove to my meeting, I worried and prayed. I told the Lord how J needed a car to work this last year in school. I told Him that he had food to buy and school bills to pay. Without that car, J couldn’t get to work. What if he would be forced to drop out of school a semester before graduation? None of us had the money to buy him even a junker car to last until May. What were we going to do?
At my meeting, I shared my anxiety. My pastor prayed with me for my son and his situation. As I was leaving, he said, “This is an opportunity to trust, to trust that God will provide for J’s needs.”
An opportunity to trust. How often do we see difficult or perplexing circumstances as opportunities to worry and to fuss and to run around, crying and complaining instead of seeing them as opportunities to trust God? We can have faith that our loving Heavenly Father, who created the world, who owns all things, and knows our needs before we are even aware of them, has every new circumstance in control. He wasn’t caught by surprise when J’s car broke down. He wasn’t wringing His hands in heaven because of the school bills or food needs or lack of transportation.
No, God had all of this in His sovereign control. He knew the exact minute that car would die, and He allowed it to happen for His own glory and J’s good. The Lord already had the provision ready to meet J’s need before the circumstance occurred. He wants His children to depend on Him just as the sparrows depend on him for food and the lilies of the field depend on Him for clothing. He wants us to depend on Him for our daily bread and for our every need.
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. [Matthew 6:31-32]
Give us this day our daily bread. [Matthew 6:11]
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? [Romans 8:31-32]
In our proud independence, we think that we need to take care of our own needs, to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps”, instead of relying on God’s gracious, abundant provision. Scripture says that the Lord doesn’t let the children of the righteous beg for bread I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. [Psalm 37:25].
Here I was anxiously seeking provision for my son when God has promised to take of J. In myself, I am not righteous, but because of Christ, God the Father regards me as righteous so I can trust Him to not allow my children to be in need, physically or spiritually.
How many times over the years have I seen His provision! Over and over again I have been in need, sometimes financially, sometimes emotionally, often spiritually. Yet, I have never been abandoned by our God. He has always supplied my every need in His perfect time and usually gave me more than I asked for. His generosity never fails. Sometimes His timing wasn’t what I thought it should be, but it was always exactly right for the situation.
There is a hymn that I would sing with my children when they were small. The words even now remind me of the Lord’s provision when my faith is weak:
Safely in His bosom gather
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e?er was given
God, His own doth tend and nourish
In His holy courts they flourish
From all evil things He spares them
In His mighty arms He bears them
Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord, His children sever
Unto them His grace He showeth
And their sorrows all He knoweth
Though He giveth or He taketh
God His children ne?er forsaketh
His, the loving purpose solely
To preserve them, pure and holy
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev?ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing
Your Protector never slumbers
At the will of your Defender
Ev?ry foeman must surrender
Safely in His bosom gather
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e?er was given –Caroline V. Sandell-Berg
Christian friend, are you in need today? Is there a circumstance in your life where you are poor and needy. Go to your Heavenly Father. Take this opportunity to trust Him. He loves you with an everlasting love, and He always gives good gifts to His children.
For my readers who don’t yet have the Lord as your Heavenly Father, are you in need today? He is willing to meet your needs—spiritually in Christ first and also physically and emotionally and in every other way. Go to the Lord, ask Him to save your soul and to provide for your needs. You can list those needs, but He already knows exactly what you are lacking in your life. Take this opportunity to trust that Jesus died for you, that He rose again from the dead to save you, and that He will lead you for the rest of your life.
As for J’s need, a friend had a van that he is not using. He graciously loaned it to J for the remainder of the school year until J graduates and can buy a new car.
God provided quickly and abundantly. He will provide for you, too. The next time a need arises, remember my pastor’s words: “It is an opportunity to trust.”
When we are in difficult circumstances, we tend to cry out that the Lord doesn’t see or He is too busy to help us or He just doesn’t care what is going on in our lives. Do not believe these lies that Satan loves to whisper in our minds. Our Lord is sovereign and He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He loves us more than we can ever know and His plans for us are good all of the time. Just because we cannot see His salvation and restoration right now does not mean that He is powerless or is sitting idly by, watching us suffer.
Think about the story of the Exodus. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. If they thought of God at all, they must have questioned whether or not He cared about them. They suffered, they worked hard, and then the Pharaoh even tried to kill their babies! Where was God in all of this? Despite the outward circumstances, God had a plan. First, He allowed Moses to be born and saved from the murderous Pharaoh. Then, after Moses was a grown man, God spoke to him from a burning bush, and He said,
“I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.0 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Despite what the Israelites thought, God did care. He did hear their cries. He had a plan to rescue them, which is what He did, bringing them out of Egypt in a miraculous way.
Or what about the time the people of Israel had been exiled to Babylon. For 70 years, they wondered about God’s promises to them to establish His kingdom through the line of David forever. What had happened? Did God forget His promise? Had He abandoned them? No, after a time, He brought them back into their land and finally, He fulfilled His promises when Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah was born in Bethlehem and with His coming, God’s promises to establish an everlasting king of Israel were fulfilled.
God has a plan for you as well. He sees your suffering, your losses, your difficulties. He hears your cries. Just as He led the Israelites out of Egypt with gold and herds and many precious things, which had belonged to the Egyptians. Just as He brought them back into Israel after the Babylonian exile. Just as He fulfilled all of His promises in Christ, who is our wisdom, our sanctification, our righteousness, and our redemption. So He has a plan to save you, to draw you to Himself, to restore you. Trust Him. He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten, as the prophet Joel wrote thousands of years ago and we shall “eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord our God”. (Exodus 3:7-10)
As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.
–Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, December 31
Do you have things in your past that you regret? I know I do. Missed opportunities, wasted time and energy, failures, sinful decisions–so many things to regret. I think it is the rare person who doesn’t regularly have a regret or two.
When I was twenty years old, I came to a realization that I had chosen the wrong major in college. I had made the choice in good faith with the counsel of others, but about two thirds of the way through my four year course, it dawned on me that I was studying subjects for which I only had a slight ability and liking rather than studying the subjects for which I had a true aptitude . However, it was too late to change majors without adding an extra two years onto my college career. I toughed it out the last year and a half, earned my degree, and got a job. It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to study and work in a field for which I had a great capability and which I loved. Do I regret that initial decision to study the wrong subject? Yes, I do sometimes. I wonder what my life would have looked like had I chosen a more fitting major or changed my major when I first realized my error. I wonder what paths I would have pursued instead of the ones I walked. I could spent a lot of time regretting the ways not chosen, but is that a constructive way to live?
I believe that it is not a good use of my time to rue the past. Instead, I must remember the good news that our God takes those regrets, the things in the past which I should have done but didn’t or should not have done but did, what Oswald Chambers calls the “irreparable things” and He redeems them. The Lord somehow, in a way that is beyond my comprehension and knowledge, makes those regrettable words, deeds, and thoughts work for good in my life, in my loved ones’ lives, in His kingdom.
It is so easy to fall prey to guilt and depression when we think of all of the things we could have done or should have done. We question if our life will be all that it could have been since we made a certain choice or turned in a direction that we now see so clearly was wrong.
Yet we have a Sovereign Lord who holds the whole world in His hands and who also knows our entire story from beginning to end. Wonder at the fact that He is in control not only of the planets and the stars, the atoms and the molecules but also of your irreparable past. Believe that He has a purpose for that past that seems so wrong and look forward to the promise of the future where He will never leave you nor forsake you. And keep in mind Julian of Norwich’s words, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
thinking like a pastor
Weekly Devotional by Al Baker
Just a millennial trying to balance fangirling and faith
On life, writing and horses!
Life in the Country. Botany and Books.
This is the irrational season, when love blooms bright and wild. ~ Madeleine L'Engle
"whose nature prefers trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace..." -Louis MacNeice
adventures in learning, literature, and life!
Miriam Rockness: Reflections on the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter
Online Book Club
"Books are humanity in print." Barbara Tuchman
The unexamined life is not worth living.
Still trying to figure out which Martha
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose / The more things change, the more they stay the same
By Jennifer Gregory Miller: Our family life in the ebb and flow of the feasts and ordinary time of the Liturgical Year