There is nothing more exciting than that “ah ha” moment that God gives you through the scripture, prayer, a message, a book, or a song that allows you to better understand how God works and how He might be working in your own situation. Most recently for me that came through singing, and really listening to, Come Thou Fount at Urbana last week. It’s a classic hymn that I know I’ve sung in church throughout my life – but it’s meaning finally hit me – and it was beautiful.
Come, Thou, fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above!
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I raise my ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’m come,
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me, when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
Oh, to grace, how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be.
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love…
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
What if ‘more than we can handle’ is something good?
You know the saying, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle?”. We normally equate the “more than” to a bad thing – a trial – a discomfort. But what if the “more than” was something great – a new job, a new role in church, a mission/call, a relationship. Those are perfectly acceptable things to pray for and have. But what if we weren’t ready, mature, or secure enough in our walk to receive that gift and use it fully for His glory? We’d ruin and waste the good thing that God gave to us. We’d be left broken – grasping. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I know that I’ve said, out loud, to God with pure intentions, “I get it! I know what I did that I shouldn’t have. I know what I didn’t do that I should have. You’ve graciously shown me it! I finally understand. Thank you! I don’t want to go back to how it was. I’m ready to do it Your way – if you would just let me redo it.”
Often times the response has been “no”. BUT, through prayer and reflection, I’ve seen how it’s really a “no, and this is why” response. “You’ve made progress but there’s still more conditioning to do.”
BIND my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.
It’s also been a, “how about instead of that I give you this”. The “this” has been a variety of things completely out of left-field but they’ve been amazing. How about a little Romans 8:28 to solidify that:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
I have grown tremendously in a relatively short amount of time. But, I realize there is still more to do to “seal my heart for thy courts above” so that I am so confident and steadfast in my walk with God that I CAN’T slip back into old habits. I hate my sin. I hate screwing up. I hate misusing gifts.
Romans 12:9 says
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Psalm 97:10, Psalm 119:104, 113, 163 speak to that as well. But it takes work – it takes continual obedience and, well, “spiritual conditioning” to take those easy words to say from a thought to an action – to the point where I hate my sin, mediocre faith, and relative comfortableness, so much that I just can’t accept going back to it.
That’s why I ESPECIALLY love and take so much comfort in James 1:4, which says
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I want to be prepared to use the GOOD things that God provides me to His glory. But I need my heart sealed. Locked. Double… no, triple knotted… to God before I can begin to accept the awesome gifts He’s got for me.
For you, it could be any number of things. Think about what it is you desire or what you’ve recently received that you could either make about you or make about God. Consciously realize in what direction it could go and then make sure it’s used for His glory and not your own.
- Money/new job/promotion: Not to hoard or to create false security or comfort – but to be a steward and to use it to further the work of the church (the local church, missionaries, legitimate causes, your own training)
- A relationship: Not for the sake of having someone around and getting what you can get, but for the ability to serve and encourage them and glorify God.
- A new role in church: Not for power or authority or to appear “holy” – but to serve others, make disciples, further the kingdom of God, and see people saved.
It may not get easier
Now, simply understanding that you are being refined to be able to accept the gifts God has for you does not guarantee an easy life – or complete comfort – or that everything is going to be rainbows and butterflies. Jesus was very clear that the Christian life is not free from trouble – but rather there is HOPE beyond the trouble. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
You’ll still hurt. You’ll still long. You’ll still want that person back or you’ll still want that new relationship. You’ll wonder why you’re still in the same place you’ve been praying to get out of. BUT, you will better understand why you’re going through this – because you’ll better understand who God is. You’ll be positioned to see and understand that God absolutely loves you and wants what HE knows is best for you that will ultimately bring you contentment and will glorify Him – and that giving you what you want when you want it may not, in fact, be loving because it may not be good for you [yet].
BUT, You’ll have HOPE that the season won’t last forever. You’ll have HOPE that if God doesn’t give you what you ask for He hasn’t forgotten and He’s not being spiteful. You’ll have HOPE that He’s preparing something for you that’s beyond what your feeble little mind can imagine. You’ll have HOPE that if something isn’t revealed to you here on earth that it will be revealed to you when you finally meet your Creator in Heaven.
Having the wisdom to understand those truths IS A GIFT. God could have left you and I just aimlessly wondering. But He didn’t. He doesn’t. He won’t. He uses scripture to reveal who He is – either directly to us or through people who create music or write books from scriptural truths that allow us to see who God is through their study and work.
I love Proverbs 24:14, which says
Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
There is HOPE that what your heart desires will meet with what gift(s) God has for you in a beautiful collision. Your desires will be His desires and His blessings – the line where He begins in you will be so blurred because you will be so engrossed in Him. (thanks Crowder) There is HOPE that you’ll look back one day and be reaffirmed of how good God is – and you’ll be on fire to share that with others.
You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
–Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale (POW, Vietnam)
Lord – Don’t let me follow my own desires. Bring me to the point where all my desires are your desires too. Don’t let me get to the point where I look back and wonder what I did with my life- but continue to reveal to me who You are so that I may be able to discern your will and see what you have prepared for me when You finally put it in front of me. I want what You want. Invade my heart and then seal it shut – so tight that nothing can take me from You. I realize life isn’t going to be easy – You said it yourself. But you provided a way out of ultimate eternal destruction through your Son, Jesus. You provided a HOPE that things would be restored. Let me rest in You while you’re working through me and preparing me for something even GREATER than I could have imagined.
Now, hope and faith is super important… But faith without action is, well, as James 2:17 says, dead. (In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead) That verse is often used to show how we need to be disciples and spread the gospel… But it’s also applicable in showing us that we need to DO stuff to build OUR knowledge of God so that we CAN know God to then SHOW God to others. So how can you practically learn who God is? Well, the Bible is the end-all-be-all of who God is. He inspired the words. It’s Him. Go to the Bible. Personally, I have a hard time simply sitting and reading scripture. I’m all over the place. So here are some very practical ways that I’ve found that get me closer to God – in my walk – and while I’m “waiting”. (They may not all work for you.)
When I could only see the floor,
You made my window a door,
So when they say they don’t believe,
I hope that they see You in me