Calling

An Unlikely Enemy

Isaiah 55:8-9

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

They say that the good is often the enemy of the best. It’s one of the truest statements ever made. I think it applies especially to God and to His plans for each of us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some ideas. I’ve got ideas about how I can serve God, and further the Kingdom, and bless all of humanity. Yeah, I’ve got some big ideas and some equally big plans. But wait—what’s that the Bible says in Proverbs 16:9? “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

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But my plans are good! They’re noble, they’re selfless and sacrificial. And those things are true. But no matter how good my plans may be, they may not be BEST. God may have better plans than I do. Let’s face it, He undoubtedly does. So He’ll close some doors and open others. He’ll speak to me through other believers. He will give me a sense of peace, or perhaps a sense of unrest. And sometimes, some of our dreams have to die to make room for the dreams God has for us.

There’s a story I’ve heard several times, of a little girl with a fake pearl necklace that she adores and wears religiously. One night, her Dad asks, “Do you love me?” Her reply is, “Yes, of course I love you.” Dad’s reply? “Then will you give me your pearls?” Devastated, she replies, “Daddy, I do love you, but I can’t give you my pearls.” This exchange goes on for several nights, until the little girl finally answers, “Daddy, I do love you, and if you really want my pearls that badly, you can have them.” And once she hands them over through tears, the dad pulls out a beautiful string of REAL pearls, a gift he’s been waiting so long to give her. She’s finally willing to give up the good, in exchange for the best. The question is, am I? And are you?

Oh God, let us accept your best for us with open minds, open hands, and open hearts. Help us to believe the truth that your thoughts and your ways are so very much higher than ours; that you have plans to prosper us, to bring us a future and a hope; and that you are ready and waiting to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. In the all-powerful name of Jesus, let it be so.  

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The Cost of Sacrifice

2 Samuel 24:24

“But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it.
I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and
paid fifty shekels of silver for them.”

In 1988, Bobby Michaels released a song entitled, “Anything that Costs Me Nothing.” It’s a great song–you should check it out. Surely, he was inspired by King David’s response to Araunah in 2 Samuel 24:24. You see, Araunah had offered to give the king a threshing floor and oxen that he planned to use for a sacrifice to God. But King David replied, “‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.”

Whenever illness strikes a friend, a neighbor, or a family member, I think to myself, “That should be me.” It must sound morbid, I know, but I have always longed so deeply for heaven and have been so anxious to meet my Heavenly Father, that I know my response to such a diagnosis would surely honor and glorify Him. I’m sure of it. But maybe that’s why God hasn’t chosen that path for me. Oh, of course, it would require some sacrifices. I would give up the chance to watch my children grow up and to have them know and remember me. I would give up the chance to someday meet and hold and love my grandchildren. But truly, it wouldn’t be the same for me as I know it is for some. And just as they must offer their lives as a costly sacrifice for the God they love and serve, so must I.

For me, that sacrifice may mean a lengthy stay here on earth, in a land that is foreign to me and one that could never feel quite like home. It may mean many years of hoping and trusting in what I cannot see. It will surely require me to rely and lean on God in my weaknesses and amid my failures. And when I feel that unbearable sense of separation from Him and long to be closer, to be held in His strong but gentle arms, I must remember that this is my sacrifice, and that its value lies in its cost. I pray always that it would be a cost that I would bear gladly.

Vision

“When God gives a vision, God makes provision.”
Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

This is a great saying to hold to. But there are times when it raises more questions than it answers.

First of all, what constitutes a vision? How sure do I need to be before I call a glimmer an inkling, an inkling a tugging, or a tugging a vision? Do I need to be absolutely confident, or can I have moments of ambivalence or even doubt? When I think about this, I think about my own ideas and “plans.” For instance, many of you know that I have a spare kidney that is up for grabs. The timing isn’t right at the moment for me to just give it away indiscriminately, but I have zero reservations that I want to do it someday. In the meantime, I know that I want to pursue a research agenda that will hopefully lead many others into a greater willingness to be living organ donors. There are some other ideas about which I am (sorry, Goose—WE—are) still fervently praying for guidance. Most prominently, we believe we might be called to adoption. We definitely believe that it is a GREAT thing; we just aren’t positive that it’s right for us. We aren’t convinced that it’s NOT for us—we just plain aren’t sure. So is it a vision? I have no earthly idea.

Secondly, how do we know if a vision is from God? Maybe we feel and believe VERY strongly about one thing or another, but upon further revelation, realize the vision isn’t GOD’S, but OURS. Or maybe it’s a vision that someone else has for us, but one that doesn’t represent God’s very best for our lives. In my case, what if there is something or someone other than God fueling my desire to pursue adoption? What if God knows that He can use me more mightily and effectively in some capacity other than that of an adoptive parent? He does know best, after all, and He has an eternal perspective far beyond this finite space and time that I’m living in.

So is it wrong to want clarity and assurance, to ask for enough guidance to know that I am at least on the right track? Do I step out in faith, or on the basis of an educated guess, and see if the provision follows? Who knows? But what I do know is this:

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
(Proverbs 16:9—NLT)

Let this promise bring you as much comfort and peace today as it brings me. Determine our steps, Lord.

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To DO Great

Proverbs 11:2
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

 Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

 I confess, I have some big dreams. I want to do great things for my family, the world, and the Kingdom. And I believe that it is God who has given me these dreams. You can probably relate. After all, we all want to be a part of something great. But it’s hard to do that without also wanting, on some level, to BE great. We seek credit for our work and good deeds; we want recognition for our accomplishments.

So for me, a fear that creeps in is that if I do all of the things I hope to do, I may begin to seek some of the glory for myself. I can’t help but realize that Satan delights in this insecurity. When we fail to act or to obey God because we are afraid of our potential to become prideful, we render ourselves useless. For him, it doesn’t get any better than that. So I’m constantly asking myself, “What are some ways to seek a great and meaningful mission and calling, without also becoming prideful? How do I remain humble?”

But as I write this post, I realize that I’ve already answered my own question. Did you see what I said at first? I want to do great things. But maybe it isn’t about me doing great things. Maybe it’s about GOD doing great things through me. After all, God’s M.O. is to use ordinary people and ordinary things to reveal His glory. HIS glory. Not ours. Not mine.

God, we ask that YOU will do great things in and through us. But as you invite us to join you in your work, please help us to always remember, in everything we do, to give you all the glory and all the honor. For you are worthy!

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