All this trusting stuff is quite timely! I think for a lot of us right now, with illnesses, family situations and economic concerns, trust is becoming a big issue. Sometimes you just have to learn lessons all over again.
I got this email from my friend Jennifer the other day, and she gave me permission to share it.
"Just thought I would pass this along. As you know, the last few days I've been discouraged. I've felt somewhat like I was just going in circles with no clear direction at all. But God is so good to show Himself to me when I ask. Yesterday at Bible study, Donna (our pastor's wife) was teaching on Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. I had never noticed before that the Spirit led him into the wilderness. Jesus had just come from being baptized in the Jordan. He was being obedient and doing everything right, but the Spirit led him into the wilderness anyway. I automatically think I did something wrong or was disobedient when something happens to upset my little world. Perhaps we should have taken this path instead. Maybe James should have done something differently. (note - Jennifer's husband James recently lost his position and is in the interview process right now - Paula). However, God showed me that our "wilderness" right now is a direct result of Him putting us here because He wanted us to learn to trust Him completely. In the wilderness, we have two choices. We can tempt him by worrying about the outcome. Or we can trust Him to provide in His time. Just like He did with Elijah. God didn't move Elijah until the brook was completely dry. And the amazing thing to me is that Elijah stayed there waiting. If it had been me I would have sat and watched that brook get lower and lower and worried the whole time trying to figure out a plan B. But God already had a plan in place for taking care of him. It was a widow woman and her child and a small amount of flour and oil. Amazing! Nothing happens in our lives that is a surprise to Him, and nothing happens in our lives that He cannot or will not use to conform us into His image. And best of all, nothing happens in our lives that is not a direct part of His plan or purpose in not only conforming us to His image, but in glorfying Himself.
And this is a devotional that she attached to the email:
What Is God Saying? Part 1
Sometimes it is good to take time to remember and reflect. I wrote the following in the year 2000 under the title "What God Has Been Saying To Me. " As I read back over it recently, it is amazing how timely this is for 2009. I said at the time that I did want to waste the lessons of the journey. So I am inviting you to join me and reflect on these core truths.
God is HUGE!
In the little glimpses he gives me as he draws back the veil, sometimes I am absolutely without words, speechless, dumbfounded, and overcome. He is so much bigger than we have ever experienced or can possibly conceive with our finite minds.
Stay low and stay close.
This attitude reflects a heart of humility before God and sensitivity to his gentlest whisper. This is the place of brokenness, repentance, and seeking God. It is meekness, bridled strength, the humility of wisdom, having no agenda but God's. It is surrender and devotion, essential for hearing God. The only desire is to please him. When we think we have the victory, beware! There is great danger in thinking we are standing tall and strong (1 Cor. 10:12). Pride goes before a fall. God is stripping us naked, allowing us no covering but himself. He will not allow us to walk in anything but him. Only his life bears life.
Another area of staying low and staying close is spiritual warfare. In time of war, a soldier doesn't move without the command of his commanding officer. One step of presumption will be disastrous.
God is radically changing the way we ! depend o n him. God has been saying, "Stay behind me." I protested, "But God, don't you always tell your friends what you are doing?" He said, "Yes, and I am telling you that you will not be able to know what I'm doing. You know nothing about trusting me. Stay behind me. And don't peek!" I did not want to accept this. My lack of trust had to be refined. Something in me had to know, to do, to see, to understand. God calls it unbelief. I like flying by "visual flight rules." God has called us to submit to "flying on instruments" when we can't see where we're going. We must be convinced in the deepest places that we can trust him. We will depend on him fully only when we come to the end of ourselves. We must learn to more quickly get to the cross with our dependence. Radical Love won't let any person or any thing on earth meet my needs but him, so I won't trust in them.
As important as my trusting God is, he wants to know that he can trust me.
Paul said, "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2). Our faithfulness to God in all things, great and small, matters to him. His truth and his righteousness are established in our lives practically and experientially, by being tested one obedience at a time, by learning and application, by training and discipline, in trial and warfare. He must keep my heart tuned to his, or I perish.
The bigger the vision, the deeper the death, but missing God costs more.
The cross of Jesus will sweeten any trial, difficulty, or roadblock. God knows what we need even when we don't (but think we do). We must learn to surrender our expectations of him that he perform according to our uncrucified agenda. The "new" requirement of God is the same as the old requirement: to come and die.
Bless and honor your authorities.
It has ne! ver been more important to bless and honor our authorities. The early church was told to trust God and honor the emperor (Matt. 17:25-27, Mark 12:14-17, Rom. 13:1-7). We honor the un-honorable because of their position, not their personality. If we take authority lightly, our prayers will be hindered. We reach for God on the other side of a closed heart and draw from him until he changes the heart. We rest in God's ability to deal redemptively with our authorities, and we get out of his way.
Now It's Your Turn
Take some time alone with God before your open Bible. Let him open up his heart to you in his Word, personally, between you and him. Prayerfully reflect on your life with him. What is he saying to you? Pause and let him review the traces of his hand in your life. Ask him for a word of direction or promise.
Taken from Prayer Essentials for Living in His Presence, Vol 1, page 19-21. © 2000 by Sylvia Gunter.
Available at www.thefathersbusiness.com. An archive of past devotionals is available on the website.