Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Getting to the Right Place

Life is unpredictable. Regardless of the plans we may make it rarely works out the way we hoped. It is the rare person who is experiencing life the way they imagined it would be. Far too often life is filled with disappointments that force us to cope with life rather than live life. When life doesn’t turn out the way we planned we have no other option but to deal the best we can as we adapt to the new circumstances.

Following Jesus doesn’t change any of this reality. In fact, many times makes it far worse because we have this unspoken expectation that God should give us the life that we want, which of course ignores the life God created us to live. To get us to where we need to be Jesus will ask us to lay down our plans and follow Him into the uncertainty of the future. If we are unwilling to trust Him with our future, He will, at times, allow our dreams to shatter so that we will be forced to discover the life He wants us to live.

Another frustrating aspect of this whole process is that God doesn’t treat us all the same. For some God allows some great tragedy to take place their lives to prepare them for what lies ahead. Others will have constant small obstacles thrown into their paths which will teach them endurance and trust. Still others will seem to go through life with no trouble at all. When we compare our lives to the lives of those around us will begin to feel like God is being unfair to us because God isn’t treat us like He treated someone else and we will begin to exaggerate the difficulties in our lives while minimizing the troubles of other people.

Think about Joseph, the son of Jacob, for a minute. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how unfair some of the circumstances in his life were. Joseph experienced slavery and false imprisonment in a foreign land while his brothers enjoyed freedom in their homeland. How can that be fair?

Yet, what we discover on the other side of these experiences, when Joseph’s family was forced to come to Egypt because of famine, everyone had changed. Joseph’s brothers did not have an easy life at home because of the guilt they carried for selling Joseph into slavery. The lives of Joseph's brothers were not as easy as they seemed. Joseph was changed and prepared for leadership through the struggles of his life, which forced him to trust God for guidance, wisdom, and strength.

While going through the difficulties of life things didn’t make sense to Joseph, but God used the evil for good in his life and the lives of his family. Things will not always make sense, but we must trust that God will do what is right if we ever hope to have our struggles redeemed for blessings.

In the midst of struggles there are only two actions that we can do. First, we must be faithful to God no matter what. Joseph ran way from the temptation of Potiphar's wife because he was not going to betray God and sin. Second, we need to do our best in the circumstances that we find ourselves in. Joseph didn't give up, but he worked and fulfilled his responsibilities, and that is precisely what God is asking us to do. Continue on with life and give it your all.

When we remain faithful in even the toughest of circumstances God is able to use us to impact the lives of others and in the process we will get a little closer to the life God wants us to live. How we live is far more important than any position or prestige we might think is so valuable. Character and faith in the end trumps power and fame.

Part of the struggle I have had in life is that I have thought that what I needed was the right ministry position in order to make a difference in the lives of people. It was about the position, the title, and the recognition, and I justified my coveting these things by saying, "If I had those things then I could have an impact in this world." This runs contrary to what Jesus taught. Kingdom power is not found in position but in service. It is not about being the greatest but about being the least. It is when we give our lives away in service that we are truly able to impact those around us.

For us to be truly Kingdom people we need to be humble, and sadly, for us to learn to be humble God has to take us through the depths of life so we will learn to trust Him. When we are humble we put others ahead of ourselves and are willing to serve the least in this world, and that is the place God wants all of us to be. God wants us to get to the right place, but don't be surprised when you have to go through the valleys to get there.

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