Archive for November, 2012

A Detour Worth Taking

Posted: November 12, 2012 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, Trusting God

The other day, I was visiting my younger brother’s college campus to pick up books from his college’s library for a research project. After picking up about 40 lbs. of books and shoving them into my backpack, I met him on the main floor of the library. Being the sweet young gentleman that he is, he immediately reached out and shouldered my heavy backpack for me. As we walked back through his campus so that I could bring him home for the weekend, we were struck with a bit of a dilemma. I needed to pick up the car in the parking garage…and he needed to go get his luggage from his dorm room. Either we were going to have to split up and go our separate ways — in which case I’d have to walk alone and carry my heavy backpack again.  Or, I’d have to walk with my brother, out of my way to his dorm, while he continued to carry my load.  Honestly, the choice wasn’t too difficult.  I decided to take the detour rather than lug my books to my car.

While it ended up being a fairly simple choice to change my route to walk along with my brother so he could carry my books, I find it difficult, at times, to yield my way to God so I can walk alongside Him.

Midterms are over now, but paper and forensic tournament season has arrived. Toward the end of the semester, one of my favorite verses always is Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

These verses always serve as a good reminder that God is willing and able to carry my load and give me rest.

Recently, though, I’ve been under a lot of stress. Between tests, papers, upcoming moot court tournaments, and falling behind in school due to a long illness, I’ve got a lot on my plate and on my mind. Feeling weighed down, I turned to this verse and wondered…why isn’t my burden light like this verse promises?

The answer came to me in the form of Jerry Bridge’s book Trusting God. In one chapter, Bridges notes:

I once attended a seminar on the subject of Christians and stress.  One of the speaker’s main points was that, if we want to live less stressful lives, we must learn to live with a single agenda: God’s agenda….God is sovereign over people.  He will move their hearts to cause them to do His will, or He will restrain them from doing anything contrary to His will.  But, it is His will, His agenda for our lives, that God will guard, protect, and advance.  We must learn to live by His agenda if we are to trust Him.

That was my problem, I realized. Like my walk with my brother, I was faced with a dilemma. If I am to be yoked with God – if He is to carry my load and give me peace – one thing is required: I have to be going the same direction. Stress comes from choosing to carry pressures myself. We have a choice between two ways: walking alone or walking with God. God only walks on God’s path in His way. If we go His way, He’ll carry the weight of the pressure (as He shares our yoke). But if we decide to go our way, we’re left to carry the load alone.

With all my pressures and tasks, the stress was coming because I wanted things to go my way. I wanted to ace the test. I wanted to write the perfect paper. I wanted to win in Moot Court. By insisting on my own way, I was forcing myself to carry the heavy load. Rather than prayerfully giving my burdens to God and trusting Him for the outcome (going His way), I’ve been figuratively “heading straight to the parking garage carrying my own load of books.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Like my little brother – and, obviously, so much more so – God  is right there to carry my load…if I just choose to go along with Him. While I may resist the “detour”  from the route I’ve plotted out for myself, if I want rest, peace, and joy, God’s way is the only option.

Was God a No-Show?

Posted: November 8, 2012 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, Hope, Trusting God

Every political candidate knows that one of the most important parts of any campaign is the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort. You can do anything you want on the campaign and spend however many millions of dollars on campaign ads, but if you don’t get your supporters registered to vote and ensure that they actually show up at their polling location, your campaign is worthless. This election day, the GOTV effort was legendary as millions of Americans flocked to their polling stations and waited for hours in line to vote. But, as I sat in my family room on Tuesday night and watched the results of the election come in – as my heart sank with each reported result that went the “wrong way” – one thought echoed in my mind: where was God’s turnout in response to my prayers?

I pray for our nation – and particularly, for this election – every day, as I know many Christians in this country do. I prayed specifically that God would raise up godly leaders who would fight for Biblical principles and defend the innocent – like the unborn. In a way, I and many Christians across the country waged a prayer campaign for this election.

Perhaps that is why I, and others, felt so devastated and discouraged when the results returned to show that our country had elected men and women who – although I believe sincerely desire to help the country – do not promote biblical principles, nor work to protect the unborn. Also, across the nation, ballot initiatives passed which undermine traditional values of faith and family.  It wasn’t just that campaigns failed to turn out enough voters. It felt like the most important person of all – the One to whom we’ve directed our pleas and petitions to for all these months – just…didn’t show up, like the many no-show voters who were just “too busy” or forgot. Where was God on election day?

As I’ve been mulling over this question for the past couple of days, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:

  1. When we don’t see His hand, we learn to trust His heart.
    One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in Hebrews 2, where it says, “Now in putting everything in subjection to [Christ], [God] left nothing outside [Christ’s] control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him. But we see Him…”At the moment, we can’t see what God’s plan is for our nation. We can’t understand how this election somehow fits into His overall scheme. We can’t even see how this election was somehow subject to His sovereign plan. However, we know Him. We know His heart. We know that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. We know that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. And we know that He is watching over us…even when we can’t see it. We may not understand God’s plan for our country…but we know Him and can trust His heart.
  2. God doesn’t need to do things our way to accomplish His purposes.
    I’m sure we are not the first Christians – nor the last – to wonder why God allowed bad things to happen to our nation. The Israelites must have wondered what God was doing when He allowed them to be conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians. The first Christians must have wondered why Jesus didn’t return to overthrow Nero and bring an end to the persecution the church experienced. Christians around the world must wonder why God allows tyrannical Communist and Muslim regimes to rule despite prayers for relief.Under today’s leadership, we do not experience anything like what these Christians have experienced. But we can take comfort that God works, even through ungodly leaders to accomplish His purposes. The pagan Babylonian king – Nebuchadnezzar – had a direct encounter with God which forced Him to acknowledge God as the Sovereign of the universe. Through Pharaoh, God revealed His power to the Israelites. Through Artaxerxes, God provided the funds for the walls of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Through Nero, God scattered the church and His saving gospel across the globe.God’s purposes will be accomplished in His time and His way. He does not need to operate through our chosen leader or through our chosen strategy. He will accomplish His perfect will in this country – no matter what the election results say.

So where was God on election day? He was there. He was present. He was aware. He never left us. He heard our prayers. Though many of us may wonder what God’s plan is for our nation, this election should not be a source of discouragement for us, nor should it shake our faith in our good, gracious, and loving God. When we serve a sovereign God, no situation is ever impossible or hopeless. Instead, it is time for Christians to continue to pray for our nation and wait in anticipation to see how God is going to work and move beyond our wildest hopes and dreams.

Note: This blog post is not meant to be a commentary on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of any particular party or politician. If your party celebrated a victory this election, I hope that you recognize that this post is still relevant to you. Whether you face disappointments in prayers for an election, or for healing, or for — really — any area of life, these points still stand. Please continue to intercede in prayer for our nation and our leaders.

Victory

Posted: November 5, 2012 by clairer in Trusting God

A shocking and tragic email appeared in my inbox this afternoon: a beautiful and beloved professor at my college had closed her eyes for the last time yesterday evening. It was sudden — no one at my college anticipated or expected it.

In a way, the timing was very sobering for me. Attending a college with a strong political focus, tomorrow’s presidential election has been very prominent in my view. But my professor will never know, nor need to worry about, the results of tomorrow’s election. Safe in Jesus’ arms, she is already reveling in Christ’s ultimate victory — over death, over sickness, over all…

Her view from heaven is the right view. Tragic and sudden deaths will occur in this world. Elections will come and go. Politicians whom we support will win and lose. But as we continue to walk through this life, whether we celebrate or mourn, we can take comfort in Christ’s ultimate victory.

In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33