Monday, June 23, 2008

Remember, Rest, and Hand Over the Reigns!

For the past six or seven months, I have been captivated by the book of Jeremiah. Today, after I arrived home from work, I decided to go dig up my commentaries by Calvin. When Ris and I redid our room awhile back, all of my knick-knacks and books were packed into storage and put into the dark recesses of the basement. While I had hoped to dig out my books and bring them back to the room, that hasn't happened yet, and I don't think we have the space for any more furniture (like a bookshelf). As a result of everything being in storage, I had to dig through my boxes until I came to the crate filled with my commentaries. Although I could have used the set that my parents own, I wanted to have mine so that I could feel free to mark them (I'm a big fan of underlining and margin writing). There were about three thick, entire volumes devoted to the book of Jeremiah. For a start, I decided to go to one of my favorite verses, and then I wrote down some of my own thoughts on what I'd gleaned from the mighty pen of Calvin.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

What God has decreed cannot be changed; He already has my future mapped out. Attempting to figure out the mind of God is futile: His ways, thoughts, deeds, and plans are so far above me that they are incomprehensible. Here, however, God was reminding the Jews of His promises to them in the past, bringing rebuke to them for doubting His deliverance. How often have I been tempted to doubt the will of God for my life? How frequently have I been anxious when considering my future? Truly, God's reproof to the Jews applies to me as well. As Calvin said, "He teaches us that true wisdom is to obey God, and to surrender ourselves to Him; and that when we understand not His counsel, we ought to resignedly wait until the due time shall come." Oh Lord, grant ME true wisdom, and may it ever increase that I might trust You more! It is so easy sometimes in trials to to forget that God loves us, and that He is working all things for the good of His people. The Lord IS faithful to His promises, and He has promised good to His own. Whether in this life or the next, God will fulfill what He has said. He is steering the ship of the believer, and with Him at the helm, who can fear? Remember the promises of God, rest in the knowledge that He will keep them, and wait patiently for your deliverance.

There is another quote of Calvin that I love (not from my readings today): "Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness." Oh the beauty and truth in that sentence! In today's day and age, so many people love to say that "God is my copilot, and with God as my copilot, how can anything go wrong?" AAHHH!! That idea terrifies me. I don't want to be in charge. My life with me at the helm would be disastrous. No, me in command is a very bad idea. Humans are so sinful, so depraved, so self-centered, and those without Christ have their ships sailing in sin. As Christians, the current of evil tries to take us off course. With me at the helm, my ship would follow the current and either capsize or be hopelessly lost. Only God can keep a ship on course, only God has a firm and steady hand to steer. It is this God who has promised to be faithful. He will never leave us or forsake us, He has promised good to us, and He will fulfill all that He has decreed toward us. Seek after true wisdom, and surrender yourself to the Pilot who steers the ship into safe harbors.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Joy Comes in the Darkness Too

Three days after the death of Mrs. Cummings, my grandfather passed away. Although we had been expecting it and praying that his suffering would end soon, the news struck me like a load of bricks. True, I had gone to say goodbye a few days before. Sure, I knew that it was coming. But when a loved one dies . . . For a long time, I hurt in silence, keeping my grief hidden away, locked from the sight of those around me. It was not the despairing kind of grief or the kind that one has when there is no hope of seeing the departed one again. No, it was just the empty, "I miss him" kind of grief. Had it been the other kind, I don't know how I would have faced it. Looking back, I stand in awe of how God worked things in the few months before Poppop died.

Pastor Brent preached recently about the storms of life. We don't know how long a storm may last, how bitter and difficult a trial may be, but we must have faith that God will not only see us through, but also work it for our good. How easy it is to forget this!

Luke 8:23-25
But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm
of wind on the lake; and they were filled [with water], and were in jeopardy.
And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he
arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and
there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being
afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he
commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

While we may wonder how the disciples, Jesus' disciples, those who were with him constantly, could lack the faith and trust that He would see them through, we must also recognize that we, like the disciples, often lack in faith--we, who have seen so often the goodness of God, who have been blessed by Him so many times, who have always found Him to be faithful. In truth, we are no better than the disciples, and we, as they, have no excuse for failing to remember the mercies of God. As a loving father protects his children and does all things for their good and well-being, so God, our heavenly Father, watches over His own. It's always neat to see the sun break forth in all her glory from the clouds after a storm, to see the beauty of the sky, to smell the fragrance of the earth after the rain. So also, after we have been tossed about by the pounding of the waves, drenched by the pouring wrath of the rain, deafened by the booming of the thunder, blinded by the lightning flashing forth from the sky, we can often see the magnificence of God shining forth once the storm has calmed, how His hand was guiding all along . . . If only we would remember that more DURING the storm, rather than looking back and seeing it once morning has broken. Oh that God would grant us grace to trust Him more fully, to remember Him always, and to seek His face at all times.

I found joy in the morning. Oh that I had had the faith to find it in the darkness as well! Had I trusted God more fully, rested more in His sovereignty, and found peace in His promises, what depths of joy might have been mine while being battered by the waves? God HAS promised to be faithful. What could bring more joy than the knowledge of that? Knowing that He is working all things to our good, that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that we are FIRMLY held in His hands, we can find peace through the troubled times. I had peace, but I lacked joy. May He grant me more faith and more trust during the next storm that I might not have to wait till morning for the blessing of the joy of the Lord.