Tuesday, August 17, 2010
In Some or All Of Our Ways...?
Whether we've been following the Lord for 3 days, 3 months or 30 years, most of us still fall short of "acknowledging" the Lord in ALL our ways and sometimes it's in some of the simplest ways too. It's a process to be sure. We're told to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12) That is, the journey just began once you gave your life to Christ. That was just the starting point of your new life, now life truly begins. So it's going to be a process of learning how to acknowledge the Lord in ALL our ways.
As true as it is, I don't know that it gets any easier sometimes. I think it's sometimes easier for the babe in Christ to do than for the veteran in Christ who can become so used to ministering to others and so caught up in being "mature," going through the routine of life in Christ or church politics that we miss the simplicity of acknowledging God in ALL our ways.
One day when I was about 20 years old I tested God's Word and His Spirit in this area. I'd heard someone talk about giving up your whole paycheck and watch how the Lord would provide. I decided to try it. I put my entire pay check in the offering and watched to see how God would take care of my needs and monetary commitments at the time. I wanted for nothing that week. I no longer remember how it all came about, I just remember marveling that week how everything just came together and was taken care of. So another day during that same time period in my life, I awoke and felt the Holy Spirit very strongly guiding me. You know how we pray, "guide us each step of the way"? Well, this particular day he did - literally. He guided me each step of the day, even to do some of the strangest things that if someone was looking on they would have thought I was very weird indeed.
I remember at one point during the day he told me to bend down and pick up something off the ground as I walked along. (I no longer remember what it was- it wasn't money or memorable. :-) That's when I started feeling like a robot or a puppet. I remember thinking, wow, "I see why you gave us a free will and a mind to develop and use". However, he still says, in ALL our ways to acknowledge him and he will direct our paths.
I believe him. But do we believe only up to a point? Do we only acknowledge him for the big things, the difficult things? The less we have of material things, the more we tend to acknowledge and depend on God because we can't do for ourselves. The more we have, the less we think we need him until trials and trouble hit, like illness, trouble in our relationships, divorce, loss of income or even death of a loved one. Is it any wonder why Jesus said, "It's easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God"? His next words however were, "with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:23-26).
He is still the same God who said he came to give us life more abundantly and that nothing we have given up for him we wouldn't receive back a hundred fold in this life. (Mark 10:29-30) However, we must acknowledge him in ALL our ways. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" and all these other things will be given to us, down to the clothes on our backs and food for our stomachs.
Most days when I wake up, I quietly ask the Lord what I should wear today? Because I don't know what or whom I may encounter, but he already does. Yet many times I fail to ask him what to eat, instead I just give thanks and ask him to bless it. But isn't asking him for direction there important too? Or is thanking him and asking for his blessing acknowledgement enough? Am I being too technical, straining at every jot and tittle? Somehow, I think he'd rather have a little more of that desire to have him direct us even in the little things, than just when we're perplexed or find ourselves having to make difficult decisions.
I met two people in the last two years who've impressed me more than any tele-evangelist, professor, prophet or highly accomplished Christian. They were very simple Christians who had some incredible testimonies and ministries and whose names may never become renown. One was a Muslim, born and raised, but she was curious about the God of the Christians back home in her country. She didn't get saved in a church or because someone had been witnessing to her. She told me God spoke to her one day in her kitchen here in the US and told her who he was. She obeyed the voice and gave God her life. She said for the next 7 years, every day that she woke up she simply asked God what He wanted her to do. She said she never knew what she was going to be doing that day or where she would be going. She had a husband and 3 children and a demanding profession. She told me how frustrating at times it was not knowing what was coming next. But she never lacked. God did some incredible things in her life and birthed a church in the basement of their home.
Next was a man I met in Walmart just 2 months ago. He was another one that just kind of follows God where ever God tells him to go. I remember meeting him not just because it was the most recent experience but because it was very impactful in my life. He ministered more to me than any "prophet" I've ever met in a church. God had recently directed me to make a major move in my life that meant the upheaval of everything comfortable and familiar! I stepped out there by faith and got very little support except from those to whom God was sending me. I met with my pastor this particular evening to speak with him about my relocation, but I wasn't received, was even told in so many words that God wasn't the one directing me to relocate.
When I left there late that evening I had a massive headache. My head was pounding as though there was a gigantic pliers squeezing my temples. I could hardly think. It was about 10:30pm. I needed to stop by Walmart to get some tape and boxes to pack, but I couldn't think and everyone I thought of calling was asleep. So I said to the Lord, "Lord send me someone who knows you and knows me to speak to me." (Sometimes people know the Lord, but they don't know the particular work God is doing in you. Sometimes they know you, but don't know the Lord at work in you. At that time, I needed one who knew both the Lord and me.) So God sent a stranger at 11pm in Walmart to speak through, to comfort, encourage and prophesy to me of what He was doing and about to do. It was fantastic! God is so awesome! Within 5 minutes of listening to this person, the headache disappeared. (No Tylenol was needed. :-) I marveled at how God in his loving care, in effect said, "I had to come myself, because no one does know you like I do." I was dumbstruck at the whole experience. From 11pm to 1am, this man spoke over my life like no one ever has. He spoke things that only God knew. The man of God shared with me during this time that God had just led him to Walmart that night and that he never knew where God would lead him from one day to the next. People like this kind of remind me of modern day John the Baptists.
In ALL our ways acknowledge him and God will direct our paths. My prayer is that we would learn to have such child-like faith, no matter how old we get in Christ, that we would acknowledge or depend on God, as a child with their parent. Father, direct our paths.