Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chosen

As many of you already know, Justin and I spent an evening away last weekend celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary early on his weekend off. All of our grandparents were out of pocket, but thanks to 4 very kind friend familes, we split our five children among them so we could get away for the night.  We couldn't justify the extra expense of hiring an overnight sitter so this was our best option. Getting away is already a stretch financially for our large one income family. Don't feel sorry for us though. We make poor money decisions often out of convenience and/or exhaustion.  As a family of 7 most of the time we're just in survival mode which tends to combat financial wisdom more often than not and we suffer the consequences as a result. But God never ceases to amaze me. Despite my poor choices he is still faithful and gracious. I'm consistently made aware of his undeserved kindness in my life and it's quite humbling.

As if having our friends take on our children wasn't enough, last Thursday in a rather spontaneous turn of events a very generous client of mine offered to pay for our weekend away and proceeded to make our reservations to where we were planning to go. In the busyness of life we had not yet made any reservations and this man's generosity far exceeded what we would have been able to afford ourselves. I cried as I continued to mop his floor while listening to him make the call to a bed and breakfast.  I'm humbled by this blessing and I'm really still in shock over what took place.

If you are a regular reader of mine, I'm sure it's no surprise that all of this has spiritual significance for me. Situations like this make me reevaluate my perspective on how God chooses to bless his kids. Before I came to my conclusions I had to first look at how I viewed God's protection.  I've had several experiences in my life that have made me realize how God's protection over me has nothing to do with my goodness or faithfulness. There have been times I wanted to go my own way, but God prevented me from making mistakes that could have changed the tragectory of my life. My heart and mind were in no better condition spiritually than if I had gone through with my own sinful plans. My cup was filthy on the inside, but only by God's plan did it not spill over to the outside. Any good in me is only because of Christ in me making me good. However, there have been other times that God allowed me to make mistakes. I have suffered the consequences of those mistakes, but God still uses those moments to show me my need for Him and His overwhelming love for me.

God has also put me through fire and flood that did not seem warranted to me. I've pridefully cried out to God "why are you doing this after I've been so faithful?!"  In doing so, my "super holy" self was in complete denial of my sinful nature and telling the God of the universe that he needed me and used my services so it was time to pay up.  How ridiculous! Believing His protection is a result of my righteousness also implies that our trials are punishment for wrong doing too. Either way, this type of thinking puts a focus on me and my behavior rather than on God and his faithfulness despite my shortcomings. It's called GRACE!! While there are definitely natural consequences for my behavior, those should not be braided with God's ever-present working hand in my life pruning me to be more like Him. (But don't take my word for it. Go read Romans 11!)

Recently I've noticed how this applies to God's blessings and callings as well. I no longer believe that God blesses or puts a calling on his kids' lives BECAUSE of their faithfulness.  I think God chooses certain ones TO be faithful, TO be called, and TO be blessed at certain times in their lives. We can do nothing without God doing it through us so why would we ever think anything else?  Maybe it's a difficult pill to swallow, but this is all done within His framework for His purpose, plan, and ultimately for His glory. Just as our salvation is not because of our works, neither is any gift we are given by God.  We cannot manipulate Him into giving us anything or preventing strife in our lives because we deserve nothing and are promised suffering in this world. But God is a good father even in the suffering. His grace abounds. He is worth surrendering it all and accepting His plan as we fight through the battles that arise and enjoy His blessings when they come.

"This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” Romans 9:10-12

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