The God of the Bible knows what he is doing. His work is, as scripture says, “past finding out.” He asks for no advice. He is not holding question and answer press conferences. He is not writing books of ten easy-to-understand bullet pointed explanations. He has spoken, and it is up to me to hear, believe and live accordingly.
And for me, at least, it’s difficult. It’s difficult knowing that I have failed in so many ways, hurt so many people, brought so many sinful consequences into my relationships… and God is at work, somehow, in all of it.
I want God’s purposes to be carried out through what I’ve done right. I’ve studied, preached, taught, served, counseled, led, encouraged and lived for the Gospel for more than 35 years. I don’t want God’s purposes to be about my failures, broken promises and abuses of others. I want to put what I want on the table, and I want God to work with that. But that’s not the way it’s going to be. God is going to do what he wants to do, for reasons that can't fit into a sentence in the Bible, but which are far too mysterious to wrap my mind around.
Sunday night I’m going to preach on “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I know what the text means, but I can’t read it without thinking that I am, in a way, fearful of what God is up to. God is not invested in hearing me say what I “need.” If he wants to take away, he will take away, and his purpose will be for me to go on without whatever he took away. The same with suffering, obscurity, humiliation and failure. God cannot be manipulated into carrying out my plans with my selected materials. He is about carrying out his plans with whatever materials he chooses.
I am guilty of wanting God to make much of me rather than make me into a soul who makes much of him now and forever. The quest is not for understanding, but is for joy. The promise is not that God will do what he determines, but that he is determined to satisfy me forever with himself.
My prayer is that I would trust God by exalting in his love, goodness and grace poured out in Christ and directed invincibly and irresistibly toward me.
-- Michael Spencer