Life is unpredictable, people even more unpredictable. The truth is that our lives are in God’s hand, yielding us to watch and pray, trust and remain faithful to God’s word.
Note to Readers: If you attend my church and are reading this post, thanks. I some times write in generalities based on what i notice happening in the kingdom. Sometimes I draw from current events, and at other times it is from experiences of my past. My writing is intended to be a way of working out my faith… and should it help others, praise God.
I love to work on building friendships. I only have a half dozen people that i can trust with my absolute life… let alone the deep things of life that I wrestle with. I think its probably very biblical to know a lot of people, but surround myself with people i would call friends, and still fewer people that I would deem mentors, and mentees. Jesus showed us that he had 12 disciples, yet only 3 or 4 very close disciples.
almost 3 decades ago i had the privilege of developing a friendship based on faith. It was one of my first “christian friendships”. We felt like we knew each other for a life time. We shared the common belief in Jesus, and we shared that heart for evangelism, and for taking the gospel to the world. We were both quite young in our faith when we jumped into ministry, feet first. We ran hard for the work, knowing very little, but trusting God for all of it. And there was a deep bond because God was developing in both of us the character and gifts he wanted used.
Ministry was flourishing… it was right, good, and we were seeing people come to know Jesus and it was fruit that remained. But slowly, ever so slowly we felt a tugging in different directions, and a pulling of our hearts in different philosophy of ministry. We both still loved Jesus, but something entered into our relationship that was changing us, breaking us apart.
God clearly moved us from our comfort in suburbia to an inner city ministry work that required the skills we had honed in those ministry start ups we were leaving behind. Those years of building were able to be handed off to capable hands, trustworthy believers who would continue the work. That work continues to this day, viable, vibrant and still preaching the gospel with the power of God’s spirit. It is in God’s hands.
And over those twenty some years we worked in the inner city God privileged us to be a part of mighty things. In our work with youth we had a small core group of kids who had a deep hunger for truth, and for salvation. We still hear great things about each of them. Most have grown up well, become wonderful adult human beings that love Jesus, and have centered their lives on their faith. Yes, they are in God’s hands.
And i think many of the youth group members of our group from the 90s were impacted by one simple yet traumatic event – One of the beautiful young girls (Diana) was a quiet spirited girl that never missed our jr high club meetings. One Sunday evening we gathered, and we asked the kids what questions they have. Diana quietly asked “What does Jesus look like? Does the bible say very much about it?” We looked at each other – shall we go for the Isaiah passage that he was of no reputation? Or Revelation chapter 1? That passage of Revelation 1 was the choice… and we read it to the group – Hair white as wool, feet glowing like brass in a fire, eyes… the image is both one of fear, and of awe. And i remember saying that one day we shall see him as he is… we will bow down before his holiness, and he will speak to us. I had no idea that night Diana would get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and fall on her little brother’s small toy, and suffer irreversible brain injury that would put her in a coma, and she would go home to meet Jesus. Every one of the kids told us they felt moved by the thought that she was now seeing Jesus as he is, in heaven. It became so real to each of us, and so important to share our hope with others because there might come a day when this life ends. Diana was and is in god’s hands, as are those kids of the 90s who are adults today.
In our years of visiting the nursing homes we met so many good people who were aging, and their bodies were becoming unkind to the life they have known. Some of the residents were sad, or even deeply depressed from their changing quality of life, or the death of a spouse, the loss of some portion of their body, or their mind. We met so many people who ministered to us far more than i think we did to them. One of the residents that impacted us so greatly was a man named Guy – sad, angry, lonely and feeling quite betrayed by life, he was not easy to speak with, but when he finally realized we cared, and wanted to visit his heart began to soften. One day he called and asked Steve and I to come visit him. We arrived and it was after dinner, late for the resident that turn in by 6-6:30. But there was Guy, waiting, excited, eagerly scanning the horizon for us. Guy wanted to know how to be a christian… 78 years old, having gone to church, lived an honest and hard working life, but had never given opportunity to yield his heart to Jesus. Guy died 3 months later, knowing where he was headed, knowing he was forgiven, washed and clean, a child of the King. Yes, all those years Guy was in God’s hands, and he is now in God’s presence.
Over the years we have known so many people who have walked this path of faith. Some continue, others have turned back, given up, wandered away, or were lured away by the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh or the pride of life. But they remain in God’s hands.
My point is simple. WE choose to yield our lives to God, surrender our plans to him, and live for him each and every day. As we touch others we can pray for them, we can encourage them, and we can pray and give them back to God’s hands. We have no control over whether they choose to follow God or not. We can only trust that God holds them in his hands.
Some of those we have known and we have trusted to God’s hands flourish, shine for the Lord, and carry the message of hope to the world. They are pastors, or missionaries, or lay leaders, worship leaders, chaplains, or just people of faith living in the work world. Others choose to embrace power, privilege, selfish pleasure, personal gain or any of the other deceitful sinful things this world can pull us into… and they have crashed and burned. Their life is a shipwreck, their ministry gone because they would not yield to the prompting of God’s spirit, or were unwilling to be teachable, or would not heed the warnings and admonition of leadership… or they were leadership and had given in to pride, or the flesh, or power. Sin has overtaken the ground of their soul and faith, while present, is tucked aside, forced out of the way for the idolatry that has consumed them. Yet, they are also in the hands of God.
The warning is to each of us – Guard your heart for out of it flow the issues of life. Guard your heart, and give yourself to the hands of God. For God is more than able to see you through, and help you finish well.