Monday, June 25, 2007

Plotting For Our Joy

Our lesson on Ruth this Sunday turned to the Sovereignty of God. (Somehow with a group of rather reformed people that happens...) I always found Ruth a rather odd book, and the lesson really presented a different way of looking at things. If you think about it, God’s fingerprints are all over the book. The dance between God’s sovereign providence and Human Free Will is simply incredible to watch. You can’t even see where one ends and the other starts. Andrew, our teacher this week, read this quote from John Piper’s lesson on Ruth that I really loved:

God wants us to know that when we follow him, our lives always mean more than we think they do. For the Christian there is always a connection between the ordinary events of life and the stupendous work of God in history. Everything we do in obedience to God, no matter how small, is significant. It is part of a cosmic mosaic which God is painting to display the greatness of his power and wisdom to the world and to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). The deep satisfaction of the Christian life is that it is not given over to trifles. Serving a widowed mother-in-law, gleaning in a field, falling in love, having a baby—for the Christian these things are all connected to eternity. They are part of something so much bigger than they seem.

What an awesome thought. The little things that make up our mundane lives truly have the potential to change the world.

And as we walk through trials that seem that they will never end, there is nothing more comforting then to know that there is a God in control of all that seems so senseless in this world. Something that I was struck with is this: Nomi suffered for 10 years, from the time she was forced to leave her home to find a life in a hostile country to the time that God chose to bless her with a grandson to bring joy to her old age. That is a very long time. Andrew made a statement that I really loved. “No matter what trials we face or how long they last that as His children God is plotting for our joy. We may not even see it this side of heaven, but he is plotting for our joy.” It invoked the image of God as a father, planning a surprise for his children. So often like a child we know precisely what it is that we want, and we pitch a fit when we don’t get it. But God knows that what he has is so much better, and is his mercy often puts what we want out of our reach, or simply teaches us not to touch. I always heard that children taught you as much as you taught them. I have been amazed at all the things to be learned form a 7 month old. I put Knox in his car seat and he SCREAMS. I look at him and think “You know, you have no way of even remotely understanding that this is really good for you. There is simply no way to convey this to you. Just trust me.” Then it occurs to me: I’m a human adult and this child has no way of seeing what I’m doing. How much farther is God above my understanding then I am above Knox’s? There is no comparison. And yet, I think that I should always be able to see what he is doing. How prideful is that? Yet through it all, He is preparing a place for us, and He knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper and not to harm us. Plans to give us hope and a future. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9) In all the trails and detours and places we would never have chosen, he is plotting for our joy.

Here's the link to the Piper lesson I quoted, which the nice people at asked be included when you quote from their wedsite.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I Surrender All

I found this song and it spoke to me. He is infinitely worthy of all that we have to give, and it is such an amazing honor to watch him take our broken, frail vessels of dust and work something beautiful in them, because "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.". Joni Erickson Tada said this "All God asks of you is everything. And all he offers you is the power to do just that."

I Surrender All
Clay Crosse

I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I've constructed by the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand

In the middle of the battle I believe I've finally found
I'll never know the thrill of victory 'til I'm willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I'm laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires
That all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain
So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly lay down
I surrender all the triumph for it's only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise
Everything I am, all I've done, and all I've known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own

Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all