Seeing God’s purposes….

I have been so privileged in the past month to be in two of my son’s churches and my own, where the truth and hope of God’s word is spoken. I am a blessed girl.

My youngest son, Jake, is the children’s pastor at a church in Wyoming. As I sat in the Sunday morning service, I became increasingly aware of the fact that, after all the years and experiences of being in his life as his mom and in ministry with him, that this place and this time belong only to him and his family, as God has directed. I was so proud of him as he spoke from the front about upcoming events and plans. I was struck by the true fact that I am a genuine guest in that place…I have NOTHING to do with what goes on there (other than prayer). Hmmm. Just one of those interesting parental realizations.

I went with Jake the next day as he, my daughter-in-law and their sweet little boy went to the school to help celebrate my granddaughter’s birthday. My heart swelled with joy, love and pride as I looked out the window, watching him enter the playground area; the children swarmed him. He patted them, gently batting the boys around and laying his hand on the top of some of the kids heads. He laughed with them and they squeeled at the attention. I, again, thought how gifted this young man is…his calling is definite. My heart hurt just a bit at how much my own community lost when he moved away. A selfish thought. He is where God has placed him. I wondered, when I watched him play with all those little ones, if it looked a bit like that when Jesus loved on the kiddos and called them to Him.

If God had not taken Cliff home, Jake, most likely, would not be where he is. God is using him in that church and community. I can see God’s purposes in that.

The pastor at Jake’s church the Sunday I was there, spoke out of the book of Daniel (Daniel 1:3-21) and referenced the young Israelites captivity – they were taken from their families, friends, community, maybe women they were betrothed to – and their decision to obey God without compromise, in spite of their loss, while the attempt was made to indoctrinate them into a pagan culture. They refused to eat the food of the Egyptians (my guess is that it would have been super yummy) and asked to be given “pulse” instead which consisted of cooked edible seeds, such as lentils, chick peas, and the like, believing it would be dishonoring to their God to make that compromise in their diet. They saw it as a “gate” into compromising in other areas, knowing they would end up looking like the world around them. They could have taken the easy route but opted to risk for the sake of obedience. And what was the result? After three years the king found them ten times more wise and in better condition than the most fit and able of all the men in Egypt. Now, there were, later, still ongoing accusations, trials and suffering but they stood firm and were, ultimately, rescued. Lesson? God honors those who honor him.

In retrospect, we certainly can see God’s purposes in the suffering of those men. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Justin, my oldest, pastor of his first church a couple hours away, loves God and His word. As in any ministry, there are difficult times. This is one of those times for my thoughtful, prayerful son and his sweet wife and little baby boy. There has been pain. God is refining him. I would love to think that when we go through painful times, we learn enough to carry us through until we reach heaven. That just isn’t so. God is all about our character, our use in other’s lives and His own glory. Pain is the fertilizer of the soil of life. It will bear sweeter, bigger produce.

When Justin was little God spoke plainly to us that He had intentional plans for ministry with Justin. As long as we are left on this earth, there will be more and, maybe, much greater things for him to accomplish. This man, my son, is a reflection of Christ in his love for people and desire to speak truth in a world where truth is very relative. He is also much like his dad in his passion to help people learn what it means to really follow Jesus. Not just giving “lip service”. I am always challenged by him. He is wise with God-like wisdom. One thing he recently said is this, “If we are comfortable it produces cowardice. If we are complacent we are prone to being cold-hearted. If we are cynical we will have a callous heart.” I told you, he speaks truth. God has given him insight, to God’s own glory. God is using Justin in that church and community.

If God had not taken Cliff home to heaven, Justin probably would not be where he is. I can see God’s purpose in that.

Intense pain, sorrow, loss can cause us to develop a desire for comfort in our grief, complacency in our woundedness, and cynicism and distrust in our disappointment. It is a battle to return to a place of surrender. But, if I am unwilling to surrender to walking by faith, trusting God for an unknown future, and all things unseen that go with that, I will miss out on the most magnificent experiences He has, yet, for me. There will be more pain. There will be more loss. It is the human condition.

Then, this past Sunday the message in my own church was “The Perfume of Pain”. Revelation 2:8-11. The message was this; “God can use our pain for purpose. To be a fragrant perfume for others who are hurting”. And the question, “Am I allowing Jesus to take my suffering and make me more like Him?”.

The very same day, last Sunday, February 9th I read this in my devotional book “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, “Seek my face more and more. You are really just beginning your journey of intimacy with Me. It is not an easy road, but it is a delightful and privileged way: a treasure hunt. I am the Treasure, and the Glory of My presence glistens and shimmers along the way. Hardships are part of the journey, too. I mete them out ever so carefully, in just the right dosage, with a tenderness you can hardly imagine. Do not recoil from afflictions, since they are among My most favored gifts. Trust me and don’t be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song. (Psalm 27:8, 2 Cor. 4:7, Isaiah 12:).”

I am seeing a pattern here.

Now, I won’t lie….when I let myself dwell on the potential of future suffering or sorrow like I have already experienced, I feel afraid. But, then I remind myself of God’s faithfulness to me, to my kids, to Cliff. He has caused all of it – the wrenching heartache, the endless weeping, the gaping emptiness – to become a fragrant perfume in each of our lives and in the lives of those we have opportunity to minister to and who need to know of our experience. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

And, He has truly given each of us a new life ~ a new today and tomorrow. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle Carter
    Feb 12, 2013 @ 19:16:44

    I love reading your blog. It has made me rethink a lot of things. I admire you and your strength. Blessings to you and the family



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