Friday, September 26, 2008

Disappointment with God

Sometimes we assume things that are far from life’s reality. For example, we assume we’ll have the health to do what we believe God called us to do, and we assume we’ll have the time and resources to do it. It’s natural to assume you’ll always have the love of your life by your side.

I’m sometimes asked if I feel cheated or angry about losing Tammy. Of course those are very real human emotions and, yes, I do struggle with them. Following her death, I realized that every dream I owned had her front and center. She was my dream buddy. We were in the throes of re-dreaming our lives, our family, and our ministry together. It was exciting to dream with her. She was so full of life and willing to go anywhere and do anything. She was developing a confidence that thrilled me and made me proud. It’s nearly impossible to imagine doing life without her. Yet death has separated us for now. The dreams died, but not the ability to dream. Am I disappointed? Yes, but not with God. Of course it’s tempting to blame Him, but I dare not, because He’s not the problem, nor is His plan for Tammy the problem. The problem is me.

I once assumed God's obvious grace and goodness to me had a lifetime guarantee. Never did He promise me Tammy would always be by my side. Never did He promise life would be a smooth road. Never does He promise things will go as I’ve planned. Like many people, I’m guilty of presumption. James poignantly addresses this problem.

"Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).

Life must be dreamed, planned and engineered to the best of our ability. This is the responsibility of every believer. What we cannot do is fight the Lord's right to a deeper or broader plan that governs the affairs of His children. We must hold to the knowledge that our lives are but a mist, or we’ll be consumed with disappointment in God and with life itself. We mustn’t slip into a twisted logic that pushes God away as impotent.

How then do you struggle? Disappointment can overwhelm us unless we meet God with a greater sense of trust—even when we don’t understand Him. We can trust His infinite wisdom and affection for us as we fall into His hands and wait for His moving. James encourages us to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" (v. 15).

So this day begins for us with plans, schedules and appointments...Lord willing. We’ll do life to the best of our ability, according to His sovereign will. We’ll live and do this or that, and He’ll be glorified by our trust.

I am so satisfied with Jesus!

Ed Litton

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day by Day

Life comes in small bite-sized chunks of time called days. The truth is, though, we often obsess over even smaller pieces of time called seconds and minutes. Jesus said we’re to focus on one day at a time. Our minds wander to far-off places as we imagine how we’ll face the problems of that day. Still…life is daily. Painfully daily. God only allows us this day to “live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) So what do I make of this day?

2 Corinthians 4:16 says, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." Here’s the harsh and ugly reality of life: we’re wasting away. We suffer from the wasting disease of sin and decay. We suffer the effects of Newtonian physics and the second law of thermodynamics. Everything is going from a higher state of being to a lower state of being. When my teenager cleans her room—wait, that has never happened yet—oh well, when and if it ever happens, let’s say we sealed it off and no one entered that room for six months. Upon reentry we would discover that the room, even though clean six months ago, is in a lower state, with dust covering the once clean desktop. That’s the reality of entropy. Paul writes that even though we’re outwardly wasting away, we’re being inwardly renewed day by day.

The only truly renewable energy source in the world is “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) Each day as I meet with Him to set my heart and mind upon Him, He restores my soul, renews my mind and prepares me to live supernaturally in this day.

It’s with the long chain of such days linked together that a life is built secure. Let me challenge you to meet with Him day by day, so that you don’t lose heart in the Christian life. I believe that establishing this discipline in an earlier day of my life helped me profoundly when one tragic day came into my life. I awoke that morning as clueless as a puppy. I had no way of knowing the heartache in store for me. The next morning was a very different experience. Then there was the next day and the next. Having a daily time with God does not remove the sharpness of life’s pain. It does, however, keep you from losing heart. Proverbs says my heart is the wellspring of my life. It’s where God blesses me and refreshes me day by day. Keep the refreshing waters flowing and keep them uncontaminated, and they will refresh you and renew you day by day.

Life is daily.
Ed Litton