This week, Michael writes: There's a story about a young amateur photographer who wanted to make a name for himself by photographing the Grand Canyon. He got up early and set up his tripod, his camera and equipment. As he walked around looking for the best lighting and perspective for his landscape shot, he backed up and tumbled over the edge of the cliff. On his way down, he was grasping for shrubbery, bushes or any outcropping he could grab and luckily caught on to one. As he was hanging on for dear life he yelled, "Can anyone hear me?" He heard an answer, "I'm here to help you." "Who are you," he replied. "I'm God" came the answer. "What do you want me to do?" God said, "Just let go!" The man replied, "Is any one else up there?"
The question is, "Are we willing to let go and let God?" According to Romans 8:28, in the Amplified Bible, "We are assured and know that God (being a partner in our labor) will cause all things to work together (fitting into his plan) for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (and his design.)” The order of priority should be God, His glory, and then me. This priority is reversed for most people. In the midst of trials and tribulations, men and women often ask themselves, "What was God thinking?" In Old Testament times, philosophers know as the Stoics (Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy that flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD.) thought that people should restrain themselves from feeling, emotion, and passion. This was contrary to the teachings of Jesus. However, the Stoics got some things right. They believed in the mind of God, His reason and His all-inspired Word. They believed that God was Sovereign and in control of everything. The sovereign is the one who exercises supreme authority. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Sovereign” as: Supreme in power; possessing supreme dominion; as a sovereign ruler of the universe. Supreme; superior to all others; chief. God is the sovereign good of all who love and obey him.
The son of an evangelist wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. But when he saw the suffering of the people around him, he didn't understand the motives of a holy God. He denounced his faith and became an atheist. Each man must decide, "What is truth?" To what and to whom are we willing to commit? Jesus said, "He who shall lose his life for my sake shall save it. For what shall it profit a man to save his life but lose his soul." Life is full of traumatic experiences. As the late Christian minister and teacher Oswald Chambers said, "God requires extreme service from you with no explaining on his part and no complaining on yours." We must settle in our minds whether God is Sovereign or not. Am I answerable to God or is he answerable to me?
There's a parable in Luke 17 about a servant who after working all day in the field, came into his master's house. His master said, "First prepare my meal and then after I have finished you can sit down and eat." The humble servant served as his master commanded. He did not expect to receive praise for performing his duties in service to his master. The stoics believed that the duty of every man was acceptance: to endure without questioning; to defer, acquiesce and to resign oneself to the inevitable. Jesus reminded us that we all live in a sin-sick fallen world. He said, "In this world ye shall have tribulation. However, be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world." Natural disasters are inevitable. According to Romans 8:22, "The whole world groans and travails like birth pains until now." How close together are the birth pains? As the time between contractions decreases, "the redemption of our bodies" when Christ returns draws nearer. Nothing happens in this world without God allowing it to happen. The scripture says, "Happy is the man who condemns not himself in that thing which He alloweth."
In Romans 8:28, what is it that we know with great confidence? We know that to those who love God and who are called according to his purpose, all things work together for good. Jesus said, If you love me, you'll let go. This is the only way we'll see everything working together for good. Ephesians 4 says, "Walk worthy of the calling wherewith you are called." In loving the Lord by obedience to His holy Word, we will learn God's purpose for our journey in this life. When we give God permission to help himself with our lives, we can continue in his blessed Word as Christ's disciplined followers. And then we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free. The irony is that to be set free means to surrender to His will. "Hands up, I surrender," is not a confession that comes naturally for most men and women. However, surrender to our Lord Jesus Christ is the requirement for a life lived more abundantly. He does all things well. For all things work together for good to those who love God ... to those who are called according to his purpose. It just takes letting go and letting God.
May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ, Michael