For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
There was a great story this week in the book I’m reading with my Wednesday evening men’s group (Seizing the Moments, by James Moore). A young mother tries and tries to force liquid medicine into her two-year-old’s mouth, but fails at every attempt. She gives up and goes to her room, defeated. Soon, she hears giggles from the kitchen, and returns to find grandma shooting a mixture of medicine and orange juice into the delighted child’s mouth, via a water-pistol.
The point of the story is what happens when frustration and self-pity become our focus instead of trust, creativity, and imagination. Challenges are a constant part of everyday life, and the author encourages his readers to trust God, as people who constantly move forward in a spirit of living victoriously. We are children of a God who has amazing plans… if only we believe.
In our discussion around the table, man after man shared experiences where God did not make our problems go away, but instead walked through difficult times as companion and guide. We talked about a God who equips and sustains us, a God who inspires us to engage challenges as people defined by faith rather than doubt.
We do not follow a God who makes our problems go away, but a God who does not go away, a God who walks with us when times are difficult.
In fact, one man said, life is often more challenging when we live as disciples. Following Jesus doesn’t make our journey easy so much as meaningful.
Trusting God means we understand that God’s ways are not always our ways – and that’s okay. We rest in promise, not that God is going to give us the happy ending we want, but the promise that we are undergirded by providence rather than wishful thinking.
What we believe we want may be one thing, while what gives meaning, and produces the fruit of a faithful life, may well be more difficult than we would ever choose. Trust is no guarantor of landing on our feet – but it is the path to the Kingdom of God, and the wonder of following Jesus, and the opportunity to serve without holding back.
O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart overflow
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where,
Until Thy blessèd face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share. – (Francis Havergal, 1836-1879