When God doesn’t follow your plan

image What do you do when your plans come apart and everything seems to go wrong. When all your hard work seems to have been a waste and your left feeling wasted and confused by life. Every one of us has had times in our lives where this is exactly what has happened. Life for everyone of us has it highs and its lows. And sometimes the lows can be extremely difficult and painful. There are times in all our lives where life simply sucks. There is no other way to describe the feeling inside.

Often when things fall apart many of us tend to blame God, especially when things are extremely painful. The death of a loved one can be extremely traumatic. And often when we have prayed and prayed and prayed for God to do something and they still die we can become very angry with God. Or when a major business deal falls through. Or maybe it is the ministry you felt called to do has come apart. As Christians this can be an extremely sensitive area we face as we talk with people about Christ, because everyone, everywhere faces extremely difficult lows in our lives. Some more painful than others. I cannot say I understand the pain of a child or a spouse passing away. That is a pain I can’t say I would wish on anyone. But in my own life there has been some extremely painful experiences. Some where I wished I could simply just die so the pain would stop. No one is able to corner the market on pain. We all face it. The pain you face may be different, but it is still pain none the less.

The most common question people ask when things go wrong is “Why?” Why did this have to happen? Why didn’t You heal her? Why, why, why…. The why’s can be endless and are as various as the pain we face. We all wonder why, and then look for some reason to justify the reason for the pain we are in. I have heard many Christians as God why, and get very frustrated when there is no explanation. I know I have been angry at times when God explain Himself in my life. We may never know the answer to the question why.

In my own life I have come to understand that there is purpose in my pain. It may not be pain for a purpose, as many suppose. Sometimes it is just pain. I know that God may not have caused the pain in my life. The pain usually is my fault, or the mistakes of people I care about. We all cause a lot of pain for ourselves, and pain for those we hold close. So God often doesn’t cause the pain, but He did allow it. If God is sovereign He could have simply said no and stopped it from happening. So then the pain has purpose in my life. God always is able to use our pain and turn it into something beautiful. One of my favourite scripture passages is Romans 8:28 ” We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.” (The Voice)

The pain we face can have purpose. We will probably never be able to understand why because God doesn’t think like we do. His wisdom completely supersedes our wisest of wise. ” because the wisdom of this rebellious and broken world looks like foolishness when put next to God.” 1Corinthians 3:19 The Voice, and ” This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1Corinthians 1:25 NLT. Asking God to explain Himself to us is like a three year old asking for an explanation from their parents. The level of understanding isn’t even close.

We may never know the purpose of our pain in this life. But one thing I do know is God always has our best in mind for everything He does or allows, and it will all work out in the end. Sometimes the pain we face today is what pushed us to achieve the best we achieve tomorrow.

The “Yuck” Factor

yucky-faceWhen God moves in our world it is often confronted by the wisdom of man.  Many times man has stepped in front of what God was doing and stated “This is not of God.”  Only to be proven wrong when we look back through history at what God had accomplished.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy[a] when God called you.   Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”  Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT

Many times throughout history God has moved in great power.  And those who were supposed to know God’s hand and ways criticized and declared it wasn’t God.  Something we see all through the life and ministry of Jesus.  He came into this world to reveal the Father to us and to ultimately pay our penalty so that a relationship with God and us could be restored.

Every time God moves there are critics to the way He decides to move.  Someone once said “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.”  And often our heart gets in the way of what God is wanting to do.  The way He moves or the methods He uses cause us to turn our noses and say “Yuck.” I have had the privilege of studying many of the past moves of God, and the changes that have been made in the church throughout history, and I have been amazed that the trend is always the same.  As the presence of God increases, the opportunity to simply say “Yuck” when we see what is happening and dismiss it also increases.

Whether is our pride that gets in the way, or the way we “believe” that God should move, or the methods or people He chooses to work through.  The move of God always reveals what is in our hearts.  Do we desire the presence of God more than we desire our comfort and security?  Do we desire the anointing of God more than our reputation and image?

There is an awful lot of crap in our world today being disguised as “Christian” , or “God moving” and we do need to be careful what we choose to believe.  This is what we are encouraged to do in scripture.  “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.”  Even though we need to be careful about what we see is God moving, we also need to be careful what we write off as not God.

Jonathon Edwards said “the task of every generation is to discover in which direction the Sovereign Redeemer is moving, then move in that direction.”  God is doing a great work in our day and time.  I am excited to see what He is going to accomplish and the lives He is going to change.  The question is will we decide to be apart, by being open to His lead, or will we hold tight to what He has done in the past and dismiss what He is doing today?  We can turn our noses up and say “Yuck” if we choose as many many many people have done before us.  Or we can allow our hearts and lives to change and enter in to what He is doing here today.

The Missing Church – part 1

Much of what we consider to be church today is actually a waste of time.  We go through our religious routines and do our spiritual duties once a week and continue on with our lives as though nothing has happened.  God, it seems, has no room in our lives except to an hour or two on a Sunday.  Or maybe we have a small “quiet time” and pray our list and read a couple chapters in our bibles and consider our duty to God has been fulfilled.  And yet this is not what Christianity was to be about.

Christianity, according to scripture is supposed to make a difference in our lives.  1 Peter 2:9 “tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted”  If Christianity hasn’t made a major difference in your life that others can see, then we need to re-evaluate our faith.   People look at us who call ourselves Christians and see no difference between their lives and ours.  Statistically we have the same habits, spend our time in the same pursuits, watch the same movies and television.  In fact statistically the only difference we have as Christians from those outside our faith is that our divorce rate is much higher.  And we wonder why people don’t want what we have.  I don’t wonder.  There are some days where I look at what the church has become that I don’t want it either.  We are a long way from what God designed and planned us to be.

God’s plan for the church is for us to not be a natural church, but for us to be a supernatural church.   We were meant to have the power of God flowing in and through us on a daily basis.  If you visit different churchs from various denominations around North America, you would find little differences, other than maybe styles of music and teaching.  And it wouldn’t matter what faith you visited.  And yet Christianity is supposed to know God’s presence and it is very lacking in our services and lives.  But if we were to visit many churches in many third world and developing nations, you would experience God in them.  God’s presence if so real it is almost tangible for them.   Daily miracles and healings are documented, and not documented by the churches, but by medical science and those outside the church.  People are seeing who have never seen before.  People are hearing and walking and talking.  People are even being raised from the dead.  And the church in North America which calls itself by the same God is barren and quiet.  God seems to be absent.  Why is this so?  I think there are 3 reasons

  • We don’t understand the Christian Cause
  • We don’t understand what Christianity Costs
  • We don’t understand how Christianity is Communicated

We don’t understand the Christian Cause;

            Christianity is not about going to church.  Nor is it about confirmation and communion or all the other rituals we attribute to our faith.   So if Christianity is non of the things we attribute it to, what is it really?  Lets start at the beginning.

Christianity is about our need for a Saviour.  We have missed out on the plan that God had for us.  The bible states that we have missed the standard that God requires of us.  God’s standard to be in heaven is absolute moral perfection. “Be holy even as I am holy” the bible says, and “Without holiness noone can see God”.   We all know what it is to tell a lie, or to steal.  We say but these are such minor issues.  I have never murdered anyone, or commited adultery.  But these are areas where we have fallen short of God’s standard.  And if we look at scripture we have all murdered and commited adultery.  The bible says that if we have hated someone it is the same in God’s eyes as commiting murder, and if we have lusted after someone we are not married to we have commited adultery, so we have fallen short and missed the mark that is God’s standard.  And the cost of missing the mark is that we are and remain separated from God, and as a result of that separation are condemned to an eternity in hell.   “But” you would say “if God is so loving how can He send me to hell?”  But the cause of us being in hell isn’t God’s fault, it is ours.  Asking how God can send me to hell is the same as shooting someone and then asking the judge how he can send you to jail, and in some places death row.  Hell is a result of our actions not God’s.  Then you state that you have been a good person and have helped the poor and done so many good things so then you should be able to go to heaven.  Unfortunately, compared to God’s holiness, our attempts at good deeds are about as nice as a bin of old oily rags.  They simply don’t measure up.  Nothing we can do can cause us to measure up to God’s standard.

So what can we do?  Well scriptures say that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to pay our penalty and allow us access to Him once again.  Because of Jesus the separation between God and us can be broken.  Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but so that through Him the world could be saved.  He came to save us from eternity in hell and offer us eternal life.

Christianity is about eternal life.  But what is eternal life?   Christianity is not about living forever.  Every person concieved lives forever, which is why abortion is such a horrible thing to God.  So if eternal life is not living forever what is it?  The bible states what eternal life is.  John 17:3 states “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  The word KNOW in the greek literally means to be intimate with.  Eternal life is simply and deep and intimate relationship with God.  Nothing more and nothing less.  This is why Christianity is so life changing.  When you get close to God you cannot help but change.  We have made Christianity so complicated and so full of rules and regulations and we have totally missed what it is about.  Simply a relationship with The One who created you and loves you so deeply that He sacrificed Himself to pay your penalty so that your could come to know Him deeply and intimately and enjoy each others company for eternity.  If we can come to God on those terms we can have that relationship with Him.  It is about asking Him to forgive us for missing the mark and allowing Him to change us and bring us into relationship with Him.

In my next posts I will continue my thoughts and share about what Christianity Costs and Communicating our faith.