Change, Expectations & His Way
“Thomas said to him: Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
When I was young, I dreaded that “Back to School” advertisement on television. “Why are they airing it now?” I used to yell at the television, “We still have weeks to go before we return to school!” Sadly, I never received an answer. On that same note, I knew “the time” was getting closer when mother would take my sisters and I to Sears to buy our “school” clothes. It was one of my least favorite days of the year. Perhaps you have deduced that I did not enjoy going to school, except for seminary. You may ask why? Each new school year, I expected things to be different. What was I looking for? My answer was as simple as it was non-specific: anything but what I was familiar with. I didn’t know what I wanted, I just wanted something else. I guess I expected the kids and the teachers to be different, and each year I was disillusioned again and again. As I grew older, there seemed to be a disconnection between academia and the “real world.” This disillusionment was the deciding factor in switching my college attendance to part-time, while I found a full-time job in the field of my interest. Why didn’t I drop out of college? I wasn’t going to quit something I had started. I knew I needed that college “piece of paper” -the diploma- to advance. Since things were not to my liking in college, I decided I would make my education enjoyable and hands-on, not just theoretical with no apparent connection to the real world.
I know it is hard to believe, but here we are at the beginning of another new school year. I wonder how many of the young people look forward to school, or how many share my attitude. But a new school year is not the only thing I am referring to, there are countless people who are beginning something new: new careers, new moves, new relationships, or some new challenge in their lives. Many of these are forced on us and we find ourselves dealing with the future ramifications. This uncertainty can be very unsettling. Where is God in all of this? What is God’s will? How do we know what we are supposed to do? These are all questions I have asked myself, and have heard others ask. I believe that in all aspects and areas of a believer’s life, it is necessary to grasp the Ways of God. This is how we handle change, transitions, and the discomfort of things not remaining the same - through faith in God.
Oswald Chambers offers us some deep Christian advice on not only discerning, but acting upon the direction of God. Often this direction is contrary to human understanding and may even defy the senses and conventional logic. Here is what Chambers offered, note the paradox in the way he explains how Christ leads us in one way and acts in another.
The first is not only to heed the call, but to follow it. “He comes where He commands us to leave.” is Chambers’ statement. What does this mean? If Jesus Christ calls you to do something, or go somewhere, the logical advice is to obey. I think every Christian understands this, but do we obey? What happens, Chambers asks, hypothetically when the Lord calls us out of our comfort zone, but we decide to remain where we are? Can we block the Lord’s work? What if Jesus had planned to visit where we had just left? What if we are in Jesus’ way? By obeying, we leave the consequences of God’s work to the Almighty’s Holy Spirit.
Secondly, Chambers says: “He teaches us where He instructs us not to teach.” This sounds more like an ancient riddle rather than practical advice, doesn’t it? Sometimes we need quiet time; time to silence the busyness and distractions of life and just simply listen. God wants to instruct us in all areas of our lives, but if our lives are too noisy, how can we hear God’s voice? What about when we decide on our own what we think God wants done? Usually when we are so sure God is going to act a certain way, we can be sure God will not act in that way. I discovered this first hand and it was a major source of my discomfort until I learned His principles.
Chambers’ last statement involves working and waiting. “He works where he sends us to wait.” Waiting on the Lord is a popular and often repeated biblical theme, isn’t it? What does he mean to wait? Waiting is not sitting idly with our feet up loafing, but instead a willful readiness to be prepared to learn what is expected of us through prayer, petition and Bible study. “Are we detached enough,” Chambers remarks, “from our own spiritual fits of emotion to wait patiently for Him?” That is the challenge of the Christian walk and the secret of a content Christian life.
As this new school season unfolds, my prayer for you is this: May you grow in your faith. May you find peace, purpose and contentment in all situations? Open your hearts to God’s unlimited potential, and when you are given direction, may you follow out of obedience.
Yours in Christ,