This morning I learned a very hard lesson about God’s Sovereignty and even as I recall it now, it brings tears to my eyes.
This past Monday I was blessed to watch the work of the Lord. A woman desired to be apart of a new believer’s class at Apex, but she could not get to the class. I prayed before calling, but nothing could have prepared me to see God working quite as bluntly as I did. I listened in amazement as I, a perfect stranger, asked her to change her regularly attended church service, get her two children up early, and possibly stay later at church than expected all in order to get a ride to this Apex class. What an outlandish request, I remember thinking in mid question. Then, I realized it was nothing short of an act of God to hear the “yes” roll so effortlessly off this woman’s lips. “Did you want me to pick you up this Sunday?” came the final question. “Sure. That’s great,” came her God-provoked joy. We said our goodbyes and hung up the phone.
Saturday morning I received a call from Elizabeth at the Attic asking if I could come to volunteer later that night because she was having a rough time recruiting enough staff for the Teen Club hangout. Matt happily shifted our plans and before long we found ourselves in route to the Attic. Elizabeth and I had a special agreement. Although I don’t normally serve on Saturday nights at the Attic because I get up for the “painfully” early service on Sundays and in light of my new carpooling joy, Elizabeth agreed to try her best to let me out early. We, Matt and I, got out of the Attic early; it was kind of hard for me to leave in light of past lessons. [A few months ago God really put it upon my heart to realize the value in full-heartedly honoring Him through keeping commitments’ full time requirement. In other words, being there for the entire duration of a gathering proves more commitment to the gathering – since it took priority in your schedule- than only staying for the exciting moments.]
When I got home I looked up the address on mapquest, printed off directions, and organized how to get the most sleep and be most productive the following morning in order to get out to this woman’s house in the best amount of time. Despite excitement to get to meet a few new faces in the morning and the joy of being a part of God’s work, I drifted off to sleep fairly quickly. At 4:30 a wave of water, which I had not consumed, attacked my bladder, forcing me to surrender to the porcelain pot. After sleepwalking to and from the bathroom, my brain woke up enough to remember that I needed to get up in a few hours, so I better go back to sleep.
My alarm barged into my happy dreamland at “oh it’s way too-early… did I sleep at all last night? … ahhh, my body hates me” o’clock. I rushed through my morning tasks and am proud to report that I left the apartment showered, fully clothed, and without forgetting anything major at exactly 35 minutes from my wake-up time. I drove the 25 minutes in the car out to the lady’s house, fighting the sun to see road-signs and my printed directions with occasional interludes of sun-visor fighting. “I can conquer anything after that confusing ride to this woman’s townhouse apartment,” I thought as I walked up the cement walkway to the correctly addressed door. Much to my surprise, a pajama-ed, tired face came to the door and informed me that the lady was not at the house, she had left earlier that morning and she didn’t know when she’d be back, but she’d tell her I stopped by. The front door closed with my “thank you” and my feet guided the way to my now-fully defrosted car.
I drove in silence to the church. Initially my thoughts of frustration arose, but they were soon silenced by disappointment. By the time I entered Apex’s parking lot I had missed my prayer-walk time and only had a few minutes before the service. The band was still warming up when I found my “usual spot” in the fourth row. My “instincts” took over in dropping all my things, folding my hands, and closing my eyes; it knew exactly what I needed. But as I sat there in the silence of blaring music, feeling like the only one in the room, I could find no words. “Be with her,” finally came out as tears welled in my eyes.
See, the things is that it really didn’t matter to me that I had rearranged my schedule for this lady. It really didn’t matter to me that I drove an hour out of my way to bring her to church. It didn’t matter to me because it’s not about me. Anyone could have done what I was willing to do and they could have done it ten thousand times better. But what hurt the most was the fact that I wanted so badly just to love on this woman. I wanted so badly the opportunity just for her to know that some stranger cares about her because of how Beautiful Christ is. I wasn’t going to Bible thump her, guilt her, or judge her into church, but simply just love her because I was first loved by Christ. As one who has been lonely and hurt before, I’m just another beggar telling of where to find Food for the Soul. I didn’t need any “thank you”, just serving was enough. But it hurt, the disappointment hurt so bad to watch how the morning had played out.
It wasn’t until after the “business” of children’s church, Kidstown, and babysitting wore off that I sat in the second service at church and found my heart hurting more deeply then I had acknowledged. I heard the words of evangelistic encouragement ring truths about loving Jesus into others’ lives. “If anyone just wants to come on up here and hit the ground just saying that they’ll try harder to learn Jesus’ stories to share with others, please just feel free to do that as we continue this morning.” The words called out from a brother’s mouth. “I always want to learn more,” I remember thinking as I stood in the pew, “But I don’t think that he was talking to me. God knows my heart, he knows what I really need to say to Him and my heart is not only calling out that message this morning.” I found myself struggling with whether I should go up there or not. My pride began to speak up in the silence of indecision. And then I found myself at the floor during worship with tears streaming down my face. “I will not give up sharing, “my heart promised, “Even when it hurts.”
You know? It’s really hard to accept God’s Sovereignty, especially when it seems to clash with what you think will happen. It’s really hard to receive God’s lessons when your heart and your sole have given everything to serve where you were told to go only to find a road you didn’t want to travel upon.
On the drive home in between tears I remembered this: My Sovereign God chooses what He wills. He will do whatever it takes to glorify His name. He has more than enough right to chooses who will glorify Him and who will not. He is the only one with the power to be a fair and just, Sovereign God. And no matter how much my heart may fight to please Him and do His work, He never needs anything that I do. Nothing I ever do will bring Him closer to me or add to His glory. He is self-sufficient. And even when the disappointment of God’s Sovereign will hurts me, I have to come back to the Truth that I am nothing without my God and I need Him more than life itself. Even in the midst of hurt, I see how Beautiful my God is, my God who loves me so much to see past my mistakes and disappointments and replace my pains with Love. My God who picks me from the ground, sets me on my feet and whispers in my ear, “go ahead… I am with you.”
Thank you, Lord.
Thank you, Lord.