It’s always interesting to see how God uses our disobedience to work in His plan. Even when we deliberately choose to go against God, He finds a way to make it all work. With Abraham, this was no exception. Though he and Sarah chose to make their own path in delivering an heir for Abraham, God still blessed them and Ishmael in the long run. There were still consequences, but God used it all for His purpose and managed to bless Abraham and his descendants. The same is true for all of us. We are all imperfect and mistakes neither define us or dictate our ultimate path in this world. The key is remembering that God’s plan is perfect, not necessarily our path.
God’s promises can sometimes seem elusive. We don’t always understand the path God takes to bless us, but we must always remember that God’s plan is perfect. If you had told me that my journey would take all the twists and turns that led me to where I am today, I would not have believed you. My plan was a straight line to success, not the scribbled line representing the path I have taken. What is most comforting is that Abram seemed to take the same type of path to his success. And God’s plan proved to be perfect even then. We are all here because of God’s perfect plan. We may not always understand the twists and turns, but they are there for a reason. My time on this earth is nothing more than a blink in the light of eternity. But God uses me whether I realize it or not. Being a willing participant is simply a bonus.
It never ceases to amaze me when men choose to trust in themselves more than they trust in God. Abraham, the father of Israel, was no exception. In Genesis 12, instead of trusting in God to keep him safe, he decides to lie about his wife to Pharaoh. Sadly, this is not the exception, but the rule in most instances for all of us. Instead of trusting God to deliver us, we make our own battle plans and then ask God to bless it. Maybe we should spend more time asking God to lead and guide us and less time trudging ahead down our own path and then wondering why things don’t work out as planned.
No matter how much we have, it never seems to be enough. In Ecclesiastes 8:10 Solomon observed that those who seek wealth obsessively never find the fulfillment it promises them; Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. Wealth, while seemingly the answer to all our problems, never provides the promises we hope for. When we look at the timeline of our lives we spend the majority of our short time on earth working for an income and lifestyle that ultimately falls short of making us happy. Seeking God and His perfect plan for our lives is the only thing that brings fulfillment. Let’s not waste any more of our lives pursuing that which does not make us happy.
As I read Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 this morning, I could not help but feel this was timely in the light of our current cultural and social environment. Ecclesiastes 5:2 was especially instructional, Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. To all the Christians out there, remember who is in control. Nothing you can say outside of love will ever change someone else’s opinion. Only God can truly change people through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Prayer and trust in God is more effective than yelling at someone on social media. God is in control no matter what you think and feel.
Our significance comes from God. All of us start the same way and none of us get out of this life alive. In Ecclesiastes 3:20 Solomon says, All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Even the richest man to ever live ended up returning to dust from which he came. This is not said to discourage, but to encourage us and remind us that the impact we have in this life lives on when we trust in God and follow his ultimate plan. Our impact lives as we take part in His perfect plan and are willing to be used by him.
There is a saying we are all familiar with, “Timing is everything”, and in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Solomon clearly gives us hope to know God has a perfect plan for those who believe and follow Him.
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
God’s plan and timing are perfect. The key is to learn to find peace and comfort in waiting on God’s plan. It may not be what we want at the time, but it is perfect.
We can learn a lot from Paul’s final words in his letter to Ephesus. In Ephesians 6:19 he asks for prayer, Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. We all need prayer; even Paul needed it. When we talk about leading a bold and fearless life for Christ, it is important to note it doesn’t come easy unless we have the Holy Spirit helping us. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your fear and ask God to help give you strength. Through Him we can do anything.
In all we do, no matter how small or insignificant, we should approach it with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 10:11 to Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. The Armor of God is outlined in Ephesians 6:14-18, 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Let us remember the importance of including God, through the Holy Spirit, in all we do. His plan is perfect and the more we are guided by God, the smoother the road and understanding of our path.
True faith in Christ and a changed heart will first be exhibited in the home through the relationships with the people who know us best. As a father of three, Ephesians 6:4 speaks loudest to me, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord. As parents we sometimes turn into mini dictators trying to control every aspect of our children’s lives. But here Paul tells us to raise our children through Christ’s instructions. What is good for our lives is also good for our kids. If they do not live through the instruction of the perfect teacher, then we are a poor alternative.