Now that I am back home, I am finishing up my post on "Following After the Lord."
In all my writing, the one thing that I have come to rely upon is this: Nothing the Lord does is by accident. Nothing is outside His control or His grip. Nothing is impossible for Him to accomplish.
Our struggles and stresses are most often caused by our own willful disobedience. Yes, there are times when circumstances beyond our control cause us to suffer; but in my experience, the MAJORITY of suffering is the direct result of walking in our own way. When we walk away from God, even thinking that somehow He is there for us, we come to realize (usually in hindsight) that we were greatly mistaken. We walked, but the Lord didn't follow. We went where we wanted to go, hoping somehow that He would approve of our course of action and bless us in it. When that blessing didn't come, we stewed and stirred and often lashed out at God...as though it was His fault that the suffering hurt so much.
Many Christians are, as I believe, mistaken in thinking that the Lord follows after us. Many believe that they can love the Lord and love the ways of man. Many believe that they can have both -- their cake and eat it too. Yet, throughout God's Word we are given example after example of people who did the exact same thing and did not receive the blessing of God. In fact, they received stern warning, harsh difficulties, and finally a removal of God's presence from their lives. They got what they wanted: independence from God.
I have learned (late in life) that God's way is pretty easy to follow. It is really summed up in this one word: FOLLOW. God leads and expects us (wants us) to follow Him. The problem, always the problem, is that we don't want to follow God because often He leads us into strange places, difficult times, and moments where we are being stretched and challenged. We think our way will be easier, less stressful, less painful. The truth is this: God's way is always less stressful, less painful, and less demanding than the way of the world. Romans 8:28 tells us this:
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. (AMP)
When God is at work in our life, He makes all things fit into His plan -- everything, every detail will work together, and be fitted to His Will. Yes, there may be suffering, there may be hardship, there may be turmoil...but the work we do will be 'fitted' in such a way as to conform to His will. And, in doing so, it will be much different than any situation we can wander into (by ignorance) or slip into (by disobedience) on our own.
The Lord has promised so much Good to me. His plan for my life is perfectly fitted to His Will. Therefore, no detail has been overlooked. Nothing is missing, nothing is by accident, and nothing is lost (be it time, be it relationship or be it our own personal peace and understanding). Everything is 'fitted' to bring Him Glory, and if we are willing (agreeable) and accepting of His plan for us, then nothing will stop Him from achieving His purpose in our life.
I spent the majority of my Christian walk walking my own way. I THOUGHT I was doing right. I THOUGHT I was doing what I was supposed to do. I saw other Christian's (my age and older) doing the exact same thing. I talked with praying Christian's who advised me to pray about it and then step out in faith (sort of pray for it, then do it -- regardless of whether or not it was God's will). I have been told "if it is the Lord's will, it will happen," which is really just another way of saying "go ahead and pursue your plans and if the Lord is pleased with you, He will bless you. If not, then your plan will not succeed."
The funny thing is that if you spend any time at all in the Old Testament, you will quickly find yourself with several archetypes or people who represent a certain kind of person. You will have the "I am doing it my way" folks (like Jonah); you will have the "inquirer types" (like Abraham, Moses and David); you will have the "I will do as you say" type (like Joshua and Gideon and Nehemiah). You will see that there are certain people, God's people who chose to do things their own way and hoped that God would follow/approve. You have oodles of examples of folks who simply inquired of the Lord and waited for Him to say "yes or no." Granted, David is an example of a man who did it both ways (mostly he asked; but on more than one occasion, he did his own thing). Overall, when it comes to God, the point comes down to this:
You can do it His way first or you can do it His way second.
The first way brings blessing for your obedience; the second brings hardship and suffering, and then the regret of knowing that you missed the first way, the first opportunity to obey.
In my life, this has proven itself over and over and over again. I am hard-headed, stubborn, and willful. I am a "stick my feet in the mud" and "do not try and move me" kind of person. Well, I should say that "I was that way" before I decided to give His Way first preeminence in my life. The more time I have spent following after the Lord, the more time I have come to learn the blessing of obedience. It is so sweet to have fellowship and to hear Him say to me "I am well-pleased." Pleasing God should be the desire of every believer. Most think it is impossible to please God, but this is just a lie of Satan. Try obedience for a while, and see it you don't grasp just how easy it is to please the Lord. I did, and I won't choose any other way from now on. It is first-time obedience, always first-time. I have been smacked and slammed too many times by my own willful and stubborn "back door." Nope, for me, it is His way -- smooth sailing and filled with the blessing of His Holy Breath as He moves me where He wants me to go.
My prayer today is that I remain right where He has me, right in the middle of His will. I will go where He sends me, do the work He has prepared for me to do, and enjoy the sweet blessing of obedience. God is so very Good.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!