April 30

“And the ill favored and lean-fleshed kine did Eat up the seven well favored and fat kin…and the thin, ears swallowed up the seven rank and full ears.” Genesis 41:4,7

There is a warning for us in that dream, just as it stands: It is possible for the best years of our life, the best experiences, the best victories won, the best service rendered, to be swallowed up by times of failure, defeat, dishonor, uselessness in the kingdom. Some men’s lives of rare promise and rare achievement have ended so. It is awful to think of, but it is true. Yet it is never necessary.

S. D. Gordon has said that the only assurance of safety against this tragedy is “fresh touch with God,” daily, hourly. The blessed, fruitful, victorious experiences of yesterday are not only of no value to me today, but they will actually be eaten up or reversed by today’s failures, unless they serve as incentives to still better, richer experiences today.(Streams in the Desert)

A curious phrase gets batted around in Christian circles that smacks more of myth than reality, but is, nonetheless, quite en vogue among believers. The popular spiritual litmus test has to do with finding and following “God’s perfect plan for my life.” Hitting such a minuscule bullseye more resembles a Grimm’s fairy tale or Disney happily-ever-after than a genuine possibility. How could I ever hope to find and experience God’s best in light of the mess I have made of things up to this point? Perhaps I have already relinquished His best and will never get another chance. If mistakes and poor choices along the way disqualify me from God’s plan, I might as well close up shop and waste away with a Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s. In reality, knowing and following God’s purposes is far less fairy tale and much more mystery; full of twists and turns, momentary or enduring suffering, disillusionment and ecstasy, disappointment versus victory, and, sometimes, deep dark secrets.

“Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness, it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. Immediately we abandon to God, and do the duty that lies nearest, He packs our life with surprises all the time” (Oswald Chambers).

What if God’s plan includes all the afore mentioned struggles? What if the Father uses wreckage and mishap to move me ultimately to where He wants? It is at this point that advice from my seminary days comes to my aid. Homiletics professor Dr. Fasol told us the most important lesson we would learn in seminary and in life is simply, “Go with what you’ve got.” No excuses; be present in every moment and live to the glory of God, regardless of what failures crowd your past or how unprepared you are at the moment. Anything you conjure up as the ideal is likely just a figment of your imagination anyway. Disciples slug it out in the trenches; they do not recline in ease on summits of splendor. God’s perfect plan is to surrender this hour to Him and take the next step by faith.

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