God doesn’t wait

In putting my life back together after a surprise divorce, I had been praying for God to put me in a new job to help me rebuild my finances. I also needed to replace an ageing truck that was starting to need repairs.

My prayer was for God to put me where he wanted me and to make the job pay enough for me to be able to afford to replace my car and do the other things my new life required. I didn’t specify what job should be, beyond something satisfying and interesting that paid well enough.

If everything went according to my plan, I probably wouldn’t bother writing this, but as it turned out my truck developed transmission problems and driving it would have made the problem worse and might have destroyed the transmission entirely making it worthless as a trade in. That seemed to be the last straw on top of all the other financial “emergencies” that my divorce was bringing in the same 3-day period and I went into emotional meltdown.

As I have learned to do, I called a friend to help me get serenity and clarity before I tried to work on the solution. I have learned that just praying and listening for God’s direction is not enough for me. All too often I don’t hear God, what I hear is the chorus of voices inside my head that tell me what can’t be done and why it can’t be done, not God’s voice telling me what to do next.

I’ve found that God often speaks to me through some trusted friend’s ability to look past the emotional chaos that is overwhelming me and see the real problem and God’s solution.

One of these trusted friends has extensive contacts in the used car business and put me in touch with a dealer whom my friend trusted to deal honestly with me. We found a nice used Jeep and financing within my budget when human wisdom said, “this will be difficult if not impossible”.

The lesson for me was that God has abundance prepared for me and that my thinking was keeping me from claiming it. I had decided that God should help me find more income before I could do anything about replacing my truck. God showed me that he could give me the transportation I needed without changing anything in my current financial situation, but that I would have to humble myself to ask for help. Not just pray to God, but actually ask a friend for and accept their help.

I believe God puts people in our lives to help us so that we learn that we can’t do this alone and also to teach those friends their own lessons. Sometimes we don’t see God in the burning bush but rather in the kindness of friends and strangers.

When Jesus turned the water into wine, healed the blind man at the temple gates or raised Lazarus from the dead He didn’t do it next week or after something else was done, He did it right now. Yes, Jesus waited 4 days to go to Lazarus and he made the blind man wash his eyes in a particular fountain in but that was to teach the people watching his miracle a lesson, not because he needed the time to effect the healing.  God does the same thing in our lives.

He fulfills His plan for us right now and things only take longer because we put our limits on His plans.  We are the ones who say, “I need the job first so I have the money”. God, of course, doesn’t need money to do His will and if we drop our human vision of the earthly limits then we too can see God’s unlimited plan and follow that plan to the place He has already prepared for us. And we can get there right now, today not in some yet-to-be future.

I have always believed that God is doing good in my life and showers me with his blessings in the same way that rain falls from the sky. Far too many times I have blocked God’s blessings because I have put up the umbrella of my own limitations and then not felt the touch of his shower of blessings.

 

In Ephesians 3:20 Paul writes: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (NIV)

The only limits on what could be done were those I brought with me and I was the prisoner of those false limits. Once I knew the truth, that God has no limits and that all things are possible to Him in His time, that truth set me free of my self-imposed limitations.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

We hear the term brother or sister in Christ bandied about a lot in church. You are told that believers in Christ are all brothers and sisters. But really what does that mean?

My sister died of pneumonia when I was just 13 so those years when I really could have used a big sister I never learned what it meant to have a sister or to be a brother. Listening to friends who grew up with older and younger siblings and watching my own children interact can only give me an outsider’s understanding. So if, within the body of believers we are to love and care for each other as brother and sister, how do I do that?

When my wife of over 19 years suddenly (at least it was sudden to me) told me she wanted a divorce I was devastated and turned to a long time friend and her husband for support. Since they are strong Christians and active in their church everything they offered was bible based and centered on their faith and on Christ Jesus. Since I didn’t want to continue going to the same church that my wife and I had attended together and that she was still attending, I started attending church with my friend and his wife.

This particular church was making an effort to develop a community beyond just a group of people who gathered together to worship. The members spent time having coffee before the service and often having social gatherings unconnected to bible study, just to become friends. I have never walked into a church were everyone I smiled at smiled back a genuine smile of welcome.

I was invited to join a home group and here too I saw people caring for and about each other. They were talking about how God had intervened in their lives and sharing prayers about the things that were happening to them, their families and their friends. In the home group they did this by actually standing in a circle holding hands and each person praying for some issue in their lives (if the spirit moved them to pray at that time) and the others silently adding their prayers for that person or their issue.

For me this was a learning experience since I never learned to pray out loud with others. Prayer was always silent and private. Hearing other’s prayers helped me increase my ability to pray without self-consciousness and to just speak what is in my heart with honesty.

As a new member I asked the Pastor to meet with me and help me understand how to draw on God’s grace and guidance to work through an emotionally devastating time. He was generous with his time and thoughts and led me to a deeper understanding of God’s willingness to guide me to take the proper steps even when human wisdom had failed.

In a very dark and painful time, each of this people reached out to help someone they hardly knew, just because I had turned my life and my will over to God. They truly gave me the love and emotional support that a sibling would.

Through them I am learning the meaning of giving and receiving love as a true brother or sister in Christ. One way I have learned to be a brother in Christ is to start praying for other people. One friend’s father had a massive heart attack on the operating table as they attempted to install a stent in a blood vessel to his heart. My prayer was not that he be healed, rather that God give him piece and comfort. If it’s God’s will that this man be raised up to be with God, then His will be done. If it is to make a recovery, then His will be done. My prayer is for my friend’s father to be in comfort and contentment with whatever God does. My prayer for my friend is that she also be content with God’s will for her father. God’s will is going to control this situation and all we mortals can do is accept God’s will with contentment that He is doing whatever is best for her father.

Life has moved me away from these new found “brothers and sisters” but I am confident that God didn’t introduce me to this fellowship just to leave me floundering around in a new place without that Christian contact and support. I am just as sure that my learning about how to be a brother in Christ is just beginning and I will continue to grow.

I guess the answer to the question of how do I act as a brother in Christ is really simple; all I need to do is follow Christ’s teaching and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6-31).