"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14: 1-3, NKJV)
Sean Hannity is somewhat famous for saying, "Let not your hearts be troubled." Well, he gets it here, from the words of Jesus. In past few months there has been quite a bit of turmoil and change, which has - quite frankly - unsettled me, along with many others in our beloved country.
Citizens are outraged with our government's lack of fiscal responsibility and its seeming unconcern about border security. We are incensed with the progress of war in Iraq, we are concerned about the threat of Iran, frustrated over taxes and illegal immigrants... Ah, a whole host of things have the ability to spin us up in a second and send our blood pressure skyrocketing.
In the midst of this, Jesus steps in and says, "Peace. Be still!"
"Be still! Focus on the duties I have given you."
I am not at all of the "Let go and let God" persuasion. For one thing, it's very much against my personality, and for another I know that God wants me to work out my salvation here on earth - otherwise, He might just as well taken me Home the moment He saved me. No. He has saved me for His glory, first and foremost - but He has also saved me to do the good works He has prepared for me to do. No one else in His plan can do them. Just me.
But so often, I get wrapped up in what's going on right now! I feel the need to opine on everything in the news, keep current on what's happening politically, contact my congressmen about laws that need to be enforced, or "convert" someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I want to worry over my blog traffic, or beat myself up over an unwise comment, or groan over a story I missed. I fret over things that I cannot change, worry over things that are none of my business, and despair over the downward slide of the world.
I forget that God has put me in this place, in this time, and with these people for His purposes, not mine.
God has called me to be a wife and a mother. He has called me to love and honor my husband, to cherish him, advise him, to be a helpmeet and comfort to him. God commands me to raise my child to know and love Him, to respect and love her father, and to nurture in her the virtues of responsibility, diligence, humility, courtesy, courage, and kindness. My job is to keep this house clean and welcoming, to provide nourishing food and clean clothes, to pick up and drop off from school, and, yes, to scrub the toilets. Not a terribly important job, in the big scheme of things, yet it is the job God Himself has called me to do.
And yet, I allow myself to be distracted, and give a higher priority to secondary duties or non-essentials while neglecting my primary focus. Does this sound at all familiar to you? I often forget that
... we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, NKJV)
So I ask you, Christian... Citizen... What good works has He put before you that you are neglecting? What is your worrying and fretting and raging about these troubles contributing to the Kingdom? What has He called you to do that you have put aside to focus on what you want to do?
Here is one of the first duties God calls us to, as citizens:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (1 Timothy 2:1-3, NKJV)
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7, NKJV) [emphasis mine]
Are you praying for your elected officials, whether or not you agree with their policies? Do you give thanks for the ones in authority over you, secure in the knowledge that God Himself has placed them there? Do you seek a quiet and peace, seeking godliness and an acceptable life in the sight of the Lord? Are you giving respect to the leaders God has given you?
I have always told the Darling Munchkin that God commands her to obey the Beloved Husband and me, because God says: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Eph. 6:1)" If she argues with the rules and the duties we have given her, she doesn't really have a problem with us, she's got "authority-issues" with God. God has delegated some of His authority to us. In the same way, we have taught her that her teachers are in our place when she is at school. She is to give them all due respect and honor, because we have designated these people as our surrogates at school.
God has given these people authority over us, and when we do not give them proper honor and respect, we are ultimately in rebellion against God. I know I fail at this every day. I can disagree with my elected officials - with anyone, really - but I must do it within the bounds God has set... and after I have first performed the main duties He has given me as a wife and mother.
He has His reasons for the men and women leading us today. Each person, each action, each circumstance - all are in His control. He has His reasons for the trials you face in your life, the people you encounter, the family you have. All things are in His hand and subject to His authority. He permits tests and tribulations to refine us, yes, but He desires to conform us to the image of His Son, that we may bring Him glory. That is not done without tears and pain, but the joy of faithfulness and success is immeasurable.
The main point I want to make, however, is that He's got it covered! He's in control. Nothing that happens surprises Him, and nothing is outside the authority of His will.
Take a look at this:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippeans 4:6-7, NKJV)
God does not want us anxious. Certainly, we have things that He wants us to care for, duties He has called us to perform. We need to sorrow over our sins, and be concerned for others. But once we have done what He has called us to do - that is all we need to do! Don't think that's enough to do? Well, have you in fact tried to do first what He's asked you to do, before you've gone running off to "do your own thing"? I can guarantee that doing the job God has planned for you will fill and enrich your whole life abundantly. Am *I* there yet? Nope. Working on it, though. That's one of the reasons I write these "Sunday Thoughts:" it's a way for me to figure out what God wants me to do.
We are not God - we are not even close. We have no power to control and manipulate and influence every aspect of the universe. God did not design us to shoulder the burdens of the universe. Nevertheless, He has deigned to allow us to participate in His design, His plan for eternity. He is in control, but He puts His omnipotent hands over our infant hands as we think we're steering the car. He knows your life and your circumstances, and He knows what you need to shine for His glory and grow into the mature, godly person He wants you to be. Bring your cares and concerns to Him, pour out your thoughts and dreams before His throne... And leave them there. Let His peace fill you, knowing that He has heard you:
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15, NKJV)
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)
He has heard you, and He loves you. If you have asked according to His will, according to your eternal best interests, you've got it. So stop worrying, and focus on what He has put before you right now. He will exalt you "in due time," and your hopes and dreams in alignment with His purposes will come to fruition at the perfect time, and in the perfect way.
Do the job He has given you.
Has He called you to enforce our laws? Then do so in honesty and justice. Has He called you to offer mercy to the suffering? Do so with the compassion and kindness He has given you. Has He called you to leadership? Lead in holy fear, for your Master in Heaven will judge your actions. Has He gifted you with parenthod? Love your children with a godly love, disciplining them with respect and concern for their good. Raise them to value truth, honor, and responsibility. Are you in business? Then deal fairly and honestly with your clients and employees. Are you a doctor? Then fight for life with all your skill and dedication and empathy.
Has He called you to speak the truth? Then speak the truth in love and humility, respecting those to whom you speak. For it is not your truth you speak, it is His, as all Creation is His and His alone.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, NKJV)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, I call you to honor your Father in Heaven. "Let not your heart be troubled."
Do what He has put before you, be faithful to the call He has put in your heart, chase after His will with all your mind, all your spirit and all your strength... He has you in His hands.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, NKJV)
Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:6-9, NKJV)
In closing, I would also like to remind you that because God is in control, He knows how it all ends. He has it planned out - and His Son is preparing a place for us. No, there won't be 72 virgins. No, we won't become angels. No, we won't be waltzing among the clouds in floaty gauze dresses. But what we will have is a place prepared just for us, prepared by the God Who knows us best - Who knows just what we need, and what will delight our hearts thoughout eternity. He is building a "mansion" as an expression of His love for us and His joy in His children. I personally believe that we will be learning and exploring and delighting in the New Creation throughout all eternity - and the wonder of it all will astonish us with God's glory, holiness, and love. We will rejoice in Him and worship in ever increasing reverence and awe - our Father will display Himself to us, and we will enjoy Him forever.
I'm looking forward to it.
So, "Let not your heart be troubled."
God is in control, and He will make all things new.
Father, the wonder of Your plan is only dimly revealed, and then only occasionally. Help us, I pray, to live before You in faith and humility. Let us be Your children, take Your hand, and follow where You lead. Give us courage, Lord, to do the works You put before us, to be faithful and true in all things, large and small. May we take part in Your wisdom as we obey You and search after Your will. And always, Lord - give us the grace to bring glory to Your Name and to be witnesses to Your holiness, Your love, and Your salvation. In Christ's Name, amen.