FROM START TO FINISH
15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please
ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a]4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:1-4
You never know what it is going to look like at the end until you get there. I know that is kinda a vague statement this morning but I really want us to think about that for a second. There are so many times that I have dreamed of how a situation or plan for my future should happen and when I finally get to that moment, it looks NOTHING like I expected. For instance, I had planned to be an attorney for my profession. Growing up I truly believed that that was my calling and so I made a plan to get me to my end goal. I watched all of the shows that had to deal with the court system from People's Court, to Perry Mason, to Judge Judy, to L.A. LAW, and I firmly believed that I could do that for my career. I knew that I was really good at arguing my points and I really felt as if that was the best way to use my God given talents to make a difference in this world. I followed that dream all of the way to the University of Georgia and was prepared to be Pre-Law and then it happened. God stepped in and began to redirect my path. God showed up and totally flipped my world upside down and I went from thinking that I could try and win a case based on my knowledge to fighting for eternity for the lives that were lost. I never would have seen that coming.... AT ALL!
But that is why the plan is laid out and every part of it is not fully seen. I mean don't get me wrong, God could have definitely used me and my passion as an attorney to change the world, that is not what I am saying. What I AM saying is that God had a bigger plan that I could not fully see and it took taking a step out on faith to truly watch the picture be revealed. I mean I had taken all of these courses to prepare me to enter into law school and now I am at a different University... changing my major to Chemistry... and working in a
church. God how does ANY of this make sense. Especially since I received my Chemistry and Economics degrees and still went into the ministry. It's simple. God knows His plans for our lives and we just play a role. God provides us choices and opportunities to take and based
on those choices it leads us down another path filled with choices and discernments. But every step of the way God is walking with us. We cannot see the end until we get there. So even if I have planned my entire life out... every day down to the second, I have the choice to either allow God to come in and be a part of that plan and redirect it in a way that glorifies HIM or I can push Him out all together and follow my own path. It is not an easy decision, and as many that have gone before us and many who will follow will find out... we will not find true joy until we find the Joy of God that is within us to make these decisions.
As we have talked about before, it is in the journey that we truly find answers and we find peace. It is in the opportunities that we take to stretch our boundaries and see how God is stepping in to mold and refine our steps. We could easily choose our own ways and try to make our future look this perfect way, but in reality things happen and life changes and that dream picture becomes a part of a heart ache because we feel as though we have not lived up to our own standards. Paul helps us out today in our sculpture to see things in a new light. Remember that Paul, as Saul, had all this dream as aspirations on where his life was going to go, and on the road to Damascus, God showed up and changed his life path forever. I don't think that if you ask Paul now, he would have seen that coming and he probably would have questioned it even more, but looking back at the impact that Paul had on the Kingdom then and now... there is no doubt it was the right decision to make for God to intervene. Paul is challenging us to look at out lives from an outsiders perspective. We are not here to build ourselves up, but to help others see the hope in the calling of their lives. As ones who have been enlightened, we have been given the task to help lift others out of the doldrums of their preset lives, and show them that God has a bigger plan in using them for the power of the Kingdom. But we have to be willing to refocus our sites on the road that is ahead knowing that we cannot see the end until we are there to meet Jesus.
See, that is where truth faith and trust enters into the picture. We have to be willing to step out on faith to believe that God is leading us in a direction that we cannot see but is beneficial for God in the end. I did not say it may be fully beneficial for us in the end. I mean, look at the disciples and those in Hebrews 11.. many of them lost everything for the Gospel and they thought that the end was going to look a lot different. Many believed that they were going to live a life of royalty and enslave those that had kept them down for so long... but that was never God's end game. In the end they received a place in heaven but lost almost everything of earthly value along the way. They never flinched, but began to realize that the goal was to help others find hope in the God of all creation that was willing to walk with them and strengthen them in their time of need. It is not going to be an easy journey. I mean as we walk through the time and uncertainty of this pandemic, there are still too many questions to answer and for many of us we have our own plans on how and when it should all
end so that we can go back to our scheduled lives. Well wake up... It is not going to be that way any more and we can do one of two things.. We can either accept the path God has placed before us and in humility help navigate a new way to help others find hope in something that cannot see, or we can try to step back into the role of owner and realize that no matter how many times we try to change the outcome, we have no real control at all. My prayer is that we continue to find ways to sow the seeds of hope into this time and realize that God is still in control. This is an HISTORICAL time where our hearts will continue to be tested by the world and our choices, but as we read the final words today I pray we can draw hope from them. "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." We have no real idea what a tree is going to look like when we plant the seed. The limbs may be tall and strong or small and feeble, but there is no doubt it will be a tree. It is how we are willing to nurture the tree that helps to strengthen the roots and from the foundation it will grow.