You’re Kidding, Right?

I was thinking about just a few people I know whose lives didn’t seem to be going right. Two guys I know were just in a terrible car accident – but they’re alive, and doing remarkably well. Yet for the rest of their lives, they may carry many scars from that accident. I thought of some people I knew through work – they’re in trouble at school, they’re at odds with their parents, they’re wrestling with where they live, their girlfriends or boyfriends, or who they are. Things just don’t seem to be going right for them.

My heart is heavy for them, and I have found myself often wishing that I had spoken to them differently when they told me of their heartaches and trials. I wish that I had spoken to them about the truth that has challenged me over the past few weeks. God is sovereign. God has each of our days planned. He is not caught off guard. He is not unaware of our circumstances. That has given me great comfort – and has brought me much conviction.

First, it has given me great comfort.
If I lived in a world where any decision was based on the human will, I would be terrified. Our will is bent only towards sin. If God was unable to control everything, how could I make it through life?

Now Tim, you’re thinking to yourself, are you implying that we don’t have free will to make decisions?

God’s Plan in Salvation

No. I believe we have “free will.” We obviously make choices. However, the will has the freedom to choose whatever it desires. Our will is a slave to sin, so we desire only sin. When it comes to Salvation specifically, I believe that “all human beings desire to flee from God unless and until the Holy Spirit performs a work of regeneration. That regeneration changes our desires so that we will freely repent and be saved.” (1) Additionally, I must agree with R.C. Sproul when he says:

“To be sure, for us to choose Christ, God must change our heart. That is precisely what He does. He changes our heart for us. He gives us a desire for Himself that we otherwise would not have. Then we choose Him out of the desire that is within us. We freely choose Him because we want to choose Him. That is the wonder of His grace.”

Or let’s look at what God’s Word says:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44, NIV)

“He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” (John 6:65, NIV)

“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36, NIV, emphasis mine)

God’s Plan in Life

That encourages me because for those who have been called, we are called to live worthy of that calling. Our will has been changed. We are no longer slaves to sin. So, when I speak to fellow believers, I can encourage them to endure the suffering they now face. I can encourage them to live “worthy of the calling,” realizing that God does have a plan. I can encourage them that God has not only planned the end, but also the means.

For those who have not yet been called, I need to respond with the gospel. I need to pray that God works in their life, and pray that he can work through me. I want them to see that whatever situation they’re in is within God’s plan. My desire is that it would be part of his plan to call them to salvation.

God’s Plan of Conviction

Secondly, it has brought much conviction in my life.
C.J. Mahaney has had a huge impact on my life in a number of ways. I was especially grateful last week as God used him to convict me of my sin of complaining – which has everything to do with what we’re talking about. Essentially, any time I respond to a situation with the words “I see no reason for this,” (2) I question God’s sovereignty. I tell him that I don’t believe that his plan is truly the best plan. I tell him that if I were in charge, I’d do it “oh so differently.”

I wouldn’t place those small, annoying moments in my life – like losing my pen, getting locked out of my car, stubbing my toe, or bleaching my favorite colored shirt. When those things happened, I often respond with “Come on!” or “You’ve got to be kidding me” or my famous line: “oh man!” It could be a sigh, a moan, a groan, or an angry outburst. They’re all telling God that I don’t believe in his plan or in his sovereignty.

And as C.J. pointed out last week, it’s only by grace that God doesn’t respond to our moans and groans with “I see no reason for you!”

That’s convicting to me. I constantly respond by saying “I see no reason for this” or “come on” or “you’ve got to be kidding me.” God isn’t kidding. It’s for real. And someday, we will see the reason. On that glorious day, when we finally see our savior, we will know why even those seemingly small and annoying things were placed in our life. We’ll know why the big things were placed in our life as well. And we will all glory forever in our redeemer. God will be glorified for all eternity.

1 – Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, by R.C. Sproul, page 180.
2 – Sustaining a Pastors Soul, C.J. Mahaney, Together For the Gospel 2008

11 responses to “You’re Kidding, Right?”

  1. Nicole T. says:

    So I’m reading this and going, “Yeah, we need to step up a level — wouldn’t that be cool?” You mentioned complaining and I just thought, “Well, he must be worse than I am because I only have a little (key word: little) problem with that.” But then I’m reading along quite enjoying all that is encouraging, inspiring (and only slightly convicting) and then I come across your response to tough situations:

    “I don’t see a reason for this.”

    Ouch. I’ve been saying that all day today. And the way you described it is true — I wasn’t trusting God and I was questioning His Sovereignty and His Will as being best. That’s the OPPOSITE of witnessing of His Faithfulness and Loving care to people around me.

    Lately I’ve been really convicted, too, about how I’ve failed to tell people the Truth when I should have. I have the most trouble forgiving myself. I’ve taken it before God and I’ve repented and I know in my heart that He’s forgiven me… but I can’t seem to forgive myself. And it’s too late for me to make things right in the way that I would like to.
    I guess I can just pray now that God will change me and give me the boldness and compassion and even break me, if necessary, so that I will willingly lay down my life (or reputation, in those instances) and speak as I should, act as I should, love as I should. Oh, I pray that I would.

    You know, about the people you know who are going through really tough times; when I look back on the times when I really thought that I couldn’t make it through (like where things happened and I was devastated and thought I couldn’t handle it), those were the times that God used to bless me the most by drawing me to Himself and revealing to me His Love for me. Isn’t that unusual? I mean, those are the times when we go, “Why do You feel so far away? Why don’t I feel Your Love like I think I should?” I wish I could get to the point of trusting God and praising Him through the situations — all through them — even as I would at the end when I understand all of it. I wish I would just trust His Character as He is worthy to be trusted — regardless of what things look like. I wish I could just trust Him and look to Him and believe that everything is right instead of looking at things of this world and circumstances and allowing myself to be convinced by lies that these things are to be more relied on to tell me how it will turn out than God is.

    So, I have some work to do (meaning, lots to pray about). Thanks so much for posting this (and being honest about your convictions — it’s really convicted me and encouraged me to work through my convictions instead of just sitting down and going, “It’s no use!”). And thanks for inspiring me to speak the Truth as I need to people who are hurting or struggling (or hungry for it).

    God bless you, brother!

  2. Agent Tim says:

    I appreciate that Nicole. I was wondering, what books are you currently reading? There are quite a few that come to mind that might help in this area of complaining.

    Also, another thing C.J. pointed out in his sermon is that when we take on one issue in our life (such as complaining), it changes many other areas of our life as well. So – working on this one area will make a bigger impact than on just that area in and of itself.

    God Bless.

  3. Nicole T. says:

    Aww… I don’t want to read more books! (whining) No, I’m just kidding. That’s one thing I wouldn’t complain about — I love reading.

    I’d be interested to find out what books you would recommend. Currently I am reading several books by Hudson Taylor, a book by Arthur Mathews, the first “Voice of the Martyrs” book by DC Talk, George Muller’s narratives, some history books on WW2 — none of them really cover complaining, but they all help me see things more clearly so that I am, by effect, more grateful.

    I have seen that to be very true (what you mentioned that C.J. pointed out) about single issues in our lives — if we fail to surrender one issue to God, it affects everything; but on the other hand, if we do surrender it to God, it changes everything — in a very good way. Specifically, God’s been teaching me that about having faith regarding temporal matters (if I don’t trust Him the doubt seeps into nearly every other area of my relationship with Him).

    Please do let me know any books that would be helpful. Thanks. =)

  4. Agent Tim says:

    Well, any of C.J. Mahaney’s books may be very helpful. _Living the Cross Centered Life_ or _Humility: True Greatness_ were in mind. I would also reccomend _The Pursuit of Holiness_ or _The Discipline of Grace_ by Jerry Bridges as great places to start reading. Those are just a few of the books that have greatly impacted my life.

  5. Agent Tim says:

    You can also see the books we received at Together for the Gospel here. I’d recommend any of those.

  6. Nicole T. says:

    Thanks! I’ll have to check those books out — I’ll be at the bookstore tomorrow so I’ll take a look at them then (if they are in-stock). Either that or I’ll order them when I can. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they say. I’m always looking for good books and I’ve never read anything by either of those authors before. I’m totally intrigued.

    Thanks and God bless you.

  7. Amen! Thanks for reminding me of God’s sovreignty, it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about recently. It is so hard to complain about difficult people or disappointing results when I know God has a purpose for everything, even if I can’t see it. And God can do no wrong. Therefore, everything he plans is good because it is his will.

  8. Eric Novak says:

    Through the bible we can catch a glimpse of God’s plan for our lives. Other then that we have almost no clue what that plan entails.

    “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:9

    RYC: Thanks for commenting. I think that the reason why we comment on any blog is because that is the reason there is a comment box. Lol.

    I’m glad you are encouraged by my blog. I hope that God is using it for a positive purpose.

    God Bless,
    Eric Novak

  9. Tim,
    Thanks for allowing me to interview you for The Homeschool Blog Awards website. It will be posted on May 7, 2008! Come check it out!

  10. JosiahR says:

    Wondering, how often do you update? I have you on my bookmarks. Really cool site!!!

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