"God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mines Of never failing skill He treasures up his bright designs, And works his sovereign will. Ye fearful saints fresh courage take, The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face."
~ William Cowper (1731-1800) English poet from Olney Hymns
I don’t know if that does to you what it does to me this morning…perhaps not. Perhaps it only hits me so hard because of the heaviness I woke up with this morning. Between the last post and this one, I think the cause for the heaviness I felt this morning was revealed to me…and it is a sort of new reason. Being the self-centered person I’ve always been…heaviness was always because of me. All emotion was rooted in self…mostly self pity and lamenting some denial or rejection or just how hard things were for me (like things were only hard for me?). But over the past several months, the Lord has been doing something pretty amazing. He’s been taking my eyes off of me more and more and putting them on others. He has opened many doors for new relationships, or deepening in existing ones. He has allowed me to care for others…to be involved in their lives…and more amazing still…to minister to some. My phone and inbox have never been so busy and it has been a blessing…and yet these new types of relationships are not just one-way. The Lord has used them to also minister to me…to grow and stretch me…to change me. One of those changes has been a new type of heart for people. Used to be that every friendship, every time of fellowship was about me and my stuff and what was in it for me. Horrible and sad…but true. In His mercy, rather than expose me publicly and take away these friendships, He intervened in kindness and changed me quietly. Now, my thoughts during times of fellowship or sharing aren’t so much about the next opportunity I have to say something about my stuff or what so&so’s opinion is about my stuff…but how I can care for or help or bless the person I am speaking with…even if it means not saying a word. As a result of this new focus…new vision…I believe the Lord is allowing me to experience what Paul encourages us to do in Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Which brings me to the significance of the quote above.
There are a few people in my life that are in the midst of the storm God is riding on…though He is hard to see for all the rain and hard to hear for all the thunder claps. Some have at times even closed their eyes and cupped their hands over their ears and (for a time) stopped looking for Him. It is difficult for me to stand where I am, see them struggling and see the freedom the Lord has worked in my life…the deliverance He has given me…and understand why He hasn’t done that for them yet. In fact, I verbalized that question to someone…and immediately began to cry. While it is good for me to feel the burdens of my friends…who am I to accuse God?? Isn't that also choosing to not see Him riding on their current storms…to not see His smiling face behind the clouds? He has been faithful to show me so many instances of that in my past…is He now a respecter of persons, and will not do the same for them? Is it not His plan to use recent troubles or failures to do the prep work necessary for their great deliverance? Of course He will! In that moment of heaviness and, yes, grief, for my friends I not only forgot the unchanging and good character of God…but that it took 10 years to get me to my deliverance! TEN YEARS of disobedience, self-motivated attempts and failure. But, praise God, He bore with me and provided others to bear my burdens and to feel heavy for me and to pray while He went about His work…and He never slacked and He accomplished His purposes in me…and in those who walked along side me.
“Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill He treasures up his bright designs, And works his sovereign will.”