Friday, October 28, 2016

Put God First

Way back in May we met in the boardroom at Grace Baptist Church of Blue Bell. We talked about elephants. We did spend a little time discussing the gigantic mammals we're all familiar with, but the focus was on the metaphorical elephants we are faced with all the time. We talked about those giant elephants in our lives that lead to worry and fear. We all have those obstacles, those elephants, where we have no idea how we'll overcome them.

For so long I thought the key to overcoming obstacles was to first make an effort to overcome them on my own. If I got stuck along the way, I would then ask for help. This approach seemed perfectly logical and gave me comfort knowing I tried! In our discussion on Sunday, I realized there was a big piece missing from my approach. In 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, Paul tells us, "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed ... ".

I would save my prayers until I realized I couldn't overcome my obstacle. I believed if I went to God first, before putting in the effort myself, I would feel guilty. What I failed to recognize is going to God first does not mean I get to be lazy while God fixes things for me. Rather, going to God first is simply asking God to be with me as I face my obstacle.

God is with me either way, but the missing piece was me being with God. If I overcame something, I might believe I did it on my own. But as Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, the power belongs to God. I shared a story during our discussion about a co-worker who was desperate to get back home to see her Grandfather. He was ill and did not have long to live. She booked a flight and, upon arriving at the airport, discovered it was canceled. She re-booked on a different airline and again the flight was canceled. She spent most of the night trying to get back to see him, but finally realized she would not be able to make it. She was able to speak with him over the phone. He could not respond but she was able to tell him good-bye. He passed away soon after and she was left feeling she failed him by not being there.

She shared her story with me and I asked her about the last memory she had of her grandfather. She recalled seeing him a few months earlier when he was healthy. She remembered him smiling and laughing. I told her I believed God was with her in the airport that night. I believe God wanted to protect that happy final memory of her Grandfather and she has no reason to feel she failed her Grandfather. He heard every word she said over the phone as God made sure she was able to say good-bye.

So many times in life, it is hard to see God is with us. Maybe the harder part is for us to be with God when faced with enormous elephants. In Romans 8:28, we read, "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." We don't know God's purpose. Sometimes things do not work out the way we expect and overcoming our obstacles, may not be the resolution we're hoping for.

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