Today was our departure for Turkey. But here I sit in Dominican Joe’s sipping my favorite vanilla latte and checking emails. I haven’t written much about our trip to Turkey on this blog because, well, there’s not a whole lot I can say (so excuse me if even this post seems incomplete in explanation). Bottom line, Andy & the band (Rufus McGovern) were going over to play some concerts in clubs (or as a Turk would call ‘em, “Rock Bars”) and we made the decision to post-pone our trip after Joe (the guitar player) was in an accident Sunday that left him with a broken arm.
We’ve been working with our Turkish friends, planning this trip since spring. So today is bittersweet, knowing that the plane we were to be on is now flying en route to the land that we have been longing for. The verse I have been clinging to from the Bible is Proverbs 16:9—“In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
There has been a lot of turmoil surrounding this trip for the last 6 weeks and I feel I have inappropriately questioned God through it. I repeatedly wondered, “Is this God trying tell us to delay our trip for our own good, or is this the enemy trying to prevent us from going?” However, that mindset negates that God is ALWAYS in control. Today, I can tell God I am sorry for questioning Him, and ask Him to refuel my trust in His plans for my life.
If we had just been experiencing these trials in general daily life (without a trip on the horizon), I wonder if I would have been filtering them the same way? I think the fact that we had a decision to make—“to go or to not go?”—really muddied my interpretation of the attacks we were experiencing. Because I kept wondering, “should THIS affect our decision?” or “is THIS supposed to change our plans?” etc, I was forgetting to FIRST apply the truth that I believe as a follower of Christ, which is: God is the author of all things.
As Michelle gently reminded me on Sunday, “it would be ‘mystical’ to wonder who was causing these things to happen, and followers of Jesus are not mystics—we believe He is always, sovereignly, in control.” Her comment helped to redirect my affections to God. Instead of wondering, “By what hand are these afflictions?” and having that influence our choices, our doubt, and even our joy, I should have grounded myself in who I know God to be.
I went to the Desiring God Regional Conference this weekend, on the subject of JOB: When the Righteous Suffer. A few things that stood out to me, and NOW feel I could apply to these current circumstances, are this:
1) Even if God allows Satan to test us, the enemy is ultimately only the middle man (for lack of a better description). I had always read the book of Job thinking it was the enemy afflicting Job with God’s permission. But even JOB, himself, viewed GOD as the author of his trials.
2) Suffering: the devil uses it to accomplish his goal of ruining your faith, and God uses it to accomplish His goal of strengthening your faith.
3) “Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord and not receive adversity?” (from Job 2:10)
4) Spoken from God’s perspective: I don’t use my power capriciously—I have a purpose in all that I do.
5) God is doing 10,000+ things in your life at one time—not just one or two. Even though you may only see one or two or ten at a time, He’s still doing 10,000+. When you are suffering, consider that you only have a glimpse of God’s big picture for you.
My friend, Fabs, also sent me an encouraging email reminding me of good truths in the midst of things that are hard to understand: “I’m sure you feel like all your plans are slipping away… but no plan has been lost. God is on His throne and all plans are just being executed by a hand too mighty to be seen and too kind to let us make our own plans… God has prepared good works for us to do, and He will be faithful to see that we do them to the best of our ability…” I can only add: IN HIS TIMING He will work in us to accomplish the plans He’s set aside for us to accomplish. Not my timing.
For now, we are left to increase our affections for Turkey from right here in Austin.