Edited by Mary Joanne Alorro
“For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalms 18:29-30
As we grow up, we come to realize our potentials; skills we have acquired over the years; and the abilities we never knew we had. We want to achieve more and excel believing we can deliver more than what we already have.
Quite often, life appears to be more of a competition than simply living. In our studies, work, and even ministries sometimes, we create in us a culture of competing against someone to prove who is best suited to be on top and be recognized. Well, I can say, this ought not to be the case. Our diversity provides a meaningful environment where we can share complementary attritubes for each other’s lacking. More to that, we possess distinct characters and play different roles for which we are vested with varying set of skills and abilities. Our potential best suits our purpose and calling, and not for comparison with other people. We are placed on our own respective undertakings to pursue and perform excellently God’s will for us in advancing His kingdom on Earth. And in this life, we are never left alone, but empowered and accompanied by our Master Planner and the Author of our life — God.
However, there are times when we question ourselves if we can ever be good enough. Perhaps, we question our qualifications and competence. Let me share you a story about a man named Nehemiah (Book of Nehemiah).
“‘O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.’ Now I was cupbearer to the king.” Nehemiah 1:11
Reading the life of Nehemiah we learn about a man who was decisive and courageous in delivering the Lord’s work. He was a wise and brave governor, making sure that the job was carried out despite persecutions and threats.
Learning of the destruction of his city, Nehemiah wept and mourned, fasted and prayed fervently unto God for His grace and mercy for His people. At the end, when given the chance to speak before the king of Persia, Nehemiah bowed in prayer to God, asking for His grace.
Granted with the favor in the sight of the king, Nehemiah went to carry out the former’s orders in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His passion for this cause encouraged him to pursue it and to deal with it wisely, ensuring its success, despite the disunity among his people and the opposition of other people under the Persian rule.
He found his strength in the joy of the Lord. Obviously, his passion revolves around his love for his nation and its reconcilation unto God. Hence, the Lord gave him prosperity over his endeavour, and his efforts did not go in vain.
Nehemiah, being a trusted official of the king, was chosen by God to lead His people in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, not because of his qualifications. He apparently had to rely on the favor of God throughout the process. I believe he was chosen because of his heart for it. We have our desires and passions. We are called to some endeavours, and what we need is to be right with God, and allow Him to enable us. Across the chapters of the Scriptures, we learn how God qualifies the unqualified to take up His work. It reads in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised i the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, So that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
Therefore, it is not all about what we can do by ourselves but about what He can do through us. Living in the calling of God leads us to a life that depends on His grace, every single day. We have plans, ambitions and desires, and we also have gifts and talents for everything we do. But left alone, there is nothing more we can do on our own. We need to acknowledge Him who sustains and enables us to pursue our respective undertakings.
Here are few points we can ponder in view of our text:
1) Identify and acknowledge your situation. You cannot shun away from your circumstances and just focus on positive things. Situations, no matter how messed up or frustrating, are a reality we need to identify. Know the extent. What is the source of the circumstance and how does it affect you? Acknowledge them. Accept that they exist. They affect you in a way or another. And you need to address them if not now, sometime sooner or later. Truth is, they remain no matter what we want to think. And no amount of worry can move an inch of its stature. So identify and acknowledge them.
2) Know God, who He is, what He does and what He can do. It is important that we know who God is and what He can accomplish in and through us. Learning the identity of God helps us trust Him and His ways. Knowing what He does and can do settles our hearts that He can deliver us. We can read the Scriptures that teach us about the identity and working of God. Have you read about David defeating the champion of the Philistines, Goliath? That moment when the Israelite armies were probably holding their breath with every word that comes out of David’s mouth as he spoke against this giant defending his nation and its armies.
“Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, And that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.'” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)
Think about that courage and audacity of David. Where did it all come from? And why did not anybody else from King Saul’s army have such confidence? Well, perhaps, because even as a shepherd, David spent most of his time in the field communing with God as he attended to the sheep. This acknowledgement of God in everything he did is I think something his father Jesse did well in teaching his children. Fighting bears and other beasts to proctect the sheep is a part of David’s daily devotional. Imagine that for an exercise of faith — both spiritual and physical.
Maybe you are too overly familiar with the importance of knowing God because you think you already do. Or do you really? Whatever your take on that is, I encourage you to start your journey in knowing God more so you know how truly dependent we all are ought to be to a God who is ever powerful and sovereign. Step out in faith and pursue His calling for you.
3) Settle your relationship with God. Pursuing this noble journey requires getting rid of anything that hinders you from obeying His will for you. Right. But how did that enter this discussion? Well, we are talking about pursuing God’s calling and purpose. If we are truly intentional about that, then we better fix any encumbrance weighing our journey with and for Him. To put this with more emphasis, we read how a man who was born blind testified of how Christ Jesus healed him:
“We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” (John 9:31)
God’s ears are only open to those who worship Him and does His will. For a man who was born blind and with the medical world those days appearing to be incapable of giving sight to his eyes, the act of Jesus Christ should had been a miracle — something that defies nature. Now how can a miracle, an act which can only be performed by the Holy and Just God Himself or through an instrument hallowed unto Him, be administered by a sinner? That doesn’t make any sense. If Jesus was sinner, He cannot do anything like that. Good news is, He isn’t. He is the Christ who knew no sin but took upon Himself our sins to redeem us. To Him be all the glory and honour forever and ever!
Because the Scriptures say that God doesn’t listen to a sinner, we cannot just play with fire, then when get burned, ask God to heal us. Why? God did not ask us to play with fire, in the first place, now how is it that He suddenly enters the picture when trouble comes in? The Lord rewards us according to our righteousness and the cleanness of our hands. He is Holy, so the people who would call upon Him should also be holy. The Scriptures say in Isaiah 59:1,2,
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
You see? There is a reason why we cannot treat God just like a doctor who enters the scene only when we get sick or have some health issues. God should be part of our everyday lifestyle. That means, He should be part of our daily living, each decision we make should be outlined by His will that is revealed to us by His Word and His Holy Spirit.
Question is, after realizing that we just cannot reach out to God with our hands unclean, how do we settle our relationship with Him to start with:
(a) Acknowledge and REPENT of your sins before God. Repentance go beyond our feeling sorry for our sins. It is a change of mind about doing a certain sin, therefore, turning our ways from it.
(b) Believe that Jesus Christ has died, been buried, and risen from the dead for you, for your sins to be forgiven; and that all He did is complete and sufficient to cover all your sins.
Our journey with God will only make sense when our relationship with Him is settled. It makes a point where we start the journey and determine where it will end — in His Eternal Kingdom in Heaven. Our efforts in doing our best for His glory will only matter when we are fully connected with Him. And there is nothing that can connect us back to Him but by the Cross of Jesus Christ.