Master of Your Own Destiny?

I criticized a book recently in one of my reviews because the author said someone was the master of their own destiny.  The Bible teaches us that God is in control, and we are not.  However, I discovered this quote today that reminds us that we are in control of one thing — our attitude and how we respond to the things that happen to us.

“It is a proverbial saying, that everyone makes his own destiny;  and this is usually interpreted, that every one, by his wise or unwise conduct, prepares good or evil for himself:  but we may also understand it, that whatever it be that he receives from the hand of Providence, he may so accommodate himself to it, that he will find his lot good for him, however much may seem to others to be wanting.”  Wm. Von Humboldt (Prussian philosopher)

Jesus tells us that we will have problems.  The world is infected by sin, and so are we. We can never be good enough or wise enough to avoid the consequences.  Nothing will keep us safe.  However, we can have contentment when we place our trust in Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

He has our ultimate good at heart.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Elisabeth Elliot, a missionary who went to live with the same Ecuadorian tribe who killed her husband had this to say about our destiny:

“I found peace in the knowledge that I was in the hands of God.  Not in the confidence that I was not going to be killed.  Not in the false sense of security that God would protect me, any more than He protected my husband, the four missionaries, or Honoria (a man who was speared) from the wooden lances.  Simply in knowing that He held my destiny in His two hands what He did was right.”

Expect trouble– and when it comes, don’t trust yourself, trust the one who made you.  He is the master of your destiny.

 

Faith Under Pressure

Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”  Job 13:15

When I think about our theme of faith and fortitude, Job is the first person who comes to mind.  This man had it all – wealth, family, respect, health – and he lost it all.  Raiders ran off with his oxen, donkeys and camels, fire destroyed his sheep and his children were killed in a freak wind storm.  Job himself developed boils over his entire body. That’s how quickly life can change.  His friends stopped by to “comfort” him by asking what on earth he had done wrong to deserve all the punishments God seemed to be raining down on him. Even his wife advised him to give up, curse God and die.

There’s no question that Job felt despair and anger.  He questioned God, he railed against his misfortunes and he grieved for his children.  Still, through it all, he doesn’t lose his faith.  He acknowledges that God has the right to control and direct his life:

 

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

 

We can learn some things from Job.  He wasn’t afraid to express his emotions. He kept talking to God, and God answered him.  It wasn’t an answer Job could completely wrap his mind around, but he admitted his lack of understanding and his total dependence on God.  I guess that’s what we mean by “the patience of Job.”

It’s easy to have faith when things are going well, but sometimes we find ourselves in a bad situation, like Job. We didn’t cause it, we don’t deserve it, but it’s out of our control. That’s when the rubber meets the road. There’s no way, as humans, we’ll ever comprehend God’s plan.  Things that look disastrous may turn out to be blessings. (think of the crucifixion).  The Bible promises He is working everything out for our good.  So I’ll leave you with this question:  when difficulties come (and they will) will you trust God and grow in your faith?

 

 

Dancing in the Rain

dancing in the rain quote

I have this saying up on my living room wall and I was looking at it this morning and thought I’d share a bit.  I used to say “Why Me?” when things happened in my life, but someone came back to me and said “Why not you?”.  I didn’t have an answer to that.

I’ve had a lot of things happen to me.  In fact, I would think that I’ve been in the rain more than most people.  (My counselor agrees!) I’ve been a caregiver almost all my life starting when my father had a heart attack and my brother had a bad car accident and my mom and sister-in-law had to go to work to keep the family afloat.  I came home from school and took care of my niece and nephew, made dinner for everybody and put the kids to bed.  I was 15 at the time.  It goes on throughout my life.  One need after another. My father, my mother, my husband….

I look back at all that I’ve done (and struggled through) and wonder how I even made it through in one piece.  With all the changes in my life, some made within hours, I’ve learned to Dance in the Rain.  Now I know that my Lord Jesus has always been with me and He guided me through all my past changes.  As a result, I’ve grown stronger in my faith and in life in general.

And All God’s People Say Amen

This poem was written for me by a dear friend on a very special weekend:  it was the Via De Cristo Women’s retreat that was held just a few days after 9/11.  I think it’s appropriate to our theme of change and also the Easter season.  Changes can be frightening and unsettling.  They don’t always seem to be good or even understandable;  but God is in control and He has the last word.  Many thanks to Martha Moore, the writer, who has also agreed to become one of the Lutheran lady bloggers.  I hope we’ll be hearing more from her.

In ancient times, at a horn’s blast

The walls of the city of Jericho

Shattered into shards,

And God’s people rejoiced.

In more recent times, in the hands of a jubilant mob

The wall dividing Berlin

Crumbled into rubble,

And God’s people rejoiced.

Today we are haunted by the vision

Of the disintegration of walls

Raining chaos on an incredulous earth,

And God’s people are weeping.

But we believe in the one who said,

“Destroy this temple and I will raise it up”—

The one who died to prove it,

Out of the dust we shall arise–

Out of the dust of our disasters, national and personal,

Out of the dust of our lost desires,

Out of the dust from which we were formed—-

Resurrection comes.  Amen.

Thankful that God is in Control

“Samson went down to Timnah and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines.  Then he came up and told his father and mother, ‘I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah.  Now get her for me as my wife’.  But his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people , that you must go and take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’  But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me for she is right in my eyes.’

His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.  At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.”  Judges 14:1-4

In Sunday School yesterday, our lesson was about Samson, one of the judges of Israel, chosen by God.  He was a bit of a spoiled brat.  He wanted what he wanted.  It looked like he was making a bad decision.  In fact, he was making a bad decision. (He made plenty of others, as well).  Luckily, God was in control.  He knew what Samson would do.  He knew his weaknesses.  He used them, wrong as they appeared at the time, to ultimately do good.  If you know the story, Samson is eventually humbled, cries out to God and through his physical strength, topples a building to destroy 3000 of the Philistines who were oppressing the Israelites.

The same thing happens in the story of Joseph is Genesis.  Joseph’s brothers are jealous of his favored position with their father.(Joseph is a bit of a brat like Samson, he taunts his brothers).  They sell Joseph into captivity.  For years he is a slave in Egypt, and is even falsely imprisoned.  In the end, through his gift of interpreting dreams (a gift from God, like Samson’s strength) he rises to power in Egypt and saves his family when famine strikes.  He tells his brothers,

“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant of earth, and to keep alive for you man survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”  Genesis 45:7-8

Once again, what seemed like an evil situation was used by God for good.

The moral of this post?  Thank God that He is in control.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses and He will use them both.  We only see “through a glass darkly”;  He has the entire picture.  What seems bad at the moment will work out for our good in God’s time.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”  Romans 8:28

 

What Stands Out?–Hebrews Chapter 2

“Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.” Hebrews 2:8b

After reading Hebrews Chapter 2 a number of times, I decided this is the verse that stands out for me, that I want to spend some time meditating about.  Jesus is in control–EVERYTHING is subject to His will.  I should know this, after all He is God:  but do I act like this?  Not really.

In daily life, I act as if I am in control.  There are many things I want to change, and I work very hard to do that.  Wouldn’t my life be much more peaceful, if I accepted my circumstances as God’s will for me right now and asked Him what He was trying to teach me?

If Jesus is in control of EVERYTHING that means he is my master.  But do I live as if He is?  No, most of the time I do what I want or what I think is best without praying or consulting the Bible.  Wouldn’t I make better decisions if I spent more time with Him?

Chapter 2 helps me see myself as the SINNER I am and see Jesus as the PERFECTION that He is.  And yet He came to save me.

Now, what stands out in this Chapter for you?  Send us your posts and comments.