November 28, 2016


2 Corinthians 1:9 “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Here we have, from Paul’s own experience, the explanation for a lot of the stuff that God allows to happen in our lives. The simple fact is that we are headstrong; we like to do things our way and think that we can get by on our own. The problem with that is, nothing in the universe is entirely self-sufficient. We exist by God’s will and are supported by His grace. Praise God that His grace is sufficient! (2 Corinthians 12:9) God allows things in our lives to open our eyes to this reality, both in terms of our need and of His supply. This is hardly a new truth. This church’s Verse for the Year has been Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (That’s two verses, but who’s counting?) The Japanese uses the same term in both passages, where the NIV uses “rely” and “trust.” In terms of faith, those are inseparable. If we really trust God we will rely on Him, and vice versa. God allows “tight spots” in our lives to teach us to “put feet to our faith,” so to speak, exercising it rather than letting it be passive and theoretical. That is a great blessing, and something to be thankful for! That’s what Paul was talking about in Romans 5:3-5. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” We aren’t to rejoice in suffering for suffering’s sake, but because it teaches us to rely on God and not on ourselves.

I can really relate to this one! Not that I have gone through the degree of suffering that some have, but that I am all too prone to ignore God and think I can do things on my own, unless He reminds me otherwise. I’ve learned that the more aware I am of my dependence on Him, the less I have to go through to remind me of it. I try to share this truth with others, but they seldom want to hear it. I’ll never forget my mother’s expression, “independent as a hog on ice.” It only takes a little imagination to picture that, and it’s pretty funny. Just like that metaphorical hog, I tend to go off on my own until my trotters lose their grip and I go sprawling. The thing is, because I’ve fallen so many times, now I know better, and people think I’m a saint. (Well, Biblically speaking every believer is a saint, but you know what I mean.) I need to get through to them that the road to “sainthood” is nothing more complicated than realizing and accepting that we can’t do it on our own, and relying on God to do it in and through us.

Father, the whole area of pastoral ministry is a huge teaching experience in my own inadequacy without You. For quite a while I tried to escape, as You well know, but You have held me to it, and I’m grateful. Help me teach others with joy, not as someone self-sufficient, but as an open channel of Your grace and love, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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