When I'm trying to decide what book to read next, I often consult Rachel Schultz. (www.rachelschultz.com) We don't know each other, but I love her blog and we have pretty similar convictions on most things. Anywho, when searching through her "Books" page last week, I stumbled across her review of Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. Though Rachel states its typically not her type of book, it has my name written all over it. I mean really: set in the 1800's, diary format, relatable, and points to Jesus. I eat that stuff up. (Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers in in my top 5. Can't get over it years later.) So I knew we had a winner. I was stoked to see that it was FREE on ibooks, so I downloaded and dug in.
And WOW. It's been great. I'm maybe one-third through it and I still find myself going back to re-read the timeless insights in there. Kate's an emotional, strong-willed, and sometimes volatile person when it comes to her words and actions. (Boy can I relate..) And when she surrenders herself to Jesus, surprise surprise! she isn't perfect. She struggles between her selfish nature and wanting a cushioned, happy life and wanting to be like Jesus in every single thing she does. I feel dumb now, but I thought I was the only one. I know she's fictitious, but I've found relief in her brutal honesty. I'm telling you guys. I could go on and on.
But something I read the other day keeps popping back into my mind. This bit of the story comes as a letter written to her by her pastor and mentor when she is struggling with her faith. He writes:
"Lay down this principle as a law- God does nothing arbitrary. If He takes away your health, for instance, it is because He has some reason for doing so; and this is true of everything you value; and if you have real faith in Him you will not insist on knowing this reason."
Crowd pleasing message, eh? Not really. But true. I had to look up the word "arbitrary" and it means "based on random choice or personal whim, rather than reason or system." That doesn't describe God's ways. He doesn't draw a name out of the Holy-Hat and say "BAM! You're going to lose your job today!" No. He's way too into every detail of our lives to throw something at us out of pure random decision. He isn't out to crush us.
When will we (including myself) accept the fact that God is a loving Father? But that doesn't mean that He will spoil His children! In fact, it's the opposite. Proverbs 3:11-12 says "My child, do not reject the Lord's discipline, and don't be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a Father corrects a child in whom he delights."
If you saw a child who received every thing he ever asked for, every request was granted, and you saw that the child was becoming a selfish (from having every desire met) and ungrateful (where's the thankful heart when there's never been lack?) person, wouldn't you blame the parents? And for good reason! What kind of father would pamper to the point of ruin? What kind of love is that? And if earthly parents know that, why do we expect our Heavenly Father to treat us (who He completely adores to the point of sending His Son for our redemption...) any differently?
He is so good to me. He is so good to US. He loves us enough to say "No" to the things that will destroy us, spoil us. He does NOTHING useless. NOTHING is wasted in His hands. Even things that may have happened before you came to Him...He can use those too. He is a God of purpose and plans, and they are good. He has a million ways to work the mess out for our good and His glory. He saw us before we were born, and every day was known to Him before it came to be. We can trust Him with every detail, every decision. He's a good Father. It's a daily choice to let Him have control. Sometimes several times a day. To say, "Father, I cannot understand what you're doing. But I trust that it's not needless. Do what You need to do in me. I don't need to know the reason. I just need to know You more."
The more we know Him, the closer we get, the less the need to know why.
I just want to be closer. I want to trust His will for every detail, whether it brings pain or joy.
Think these over:
"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a singe day had passed."
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."