SUMMER CONNECTIONS 2017: July 20

 Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him,
and He will make your paths straight.

I’m not much of a baseball person, but I know that a good pitcher can throw a ball with an unexpected twist that changes the trajectory of the ball, catching the batter off guard.  Our lives can also throw us curve balls.  Our hope, and often our expectation, is that life will progress smoothly, just as we imagined it:  good health, steady fulfilling jobs, ample resources, rich faithful relationships, strong families, great kids, and on and on it goes.  Of course, we want things to go well, and there is nothing wrong with that desire.  God loves us and wants to bless us in this real life we are living.

However, we live in a broken world and God’s blessing often arrives in packages we do not recognize.  We learn to call out to and deeply trust in God through disappointment.  We discover the richness of depending fully on God through experiencing great need.  We experience the depths of God’s forgiveness for us, and flowing through us to others, as a result of broken relationships.  We discover the truth that we must rely on God when our own feeble systems and efforts fail us.  We realize that family is about loving each other no matter what, especially when we don’t get it all right and things go sideways with our kids.  We experience the wonder of real community when we face our weaknesses and needs, and vulnerably reveal them to our brothers and sisters.  We encounter the intimate comfort of the Spirit in the face of deep grief.  This is how God grows and transforms us right in the midst of, and often because of, the trouble of real life.

I’m sure a few curve balls have come your way in life.  Satan wants to take those unexpected pitches and use them to discourage and defeat us.  But our God is bigger than that.  He has game rules the Evil One knows nothing about.  In ways we cannot understand, and as we trust in God, He redeems what looks like disaster and uses it to shape us into the image of Jesus.  He uses our real life to work in us in ways our imagined life never could.  Don’t get me wrong—I know this is NOT easy.  Yet God calls us to take up our cross and follow him.  He calls us to live a cruciform life that involves sacrifice and absolute dependence no matter what.  Jesus said in the garden, “Not my will but yours be done.”  In the face of what seems could not possibly be part of God’s plan, we declare, “Not my will but yours be done.  I will trust you.”

I am learning that God is calling me to trust him, and his love for me, in the face of the day-to-day real curve balls of life.  It is there that He is transforming me to love Him and others more fully.  I’m also learning I can’t do it alone.  We each need the Spirit within us and our Spirit-filled brothers and sisters.  Only through the power of God’s Spirit in us and His people can we see beyond the trouble and follow the path He has set out for us.  The challenge is to surrender to God and the truth that the life He has given you is the place in which He wants to meet, love and transform you.  And in that surrender we will find peace and joy.

The way to spiritual wholeness lies in an increasingly faithful response to the One whose purpose shapes our path, whose grace redeems our detours, whose power liberates us from crippling bondages of the prior journey and whose transforming presence meets us at each turn in the road.
M. Robert Mulholland

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I surrender to you and your perfect love.  Even when I do not understand the way, I trust you.  In my following I ask you, Holy Spirit, to continue to transform me into the image of Jesus.  Amen.

Make Trust by Hillsong Young & Free your prayer.

Contributed by Pastor Carla Olsen Draper 

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