The last couple weeks, give or take, I have been contemplating hope and trust. That meditation all came to a head last night in my last small group study for the fall season. We have been studying the Apostle’s Creed for the last 12 weeks. It is a study assembled by Matt Chandler, a preacher from Texas.
The last phrase of the Apostle’s Creed is, “The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, Amen.”
Matt opened the video portion of the study discussing hope. He spoke of normal hopes, like a good job and a home and obsessive hopes where we place all the pressure on ourselves to achieve the goal rather than trusting God enough to place our hope in Him.
I am going to go back to a time when I was still fairly healthy and still working. I was in a very high-stress job. I liked the work, but I worked for a man that kept me feeling dispensable. He was not my boss, but my bosses boss.
My standard response in those days was to work harder. I pushed harder and pressed to show that I could do the job. I had been born again, and my faith was growing, so I prayed for guidance, and I know God helped me with managing my outward emotions, but I was holding onto the inner ones. I feared that I was not a degreed engineer. You might say I had worked an apprenticeship. I knew how to ask questions and learn, and that served me well until management changes, and I felt very insecure even though the Lord had reassured me often.
All through His Word He promised to provide, and I knew this, BUT I had been raised to be self-reliant, and I took that seriously, so I struggle to let go and let God like my Grandmother told me all the time she was alive. I unknowingly had drawn this line that I would not let God cross.
Because of all this selfishness and stubbornness, the stress had become very difficult to manage, and in the midst of it all a job opening came up in one of my old departments. Instead of knowing what to do I went into a tailspin. Take a shot at the new job or stick it out with my current job. So I prayed. I do not remember how many days or weeks. I just prayed, but I did not get an answer as to which way to go. Instead, I was given some direction that sent me into a tailspin. I did not want to act on it. The action was in Acts 1.
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
Beginning in the 12th Verse of Acts 2 the Disciples discuss the need to replace Judas to return their number to 12. They prayed and discussed the need to replace Judas and Peter went to the Psalms 55:12-15 as confirmation that they need to decide on a replacement for him.
These men whittled it down to two to choose from. At that point, they turned to God completely for the decision.
Acts 1:24-26 (ESV)
24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
As soon as I read this passage, I knew what I needed to do. But as much as I knew what to do I was unwilling. I just could not pull the trigger. The Hope and Trust I thought I had were just not as strong as I had to led myself to believe.
Flipping a Coin (Because I do not know how to Cast Lots)
Well after reading that passage the Holy Spirit and I went back and forth for about a week, maybe more, maybe less on this command. It occupied my thoughts everywhere. But I was going to submit. I just did not realize it, and it came with a ritual I had every couple days.
The cafeteria at work closed at 12:30 so if I wanted a drink or a snack in the afternoon I had to have change, and the change machine would cash a $5 bill. I checked my drawer, and it was empty, so I pulled a $5 out of my wallet and went to get change.
Well, the Holy Spirit started working on me a soon as I had all those quarters in my hand, and I was just as stubborn as every other time, and I said I was not going to flip a coin over a job. I head to my desk with the resolve that I had made the right decision.
I got to my desk and opened the drawer, and I dropped the change in the drawer and one lone quarter missed and hit the desktop spinning like a top. I am not sure if my heart dropped, my mouth fell open or my heart got stuck in my throat; all I remember is that I said, “Ok Lord, you win, if it is heads I will stay where I am and if it is tales I will apply for the other job.” It continued to spin for a few seconds, and when it rested in the middle of my desk, it was heads. It lifted a weight off my shoulders I felt a sense of relief. But, unfortunately, I still had some work to do on trust.
Hope and Trust
This morning I looked up the words hope and trust in the dictionary, and that was helpful too. I found that part of the definition of Hope was trust. I knew I had placed my hope and trust in God for my salvation. But the temporal things I was still holding tightly. I trusted Him enough to stay where He had planted me, but I still put my hope and trust in my ability to execute the work. I prayed for guidance and understanding, but I never really prayed for help. Nor did I let go enough to let God show me that he would help me through this task. So the stress, anxiety, and fear of failure continued to grow, and I worried I would lose my job, Matt Chandler called that worry and stressed the “Check Engine Light.”
Well, the engine light was serious, and I should not have ignored it. But I did, and I developed a pretty serious knock on the motor. Enough so that I was no longer road worthy. But you know God knows us better than we know ourselves and He will use whatever is available to prune and sharpen us for His purpose. The stroke and the disability were difficult to grasp. But as soon as it happened God was there. He was there with my wife, family, and friends and he delivered to me a Bible study that He knew I needed.
When I went on disability, God did His math and showed us how we could function on a significant reduction in salary. He opened my eyes to show that some things I could no longer do but others were available to me. Things I had never considered, like writing and photography.
Every time there was a trial He has shown both Pat and I can trust Him enough to place all our hope in him. I have grown to understand Romans 8:28
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
He knows us so well. His love for us is immeasurable.
As I pondered all this and I cannot help but remember the post I wrote earlier in the week on Acts 2 and the Holy Spirit and how we need it all. The Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and Hope, Trust, and Obedience. I was reminded of this by a quote from one of my spiritual mentors, George Mueller.
“The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look at the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusion.”
It was all there for me, and in the end, I did get it. I listened to the Spirit, and I confirmed it in the Word about the job, but I did not listen to Him as He showed me all the promises of provision in the Word until I broke. I know that things would have been different if I had listened. But God knows me, and He knew what it was going to take, and He blessed me with an abundance of Hope and Trust.
I know that I still have my moments when I reach for the wheel. I know that there are times when I tell God that I have got this. But because of the teaching of the Holy Spirit and the gift of God’s Word I am quicker now to let go and let God. I am thankful for God’s grace and the glorious gift of repentance and forgiveness.
Father, I give thanks to you for all your promises in Your Word. I give thanks for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in me to convict me and teach me. How wise and wonderful you are. Thank you for your patience with me and the gift of repentance and grace. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.