It happened to me again several weeks ago. An innocent conversation…a random comment…and I found myself having to corral my thoughts into line with some principles that God has hammered home to me over and over again for years.
I want to be honest about what happened, but I also don’t want to alienate family or friends. I don’t want anyone to think they can’t share their life with me. So here goes.
This person was talking to me about his upcoming retirement, and then the plans that he and his wife had. Later, as Gary and I drove away, I shared with Gary how I had that twinge of longing as our friend talked. And how I knew better than to dwell on it and to therefore give Satan that opportunity he always looks for, the opportunity to push that door fully open that I have allowed to crack open, even just a little bit.
You see, our life with Aaron is a life far different from typical couples our age. Gary and I are not fully free to do many of the things that our peers are able to do. And that’s OK…truly OK. But sometimes the comparisons come, and if I am not careful then I can wallow in misery, and therefore open myself to sin and defeat.
The very next day…literally…after this conversation, I was at my desk as usual in the early morning. I opened my Bible and my study book to the section of I Samuel that I was reading and was soon amazed at how God spoke to me in those quiet moments.
I read about Saul’s son, Jonathan, and his deep friendship with David. Saul was the king of Israel, but because of his sin and disobedience, God had told him that his reign would end with him. His family would not inherit the kingship. This meant that Jonathan would never be the king. But who would be the next king? David…Jonathan’s dear friend.
Jonathan knew this. He knew that he would never be king. In fact, in I Samuel 18, Jonathan gave his robe, along with his armor and his sword, his bow and his belt, to his friend David. This act was a symbol of the fact that Jonathan was surrendering any right he had to the throne…surrendering it to David. And not only that, but Jonathan continued to be an even better soldier and leader than his father, the king. Jonathan certainly behaved in a godly, kingly fashion, even though he knew he would never assume the throne.
As Dale Davis says in his book, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart: “For Jonathan, then, the kingdom was not his to seize, not his to rule, but his to serve.”
And then this, which impacted me so greatly: “Maybe a tragic life isn’t tragic if it’s lived in fidelity to what Christ asks of us in the circumstances he gives us.”
Did you catch that? Living in loyalty to Christ IN the circumstances He gives us!
That’s what Jonathan did. He lived royally even though he would never in reality BE a royal. He lived in covenant relationship to God, faithfully, IN his circumstances.
This is exactly what I am supposed to do, every day. I thought that morning of I Timothy 6:6, of what Paul told Timothy. Paul said that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” The note in my study Bible says that this is “an inner satisfaction with the situation that God has ordained for him.”
But how on earth is that possible, day after day…that inner satisfaction with situations in life that are so often very UNsatisfactory?!
This satisfaction is only possible when I realize that it doesn’t come from ME. I can’t manufacture this deep peace. Only God can do that in my heart as I surrender all my rights to Him and then obey Him by trusting Him.
It’s realizing that God Himself loves me, and He is the One that has given me what I have in this life, hard as some of it may be.
My circumstances are not the hand I have been dealt. My circumstances are not bad luck…or good luck. They are not the luck of the draw. Nor are my circumstances due to karma, or any other such nonsense that we sometimes are inclined to believe.
God chose me and He saved me, and as His child I know that each occurrence in my life…every situation…is entirely under His authority and in His plan for me. I know He loves me and I know that I can trust Him, totally, to do what’s best for me and what will cause me to give Him glory. What a waste if I don’t!!
So when the pain comes to my heart and my life…when I’m inclined to settle in the negative thoughts and desires and questions that pop up so unexpectedly…I have the responsibility to do one thing right away. That one thing is to talk to my Father and let His loving arms surround me with His peace. And then obey, like Jonathan did. Just live in obedience, step by step, and know that God will honor that obedience in my life.
He may not honor my obedience by taking away my situations, but that’s not why I am to obey.
So the bottom line in all of this is just this:
May my circumstances not dictate my response, but may my response be dictated by God’s character.
What is…is…because God is the One in charge.
And He is a very, very good God.