For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~Jeremiah 29:11
Where's the picture, you may be asking. And so I asked myself a few weeks ago when I turned on my computer to find that it had reverted to its factory settings and wiped away all my art, picture, email and tax files, among all the everything else. It didn't even remember how to get on the internet. It was like the death of a friend, in a very real sense. I may have some of it backed up, but right now, it looks bleak. The next day, I had some unusual health symptoms and ended up having to have a biopsy in the doctor's office. Man, when it rains it pours!
I suppose I should have expected it all, really, because the day before I had resolved to become part of Joyce Meyer's 'Love Revolution' and refuse to be a Christian who watches the despair of the world and does nothing. I have learned from experience that setting out to useful to God really opens you up for attacks by the enemy. So, how to attack me? Fear and Laziness. Yes, folks, I'll admit it, those are the traits that make me most useless to God. And He's been really taking me to task on these lately. When I flipped the calendar to October, what verse popped up?: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). And God is challenging me to go out and talk to people about the Good News and the love of Christ and that just terrifies me. I'm gonna do it anyway. And the devil knows it. He used my health to scare me. He used my recent high school reunion to remind me of all my past failures and insecurities. He zapped my computer to sap my resolve and force me to work long and hard to reinstall every program and file and re-scan pictures and art and so much more.
I'll be honest. I crawled into a small pit of despair for a few days, along with a chocolate pie and some whipped cream. But my pity parties don't last too long anymore because no one will join me there, and they accomplish nothing. Meanwhile, the Lord has been using preachers and passages popping up in all kinds of unexpected times and places to strengthen me and to remind me that He has a plan for me. If God has brought me to it, He'll bring me through it. God puts His treasures in jars of clay, so that when those cracked pots become useful vessels, it brings Him all the more glory! Those Hebrews marched around in the desert, not because God didn't know the quickest way to Canaan, but because He was getting them ready for the fight of their lives. Yes, He was giving them a great gift and a great victory, but THEY had to fight for it. They had to put in the effort and endure the hardship.
Well, I'm enduring. Compared to the Hebrews and to so many suffering people in the world, my hardship is barely a burden. So, if I'm tempted to ask 'why me?' the answer is obvious: 'why not me?' Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24) So I put myself and my whining aside and follow knowing 'that he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.' (Philippians 1:6) and that 'God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.' (Romans 8:28)