They say God speaks to us in mysterious ways and at unexpected times. Sunday night was one of those times for me. There were no burning bushes or audible voices, we were simply lying in a bed at the Hampton Inn in Bartlesville, Kansas trying to sleep. My wife was sleeping just fine, but I was having trouble. Maybe I was excited about the upcoming event on Monday morning, outpatient surgery to have stones flushed out of my bladder. Maybe it was the Triple Berry Crumb Cake from Chili’s. Whatever the case, I was wide awake well into the wee hours of morning and I was not happy about it.
I decided to attempt to make good use of my time and pray for family and friends. One thing led to another and I began to pray for the upcoming service on Palm Sunday. (I will be speaking at the First Church Of God in Coffeyville, Kansas at 10:30 AM just in case you’re looking for a place to attend.)
While lying there I began to think about the message I wanted to convey to the audience Sunday morning. Typically I will talk about my accident a little bit to new audiences and the struggle to learn to accept and make the most of the unwanted circumstance of being paralyzed. In doing so, it usually leads to encouraging others to do the same thing by learning to see that God may have a bigger purpose for the events of our lives, something much bigger than we can see. We just have to learn to trust that wherever He takes us, whatever He allows into our life, it is going to end up good. It may not look good from our perspective, it may not feel good while we are going through the circumstances, and it may be something that we never really understand or see how it benefits anyone. God may be using it to give us something that will never benefit us here, but will benefit us spiritually forever.
Lying in that hotel room, God helped me see that Palm Sunday and Easter kind of summarize the message I share. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people were excited, they thought they knew what God had planned. They thought God was going to deliver them from the unwanted circumstances they were facing. They were tired of being oppressed by the Romans and by the other enemies who lived nearby and they thought God was sending the Messiah to put an end to their problems. It was an exciting day for them on on Palm Sunday. Expectations were high. Life was good.
As the week went on, life wasn’t so good. Jesus didn’t drive out the Romans. He was arrested and crucified. He didn’t even put up a fight. The story symbolizes how God had other plans. Plans the people could not see and that extended beyond their circumstances. Yes, God had plans to deliver them, but not in the way they wanted. Instead God had plans to deliver them in the way that they really needed. God wanted to give them salvation. God wanted to give them something that would last beyond this life, for all of eternity.
You see, God was more concerned about their eternal comfort than He was their temporary comfort. It’s no different today. Do we realize that God has bigger plans and bigger purposes than we can see or imagine? Do we realize that God can take even the worst of circumstances and do a great work in the world, in your world? He may want to do a great work in your life. He may want to do a great work in the lives of those around you. He may want to do a great work in the lives of people you have never met. The bottomline is: He wants to work in you. He wants to work through you. (Personal note to Keith: Thanks for letting me borrow your phrase.)
Remember that whether life looks great (as it did on Palm Sunday) or whether circumstances look hopeless (as it looked when Jesus was crucified) God is not limited. Wherever He takes you remember He has a plan and a purpose for everything He allows into your life. He can take anything and turn it into something good. You may not see it, you may not understand it, but that might be because you are looking no further than this lifetime. God not only cares about what happens during our few years of this life, but He also cares about where you will spend eternity. As we see in the life of Jesus, God will allow those He loves to suffer if it is a part of his eternal plan to bring salvation to the world.
First Church of God
2010 W. 5th in Coffeyville, Kansas
Sunday, March 20 @ 10:30