GOD’s Plan for My Life

There have been several factors at play recently that have impeded my blog writing. I had been planning to next write about Christ’s particular redemption. Instead, I am going to share a little of GOD’s sovereign working in my personal life.

When I was under the age of 16, I always assumed I would get married someday and have children. I thought that’s what everyone did. That’s what you were “supposed” to do. When I got closer to the age of 18, I had realized that I didn’t have any desire to have children, and I questioned whether or not I would even marry. I had done a lot of babysitting between the ages of 14 and 17, and that’s when I realized that children “weren’t for me”. I didn’t know why at the time. I secretly thought that I was wrong for not wanting children, but that’s not how I projected it to my family and friends. I had a friend who told me, shortly after we graduated high school, that she could never understand my lack of desire to have children. She talked about a deep longing she felt to have a family. I could never understand her desire to have children.

The reason I was questioning whether or not I would get married was because my mother was pushing guys at me. As a senior in high school, she was trying to set me up with her friends’ sons. I went on a double date or two. Me, the guy, and our mothers. I would tell my mother that I may not ever get married in the hopes that she would stop making me feel pressured to date. I knew it wasn’t right. I didn’t date at all in high school, and by the time I was halfway through my senior year, after years of lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend, I had come to the conclusion that the purpose of dating was to choose a godly spouse. Why bother dating someone if you knew you wouldn’t marry them? What was the point?

When I was 19, I eloped, after officially dating for less than three weeks. Yup. GOD sure has a sense of humor. If you doubt GOD’s humor, take a gander at what GOD says in Numbers 11:19-20. Not only that, I married a man who was 17 years older than me. A man who also didn’t want to have children. A man that my parents disliked greatly.

We just celebrated our 11 year anniversary this past July. The story is far too long to include all the details in this one post, but looking back at the way we got married, my husband and I have not one doubt that GOD brought us together. Nor do we doubt that it has been GOD’s hand that has kept us together for all this time.

In our 11 years of marriage, we have not had children. We have dogs that we treat like children, but we haven’t had any human babies. I’ve gotten a lot of flak for our decision not to reproduce. I’ve been told that I’ll change my mind. That I’m still young and I’ll want children when I’m older. That I’m not a woman without children. That my marriage isn’t complete without children. And on and on it goes.

I thank GOD for the fact that my husband and I have not had children. I can’t imagine the kind of damage that would have been inflicted upon a child of ours.

You see, there were a lot of things that were happening, and had yet to happen, in our lives that we didn’t know about. Things that would have been very difficult to endure with a child. Things that would have complicated a child growing up to have a normal, healthy view of the world. Things that would impact the child for the rest of his or her life.

My husband and I have both suffered from various emotional and mental disorders in the 11 years we’ve been together, and we still battle them today, to some extent. I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and depression, and have struggled for years to overcome these. My husband has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Up until the past six months or so, our home environment has been rather unstable. We have both had alcohol issues. I can’t imagine what witnessing any of this would have done to a child.

In the 11 years we’ve been married, we have moved 14 different times. Granted, we moved three times in one year for a job I had, but it was still a move, and each move is traumatic in its own way. Can you imagine the lack of security this would have instilled in a child?

Oh, yeah. At the end of this past June, my husband was diagnosed with highly contagious TB. As in tuberculosis. As in consumption. As in the disease that was prevalent in the 1800 and 1900’s. We live in the Midwest. Who knew that one could develop TB in this country, in this century? I sure didn’t. Good thing GOD did. How would you feel, as a child, knowing that your father had a disease that he could have died from? And if he didn’t die, he would be weak and sick for many months. What fear that child would have to live with.

My husband and I sure didn’t know what the future would hold when we made the decision to not have children. GOD knew what His plan was for us, however, and He knew that children would not be conducive to that plan. Yes, every child in one’s quiver is a gift from GOD, but GOD chose to give my husband and I different gifts. GOD does everything for His reasons. He knew what He would bring. And He has used all the tribulation and heartache for our good. I can see how it was necessary to go through most of what I’ve gone through to get to where I am today. I can’t see how it all plays out. Not yet, and maybe never. But I know that if we had children, we would be contributing at least one more sad, sick, weary, messed up person to the world. Other people didn’t understand, but we knew that we weren’t called to have children. And GOD made us ok with that, even before we knew why.

“The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.”   Isaiah 14:24  NASB

Christ’s Effectual Propitiation

GOD sent His Son, Jesus, as the sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus is our propitiation, sent by GOD to redeem His chosen people.

“Propitiation” is defined as “an atoning sacrifice”.  Another source states that it is “the turning away of wrath by an offering”.  The Bible tells us in several places that Christ is our propitiation (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; and 1 John 4:10).  He is our atoning sacrifice.  Christ’s death on the cross was the perfect offering that turned away the wrath of GOD.  The perfect, one time offering.  Hebrews 10:14 states that “…by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”  Christ, by His one time death on the cross, has perfected FOR ALL TIME those who are sanctified.  Nothing else is needed.  No other atonement is necessary.  Hebrews 10 continues, explaining that “…where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.”  (Hebrews 10:18  NASB)  There is no longer any offering for sin because Jesus took care of our sin on the cross.

In John, after Jesus drank the sour wine, He declared, “It is finished!” and then gave up His spirit (John 19:30).  He finished everything that was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins.  When He was received into heaven, Mark says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of GOD (Mark 16:19).  When there is still work to do, when there are still sinners to save, when there are still battles to be fought, the Savior wouldn’t be sitting down.  He sat because the work was finished.  He had accomplished what GOD had sent Him to do.  Christ had saved the souls of His elect, and effectually become their propitiation.

Colossians says that our debt to GOD has been taken, and nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).  Our debt has been removed!  We are no longer under the Law.  We no longer need regular sacrifices made for us, as in the Old Testament.  Paul tells us in Romans that “…the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death”  (Romans 8:2  NASB).  And we are told in John that “…if the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.”  (John 8:36  NASB)  Hallelujah!  Christ has made us free, and we are free indeed! 

We are free from our sin.  We are free from the Law.  Christ has sufficiently atoned for our sins!  In Galatians, Paul tells us that we cannot add to the work that Christ completed on the cross.  We will not be more saved if we are circumcised, or baptized, or regular church attenders, or volunteers, or donators to charity, or anything else we think makes us “good”.  Paul states that “…if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  (Galatians 2:21  NASB)  If we try to add anything onto what Christ has done for us, then Christ died in vain.  If we think we need anything else than Jesus’ propitiation in order to be saved and enter heaven, then Christ has died needlessly.

Jesus, our atoning sacrifice, has made us free indeed.  Our debt is nailed to the cross.  There is nothing we can add to the death of Christ that will save us.  Christ has finished His work on earth.  He has saved His elect, and there is no one who can snatch us out of GOD’s hand (John 10:28-29).  We can rest, knowing that we are safe, secure, and atoned for.  GOD has done the work for us.

GOD Calls Us to Salvation

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on GOD who has mercy.”  Romans 9:16  NASB

Our salvation is not based on anything that we can, or have, done.  Our salvation is not based on the good works we do.  It’s not based on how often we go to church.  It’s not based on us being “smart” enough to figure out GOD’s plan, and then reaching out to Him, calling for help.  “As it is written, there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for GOD; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12  NASB)  No one seeks GOD.  No one, on their own, would ever reach out to GOD.

“He (GOD) chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  (Ephesians 1:4-6  NASB)  GOD chose us.  In His infinite wisdom and glory, He chose us.  He chose us before He had even created us.  Before we had the chance to go to church every Sunday.  Before we had the chance to volunteer at soup kitchens, or donate to the Salvation Army.  Before we had the chance to be good or bad, GOD chose us.  Paul illustrates this point when talking about Jacob and Esau.  “For though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that GOD’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her (Sarah, their mother), ‘The older will serve the younger.’  Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”  (Romans 9:11-13  NASB) 

GOD chooses those who will become His children.  GOD calls us to Him, not the other way around.  Jesus talks numerous times about GOD drawing His children to Himself  (John 6:44; John 6:65; John 15:16, 19; John 8:34-36; John 6:36-37).  Knowing that we have been drawn by GOD to be His children, knowing that it is from nothing within ourselves, really does make salvation seem more of the gift that it was meant to be.  Paul, in Ephesians, states “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of GOD; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9  NASB)  In Titus and second Timothy, we’re reminded, again, that we are not saved based on our deeds (Titus 3:4-5; 2 Timothy 1:9).

Before we were born, before the foundation of the world, not from anything in our evil and sinful selves, GOD chose those who He would call.  We are GOD’s people.  His selected servants.  There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation through Christ, and there is nothing we can do to lose it.  GOD has us firmly in His grasp.  No matter what we do, no matter what happens in our life, He will always draw us back to Him.  He has saved us.  He loves us.  He works all things for our good.  GOD is completely sovereign in all things.  GOD has the power to make things happen.  GOD has the power to chose us, and hold onto us for all eternity, no matter how we may struggle to get away.  That’s the kind of GOD I want to follow.  The GOD of the universe who has gifted me with salvation, when, on my own, I would never turn to Him.  GOD has chosen me, even though He knows what a piece of crap I continue to be on a daily basis.  My amazing, awesome, sovereign GOD.

Our Need for GOD

Despite what the Bible clearly states over and over, this next Truth seems to be particularly difficult for a lot of people to swallow:  Man is 100%, totally and completely, dead in his sin.  Without GOD, we can do not one single good thing.  We are so lost in our sin, we are unable to even lift our hand up to GOD without His help.

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”  (Psalm 51:5  NASB)  “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formally walked…”  (Ephesians 2:1-2a  NASB)  “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  (Romans 5:12  NASB)  “As it is written, there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for GOD; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12  NASB)

Ok, time to stop and ponder.  David states that he was conceived in sin.  He was brought forth in iniquity.  Paul, in Ephesians shows that we were dead in our sins.  Not just sick and floundering, but D.E.A.D.  In Romans, Paul explains that sin entered the world through one man, that man being Adam, and, because of this, death spread to all men.  He stated earlier in Romans that there is not one righteous man.  None have done good.  No one even seeks for GOD.  We are so dead, stinking, rotten in our sin, that we are unable to even go looking for GOD.

Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, tells us “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.”  (Ecclesiastes 7:20  NASB)  There is not a man who never sins.  We have ALL sinned at one point, and usually many many more, in our lives.  He continues, explaining that the problem lies within our hearts.  “…The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:3b  NASB)  Our hearts are full of evil.  How can it be possible that man, with so much evil running rampant through our very veins, can turn to a righteous GOD?

In the book of John, Jesus goes so far as to say that everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin (John 8:34).  The prophet Isaiah tells us that “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…”  (Isaiah 53:6a  NASB)  Jesus states later on in John that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).  Isaiah also tells us that even our attempts at doing good things are repugnant to GOD, stating that our “righteous deeds” are like a filthy garment  (Isaiah 64:6).  Side note:  The Hebrew word for “filthy garment” in this text means the same thing as menstruation rag.  GOD views our attempts at goodness to be about as desirable as a menstruation rag.  Enough said.

We are dead in our sins.  We were born into sin.  Our hearts are full of deceitfulness and evil.  Every single last one of us has sinned, again and again.

GOD gave us the Law to show our need for Him.  He gave us the Law to show us that we could never measure up to the perfection that He demands.  Even if we are able to follow the Ten Commandments, that’s just barely scratching the surface of the list of laws GOD set out for us to follow.  GOD wanted to make our need for Him painfully obvious.  James tells us that “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at one point, he has become guilty of all.”  (James 2:10  NASB)  If we fail to keep one part of GOD’s law, we are guilty of breaking the entire thing.  “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  (1 John 1:8)

Apart from GOD, we have no hope.  Apart from GOD, the best we can muster is the equivalent to menstruation rags.

HOWEVER…there is hope in Christ.  GOD showed us, time and time again, our need for a Savior.  Our need for a perfect substitute to take our sins upon Himself, and satisfy GOD’s demand for perfection.  GOD sent His Son as a sacrifice for us.  GOD has bridged the gap, from the Law that we can never follow, to a fellowship with Him.  We are now justified by faith in Christ, as opposed to being dead in a law we can never follow.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of GOD; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9  NASB

GOD the Potter

GOD is the supreme, sovereign GOD of the universe.  We are His creation, and GOD can do with us as He desires.  Did I get your attention?

There are a lot of people I know who seem to want GOD to be a sometimes-sovereign god, as it suits their needs.  They feel warm and fuzzy thinking about GOD working all things for their good (Romans 8:28).  They like to rest on GOD’s sovereignty when it comes to protecting them from harm, or healing them from illness.  For most people, that’s where thinking about GOD’s sovereignty ends.  They seem to think that they are able to take over from there.

The Bible says in many places that GOD is like a potter, and we are His clay.  Consider Jeremiah 18:6:  “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares the LORD, behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.'”.  Also Isaiah 64:8:  “But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our potter, and all of us are the work of Thy hand.”

GOD has created us.  Most anyone who believes in the existence of GOD would not argue this.  Genesis talks of GOD creating man in His own image.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a Christian that disagrees with the fact that we were created by GOD.  There may be some professing Christians who don’t agree with this, but I have not yet met one.

It seems that the Christians who agree with the fact that GOD created us don’t like to ponder that statement much further.  They don’t bother thinking about what that truly means.  We are GOD’s creation, molded to His desire.  Just like the potter creates what he likes out of clay, GOD can, and does, shape us into what He wants.  What suits His purpose.  “Will the clay say to the potter, what are you doing?'”  (Isaiah 45:9  NASB)  “Who are you, O man, who answers back to GOD?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, why did you make me like this,’ will it?  Or does not the potter have a right over the clay…”  (Romans 9:20-21a  NASB)  GOD has every right to deal with us, and do with us, as He pleases.

Paul continues in Romans 9, stating, “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?  What if GOD, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?  And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”  (Romans 9:21-23  NASB)  Everything GOD does, He does for His glory.  Whether it’s creating vessels of common use for destruction, or bestowing mercy on vessels created for honorable use, GOD’s sole intention is to bring glory to Himself.

GOD created us.  He is sovereign, and, as our Creator, as the Potter, can mold us into the vessels He sees fit.  To GOD be the glory.

In GOD’s Hands

I find GOD’s sovereignty to be so incredibly freeing.  I know not everyone sees it that way, and I am not at all trying to discount human responsibility.  The Bible clearly states that man is responsible to choose to follow Christ, and to follow GOD’s commandments.  Of course, without GOD’s power, without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, man is completely dead in his sin.  Without GOD’s sovereignty, man would never choose GOD.  Man is sinful and wholly evil.  “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9  NASB)  By himself, man will always choose to follow his own path rather than the path that GOD has laid out for him.  There are a plethora of verses that detail GOD’s choosing us before the foundation of the world, GOD’s irresistible call, and the complete and utter depravity of man, but those are posts for another day.

Knowing that my salvation, my life, every minute of my every day is in GOD’s hands is very comforting.  I know that there is nothing I can do that will cause me to lose my salvation, just like there was nothing I could do to earn my salvation.  I don’t have to worry that I said or did the wrong thing, and will now end up in Hell.  GOD’s grace covers me.  Because I have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ, nothing I can do will change that.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  (John 10:27-29  NASB)  GOD is strong enough to keep anyone and anything, including myself, from removing me from His grasp.

I can also relax, knowing that GOD is in control of everything that happens, even if it seems like a bad thing at the time.  Even if it seems like someone is purposefully out to cause me harm, or bring me down.  Think of the story of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers.  In Genesis 50, when Joseph sees his brothers again, he says, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but GOD meant it for good in order to bring about this present result”  (Genesis 50:20  NASB)  Even if, in the moment, what happens seems particularly painful or especially irritating, we need to remember that GOD says, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand”  (Isaiah 14:24  NASB)  Ephesians 1:11 states that GOD “…works all things after the counsel of His will.”  GOD is in control.  Everything that has happened and will happen is in GOD’s timing, according to His perfect will.

There’s a Caedmon’s Call song that I love, called “Table for Two.”  One of the lines in the last verse is “This day’s been crazy, but everything’s happened on schedule.  From the rain to the cold to the drink that I spilled on my shirt.  You knew how You’d save me before I feel dead in the garden.  You knew this day long before You made me out of dirt.”

GOD knows the plans that He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and He knows how He’s going to get us there.  We can rest easy, knowing that everything that happens is in GOD’s perfect plan.  Everything we encounter is according to GOD’s will.

 

ALL Good

I’m going to start this post with the verse I ended with last night.

“And we know 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  NASB

That verse has gotten me through so many trying times, I can’t even tell you.  My husband has always said that “GOD works ALL things for our good.  Not the things we like.  Not the things we understand.  Not the things that are easy.  ALL things.”  Knowing this has helped me get through job losses, issues with family members, fights with my husband, major moves, and all the many seemingly impossible times in my life.  Knowing that GOD works ALL things for my good has helped me to overcome childhood abuse, having my home church turn their back on me, distancing myself from my family, struggles with mental illness and self harm, and all the bullies throughout my life that have tried to run over me.  There was a time when I didn’t think I would ever be able to recover from the emotional and psychological wounds I’ve sustained since early on.  At this point in my life, though, I can look back and confidently know that GOD was working every single problem and issue, both big and small, for my good.  I can see how He has used those hard times to shape and mold me into what He wants me to be.  I currently only have a miniscule understanding of His workings in my life.  I have only just started to see the tip of the iceberg of the good that GOD has been creating for me.  I can see now, though, that I had to go through every single thing I went through.  GOD was lovingly leading me through all the crap I sustained in my life in order to create the perfect vessel He always planned to mold me into.  And I’m nowhere near being who I should be in Christ, but “I am confident that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6  NASB)  Jeremiah promises us that GOD has a plan for our life.  “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11  NASB)  How can we trust that GOD has the final plan laid out for us, but then not trust that He will lead us through this life, guiding us through all the muck and mire that seems to make no sense at the time?  That seems to hurt, and cut deeply?

GOD knows the plans He has for us, and He promises to work all things for good for those that love Him.  GOD is in control.  When something bad, something horrific, happens, have peace, knowing that GOD is there.  When you are treated unfairly, and put upon, you can stay calm, knowing that GOD is in control.  GOD sees what is being done to you, and GOD will take care of it, in His timing, in His way.  We may not be able to stand up against what is happening to us, but GOD can, and He will.  GOD is in control, and GOD is working all things for your good.  ALL things.

Just the Beginning

Welcome to my new WordPress site.  I’ve started this blog to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately:  GOD’s sovereignty.

My plan for this blog is to discuss several things related to GOD’s sovereignty.  A few of them being GOD lovingly leading us through this life, GOD promising to work all things for our good, and GOD knowing not just His plan for us, but also how He intends to get us there.

I’ve thought long and hard about starting this blog, understanding what a huge responsibility it is for a person to share their views and understanding of GOD with others, especially on a large scale.  I will do my best to only write prayerfully, and as I feel GOD leading me to do so.

I think I will leave it at that for now.  I felt like I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight until I started this blog, so here I am.  More to come at a later date.

I’ll end with my husband’s favorite Bible verse, the verse he has been quoting to me since I met him.

“And we know that GOD causes all things to work together for good to those who love GOD, to those called according to His purpose.”  ~Romans 8:28 NASB