Throughout the years, my birthday has always been a day when I take the time to reflect upon God's goodness and grace in my life during the past year. But this year is a little different.
As I get older, I am more and more aware of the uncertainty and brevity of my life. I am more and more aware of what truly matters and what doesn't. It is with that in mind that I wanted to take a moment to think about 3 lessons that I've learned during my life that, if I was on my deathbed, I would want to communicate to those that I love. 3 lessons that I hope to embrace for as long as God would give me the privilege to live.
Here are those 3 lessons. I hope they encourage and they serve you well.
1. God's Grace is Sufficient.
For 32 years I have fallen short of God's perfect standard. I have, on many occasions, not loved my wife like Christ loved the Church. I have not been the best brother to my siblings. I have not been the best son to my parents. I have not been the best leader/pastor to those who have graciously looked to my leadership. I have not been the best friend to those who have called me friend. I have made promises I didn't keep. I have had selfish motivations. I have not loved and served those around me like I could have and should have.
But, in the midst of my daily struggle with sin, the first lesson I have learned is that God's grace is sufficient. God's grace is adequate. God's grace is enough. God's grace is plenty.
For 32 years, God's grace has been there every time I have fallen. God's grace has been there every time I have felt distant. God's grace has been there every time I have felt unworthy. The truth is, I have been aware of God's grace the most, when I have deserved it the least.
And it is this amazing grace of God that does for me what nothing else can do for me:
It picks me up right where I fall.
It makes me whole right where I am empty.
It pushes me forward right in the direction that I need to go next.
And it does this for me, day after day, without fail.
But here's what you need to know about God's grace - it's all made possible by Jesus. I don't receive this grace because I deserve it, I receive this grace because Jesus earned it.
Through my faith in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not only is the penalty of my sins paid for, but the righteous requirement needed to have a relationship with God is fulfilled. Because Jesus lived the perfect life that I need to live, because Jesus died the death that I should have to die, through faith in Him I can have an unbroken relationship with God, despite my ongoing struggle with sin. This is the gospel of grace. My only responsibility is to trust it.
This grace is sufficient for me and, through faith in Jesus Christ, it can be sufficient for you.
2. God's Will is Perfect.
For 27 years, I wanted to do it my way. I wanted to pursue my plans. I wanted to pursue my purposes.
And then, when I did "surrender" to God's will for my life, I wanted to do God's will my way. I wanted God's will to happen in my timing. I wanted God's will to happen under my circumstances. I wanted God's will to produce my results.
But, at about 28 years old, the best way I knew how, I surrendered completely to God's will for my life. Every plan, every dream, every ambition, every hope, every desire. I came to a place where I wanted what God wanted for my life, in EVERY area of my life, more than I wanted what I wanted for my life. And it is through that act of surrender (and many acts of surrender since!) that I can, with conviction, say that God's will is perfect.
Without mistake. Without error. God's will for my vocation...perfect. God's will for my provision...perfect. God's will for my position...perfect. God's will for my results...perfect. God's will for my connections...perfect. God's will for my abilities...perfect. God's will for my suffering...perfect. God's will for my inadequacies...perfect. God's will for my pain...perfect. Whether in my eyes it's good, bad or ugly, God's will done God's way is perfect. My only responsibility is to trust it.
By experience, I'm convinced, God's will is better than my will. God's will is more fulfilling than my will. God's will ismore robust than my will. God's will is more long-sightedthan my will. God's will is more life-giving than my will. God's will is perfect.
One more word on this. If you may be wondering, "What is God's will for my life?" I would encourage you by saying:
God's will for your life is your moment by moment obedience to the things He's leading you to do. Just do the last thing He's led you to do. Then and only then will He reveal the next thing. Do these things without fear or hesitation. Why? Because they'reperfect.
3. God's Hand is Not Short.
For 32 years, I have seen God provide exactly what I need, exactly when I needed it. He has provided things I knew I needed and He has graciously provided things I had no ideaI needed. And it is through years and years of God providing financial resources, relational resources, spiritual resources, emotional resources, and physical resources that I can, without a doubt, proclaim...God's hand is not short.
For many years, I've believed in faith that...
If it's God's will, it's God's bill.
Where God guides, God provides.
What the King wants, the King pays for.
But it's only after the last 10 years of experience that I can say...these things are absolutely true!
God will provide for His purposes.
When I needed people for God's purposes...God provided. When I needed a platform for God's purposes...God provided. When I needed money for God's purposes...God provided. When I needed insight for God's purposes...God provided. When I needed understanding for God's purposes...God provided.
It may have been at the last minute. It may have been just enough. It may have not come in the form I thought it was going to come. But God always has provided for His purposes.
And because God is no respecter of persons, there is no doubt in my mind that God will provide for all of the purposes He has for your life as well. Your only responsibility is to trust Him.
God's grace is sufficient. Trust Him. God will is perfect. Trust Him. God's hand is not short. Trust Him.
In 32 years of living, I have not regretted a single day that I have lived in complete surrender and trust in God. In the greatest act of love every recorded in human history, God gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ...for me and for you. How could you not trust a Heavenly Father who loves you that much?
Thanks for taking the time to read through these three lessons. If they've been an encouragement to you and if you think they may be an encouragement to others would you please click the "SHARE" button below? Thanks!