November 11, 2011

He chooses my heritage

It isn’t only on Remembrance Day that I think what life might be like had one or both of the two world wars turned out differently. Sometimes I imagine myself in a war zone with danger all around and my house a bombed shell with missing walls. I do this to identify with those to whom this actually happens, to recognize that I am in this place by the grace of God, and to appreciate where and what we have.

Human pride tends to always want bigger, better and more. Instead of being thankful for the blessings I enjoy, gratitude is a discipline that I must work on. I’m thankful for even reminders to be thankful — and this day offers such reminders.

Yesterday, one of the family tree sites offered a free search regarding soldiers so I searched the names of two great uncles who served in WWI. I may have met them as a child yet do not remember their faces. As I read their draft registration and attestation papers, tears filled my eyes. Warriors such as these two soldiers made possible the freedoms that we enjoy.

However, God, who is sovereign over all, has the ultimate say in where I am and what happens to me. The psalmist encourages praise and worship for the One who ultimately has control over our heritage . . . 

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah (Psalm 47:1–4)
I’ve complained about my lot in life and should be ashamed. No matter what my heritage is, I should be satisfied for God has chosen it. Because He is wise and good, that means His choice is the wisest and best choice.

Spurgeon uses the example of a large ship sailing up a river into the harbor, weaving and meandering. Some might ask why the captain does not bring it into the harbor by a straight line. But the captain knows the rocks and sandbanks. He steers the safest course so the ship does not run aground.

So it is with the course of my life. My divine Captain steers me into what seems like depths of affliction with waves of trouble, yet “He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10). His eye is not only on the harbor but on the safest route to get me there.

Spurgeon also points to a simple house plant. Some plants will die if they have too much sunshine. I might be planted where I think I do not have enough of sunshine or delightful blessings. I used to wonder what my life would have been like had I attended art school as my parents wanted, or married differently, or lived in another place, or earned a doctorate but I am put where I am by the love of God. He is in all decisions and opportunities. Because He is wise and loving, He has chosen my heritage. It is in this place where He can produce the most fruit for His glory.

I’m reminded that had any other condition or situation been better for me than the one in which I am in, divine love would have put me in that other place. Instead, God put me in the most suitable circumstances. If I’d have made the choice, no doubt I would be moaning to God to change things, to choose my inheritance for me, because I have learned that my selfish wisdom usually leads to disaster and sorrow.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). This is true. No matter my situation, I am learning contentment. The Lord has ordered all things for my good. All things may include a heavy cross or a lighter load, but any burdens are those best suited for me, and have already proven effective to draw me closer to God and more equipped to do His will.

Since these truths are not just for me, my mind goes to those whose lot in life included war and sorrow. I cannot even guess the mind of God and His intentions for those who have (and still are) suffered in these conflicts. Instead of trying to figure out anything that makes sense to me, faith urges me to trust God who also knows the way that everyone else takes too. His eye is on the sparrow. He knows the number of the hairs on our heads. He knows every soul that has suffered and died in wartime and in peace. He is the great king over all the earth, but also the loving shepherd who bids us to draw near and follow Him.

Lord, how could I ever think that I know better than You when it comes to choosing my lot in life. Vain ambition may have put me in a different place, but it would have not been the best place. Only You know me better than myself. I have made my plans, but You have directed my steps. I am so grateful to be in Your care and to know that the choices You make for me are good choices. Thank You. Please bless those in uniform today, and help them know that You hold their lives in Your precious and loving hands.

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