Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lord Willing, part 2

Read Part 1 Here.

In šāʾ Allāh

A missionary accompanying us translated.

We will have a good flight, If Allah Wills.
We should have good weather, If Allah Wills.
We will land at 3:00, If Allah Wills.
We will see you again my friends, If Allah Wills.

In šāʾ Allāh rang in my ears. 

Lord Willing.

Since that flight the words If God wills have troubled me. While I do not believe that at any time my life or that flight were in Allah's hands, I was struck that day and for the next week by how much the Tunisian people understand that they are not the ultimate authority for their own lives; I witnessed them pray 5 times a day to Allah, who they believed would do what he would do, but who they hoped would show them mercy and favor.

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As we have worked our way through Genesis on Sunday mornings at church, the story of Joseph is one I have anticipated. If you have never read the full account of his life, it's in Genesis 37-48, and listen to Sean and Dan's sermons while you are at it. When Joseph was very young God told him that he would be a great leader--even his older brothers and his parents would bow down to him. But as jealous brothers do, Joseph's siblings sold him into slavery and then he spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. His life, in a nutshell, stunk, and was far removed from what he thought it would be like.  

We have the benefit of reading the entire story of Joseph. We know that God used him for great purposes and not only was he second in command of Egypt because Pharaoh recognized that God was real and was working through Joseph, he saved his entire family from famine, indeed his entire nation. 

But Joseph did not have the benefit of knowing the end from the beginning. Like you and me he could only see his life one day at a time.  And even though his brothers betrayed him, his good name was smeared by a promiscuous woman, and someone he helped forgot about him for 2 years, He does not doubt God, curse Him, or go against God's ways. In all circumstances he obeys and praises the Lord.

At the end he forgives his brothers, and even assures them that they did not send him to Egypt, but God did and He had a purpose.

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I prayed a ton on my flight to Tunisia and during my week there. Even in France I found that conversing with God was like breathing, because my need for Him was great. But in general, the pilot of that tiny plane puts me to shame as far as acknowledging that he does not have the universe in his control. And while I tend to acknowledge God and His will when I am in crisis, I do not rely on Him for daily things. For food, shelter, my plans, my desires. I tend to to pray for my children's safety and health and salvation, but not that we would be used--however God chooses--for His kingdom. Sometimes it scares me to say Lord Willing. I like my plans and  like my comfort zones. But as Sean pointed out, when I say through words or actions This is what I am doing, this is the plan, who is my god? Me.

And I don't have to wonder if God will show me mercy. He has promised in His Word that all who call upon the name of Jesus for salvation will indeed be saved. Why then, would I not live my life Lord Willing.