Philippians 1:12-14, "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear."
You're chained. Your life is balanced on the edge of uncertainty. Will you live or die? Most of us cannot imagine what that scenario would be like. Would you be afraid? Would you cry? Would you curse God for allowing you to be in such a situation?
Paul saw something else. Now I'm sure he saw his situation but he saw something else, perhaps Someone else. He believed that God had a plan. He believed that God was most certainly and imperceptibly working beneath the surface to will and to act in such a way to achieve a higher and greater goal.
The longer I submit to God's will in Christ the more I see what Paul saw. It is from the backward glance at my life that I see God has always been working beneath the surface to achieve higher and greater goals, to make something beautiful. Because of what God has done I can trust Him in what He is doing. My job, in all this, is just to trust and to seek God's will. As the old hymn says, "Where He leads me I will follow." And when I get there I will be able to look back to see the beautiful thing God has done.
In his book Jesus Among Other Gods, Ravi Zacharias tells the story about how God, the Master Weaver, sovereignly works to weave beauty into our lives as we respond to his will. During a trip to India, Zacharias noticed a father and son who were weaving some of the most beautiful Indian wedding saris in the world. Zacharias explains the background and then describes the scene:
"The sari, of course, is the garment worn by Indian women. It is usually six yards long. Wedding saris are a work of art; they are rich in gold and silver threads, resplendent with an array of colors.
"The place I was visiting was known for making the best wedding saris in the world. I expected to see some elaborate system of machines and designs that would boggle the mind. Not so! Each sari was being made individually by a father-and-son team. The father sat above on a platform two-to-three-feet higher than the son, surrounded by several spools of thread, some dark, some shining.
"The son did just one thing. At a nod, from his father, he would move the shuttle from one side to the other and back again. The father would gather some threads in his fingers, nod once more, and the son would move the shuttle again. This would be repeated for hundreds of hours, till you would begin to see a magnificent pattern emerging.
"The son had the easy task—just to move at the father's nod. All along, the father had the design in mind and brought the threads together.
The more I reflect on my own life and study the lives of others, I am fascinated to see the design God has for each one of us … if we would only respond to him." [Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods (Zondervan, 2000), pp. 17-18]
I don't know what you're facing. It may be hard, frustrating, painful, sad or discouraging. And you may not know what God is weaving. We can only see snippets of it here and there when we look back. Even so, I can promise you that one day when you see the whole of your life you will see a pattern emerge, an intricate and beautiful design, that only the Master weaver could weave. Therefore, despite what we are facing, we can see something else.
Prayer: Our Father, and the Weaver of our lives, we commit our lives to Your hand. You have a pattern in mind, a beautiful and intricate design, that we can only barely fathom now. But we trust You. We know Your plans are best even if we cannot always understand them. Help us to move when You nod. In Jesus name, amen.