God answers prayer. Sometimes it may take time but when God acts His timing is always perfect. We believe this because God is so good. Grab that cup of coffee and let's start off today on the right foot.
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.
Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."
God is at work among us. We can forget that or push the thought aside but for hopes sake we must clutch to it. You may be in some desperate situation, some hopeless happenstance, but remember God is near the desperate and hope to the hopeless. The following story illustrates one way in which God can move, work and change everything in the drop of a hat.
There is an article of a true story that came out in the 1940's called, "It Happened On The Brooklyn Subway." It is the story of a man named Marcel Sternburger living in New York who goes to visit a friend living in another Borough. He had never been there before but his friend was dying. In the middle of the day he gets onto the subway to visit his friend. He had never taken that train nor had ridden the subway at that time of day before. When he boards the train it is packed because it is lunch hour. He doesn't know how he is going to get a seat. It's wall to wall people. As he looks for a seat a man realizes that he wants that stop and jumps out of his seat and out the subway car. Sternburger makes a bee-line for the seat and plunks himself down. Next to him is a man reading a Hungarian newspaper. Sternburger was rather anoyed with this. The train is jammed packed and this man is taking up all this room trying to read this newspaper. Sternburger, trying to be diplomatic, said, "I see you are reading a Hungarian newspaper. So you speak Hungarian obviously, are you from Hungary?"
The man said, "Yes."
Sternburger asked, "Why are you reading this newspaper here?"
He said, "I am looking for my wife."
Sternburger said, "You're looking for a wife?"
He said, "No, no, no. I am looking for my wife."
Sternburger said, "Where is she?"
He said, "That's what I don't know." He said, "I come from Debreken in Hungary. I was conscripted by the Russians to go and bury the German dead. When I came back I found out that my wife had been taken to a Concentration camp but shortly thereafter the Allies came and rescued them. I have no idea where she is. I am hoping beyond hope that she was still alive when the Allies came and that they brought her to America.
Marcel Sternburger started thinking. He had been to a party several weeks ago and he was sitting next to a woman who said she lived in Debreken. Her husband had been taken by the Russian Army. She was sent to Auschwitz but was rescued by the Allies and was taken to America. He found her to be a lovely lady and so actually had taken her telephone number, remembered her name and told her, "Maybe some time we will get together." He wrote her name down. Her name was Maria Paskin. So, he turns to this man and asks, "What was your wife's name?"
He said, "Maria Paskin."
"And your name?"
"My name is Bella Paskin."
Sternburger told him, "Get off at the next station with me."
They get off at the next station and Sternburger finds a phone booth and asks the man to wait a minute and closes the phone booth door behind him. He dials the number. After several rings a feeble voice answers. He said, "Maria? This is Marcel Sternburger. Do your remember me?"
"Yes," she said.
He said, "Maria, what is your husband's name?"
She said, "His name was Bella Paskin."
He said, "Maria, you are about to witness the greatest miracle of your life. Hang on."
He waves to the man and hands the man the receiver. Bella Paskin began to talk and when he realized who it was the sobs were so uncontrollable he could only keep saying, "Maria! Maria! Maria! I can't believe it's you."
The article ends with these words, "Skeptical persons will no doubt attribute the events of that memorable afternoon to mere chance. Was it chance that made Sternburger suddenly decide to visit his sick friend and hence take a subway line he had never been on before? Was it chance that caused the man sitting by the door of the car to rush out just as Sternburger came in? Was it chance that caused Bella Paskin to be sitting next to Sternburger reading a Hungarian newspaper? Was it chance or did God ride the Brooklyn Subway that day?" (Adapted from "It Happened On The Brooklyn Subway" by Paul Deutschman).
Prayer: Holy Father, we often are amazed by how You move and work in our lives. Your fingerprints seem to be all over us. Thank You for working in each of our lives. Today we will be Your vessel. Use us however You see fit to make a difference in another's life. For the requests that are close to our heart we ask You to move and act in Your timing and way to answer our cries. We love You. In Jesus name, amen.
[Story used in "Teach Us To Pray: Part One: Our Father Who Is In Heaven." Listen to full message here: www.arvadachristian.org/sermons]