Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not Our Way but His

Yesterday afternoon, I made a blood donation for the first time in several years. I didn't plan it; it was a matter of the blood drive van's "just happening" to be there, a "divine interruption" along the line of yesterday's theme: "It is God Who plans our lives, and not we ourselves." This particular interruption wasn't much of an annoyance; but I did have to keep reminding myself not to take pride in my own generosity, but instead to thank God for the chance to serve.

Pride was probably at the root of my having gone so long without even trying to give blood. Pride and stress, the latter of which was behind my being rejected the last few times I offered. Either my pulse or blood pressure had temporarily gone high, or I was just so visibly nervous that no one wanted to risk sticking a needle in me. After the first such time, the fear of another rejection caused more stress than the fear of the needle. But still it was largely pride talking: "They have no right to waste my time with all these questions and then turn me away."

Pride is the bad attitude that nurtures all other bad attitudes: anxiety, anger, and envy alike are rooted in the delusion of a natural right to have things go our way. Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV), has even been quoted in defense of the idea that God will make all true Christians healthy and prosperous if they only ask in sufficient faith.

What pride ignores is that, as with Olympic stars who give up sweets and evening parties to help themselves become the best athletes possible, reaching the true "best" often requires sacrificing some lesser "good."

We all have our plans and our longings;
We all hope to see things go "right";
We're tempted to fume in frustration
At every dead end or red light.
But God knows the flaws in our planning,
And He sets the course of our days:
The greatest good isn't our comfort,
But that we would live for His praise.

We all dream of comfort and fortune;
We all hope to live lives of ease;
We all tap our feet in impatience
When things fail to go as we please.
But God knows the best for each lifetime,
And He plans its times and its length:
It's not our "success" that's His purpose,
But that we will grow in His strength.

Some saints will be called to be wealthy,
And some will be called to be poor;
For some every venture will prosper,
While some see dreams crushed on the floor.
God knows what each soul can use wisely,
And He gives each joy and each pain
To strip us of all earthly idols
And help us allow Him to reign!

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