Like Flint

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7

Have you ever wondered how it appears someone is able to simply walk up and say out loud in some form, “Here. Wear this. It fits you.” And what the person has just handed you is shame to put on as your clothing? Even worse, you take it from them and then proceed to don it like a prize?

We do not always know what to do with such reactions from people. We muse, “Why would they do that”? Yet, without much thought, aware the words are not edifying, we still receive them as if God would use a similar tone toward us.

Remember: God handles His human creation in a way that is redemptive. His ways are not like ours. We learn to deal with people out of our sinful impatience and lack of discretion. God always chooses a better way, however, that involves unconditional, unbreakable love. He calls us to the best things, to new things, and does not act to drive us backward.

 

Exactly

In what seems the oddest of circumstances, God may call you to something He tells no one else about except you, at least, for a time. To make matters worse, some if not most others will not understand it at all. It could be this is exactly the way God wants it. It can be disturbing, even confusing, when others react to what God is doing in your life instead of pray for you. In fact, some walk away because you are unable to explain and they do not understand what to them should be simple and quickly organized or managed.

If family and friends cannot relate to God’s work in you, they may want to derail it without realizing what they are doing. They may criticize God’s perfect plan that you have no control over – a plan they should be praying about but are baffled by for a number of reasons that make little or no sense to them or you.

You must recognize that others may fear the lack of control you have over your life, a lack that really is not out of control at all, only is no longer yours, what you have placed into God’s loving care with trust toward Him.

While it is not easy when this happens, and in a situation where we could especially use the prayer and support, we need to pray for those who do not understand. This is challenging because it can feel very lonely like traveling through a desert. But, it is where God is preparing us for what He wants to do.

We might find it easy to berate God’s call, too, because doing so can give us outward relief to express the same annoyance about ourselves that others are showing. Then we can at least feel a little in control of others’ reactions if only for a moment. This does not make it right, however, especially when God gets us off alone and we are convicted that He is continually saying, “Trust me.” God will put some things on the hearts of others to pray for you, and those people will know the Lord is at work regarding you. But if others are not asking God what He is doing in your life, do not be surprised if they offer “clothing” to put on that God does not want you to wear.

This clothing can come in the form of discouragement such as telling you a ministry you are considering is unrealistic or selfish. Others can say all kinds of things in the name of care or concern when the call on your life is not theirs. Truly, your call is God’s business. If the Lord wants to do it, He will not only get you to it, He will clear your name about it.

 

Settled

God knows what does not make sense to you and why. The comforting part about knowing this truth is that you and God are in a conversation about where he is leading you. He understands and sees it all. He is not against you for not knowing everything or being able to explain it to yourself, or back to him, or to others. Look only at Him especially when there is no one else in your path he is using to get you to His calling.

Ask Him to guard your heart and help you focus on Him instead of seeking answers anywhere else you could possibly find them. This does not mean we should not seek counsel – not in the least. We are to get guidance and surround ourselves with people of wisdom. But, we must first turn our hearts to God when He brings to our attention He wants to work with us, one on one, about a matter.

At times, we are to stay silent about a thing the Lord wants to do through us. These are situations in which we need to ask Him about when, how and from whom we should seek counsel. He may want to involve others in how He is preparing us for service. We just need to ask Him how He wants to involve them, move when He says move, and not rush ahead or hold back once we have instructions.

It could also be God is teaching people in your life a different thing such as patience, humility, to pray, or other maturity needed of which only He knows. At times, God has them watching closely what He is doing in you, teaching them through observing how you are turning to Him through all you are experiencing.

  • Let God do what He wants by handing every piece of shame, that gets extended to you, over to Him. Others who are well-meaning can tend to swoop in to repair something for you that God is moving in, and that only His timing and intervention will repair. If He makes something crooked, no one and nothing else can make it straight until He is ready.

 

  • Another person’s repair might not be in God’s plan for you. This can be frustrating to others, so remember to pray before seeking counsel.

 

  • Remain resolved that you know God has hold of His plans for you especially if He gave you a peace about what He is doing and even if you do not know all of the details. In this way, you set your face like flint – like a hard stone such as one that could be formed into tools.

It does not mean you are hardened to God, others or yourself, but settled in your heart that His ways of goodness will order your steps.

Whatever God is doing in your life that feels unbearable, keep turning to Him. Even if being quiet before Him is all you can do because you have no words, still do it. He sees your heart and knows what you would like to say but cannot.

Tell Him you want to be clothed in something else even if you do not know what that else should be. He knows. And He will make an exchange with you that your heart could never have asked or imagined. God teaches me this constantly.

He is that good.

He is that able.

He is that willing.

He has the character for it and it is His nature to do whatever His human creation needs. He is that kind of God. The only.

 

Surrounded

Remember Mary, the lady we honor as the mother of Jesus? We did not at first. In the eyes of others, Mary had every reason to feel ashamed of herself because she was expecting a baby and was not married. In her day, Mary would be scorned for her situation. But God had a plan. He surrounded her with His owngrace and dignity, not hers limited, not that of anyone else.

God assured Mary the plan was certainly His own and she was only to trust Him through every part of it. God personally took responsibility for what was happening to her. We learn from Mary’s story that we should never be ashamed to follow through with God’s call and direction in our lives.

Mary did not have full understanding at first, and held questions. But God did not stop His plans for her or put her down for lacking omniscience. Neither does He with us. Only God is omniscient. We need to keep this in mind every time we are asking about His will in some matter we sense He is placing on our hearts.

Philippians 2:13 reminds us, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

If God has placed a call on your life, and you are having to sit on it while God prepares you even for years before He shows you your next move, do it without apology.

One thing we can always be certain of when we follow God’s call about a matter is that God will direct us. He will initiate His call and He will safeguard it. As we trust Him for every step, He will not let us miss what He wants to do if we stay turned to Him, focused on Him, surrendered to Him – even in our uncertainty.

The world expects us to figure it out and figure it out fast – whatever it is in any given circumstance. We are expected to own knowledge about many different things. But God knows we do not have the full picture regarding His individual will for each of us.

Sometimes work God is doing in your heart is just going to be that tough. When He invites us on a next step of faith and there is no one else around He will involve, do your best to take this as a trust from God – a guidance of your life that He is in complete control of. It does not mean you, or even your friends, have failed. It means only God sees and understands the course you are on.

 

That Storm

There are times others in my life were not surprised about something God called me to do and it was as if I was the last to know. God used these as confirmations. Other times it was exactly the opposite and no one but God showed me, personally one-on-one, what He was doing and I had to wait completely on Him alone to make things clear. No matter what, I always had to absolutely decide to trust God though everything occurring gave the impression of having gone haywire.

God wants us to know He is carrying us through that which looks like a raging storm and we can see or understand nothing. But what we can do is realize we are not drowning in the sea where that raging storm is happening. We can know we may be in a storm but we are not going under. We are not freezing in the cold winds and water. No sharks or other predators are coming up from below to swallow us whole. The pounding rains from above are not wiping us out. Such might attempt, but will not succeed. Though all of this is going on and at its worst, we can be still right there where we are in the middle of it as we conclude there is no recourse but to tread water with no boat or anything else to hold onto. We are able to see ourselves in such situations only to realize we are not being consumed.

God sees every moment we live and already has a plan far better than even the most perfect movie script could devise. He delivers us for our good and His glory. He does not allow us to go through difficulties to waste our time or cause us distress out of a cruel joke just because He has the power to do it.

God uses our suffering that we only see as a heap of wasted time, tears, years, loss, you name it. He wants us to hand it all over to Him and ask what He wants to do with it. It is not God’s will that we walk about clothed in shame or confusion or feeling trapped or anything else the enemy tries to throw at us simply because there is sin in the world and bad things happen.

We can walk alone in God’s call and preparation of our lives, and sometimes for years. We must remember God will protect his leading because whatever He wants to do is His investment to lose, not ours. And God does not lose – anything.

He leads us to a point where we live in a depth of integrity that directs us to a depth of action that is beyond a shallow response to just get us by. It is the point where we act out assurance that we have solid direction from God’s own heart.

Be encouraged next time anyone wants to hand you clothing to wear that consists of shame. In these times – and they will come – we can set our faces like flint. We can politely reject such offers, and continue on with God’s resolve set inside. We are able then to humbly recognize we are already clothed in God’s grace, strength, and dignity which nothing can change.

Amanda Hughes is experienced in public policy issues, particularly marriage and family, school choice, and religious freedom. Hughes approaches public policy issues through observing combined effects that both social and fiscal decisions bear on each another. For more information about Amanda Hughes, visit http://www.amandahugheswriter.com/?p=326

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