Friday, November 5, 2010

Overcoming Obstacles: God’s Plan for Me

Joseph thrown in a pit by his brothers, image courtesy of applesaucekids.com
I remember when I was working in a job that didn’t pay much and really had no future, but it helped keep food on my family’s table. There were a mixture of people I worked alongside from various backgrounds; I liked them all. One lady, who was much older than me, arrived to work each day with her bible in hand. She was a person who often talked about Jesus to her co-workers; some of whom would simply laugh and make light of her. Whenever she spoke to me I listened intently to her words, it was a time of new beginnings for me, in so many new areas of my life. I was a Christian, husband and father. Looking back at that time, I now realize how much I really didn’t know about the Lord, but what little I knew, I trusted and believed God. I remember reading about Joseph and how despite some really terrible things that occurred in his life, God still blessed and prospered him. I saw Joseph as a man who recognized opportunity. I identified with that aspect of his life; I looked for God to give me opportunity.

So here I was working in a dead-end job, but I believed that I was there only temporarily; that just as he had done for Joseph, God would open the door of opportunity for me. The time came when my manager was promoted to another area of the organization, the Software Programming Department. I remember wishing him well and asking him to remember me if an opportunity for a junior programmer opened. He said he would. I did this because I read how Joseph asked Pharaoh’s cupbearer to:

...keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.1

Like Joseph, I expected God to open for me a door of opportunity by using someone else as my facilitator. I shared this belief with that Christian woman on my job, expecting her to stand in agreement with me. Instead, she informed me that what I said was, “Impossible.” She said that, “Nothing like this had ever happened in all the years she worked in this place.” As I listened to her share these words confirmed in her by many years of experience, I’d come to a crossroad in my life. I could believe her and give up my vision of something better, or I could continue to believe that God would open the door of my opportunity. I chose to believe and trust what God had revealed to me in the life of Joseph. I remember thinking that,

This woman doesn’t know me, why should I allow her to define my life’s future?

Sometime later, a position did open up in the Software Programming Department, my former manager (Titus), remembered me and recommended me for the position. I was called in for an interview, and I grabbed that opportunity with every fiber within me; believing that the position was already mine.

Looking back at that time in my life, I appreciate now (much more than I did back then) that God creates opportunities for His children.

Back then, I blindly looked at scripture and appropriated it to my own life. I believed God could and would do anything for me. I looked at every obstacle as an opportunity for God to establish victory in my life. I read something recently which talked about the American culture and how we’re so focused on winning. Vince Lombardi, one of the coaching pillars of professional football once said,

Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing.2

This mentality seems to permeate our culture and society in a way that dictates that everyone and everything that stands in our way must be defeated and vanquished. A sort of philosophy that insists, I must have victory, it’s my God given right as an American!

In examining how I overcome obstacles, it is imperative that I understand to some degree, God’s plan for me. I say this because I have come to accept the sovereignty of God. I accept it because I have come to realize that God does as He chooses and not at my bidding. Just as God provided Joseph with a door of opportunity to be released from prison, God allowed circumstances to occur in Joseph’s life that caused him to be imprisoned in the first place. This was part of God’s plan for Joseph.

I wonder what Joseph was thinking when his brothers threw him into that pit. Did he see himself in God's plan for Joseph or did he see himself stuck in a pit?

What were his thoughts as his brothers stood around mocking him for being a dreamer and favored son? Did he ask himself, "Why did this happen to me?" or did he remind himself to trust in the Lord my God.

I believe that just as I can overcome an obstacle by faithfully trusting in God, I also believe I can overcome an obstacle by trusting in God to enable me to endure what I face. The outcome is no longer the object to me; it is faithfully trusting in God. God may give me the victory in the heat of battle or God may give me the grace to endure the race; it is His sovereign choice. It is so incredibly amazing to me as I try to comprehend that God exists outside the parameters of time. What occurs today in my life has always been known to God, just as all of my tomorrows are known by Him.

I know now that God has a plan for my life, a purpose for my living. This then gives me awareness and faith that in an infinite realm of possible occurrences, God already knows the outcome; and He is capable of handling any outcome I face. The real question is:

Am I capable of trusting my life in His hands, no matter how His plan for me unfolds?

I’m learning to appreciate this aspect of God even more because:

…He gives us more grace…3

“…'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.4

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.6

"The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, 'Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand,' "7

My Lord and God,

I marvel with joy at the measure of grace You pour upon our lives. You knew us before the worlds were formed, and to each of us, You establish a purpose and plan for our lives. I want to live in that purpose and walk in Your plan. Your grace is sufficient because it is unmeasurable; my life overflows with Your amazing grace. Often we hear the words,
"Impossible" and "That can never happen!" These are mere words, the sum of which can never define or defy You. Whether it is Your plan for me to overcome or to endure, I choose to trust You with my life; totally and completely. I have found freedom in You. You give me such joy and peace, saying, "Thank You" seems so miniscule. You know our hearts, You pierce our thoughts, and You know the gratitude we express to You. Again, I say, "Thank You, my Lord and God." Amen.


Footnotes:
  1. Genesis 40:14, NASB
  2. Famous quote by, Vince Lombardi, Head Coach, Green Bay Packers, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  3. James 4:6, NIV
  4. 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV
  5. 1 John 4:4, NIV
  6. Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV
  7. Isaiah 14:24, NASB
References:
  1. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  3. Biblegateway.com


39 comments:

Carolyn said...

Ahhh, this is awesome and also just what I needed! :) I had just commented on your previous post and was re-reading that post when I noticed this new post!

God is good and can be trusted! His plans for His children and His love are incredibly wonderful!

Blessings,
Carolyn ~ Cottage Sunshine

Nicole said...

Thanks for this my brother! I love it! As usual your post has touched me.
I know that I need to trust God to take care of my every need because He is the one that planned out my life anyways. It is just so hard for me to let go and let Him do it. Why is it so hard to put all that trust on our Father? He is the one we should trust with our life. Without Him and His amazing Son we wouldn't even be here.
Trust.. why is that so hard sometimes? I am still working and praying on that.
You know I am not saying I don't trust Him, it's just that I need to trust Him enough to stop all the worrying and all the doubts that I always end up having.
Big hugs to you! I hope you and your family have a blessed weekend!

sarah said...

your posts always speak right to my heart. Grace....trials....I've learned to trust that His ways aren't mine...and HE's got doors He opens when I'm ready for them...Soemtimes I wish He'd hurry up though and not wait so long. Thanks MTJ

Sharon Kirby said...

MTJ - As always, I love what you glean from the Word. This was the part that spoke to me:

"I believe that just as I can overcome an obstacle by faithfully trusting in God, I also believe I can overcome an obstacle by trusting in God to enable me to endure what I face. The outcome is no longer the object to me; it is faithfully trusting in God."

YES!! I had never really viewed the word "overcome" as ALSO meaning enduring! Such a profound insight. We are overcomers when we focus on the correct object - GOD - and on the correct objective - trusting in Him alone.

I would love to know what Joseph was thinking during key times in his life. But I have always loved this verse:

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it ALL for good. He brought me to this position..." (Genesis 50:20)

Then just yesterday I read this verse:

"Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph's character." (Psalm 105:19)

God already knows the outcome - am I able to trust Him? As you said, that's the real question. God cares more about the state of our souls, than He does about our feelings.

But we can and must know that His purposes are always good - whether we are delivered from circumstances, learn to endure them, or are tested in the midst of them.

God works it all out - to His glory!

GOD BLESS!

Renee said...

Very encouraging post on trusting God in and through all circumstances. "Trusting God with the outcome"...I needed it put just that way today. God bless.

High Heeled Life said...

Wonderful post! God does have a plan.. it is for us to trst and believe ...visiting from Spiritual Sundays.. blessings HHL

lioneagle said...

Hi MTJ -

You expressed this so well. We must trust that GOD always knows best and nothing happens that He does not rule!

Always GOD knows best.

Thank you, MTJ, for how you so aptly expressed this truth!

Clif said...

This is good "stuff"--very good! Great writing! You worked hard on this--footnotes and all. I appreciate the time you have given to this. It will bless many. Thank you.

Sherry said...

I have been watching how God is directing my sons life. He is entering college and everything from the application to getting a dorm room has fallen in place for him. I say that because the day we put in the dorm application we were told we won't hear anything for two weeks and that he would be put on a waiting list. The next day he got a letter in the mail saying a room has been reserved for him. Only God can work that fast. he answered our prayers.

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

Thank-you for this post today,I loved it. Each day I wonder how the Lord will work in my life,each day I wonder what I can do for him.
Blessings,
Ginger

Chambray Blue said...

Thank you for this post. I have been blessed by it...

Marta Belas Artes said...

Olá, vim agradecer o comentário em meu blog e conheceu o seu. Já sou seguidora. Tenha um maravilhoso fim de semana e muita paz. Abraços.

sewingseedscraftylife said...

Believing in God and trusting him are two different things. Believing God exists is easy...Accepting that his grace is sufficient and that he causes all things to work together for those who are called according to his purpose is much more difficult. Thank you for sharing this thought provoking post.

sewingseedscraftylife said...

Believing in God and trusting him are two different things. Believing God exists is easy...Accepting that his grace is sufficient and that he causes all things to work together for those who are called according to his purpose is much more difficult. Thank you for sharing this thought provoking post.

Judy said...

Hi MTJ,

Your article is so timely for me. Oh my goodness! I have been praying for many months for a new job opportunity to open up in my company, which has laid off several people and instituted a hiring freeze. I had an interview with an outside company and never heard back from them. I've met with a few hire-ups at my company to ask for the impossible, but so far nothing. I am supposed to meet with a VP in a couple weeks to ask whether there are any editorial positions open or if they could create one for me. I'm asking for the seemingly impossible at my company.

I have heard that it would never happen and it would be impossible as well. I've been leaning on God's Word, on the story about Nehemiah, a mere slave in the house of the King, who asked for the impossible – to rebuild Jerusalem's walls. Because Nehemiah had great favor in God's eyes and His grace, God granted everything Nehemiah asked for.

I've been standing on that Word, because I believe the Lord gave this me, but unfortunately it's not turning out the way I had expected. But then again, the story isn't over yet. As you mentioned, we must trust God with our very lives. Thank you for your testimony. It gives me great hope in what seems like a hopeless situation for me.

Blessings,
Judy

Judy said...

Oh one last thing MTJ. I started a photography blog at http://www.judysphotogallery.blogspot.com. Feel free to take a peek and become a follower. I'm photographing God's creation for his glory! Thanks.

Blessing,
Judy

Saleslady371 said...

Thank you for reminding me it is about trusting and not getting! I just read the Genesis passage this morning about Joseph and the cupbearer!

Audrey said...

Thank you so much for sharing this much needed word. In this season we must be so intimate with the Lord that we are able to sense His cadence that He has set for us.

Charlotte said...

I love to hear testimonies like this one. It is such a good reminder of how God works and how important it is to have faith that God will work out everything for our good. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Carolyn said...

Hi MTJ!

Thank you for your comment! :) Honestly, I have nothing at all against men..."This One's for The Girls" post was dedicated to women only bec I know there are so many single, divorced women out there and having a tough way to go. God has truly protected me from what most women go through in that situation...but still He has provided a sensitivity that I would not have learned otherwise. My heart breaks for the ones finding themselves in a situation like that with small children and no money and no job...I wished the society and the churches had a bigger outreach for them. I found myself in that situation and instead of my church reaching out to me...many turned their backs and judged. I had a big enough Christian network of friends and family...and also close relationship to God to overcome such bad behavior...but I was in disbelief.

So...lol....sorry, did mean to go into all that! :D But thank you for sharing...sounds like you had a wonderful upbringing with an awesome mother and grandmother! I actually passed on your two posts to several other bloggers...really good stuff! I believe you should seriously consider writing a book or becoming a pastor...and maybe you already are and have written. But may God continue to bless you with your studies and your blog! :)

Have a great weekend!
Blessings, my friend,
Carolyn ~ Cottage Sunshine

Michele Williams said...

You post is a blessing to me today. Thank you for this timely reminder.

MTJ said...

Carolyn: I appreciate you my sister in Christ. Sometimes in my attempt to be lighthearted, I blunder through my words. I certainly don't think you disparage men. I have found that many of my Christian bloggers write to a larger audience of women; perhaps it is because so few of us men actually read.

In any case I do appreciate you referencing several of my posts. As is the case with one who grew up in a household consisting of four brothers and no sisters, I often find that there are topics to which I have absolutely no frame of reference. And yet, I am drawn to read what you and others have to share because I find something that speaks to me of a heart for God in your writing.

As far as pastoring goes, I don't believe I have a calling to pastor. I do however, have a passion to write, and hope one day to actually have something worthy of being published and read.

I hope my reply won't discourage you or others from leaving me a comment. I'll try to be concise.

Nicole: Why is it so hard to put all that trust on our Father? What a question to ask! I think many of us try to grapple with that same question. I can only say that there are times when I acknowledge that even though I desire to do what I know is right and good, I do what I know is wrong. I am learning to ask God to do in me what I seem incapable of doing. Thanks for the hugs my sister; I am bleesed by God through you.

Sarah: You bless me with your writing, I'll read something you've written and say, I wish I could express a thought like that. I don't consider it envy but admiration.

Sharon: I have a confession to make which I have never shared before because I have this male ego which always seeks to be tough and hard as nails.

Whenever I read that passage in Genesis 44-45, the conversation between Joseph and his brothers, I cannot help but cry. Judah pleads with Joseph, "Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father. Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants...And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.” (Genesis 44:33-34, 45:1-2)

As a man who comes from a family of all brothers (my mother had six sons), I can identify with this kinship and love Joseph has for his brothers.

Renee Thank you for stopping by and sharing. I will remember you and your husband in my prayers.

HHL: Praise God for stopping by and visiting. Blessings and peace to you.

Sandra: Thank you for your words of encouragement my sister. I must admit that everytime I see the image of a lion, I think about a spirit-filled woman lacing up her army boots, getting ready to battle.

Clif: Thank you my brother in Christ. You may not know this, but when I write, I seem to think about you now. It is as if there is an internal calculator in my head counting words to remind me to stay beneath a threshold. I want to be true to the Lord while not being boorish in what I write. Yes, I have you to thank for this constant ticking sound in my head.

Sherry: I marvel at the goodness of God's provision for us. When I hear someone say, "Can't", I know God can. Psalm 121:1-2 says, "I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth."

MTJ said...

Ginger: I like that expression, "...each day I wonder what I can do for him." -- It is a beautiful expression of a servant.

Chambray Blue: Thank you for visiting. Blessings and peace to you.

Marta: Obrigado minha irmã no Senhor. Louvo a Deus por sua amizade e a fé em Cristo você compartilhar. Bênçãos e paz para você.

sewingseedscraftylife: I understand what you're saying but I believe that far too many people find their belief in God opposed by fear, doubt, worry and anxiety. These adversaries rob a person of true belief that not only does God exist but that God cares about me. I think it is difficult to believe in the unseen when you are faced with a tangible obstacle. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that I cannot trust what I don't believe. If I truely understand what it means to be God, then I am breeching the barrier between belief and trust. I think this would make a marvelous topic for bible study.

Judy: I am thanking God for creating opportunities for you. I read what you shared about self-esteem and I'm so thankful that you are seeing a reflection of yourself through the eyes of God's love and grace.

I admire the gift you share in photography; the images your eyes capture reveal the beauty of God's creation.

Saleslady371: That's the lesson I'm learning...trusting Him. Blessings and peace to you.

Audrey: I like how you express having a close, intimate relationship with Christ so that " we are able to sense His cadence that He has set for us." Thank you for this beautiful expression.

Charlotte: When I hear those words, "God will work out everything for our good", I am without words because there is no reason other than His love for me. Blessings and peace to you.

Michele: Thank you for stopping by. Blessings and peace to you.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Re winning, I remember as a teenager telling my high school teacher: "He who wins is not always victorious." Rather, sometimes victory is in the losing, as with Joseph. Seems to contradict Lombardi, doesn't it?

LivingforGod said...

Excellent post! I've always loved the story of Joseph. Nothing is impossible with God! We all should rest in His love, grace, mercy, and power.

"Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible." ~Unknown

Seams Inspired said...

Excellent post. You write from your heart, and I love that! :o) Our God gives us many opportunities. We just have to pay attention. ;o) New visitor from BloggerSpirit and looking forward to reading your posts. Happy Sunday! :o) Larri at Seams Inspired

Nicole said...

That's the best way to do it. I am always praying for God to make me the person He wants me to be, to help me make the right decisions. What He did for us, sending His only Son to die for us! For people that don't deserve it, even for the ones that totally turn their backs on Him. That's love! There is no way for us to pay Him back for that, I am just trying to listen to Him and live for Him. I have to learn that He knows I am doing the best I can!

And my brother, I am so truly blessed because of YOU! Our Lord knew what He was doing when he made our paths cross! Have a blessed day!

dunlizzie said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Even as believers I am sure we all have had times where we have let circumstances or past experiences, either our own or others', determine our faith in a certain situation. However the point is exactly as you said, it isn't about looking to those things to decide how God will or should work in a situation. It is simply (i say simply even though it is often so hard to do) about trusting God to be true to His own nature, which although we cannot humanly understand in its entirety, is inherently good. SO good, He continues to show love and mercy and showers us with grace even as we struggle. This is the kind of God I would want to trust indeed!

God bless :)

Donnie said...

It was wonderful to read a chronology of God's words in action. Have a blessed Sunday.

Virginia said...

These surely are very encouraging words!!! I truly enjoyed the read.I so agree....
Much Blessings,
Virginia

From The Heart Online said...

Wow. I'm constantly amazed at the passion and understanding God has given you! Woo!

I'm challenged by your words, "The outcome is no longer the object to me; it is faithfully trusting in God."

I'm slow to learn that results do not indicate success or failure - sometimes what looks like failure is actually victory (ie- our Savior on a cross)

I pray that I would accept God's sovereignty as well - that I would trust Him no matter what happens.

I must confess, I'm driven to doubt when things don't go as I thought. I step out in faith and then it goes a total different direction - so did I hear right? Did I step right? It's so hard to know...

I seek the boldness, humility and faith that God asks us to have.

JT said...

With God all things are possible. May God Bless You.

MTJ said...

Elizabeth: I think the words of Lombardi underlie an attitude of winning at all costs, making cheating an acceptable act. Such wise words from a teenager. How is Doah and the rest of your family? Please know I remember you in my prayers.

LivingforGod: I try to wrap my mind around the words, "Nothing is impossible with God!" As difficult as it is for me to fathom that God cannot be contained by any word (including the impossible), I find it wholly believable because of how He has enabled me to accept Him as "I AM".

Thanks for sharing that quote.

Larri: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I find it amazing how often God creates opportunities in my life, not neccessarily for me but often, for those around me. I like to think God has a use for us in His plan. It's as if He says, "Work with me on this."

Nicole: There's a lot of humility in the words, " make me the person He wants me to be" In a way it's as if God starts a process of spiritual growth in me where I cease. I thank God as well for you Sis.

Dunlizzie: I like that you say, "It is simply (...even though it is often so hard to do) about trusting God to be true to His own nature" I do not believe it can be qualified at an individual level because circumstances and events, although similar to others, still are unique to each of us. I have had moments of great certainty as well as moments of great desperation. In each experience he reveals His unqualified love, regardless of the outcome.

Rath Dé ort!

Donnie: Blessings and peace to you. Thank you for stopping by.

Virginia: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and kind words. Blessings and peace to you.

Kim: You challenge and humble me so often with your insight and passion for Christ. I believe that many thought that they had rid themselves of a problem as Jesus hung on that cross. Others may have thought, How could I have been so wrong to think this was the Son of God? But God used a symbol of shame, ridicule and defeat to triumph over sin, satan and the grave.

Christ sits at the right hand of God, symbolizing the hope of our own victory over condemnation.

I think that when I reach that place of doubt, I am urged to trust God. I may not have the insight my intellect so desperately craves for, but I have Him.

John: Yes! Isn't that something that bolster's faith? To know that the possible always exists with God.

Karen said...

"God already knows the outcome;"...amen!

'Nuff said....

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Doah is doing fine. He seems to have been able to put his recent tribulations into the past. Nikolina is growing into a happy and active little girl in spite of her missing organs. Thank you for your prayers!

Wanda said...

MTJ, I'm a little late in reading this one but it's obviously the right time for me. It confirms yesterday's message and so many other things I've been pondering in my heart. Every time I come here, I walk away with fresh perspective and often feel the need to re-read your post. You do the Father proud. Appreciate you sharing what you're learning. Blessings to you.

MTJ said...

Karen: It's always good when you stop by. I'm often reminded of the words, "Hallelujah Anyhow", causing me to think of you and say a prayer that all is well.

Elizabeth: Thank you for sharing the 411, I thank God for the Mahlou Clan. There is a genuine sense of joy communicated as you share your life, family and passion for Christ.

Wanda: You're never late when you stop by sister. I often find myself thinking similarly when I read something you've written. You raise questions that cannot go ignored or unanswered. You challenge me to embrace Christ with an uncompromising faith.

Lloyd said...

Thank you for sharing with us. I join you in your prayer. Our God is so good to us and it is so reassuring to know that He will never forsake us. Blessings my friend in Christ. Lloyd

From The Heart Online said...

MTJ - interesting side note ... I was perusing these comments again, and noticed that my prayer for acceptance of God's sovereignty was hugely answered just days later. Oooh. I LOVE God's timing! :)

God is good.
All the time.