If I were allowed to choose what my life contained, I confess I would only select the abundant, miraculous, prosperous, and beautiful. Then I would work down my checklist, marking off each glorious comfort I had ordained for myself as it befell me.

I would bask. I would soak.

And I would probably see no need for God.

I would think I had it all, blind to my eternal need for him.

Analog

Estevam Romera via Compfight

But God’s ways are not our ways. He loves us enough to shed blood. He has eternity in mind.

The Lord knows my life span—perhaps a mere eighty years. In that period, my eternity is shaped. In that short sweep of decades exists my opportunity to tell others of the Savior who redeemed me. In that length of life, I become who God designed me to be before he created the universe.

And then, I fly to eternity.

light from heaven

Cornelia Kopp via Compfight

Since 1993 (or 1972 or 1959—this seems to be the pattern of his dealings with me), the Lord has crafted the miraculous and abundant alongside the devastating and calamitous. This whiplash of the shining beam of God’s face and the despair I feel when I take my eyes off him has formed me. His loving discipline has shaped me. I now seek to face God, to yield, to trust his grip on me.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”

Isaiah 55:6-9 (NIV)

We do not always understand all that God does. We don’t grasp his timing or why he has brought this disaster. We don’t comprehend the need for the dark times. While we’re always willing to accept the prosperity and the light, the hard times often send us reeling away from God in confusion. We want beauty and light all the time.

But Job posed the question: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).

Apple Smoking In The DarknessCreative Commons License

A Guy Taking Pictures via Compfight

Since sin came into the world to deform humankind, no life is filled with bliss. We stumble blindly. God must use all the tools at his disposal to open our eyes and to turn us to himself. He loves us passionately. He wants us with him forever. He wants us to know him and to believe. To choose him as he chooses us. He will do whatever it takes. He wants me. He wants you.

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

Isaiah 45:5-7 (NIV)

With thanksgiving I praise him for the past two decades of extraordinary blessing and trial—for a lifetime of the evidence of his hand upon me turning me ever toward him. With a humble and contrite heart, I am staggered that he wants me so badly and pursues me so relentlessly!

I thank him for his nearness during the highs and the lows.

I bless him for the losses. I praise him for the abundant gifts.

I accept from his hand the prosperity and the disaster, the light and the darkness.

I yield to his work in my life.

I am so grateful that I am his!

Is your heart filled with gratitude today? Are you counting blessings or listing losses?

Photos licensed by Creative Commons. “You are Love” by Rend Collective Experiment.