For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sovereignty and Suffering

God wanted my roof to leak.  

Sounds a bit strange to put it that way, but let's look at the situation.  

Scripture clearly says God is sovereign over life and death.  Scripture clearly says God is sovereign over the rains, snow, etc.  So...

We had scheduled a guy over a month ago to come clean the chimney, do some touch up repairs, etc. However, my uncle passed away, and the service was the same day this guy was scheduled to come. Since we had to make an out of town trip for the service, we had to cancel the chimney guy.  His next available time to come won't be until January 4.  So, no cleaning and fixing. 

Now, we just had record rains and flooding here in the Ozarks, and as a result, our roof started pouring in water, I'm pretty sure around the chimney, and then running through the ceilings, etc.  Which most likely would not have happened if the guy had come a couple weeks ago and resealed the thing and so on.  

God knew exactly when my uncle would die, prompting our out of town trip and chimney guy cancelling.  God also knew those flooding rains were on the way.  So, conclusion: God wanted my roof to leak. 

Now, I have to be so very careful here for a number of reasons.  First, our leaky roof is so minor compared to the hundreds of people who lost homes in storms and floods, about a dozen who lost their lives in this last round of flooding, and hundreds more who suffered so much worse.  To call this leaky roof "suffering" might be considered a stretch for some. 

Second, I know we have to be careful in discussing God's active will alongside the nature of the sinful world we live in which results in death and storms and so on.  There are other reasons to tread lightly here as well, but still the truth remains: God is sovereign, none of this surprised Him, He was certainly in charge of timing, etc.   So what do I take from this?

Well, I struggle a bit with anxiety.  I know it's sin.  I know, for me, it's often a lack of faith.  And I know that this whole episode caused me some anxiousness and sleeplessness, since I was already worried about other flooding issues (our creek, our septic system, run-off, all meeting in our basement, etc.).  So I know that God is dealing with me about this.  It made for some quality prayer time (if repeating "Jesus help me!" over and over can be considered quality prayers).   This alone may have been the purpose.

I also know that I may never know the exact purpose.  May have to do with someone God will bring into our lives as a result.  May have to do with simply encouraging my wife and kids to pray for their pathetic husband/father.  May have to do with any number of things.  May have, as my wife suggested, to do with a simple reminder to be thankful in all circumstances.  We may never know. 

But in the end, it's a simple reminder that God is sovereign.  And I need to trust in that sovereignty, knowing that His will is always best, His purposes always right and good, and I need to constantly turn to Him in faith, trusting in His grace.  One of my wife's favorite songs says something about God sometimes calming the storm, while other times calming His child.  This may just be a reminder that in either case, He is as work, and I need to look for His hand. 

God is good, all the time, even when He wants my roof to leak.  Trust Him.  Lean on Him.  Look for His hand at work.  And ultimately, know that whatever we might be facing, great or small, "we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Need to Read

In one of the most quoted quotes about quotes and quoting, Charles Spurgeon once said, and I quote:  “Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. You need to read.”

A later part of that same quote, less often quoted says this:  “We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, 'Bring the books' — join in the cry.”

Spurgeon was certainly one who practiced what he was preaching.  Here is a great little article with a few more quotes about reading from the Prince of Preachers.  It's not that long and worth time to check out, so click on over.

The reason I've been thinking about this is simply due to the fact that I've obviously not been posting here as often as I used to.  In fact, most of my posts have had something to say about how I haven't been posting.  Sense a trend?

And while there many reasons as to the lack of output here, I think the one major reason has to do with a lack of input.  Quite honestly, I'm just not reading as much as I used to.  I've had poor eyesight since I was just a little tot.  I started wearing contacts in high school out of self defense: I kept getting injured by the NASA-space-shuttle-thickness lenses in my glasses (this was of course in the days before these nice compressed lenses, but anyway).  My prescription is like -.750 in one eye and -.1050 in the other.  So reading has always been a bit of a chore, too much has always been a headache inducing strain.

A couple years back I was diagnosed with a degenerative condition in the already worse of the two eyes and some other issues with the other eye and....well, reading has become more and more difficult.  By the time I do the basic reading and studying for two sermons and a couple Bible studies each week, I'm pretty worn out.  Extra reading, for-fun reading has become less and less.  Large print texts and those I can get on my Kindle (so I can enlarge the font) are helpful, but still.

Anyway, this isn't just to whine about my eye problems.  They are minor compared to a lot of other folks, and nothing compared to the things some endure.  But the point is that this has curbed my reading.  And I think, as a direct result, my writing has been curbed as well.  Less intake means less output.

Reading is indeed so very important.  It stimulates the brain, gets those thought processes flowing; not only giving you information, but helping you to think in general.  There is indeed a reason the apostle Paul was asking for his books.  And while I would certainly promote reading “good” books, books on theology and history and the like, reading just for fun is important as well.  (Here is a good article from one of my daughters' favorite writers about the importance of reading fiction, libraries, etc.

So, I'm going to make a concerted effort to crack a few more books and stop whining about how “hard” it is.  I know I need to stimulate those brain cells with more than just coffee (though coffee is....well, if you've read here before, you know how I feel about coffee!).  Hopefully, that will increase the almost-useful output in this space, but more importantly, will give me a few more weapons to use in my Master's service.  I strongly encourage you to do the same.  

If you're looking for some help in knowing what to read, this is a great time of year because so many folks are doing their "best of the year" book lists and so on.  Here are just a couple of examples: 
So get out there and pick up a book.  You need to read!

ADDENDUM:  As usually happens, I find something else as soon as I post something.  Here is Tim Challies' reading challenge for the new year.  With several options, this is a great plan.