It's Holy Week and the story says that Holy Wednesday is the day that Judas betrayed Jesus. In the Bible it's simply a paragraph, but there is so much more to this story for us to learn. It applies to our lives more than we know and I'm only going to skim the surface here. So if you have time today, go a little deeper if you can and find where you fit in God's story with this.
I found this article in researching this topic, "You're Probably More Like Judas Than You Think", by Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper from Christianity Today on March 26, 2013. Read it if you can find the time. I love the subtitle, "We all want a Messiah whose plans mirror our own. But a true disciple surrenders the Master's will," and this line that gives us the choice, "We essentially have two options when God does not follow our plan for life: going our own way or readjusting our course." How hard is that to swallow. We expect God to follow OUR plan for life. But when it doesn't go as we plan, it's up to us to adjust our sails.
How often have you been a Judas? "Yeah no God I'm not doing that. I got this. This is going to work out better for me." But how much do we know that what we think is better is more about our comfort than a real sacrifice? How much do we know that living for Christ isn't about getting what we want when we want it, but living for God and letting him guide our life? If you trust God, you know your plans haven't worked out according to plan. You also know that when they don't, God works it out for His good.
What's funny is how surprised we are when they don't workout. Are you one of those people who take this as an opportunity to compare your life to someone else's? I know that's where my Unhealthy Voice can go! I can look at people who've had everything go according to some sort of set plan and go, "Why can't it be that way for me?" But you know what? I have to stop myself. I've got to talk it out. My husband helps remind me how blessed we are to not have it all go according to plan, because it's reminds us whose got a better plan. The things we've been through make us trust God with everything we've got because we've got nothing else. All the things that someone else may see in my life as not working out - have been beautiful broken vessels for God to let His light shine through our lives. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7
My stepdaughter is getting ready to go to college and got into most of the ones she applied to except for the one she really wanted. But you know what? It's her faith and resolve that keeps her grounded because she knows that God's plan is better - and she readjusts her course. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, but her challenges in life have given her the chance to trust God's plan and adjust. Wherever she ends up I know it's God's plan.
I think of "my" plans and how funny God can work things out. I remember the season before we got married, right after my Dad died. I was trying to get Healthy Voice all figured out, lined up and organized so it could just thrive after I got married. Really? God had a sense of humor because how did he do it? He had my stepkids move in with us 100% of the time one month after our wedding date. We could certainly laugh about it - well talk about this not being the first year honeymoon! But we could also realize that God was going to use us to be present to them, and maybe be present to a couple who goes through something similar someday. God is always working things out for our good when we trust Him. It says so in 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."
But we gotta trust Him. If I wasn't trusting Him when they moved in, I could have had a year long temper tantrum. But I didn't. Of course it was hard, DUH! But building a marriage while raising kids - that was God's plan for that season. The same thing goes for us having kids. Do I want them? Of course! Finally, there is time to consider it, but you know what? It hasn't happened on MY time. So guess what - I have to trust GOD's time. Do I get frustrated? Of course! But again - the more I trust God, the more willing I become to follow whatever his plan is for my life. The more things haven't gone according to my plan, the more I've learned to trust God.
We have ALL had those moments where we want our plan to work. We're like the toddler at the end of the grocery aisle crying, "I want this!" But God stands there, and lets us finish...and then He still loves us more than we could ever imagine. I mean - how cool is that? I thank God my old vision with Healthy Voice didn't workout because it would have been on my own will. I thank God I got overwhelmed and God brought circumstances that diverted me, because who knows where I'd be - probably all in my ego - a place I don't want to be. Today, as I have found the willingness to bring my vision for Healthy Voice back into focus it's so much more driven by God, because I want to serve God and no one else. So I don't have the same stress - cause it's not all me. I KNOW God is going to work it out exactly how he wants it.
I guess I tell you all this because I know I can be a real Judas. I can easily protest God's plan but every time I do - God reminds me that He's got a good one. I just have to TRUST HIM and I do.
But you know what? THAT is the beauty of Easter. God forgives us because he loves us. He's not looking for us to perform. He's looking for us to RECEIVE the great love He showed us by dying on the cross. I think back to all those things I was carrying around before I came to the cross and I remember just how overwhelmed I was, because I JUST couldn't forgive myself and then - there was God who just said, "Meredith - all of it. I forgive ALL of it." Even today, when I go through times or things that I've got to come to the cross on, I know that God will forgive. But it's up to me to go to Him for forgiveness - not a fix. Jesus isn't in the fixing business. He's in the healing hearts business and that's where I want to be, because that's what he's done and still doing for me.
A passage for you from Paul's words, Galatians 6:14-18 NLT,
"As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."
So..final reflection. I've had this song set up to play today since I heard it last week. I believe the lyrics are empowering and a great match for this message....I hope you'll listen.