Faith: To Glorify God
Would've, Could've, Should've
Graveyards are likely the wealthiest places in all creation. Beneath that sod lie countless unsung melodies and unwritten poems—books never written, tales never told.
Our meticulously landscaped burial grounds reek of unattained successes and unrealized aspirations. When we visit them, we are actually strolling past the rotting remnants of hopes and dreams that never made it from the blueprint stage to the launching pad.
Every cemetery overflows with brilliant ideas that could’ve transformed communities with the power of sacrificial service—risk-taking ventures that would’ve provided hope to the lost lie moldering in the graves. Every marble orchard stinks to high heaven with the stench of would’ves, could’ves, and should’ves.
These are the things that would’ve been done, could’ve been done, and should’ve been done if believers in Jesus Christ had lived their lives with a sense of purpose much larger than themselves—a Kingdom purpose.
Would’ves, could’ves, should’ves—these are what would’ve been done, could’ve been done, and should’ve been done if individuals had gotten out of the boat.
Take a new look at a familiar story.
Matthew 14:22-33 - NIV
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
One of the marks of spiritual maturity is the quiet confidence that God is in control--without the need to understand why he does what he does. ~Anonymous~
God incarnate is the end of fear, and the heart that realizes that he is in the midst will be quiet in the middle of alarm. ~F.B. Meyer~
The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, God's love for us does not. ~C.S. Lewis~
There’s always a necessity for us to discover or rediscover some things about where we are in our relationship with God. One reality we must always bear in mind is that God has a plan for us and it is good.
Context is everything, so we must properly frame the above Scripture passage: The disciples had just been involved in intensive happenings. They had to deal with the questions and ragged emotions unleashed after receiving news about the execution of John the Baptist.
Immediately afterwards, even while in the midst of the grieving process, they were thrown into a ministry situation. They had to serve 5,000 people, and the only food they had was five loaves and two fish.
The clamor and expectations of life are draining at times. Knowing this, Jesus decided that it was in the best interest of the disciples to get away for awhile. They needed to be refreshed while strengthening their connection to God and to each other—Jesus also sought to be alone with the Father.
Jesus set an example for us. When pressures mount and threaten our equilibrium, we are to heed the call to practice the discipline of solitude. It’s at times like this that we often resist God—we feel that he doesn’t understand the tensions of our lives. He doesn’t get all the deadlines and commitments demanding our attention.
No matter how vital or important any of us think we are, God’s Word stands as an unchanging beacon. All other courses must be altered to him. If God’s plan for us is good—which it is whether comprehension filters into us or not—shouldn’t we implement it in our lives?
Proverbs 3:5-6 - NIV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Comfort & Security
As God directs our paths he will lead us and empower us to overcome any hindrances. This is seldom easy—faith and discipleship is quite often extremely hard labor.
Spiritually speaking we are to be putting our shoulder to the wheel and nose to the grindstone, with an ironclad guarantee that God is holding up his end of this mystical partnership—he is at work within us. God wants his perfect will for us more than we can possibly desire it.
Catch something symbolic here in the text: As Jesus sends them away he finds a place that overlooks the lake—the Sea of Galilee is surrounded by mountains that slope to its shores.
It’s no stretch of imagination to think that while Jesus was alone, he could see his disciples struggling against the wind as he prayed for them to respond to the howling weather with faith.
Is this reflective of our life today? God knows everything about us—God sees everything that we go through. These are two characteristics of God that ought to bring us great comfort and security.
God is omniscient, which simply means that he knows everything and nothing ever, ever takes him by surprise. We will be astonished, shocked, or bewildered by the twisting turns of life, but not God—no curveball circumstance is unforeseen by him.
Here’s where we must take note of II Peter 1:3—His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
God has already provided everything we need to respond to the upheavals of life in ways that honor him. This brings us to a second trait of God that should increase comfort and security.
God is omnipresent—God is everywhere present. God is there even when we don’t sense his presence. God is there during our darkest hours and most difficult decisions.
Ever wonder if our choices would be different if we carefully placed the weight of these truths about God’s character into the balance of our lives?
Based on his eternal perspective, God’s help is always on time.
In our anchored to the world viewpoint, there are plenty of occasions when we think his timing needs vast improvement. Why does God sometimes delay? Why did Jesus take so long to get to his disciples?
When God doesn’t hit our timetable, he’s got his reasons—which he certainly isn’t required to clarify for us, though we can easily get into a snotty snit and expect a point by point, play by play explanation.
Here’s where applying God’s character to our lives is extremely helpful. Consider the story of Jesus and his friend Lazarus.
Lazarus got sick and died. Lazarus had two sisters with whom Jesus was also close, so it was reasonable for him to hurry to the village of Bethany. Yet Jesus waited two days after hearing about the death of Lazarus before he went to console Mary and Martha.
Why did Jesus tarry? Scripture is clear—his delay was so that God would be glorified. That’s the ultimate mission of our lives, isn’t it? According to the Westminster Catechism our “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Often we don’t understand or accept slowness in God—we want answers and action now, thank you very much.
However, we are compelled to nurture patience, and in the waiting there is opportunity to be schooled and trained. To bide one’s time while uncertainty swirls is rarely accomplished with ease, but it’s where we can glimpse God’s character.
It can also be the point where a thousand watt lightbulb gets switched on within us, which generates the grit to embrace those attributes of God—omniscience and omnipresence—and in the process, glorify him.
Grasping hold of what God is doing can be difficult and nigh unto impossible at times—in those prickly places we must persevere and sweat it out, believing God to be God. We must deliberately keep his divine power and our knowledge of him in the mix: God’s intention is always for cultivating growth in us.
The Creator of the universe doesn’t give us a test with all the answers. Nor does he allow windstorms or upsets into our lives without providing a touch of the supernatural in the middle of those raging disturbances. God will grant us peace.
Psalm 131 - NIV
My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.
Walking By Faith
We ought not to concern ourselves with all the whys and wherefores of what God is doing or allowing in our lives. Instead we should humble and quiet ourselves before him, proclaiming loudly and with absolute confidence that the LORD is our hope both now and forevermore.
We all have troubles that come into our lives, and the potential outcome of each one has a divine design. When Peter shed his earthly security blanket, he experienced tremendous lessons about the nature of God and the wonderful mystery of walking by faith.
How many of us hold onto security blankets—we can deny it, but the evidence and verdict is in: We cling to our security blankets with the fierceness of a grizzly.
What ought to continually motivate us is this: When we’re planted in some boneyard, how will our epitaph sound? Will it be an accumulation of big talk and best intentions—would’ve let go of my security blanket, could’ve put faith into practice, should’ve got out of the boat, BUT all the would’ves, could’ves, and should’ve got buried with me.
Or, will we live with urgency and be overwhelmed by a Kingdom purpose? Will we get out of the boat—will we walk on water by trusting God to be God each step of the way?
Will our life of faith glorify God?
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
- Faith: To Be Ready
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