I am not a worrier. When it comes to sinful deficiencies, an anxious heart is not one of my natural vices. I do not claim this boastfully, for I know that my lack an anxiety comes more from my natural disposition toward apathy than it does from my faith in God. For in my life thus far, I have lived my life with little care about the particulars of my future and have self-righteously chalked my lack of planning to my trust in the sovereignty of God. And while it is indeed true that “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9), God, in a demonstration of the greatness of his power, has chosen to allow men to plan their steps and yet sovereignly ordains and orchestrates all things pertaining to humanity through the wills of men.
Yet the Scripture’s unabashed proclamation of God’s meticulous sovereignty and his great power are never presented as justification for a “que sera, sera” attitude toward life. Proverbs 16 exists as a demonstration of this, holding together that which cannot be comprehended by the human mind, namely that a godly man plans and commits his steps to the Lord, yet the Lord has already established his steps. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13). Therefore we are to work, for God is working in us.
Until recently, I had no problem with the notion that God is working in me. I enjoyed such a thought, and I loved my theology that concentrated so much upon that aspect of my existence. Where I fell short was not in my theology (for it was indeed true and remains true), but it was in my practice. For God’s work in a person by the greatness of that work has an effect that is both healthful inwardly and demonstrative outwardly. For just as a healthy tree evinces its health by bearing good fruit, so too do those who have been made healthy by the Spirit of God bear the fruit of the Spirit. For as James rightly concludes, “Faith without works is dead” (Jm. 2:17).
As is the case of all of those who are being conformed into the image of Christ by the Spirit, my deficiencies have been brought before my eyes degree by degree. The most recent of which is the subject of this journal, and thus far in my life, it has been the most difficult to fulfill. Whereas other things might be remedied by seemingly simple solutions, e.g. lust by treasuring God, falsehood by love for the truth, etc. mine and my wife’s journey to freedom from debt has no simple solution. For debtors do not vanish with a change of heart, therefore much planning has had to accompany our change of heart.
For this reason, I have been forced upon terribly unfamiliar ground. For I desire to honor God by ridding myself of my financial slavemasters, yet that goal cannot be achieved apart from careful planning. Therefore, for perhaps the first time in my life, I have had to make a plan to honor God in a particular aspect of my life. And though I would like to report that my faith has proved true throughout, I would be a liar if I claimed it so. For by God’s good pleasure, he has made it so that we cannot make one step apart from the clear move of his Providential hand. While at times this has been for me a comforting and validating reality, I must admit that at times it has caused me who is anxious about nothing to be an anxious man.
This was demonstrated yesterday, Monday, August 24th, when a week from closing on the land that we are seeking to purchase and eventually to live on, I, after not hearing from the seller for several days, attempted to call the seller to verify that everything was set to close on 31st. I called the seller and left her a voicemail, but I heard nothing back from her that day. And throughout that day, questions of doubt incessantly popped into my mind: “Why has she not returned my calls?” “Is she attempting to back out of the contract?” “Will she be there at closing?” “Will we have to take her to court?” On and on the questions persisted, and no thoughts about the sovereign hand of God could quell the anxiety. I knew I was being faithless, yet no repentance could ease the unfamiliar feeling of unease.
Finally, by the grace of God, my anxieties were relieved, but not without the realization that I still have far to go in my trust in God. For whether or not this land is acquired by us in this life and whether or not our godly pursuit to unindebtedness if ever realized, I must understand that no pursuit in this life, no matter how godly and right, ends in this life, but it ends in the life to come–at that point when my Blessed Hope shall be realized. For to hope in anything less breeds anxiety and faithlessness. For it is in that future Hope that we were saved (cf. Rm. 8:24),and it is for this reason that all things work together for good to those who love God, for the culmination of all things will be revelation of the sons of God in glory (cf. Rm. 8:28; 19).
Categories: Unindebtedness Journal