Recently, when I discovered that the majority of my choir members would be out of town on a particular Sunday, I decided to sing a solo for the special music selection. Having sensed some direction based on the theme our pastor had chosen, I picked a song that authentically expressed what God has been freshly doing in my heart.
As the service unfolded, that song was inadvertently skipped as we went on to the next element of worship. During the sermon, the wonderful musician who was planning on playing the offertory after the message invited me to take his place and share the song during the offering. Declining his gracious offer, I encouraged him to minister with what the Lord had led him to prepare.
As I drove home after worship, something struck me. I was completely at peace, unruffled by what transpired. Prayers of thanksgiving bubbled up within me because I knew that this was the fruit of God's transforming grace at work in my life. Let me explain. The old me would have squandered the rest of that worship service trying to analyze why the song was skipped. Was there unconfessed sin in my life? Did God not want me to sing? Was I being arrogant and He decided to humble me? That whiny, rejected-spiritual-orphan liturgy of me-centered questions would have been followed by self-invoked silence as I wallowed in the self-perceived shame of being "sidelined." But that day, something was different. Instead of internal strife, I was saturated in Paul's definition of peace found in Philippians 4:6-7: a "tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that it" [AMPC]. More simply put, instead of feverish attempts to “read the writing on the proverbial wall,” I was granted simple freedom to just let it go.
As I continued to reflect on this gift of grace, phrases from John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer came to mind. “I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal... thou art mine, and I am thine...” My heart leapt with joy. “That’s it! That is why I was experiencing such a glorious peace." You see, I didn’t have to try to figure out how to fit that song somewhere later in the service because I had already offered it to God. I offered it to Him the day before as I sang it while mowing the yard... as I meditated on the lyrics while washing the car... as I rehearsed it before I went to bed... and even that very morning in rehearsal before the worship service had begun. It was already His because I was already His.
I am quite mindful that being skipped over in church is a rather petty experience in the grand scheme of things. And, I recognize that the resolution of my experience was quite tidy and sanitized. But if you sensed a twinge in your own heart because the story resonates with you for a more painful reason, I pray that you might discover a word of comfort in the midst of that discomfort.
Maybe you have been passed over for a job for which you were well qualified. Were you ignored when promotions were being considered? Maybe you were the heir apparent and were suddenly displaced. Is there lingering disappointment from an experience of feeling invisible... or even disposable? Know this, beloved. El-Roi, The God Who Sees, sees you. You are not invisible. The reality is, you are fully known. You are fully accepted. And you are fully adored by the Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent One who outrageously loves you. And in the refuge of that relentless love, you can rest, trusting in the kind intention of His will.
Living in joyful surrender means there is peace, no matter with whom we are placed. There is peace whether we are employed by Him, seemingly laid aside, or even skipped over. And there is a peace that surpasses human understanding, whether we are full with all things or empty with nothing. We can, indeed, trust, learning to be heartily yielded in all things to His pleasure and disposal. There is grace live as the Apostle Paul's exhorted. "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering" [Romans 12:2 MSG]. And in that grace, He comforts and consoles us in our disappointment with the fullness of His sovereignty.
Why not take a moment and surrender afresh to the Alpha and Omega? As the Alpha, He had the first word in your calling and in your destiny. And as Omega, He will have the final word in your situation. So, in a Micah 7:7 Spirit-fueled determination that says, "But me, I'm not giving up. I'm sticking around to see what God will do. I'm waiting for God to make things right. I'm counting on God to listen to me" [MSG] pursue a lifestyle that reflects Paul's testimony. "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayer, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life" [Philippians 4:6-7 MSG].
Oh, beloved one, rest in this blessed assurance. “The one who calls you by name is trustworthy and will thoroughly complete his work in you” [I Thessalonians 5:24 TPT]. Amen.
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