Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ordained Days

A couple weeks ago, a little comment that I read somewhere drew my attention to look at a familiar verse of Scripture a bit differently than I had done before. The verse is Psalm 139:16, “In Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

I had always assumed that this verse meant that God knew the number of days that my life will contain—and of course, this is true. Yet the sense in which I now saw it is that God has ordained each of my days for a specific purpose. God, as a Being Who is infinite in every dimension of His character, knows everything , so He has always known what would happen on each day of my life. Yet it brings an entirely new perspective to realize that He has designed a purpose for each of my days, and the circumstances they contain. Of course, if I choose to disobey His will as revealed in His Word, then I will miss out on some of the benefits that He intended for my days to hold. He hasn’t programmed me to do certain things, such that I have no choice in the matter. But let’s assume that a Christian is walking, to the best of his ability and knowledge, in the path that God wants Him to take.

He has some days that are obviously wonderful days. Perhaps they are days in which he accomplishes some notable victory over sin, or sees God use him in a remarkable way. Perhaps they are simply days in which he came to know and enjoy God better. It’s easy to see how God ordained those days.

Then, there are the bad days. A tragedy happens, or a great disappointment comes; it is a day of pain and sadness. Fortunately the Lord put Romans 8:28,29 in the Bible, so that we know that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose…to become conformed to the image of His Son.” It is possible to see how the Lord is using a bad day, to help us draw closer to Him and find Him sufficient.

But on the average days, it can be so hard to see God’s purpose. They are days in which we are simply doing what is our duty, going to work or school, trying to do all things to the glory of God and yet not seeing anything remarkable happening. On one such day, I rode the bus home from work, wondering what had been accomplished for God that day. I couldn’t see that I had passed by any great opportunity to serve Him, nor did I see much that I could have done differently so as to allow my day to have more eternal impact. Then verses started coming to mind like James 1:4, “and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The Lord speaks so highly in the New Testament of endurance and perseverance, as something to be sought after and cultivated—and yet how are these developed but by time? Most board games have blank spaces as well as those that say, “Congratulations! Take two tokens and move ahead six spaces.” The blank spaces don’t seem to accomplish anything, and yet they do have a purpose. Fine wine and cheeses have to be aged for many days—days in which nothing visible is happening, and yet which are vital to the aging process.

So when I see my days slipping by and think that God should have given me something more significant to do during those days, I’m completely missing the big picture. I may feel like my life is speeding by, like the hourglass is running out, and yet God has plenty of days to spare in which to develop me into the person He wants me to be. After all, He does know the number of days that my life will hold, and it’s just the right number to do the work that needs to be done.
1 Corinthians 6:19,20 reminds Christians, “Do you not know that…you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price…” If my very body is not my own, but belongs to Christ Who bought me with His blood, then my days are also not mine to spend. It is also not my place to judge whether or not God is spending “my” days in the best way possible. My only concern should be that I am walking in His will—and sometimes the only thing I understand about that will is that it is “good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

The other day I was mixing muffins. A most unfulfilling and trivial occupation in the light of eternity. Mix, mix, mix, trying to get the flour evenly blended with the liquids. Whoop-de-do. I could live rather easily without muffins, especially when I have to take the time to make them. But I was making them for my grandparents, and a fresh batch of muffins can be a big event in their monotonous days. So I found myself stopping and committing the muffins to the Lord as a tiny gift of love to Him. The words of Moses the man of God seemed so fitting for that day, and for many “average” days, “Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, and Thy majesty to their children…and do confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm for us the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:16,17)

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