Just Enough . . .

Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’” (Matt. 16:23).

When I read that verse, my first response is that I want that kind of wisdom to rightly discern what is not of God. But then Jesus goes on to say to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (v. 24).

Twenty-five years ago my neurologist sat gingerly in front of me. Pushing a Kleenex box across the table, he said, “Your test results reveal that there is evidence of multiple sclerosis in the myelin tissue.” With each passing year, the Spirit reminds me that God is my strength as I lift my cross a little higher by the power of Christ within me.

Thinking about the sovereignty of God, I marvel and smile. God chooses us and gives us the desire to want him. Then he gives us his power and his wisdom to accomplish each task. No matter what obstacles seem to lie in our path, God has already moved us past them. God has taken care of any impossibility, any frustration.

In the movie Toy Story, Woody (with the voice of Tom Hanks) is organizing all the other toys and asking them to trust him. Some of the toys have doubts about Woody’s plans until Mr. Potato Head says, “If Woody says it’s alright, it’s alright with me. Woody’s never steered us wrong before.” That’s the kind of faith we are taught in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” If we are totally dependent on God’s sovereignty, the outcomes might surprise us.

I know this because the person I had become before my profession of faith would not have imagined any personal benefit from denying myself anything. By faith we follow the Spirit of Christ within us, according to the measure in which he lifts the veil and shines light on our sin. By faith God allows us just enough spiritual understanding, just enough joy-filled peace of mind to water the seeds of his desire within us. And then he blesses us.

It is God’s desire that brings us here, for such a time as this, to serve him through our denial of self-centered, selfish goals. Paul urges us in Romans 12:1 to offer our bodies as “a living sacrifice,” which is our spiritual act of worship. As we take steps toward not conforming to the patterns of the world, God promises to give us just enough wisdom to plan, to lead, to pray, and to celebrate his sovereignty in worship. All the plans, prayers, and sacrifices will mean nothing without our total trust in God for the outcome—no matter how hard we have labored to create the most perfect series of worship services.

As we journey together through this season of Lent, let us yield and let go of all that we do. And let it be just enough—because God has never steered us wrong before.

Remember, we are daughters and sons of a mighty God!

Angela Taylor Perry (angela@coscrc.org) is a resident pastor at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reformed Worship 98 © December 2010, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.