Guest Blogger -Teri Gegen Teri is the director of “Heartbeat”, the women’s ministry of Frontline Christian Center, Boca Raton, Fl.
“Because the patriarchs (Joseph’s brothers) were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and his all his palace. Acts 7:9-10 NIV
Joseph’s brothers meant to harm him, BUT GOD had other plans. This mighty little phrase appears several times in the bible in just this way. People get all embroiled in some difficulty, but God pulls their fat right out of the fire. I love these two words. I carry them with me everyday as a little reminder that God is God and I am not. What a relief that is.
For example, I went on a mission trip to Brazil last year. As you can imagine, a lot of preparation goes into a mission trip such as meetings to prepare the missions team, air-travel arrangements, lodging and food, day-to-day scheduling of activities and in our case, packing school supplies and clothes for the children in many additional suitcases.
We started this process with prayer, excitement and a great expectation as to what God would do, and how he would use us in this great adventure. My excitement grew to almost a fevered pitch until I found that it had turned into something else entirely. Somehow, anxiety tiptoed into my heart with great stealth and grew within me slowly, until it threatened to overshadow everything else. I mean, just how do you pack everything you need for a nine day trip in a carry-on sized bag within an eleven-pound weight limit?!! (I know. I know. That last thought was fleshly and unworthy, but it gives you an idea of how my focus had gone awry.)
I found that my eye was no longer on Jesus’ great commission, but it was on the hundreds of details that could go wrong.
During this time of preparation, our choir was practicing a song with a lyric in it that spoke to my heart and refreshed my spirit every time we sang it. “But God, He never left my side,” was the phrase. The operative words, “But God,” in this phrase were the ones that brought me peace as I practiced the song day-to-day. It was my constant reminder that God is in control. So as we boarded our plane with all details blessedly in place, I thought to myself, ‘But God has calmed my fears and will bring us successfully to our destination.”
On the last day before we left Brazil, some of my fellow travelers expressed overwhelming frustration. We had seen so much want, so much need. Our efforts seemed paltry and of no consequence. We desired to stay, to give and do more. That morning it was my turn to lead the devotional. Each one of us was asked to prepare a devotional to share during our morning prayer. The selection of who shared on any given morning was seemingly random. But God had been giving me a message of hope for about six weeks before the trip. It had helped me during our time of preparation, but God, in His omniscient way had also given it to me to share with my weary teammates for such a time as this.
That morning as my teammates expressed their heartbreak over the huge need they had witnessed and our inability to fill it, God gently reminded us that He is God and we are not. He is the creator, the author, the finisher. He has infinite resources. God calls us to bring our small piece of the big picture puzzle and place it where He wants it. Yes, those children needed clothes, money, repairs to their homes and some “Jesus with skin on” love, BUT GOD sent us to do a week’s worth of that work. And after we left to go home, they still had need, BUT GOD sent men from an affiliated church to complete much needed construction on their homes and women to cook for the men and they all loved on the children. The need is still great; BUT GOD keeps meeting the need as He sees it in His infinite wisdom.
In our ministries and in our daily lives, when trials arise, let us not take it all on our own shoulders, becoming weary in doing good for it is not about doing good. It is about the Great Do-Gooder, God, and His awesome plan. We are but a small part of His plan. Your flesh and your heart may fail; But God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever. Psalm 73:26. Search your bible for these two powerful simple words, “BUT GOD.” You will be surprised at how often they appear. Hide them in your heart. They will wipe away worry, strengthen you in your ministry and reinstate your trust and faith in Him.