This was my first taste of worshiping this way and I must say that I enjoyed it. I sang along with the Praise and Worship Team and raised my hands appropriately; I bowed my head when the pastor prayed; I was into a service as much as one could be from the privacy of my bedroom, clothed in my pajamas.
As the service progressed, I was a little disappointed when they announced that there would be a guest speaker today. I don’t know why, since I’ve never heard the pastor of the church preach, but still I was less than thrilled to hear that the speaker would someone other than the minister of the church. But God, in His infinite wisdom knew that the guest, Dr. Eric Joseph from Mid-America Christian University, had a Word for me.
Dr. Joseph spoke about when God says “no.” I’ve had that happen, haven’t you? (If you haven’t, keep living. Your time is coming.)
I've lost loved ones as I prayed for their healing and God said no.
I've missed out opportunities and relationships because when I asked God to please make them happen, to make them right for me, God said no.
I have lost sleep while worrying about problems I wanted God to fix, situations I wanted Him to change, but when I asked Him to move on my behalf, God said no.
No. No. No.
How do you keep your joy in a season of no? How do you refrain from anger and despair? How do you move forward with your spirituality intact? How do you keep singing and praising when God is seemingly ignoring your cries for help?
This was the subject of the sermon I heard today. Dr. Joseph provided a couple of things you can do, based upon what Paul taught in the 12th chapter of II Corinthians, but the one thing that hit me squarely in the eye was that we should look for the “instead.”
He explained that God will never tell you “no” without also providing an instead.
An “instead” is an alternative, one that is more fitting with the design that God has on your life. It is bigger and better than anything we could even imagine to ask. It is exactly what God knows that we need.
Dr. Joseph went on to explain that many people are married to Mr./Mrs. Instead. This isn’t to say that this person is any “less” than the person you may have thought would be a better catch, quite the contrary. Mr./Mrs. Instead is the person God knew you needed as your partner.
Likewise, many of us may be working at jobs, involved in friendships, or even pursuing dreams that we never would have chosen for ourselves, but which God provided when our first choices didn’t work out.
As I see it, joy comes from an acknowledgement that God’s “instead” is going to be better and brighter and more beautiful than anything we could ask for. And, while the denial of what we ask for may be painful, we have to trust and believe that, in due season, God will bless us with the best.
So, friends, INSTEAD of going to my church today, I worshiped in a new and different way. It was far better than what I imagined and it was exactly what I needed. I thank God for today's "instead" experience.
Now it’s your turn! What did you ask for that you now know wasn’t in your best interest? A mate? A job? A trip? And how did God bless you with an “instead?”