Mysterious Ways

Deep and Lasting Work

God does indeed work in mysterious ways. When your life and ways are submitted to Jesus, He is faithful to accomplish His work. Even in the midst of our inability to always hear Him clearly or perfectly follow His every leading, somehow for those who are “called according to His purposes” as in Romans 8:28, He does indeed work all things together for good.

Often our circumstances don’t SEEM so “good” from our perspective, yet in those times, God is often doing His most deep and lasting work, as He perfects us and makes us more like Jesus.

In future episodes, hopefully we will be addressing some “gardening” themes that demonstrate spiritual truths, and one of those areas will be of “pruning”. Sometimes, it seems as though areas of our life have gotten so over-grown or are heading in the wrong direction, that the Master Gardener has to lop of a huge branch that we considered essential to our life or ministry. Have you ever felt like that happened in your life? Have you ever wondered WHY?

Cut Down

It certainly has felt true in my life in recent years. You may have heard me mention this before, and if so, please pardon the repeat. For many years I have worked as a Music Therapist, primarily with Seniors in Long Term Care or Assisted Living Facilities. A few years back, when our entire society shut down, of course, my position was considered “non-essential”, and my livelihood was cut down. As the months went by, and the requirements to get back INTO working went against my sensibilities, I pretty much was out of a job. So over these years, my “career” has limped along in some ways. I could have decided to compromise my beliefs and go along with the things being pushed upon us, but the whole way things were handled in the medical community left me less than enthusiastic about carrying on with the status quo. I’ve written extensively about it, especially in my early “Manna From My Father’s Hand” blog posts (along with the way things personally affected me during the season leading up to my earthly father’s passing away) so if you want to read more, scroll back on my blog page or for the full story, go here

True Calling

Suffice it to say, I would have carried on with my career gladly, bringing joy to the Seniors in various communities using Music Therapy. Since my earliest days however, even looking back on college years, Music Therapy always seemed to be an addition to my true calling, which was singing for the Lord. I’ve written and spoken about that in recent episodes as well.

Today’s episode was birthed out of a quick story from this past weekend that illustrates the goodness of God in the midst of us following after Him, even when we can only see a small part of what He’s doing or accomplishing in, through and among us.

This past Sunday, a (worship leader) friend had asked me to fill in, leading worship at his church (as a few of us that seem to be on his “short list” have done for him during Sundays when he’s out of town, etc.) Having agreed to do so, the process of song-selection went fairly smoothly, seeking the Lord on which songs resonated, and making sure their church hadn’t sung them too recently. A couple of my chosen songs had to be switched out for alternates late last week, because they had apparently been sung in recent services there.

Singing/playing with a team is sometimes more challenging to pull together because everyone needs to know the songs, but it also hides a LOT of your personal foibles, mistaken chords, words, etc. This time, since I’d be singing alone, choosing songs that were already familiar to me was easy. The greater challenge was going to be getting the lyrics and chords right so as not to be distracting to the congregation…. Trusted the Lord with all of that…. This may be a little too much “inside baseball”. Yet the story shows the kindness and mercy of God making Himself known in the “little” things and the “big” things.

Filling In

On this particular week, the man who preached was also filling in for the regular pastor, so the two of us didn’t know the ropes that well. Also, it seemed like some in the tech booth might have been fill-ins as well, and from the discussion in the back of the room, it sounded like the live-stream might only contain the sermon, because they didn’t want to complicate issues running the stream. Apparently, what they eventually did do was to simplify the stream and just put up the music without a lyric overlay, and of course, have the sermon.

Now, the man who preached and I had not compared notes at all. He didn’t know the songs I’d chosen, and I didn’t know what he would preach about. After my songs in the beginning, he got up to preach, and it was quite a good and deep sermon from Romans, about our sin, need for a Redeemer, our need for Jesus and sanctification. As he spoke, I began to wonder if maybe he DID know what songs would be sung that morning, his words were so relevant…. Of course, that information hadn’t even been known to ME until the final selections in the days leading up to Sunday….

Master Conductor's Hand

But the message flowed so well into the last song that it was uncanny…. Surely, most people in any form of leadership in the Church know that feeling…. You realize there was a Hand bigger than your own that was leading you to do or say something, choose a specific song, get somewhere at the perfect time—even though you were “late” according to your own calculations, etc. Those are the great and small moments of testimony in our lives that can cause our eyes to turn heavenward with grateful hearts.

It’s about Him and what He is doing…. If we can rest in that, and allow Romans 8:28 to resound in our hearts, we can have a LOT more peace and contentment. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And Paul didn’t write those words from an ivory tower. He was continually enduring hardships, yet his eyes were looking higher, to the will of the One whose ways are higher than ours.

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I’m recounting this story to you because, in checking out the actual live-stream from that service, a couple things are noticeable to me personally and give me comfort. Of course, my personal foibles, my mistakes, the chords and lyrics that were jumbled up are all there. To me, that represents my humanity. The Lord is using this “earthen vessel”, and praise Him, He’s well aware of that.

At the same time, the joy and presence of Jesus is palpable, ESPECIALLY considering the things behind the scenes like the “chance” that those specific songs would be sung, in that specific order…. It LOOKED like it was deliberately orchestrated. But it was NOT planned in that way by me or the man speaking. The hand of the Master Conductor of the symphony of life was at work, weaving our little efforts into His plan.

Master Gardener

And relating this back to the beginning…. These past few years have contained joy and sorrow, gain and loss, hope and despair for so many, self included. Losing (in many respects) my “career” in some ways was like having a huge limb of my life lopped off by the Master Gardener. Thankfully, He’s been involved in my life for so many years, and has proven Himself so often, that His “peace that passes understanding” has reigned throughout those years in my heart. He removed things that seemed strong and vibrant, but not necessarily growing in the exact direction He wanted…. Now, watching what He has done in terms of allowing me to minister to His Church in leading worship (and the many other things He is inspiring) causes me to stand back in awe.

Have you felt like a part of your life has been lopped off? Could it be that He is perfecting you and removing parts that won’t necessarily get you to the place where He desires? Have you been “called according to his purposes”? If so, His purposes, His mysterious ways, may be leading you to places you would never have gone without His mighty hand shifting your circumstances and giving you not only the desire, but the opportunity as well.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We have a chance to walk in His ways or our own. The choice is ours. Yes, His ways are mysterious. There also never seems to be a dull moment! The man who spoke Sunday used a GREAT word picture about a toaster oven. This is not a spoiler alert, I’ll put a link to the live-stream replay in the comments or description. I hope you go and watch the whole service. Listen to his poignant words and consider what he says. Listen to the songs and be moved. Let me know if the toaster oven illustration hits home for you too.

Jesus loves you, my friend. I pray that as you let Hi m prune you as the Master Gardener that He is, He will cause you to flourish and blossom…. More on all that in a future episode!

Watch the Livestream Replay

Watch the whole service on the livestream replay here:

Associated Podcast

Listen to the Podcast associated with this blog post at the Manna From My Father’s Hand Podcast here:

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