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The Plan and the Prize

The surest way to doubt God is to take a leap of faith and then enter into that time of waiting, waiting, waiting. When, oh when, is the Lord going to see my truly desperate situation, swoop in, sprinkle some magic fairy dust and make my life a cake walk?

So it was when we moved to Arkansas. We made a decision to leap. It did feel a little like a free fall—exhilarating one moment, excruciating the next. Part of my problem with the wait was a misplaced faith in the input/output principle. I figured if I input faith and obedience, making dramatic decisions as evidence of such, that the output would be. . .well, it should be awesome beyond reckoning. Right? If I make a big, thorny, dangerous play, then doesn’t God owe it to me to show up in a big way? This faith stuff is so hard, but I’ve got a big blessing coming!

I wanted that. I wanted something miraculous that I could point to and say, “Just look. He confounds us with His power! Look at how He blessed me for my act of faith!”

Funny. Now that I’ve been through the whole rigmarole, I think it a bigger demonstration of His power that He changed me rather than my situation. Circumstances? Sure, He can calm the storm. He can even call me out on the waves and we can do a little jig together, but change my mind?

That’s the miracle, I’m telling you. God be praised! Nothing is impossible with Him! I am not the person I was. He removed the, “Lord, I did. . . and now You must do. . .” from my lips and stuck in its place, “You’re God if You do and God if You don’t. I worship the Living God.”

It was late into our first year in Arkansas. Our church planting efforts were on hold because we were teetering on the edge of financial ruin. I worked part-time at a Christian school. Todd worked full-time answering phones at a car dealership. Neither of us could insure our families through our jobs. Our combined incomes could not cover our expenses—rent and a mortgage for the house in Texas that didn’t sell, bills for both addresses, basic necessities, the fortune we pumped into the gas tank getting the kids and me back and forth to Little Rock five days a week. Something had to give and fast.

For that entire year, I had felt certain that God would solve our problems by moving me from part-time to full-time at the school. If we can just hold on until contracts come out, I thought. And I prayed and I prayed and I prayed—for God to show up and bless me with the fulfillment of my plan.

When I received my contract in the mail, and realized how many classes I had been assigned for the following year, I deflated entirely. I’d placed my faith—not in the Lord who went to the cross for me—but in the plan, the one I’d devised in my fleshy, short-sighted brain.

But I was one class short of full-time. Without that one extra class, there was no insurance. And my salary, though a little higher than before, was not nearly enough to pay for insurance out of pocket in addition to all our other expenses. The day was fast approaching when our insurance through the church in Texas would run out. We were losing ground fast.

As hard as I tried, I could not take this setback in stride. Maybe this was a mistake, after all. Maybe we should never have left Texas. Maybe God had a different plan entirely and we just missed the boat.

I was alone in my car a week or so later, coming home one evening without my children, which almost never happens. Doing my best to check my attitude before God, I prayed for provision. You promised, I reminded Him. I’m seeking Ye first. Haven’t you noticed??? Where’s my blessing??? It was no use. I was crushed. Whatever faith I had that God would do this or do that had evaporated without a trace.

It is the only day in all that year that I was tempted to turn the car anywhere but home and just drive and drive and drive. Go somewhere—anywhere—just get away.

Have you ever noticed that when your circumstances change for the better, it’s easy to miss that it was God’s doing? If someone gives you a new job, you may realize that God provided the job but others are also involved. It’s easy to divide up your gratitude between God, the person who gave you the referral, the new employer, and your prayer partner.

But when you are all alone, sobbing in your car, and you unmistakably hear the Lord’s voice speaking to you, God gets the glory and the gratitude and no one else.

“Katie, don’t you know that I have already blessed you with everything—everything—at the cross? Whatever happens to you—whatever you have or don’t have—is just part of belonging to Me and living My plan?”

It’s no fluke, not my imagination—I heard it. He spoke just as clearly as if He were in the passenger seat next to me.

For a moment I sobbed even harder. If it’s God’s plan for me to be here, seeking Him, watching and waiting for the answers, then I am blessed because God has a plan and I’M IN IT. That plan began with the cross where He took the punishment for my sin. He died so that I could live.

I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Christ. Lives. In. Me. In me! Is there a greater blessing than that? None! If He’s in me, and I feel like things aren’t going my way—as if I’m not being blessed enough, does that mean He’s withholding blessings from Himself? Of course not!

The problem is me and that fleshy, short-sighted brain of mine–it’s the problem of my warped perspective when I take my eyes off the prize. It’s the problem of Christians in every church everywhere who don’t really know what the prize is—who the prize is, and the value of that prize– and so, are always looking for something else to come along and make us feel blessed.

Every blessing came to me when I decided to follow Christ. When I have everything, I am blessed. When I have nothing, I am blessed.

Blessed

Rich? Blessed.

Poor? Still blessed.

Employed? Jobless? Healthy? Sick? Full of joy? Deeply grieved? In any circumstance, am I ever without Christ?

I am always–

Richly blessed with every spiritual blessing. Chosen before the foundation of the world. Lavished with grace. United with Christ. Forgiven, redeemed, and adopted by His blood. Looking forward to the riches of His inheritance—which I obtain as part of HIS plan, guaranteed by the seal of the Holy Spirit. Strengthened in my inner being by the power of His Spirit—the same power that raised Christ death. I was dead in my sins and now I live in Christ.

God has in no way shortchanged me.

This difficult season bore its fruit in faith. Todd and I both agree that we would do it again and again to know Him the way we do now. But, if you’re interested in how God worked things out, take a look at a former post, The State of the Beasley Union. God had it all in hand—but not because the Beasleys took a leap of faith—because He’s God and He has a plan. And a prize that is awesome beyond reckoning.

Addendum 10/10/2014–After I first posted this, I heard Josh Wilson sing “What I See Now” in concert. The song is beautiful and so true. These lyrics spoke to me:

I see a perfect plan, I see God’s guiding hand.
I see a better man, you’ll be a better man.
Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it takes the trials
To open up your eyes.

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