I wrote this blog on March 19, 2014, which was almost 1 month after the tragic accident that claimed the lives of my friends and fellow student ministry leaders, Jeff Novak and Michalanne Salliotte, seriously injured student Jacob Newman, and affected the lives of hundreds.
Trusting God With Our Future
On Wednesday, October 5, 2011, I added a prayer request to my daily prayer list that I honestly had no idea the significance it would have on me in the last few weeks. That prayer request, maybe menial to some, maybe a given for others, has been monumental in my prayer life in the days since February 21, 2014. The request that I added to my daily list simply said “What the future holds/Submission to God fully”.
One of the things that I tell our students repeatedly is that we don’t have to worry about the future, because God sits outside of time and space. When we say that we can trust God with our tomorrow, it is not because He simply knows about tomorrow, but that He is already there! God is not constrained by time as we are, and therefore is not bound to living in the moment. So when I added that request to my list on October 2011, I had no idea what I was really asking God. Sure, I wanted to be obedient to whatever He brought my way. I wanted to make sure that I had my heart right, that I was willing to do and go and say whatever He had for me. I was asking for God to help me to walk through open doors of ministry. I was asking God to prepare me to serve however, whoever, wherever and whenever He told me to.
But on Friday, February 21, 2014, I realized what I had been praying for. No, it did not hit me immediately on that day. It did not hit me the next morning as I spent time with Jesus. It didn’t even hit me that week. But slowly over these last few weeks, the one request that continues to jump off the screen to me every day is the one where I have been and continue to pray to be obedient to God in the future. The one that has had me asking God for help to trust Him with my future.
In the 870 days between October 5, 2011 and February 21, 2014, I could not imagine what the future held. But I was, and am, confident in knowing Who holds the future! In the midst of the tragedy of the accident, in the question of why God would allow for Jeff Novak and Michalanne Salliotte to die, in the trying to make sense of the accident, in the struggle of dealing with emotions, in the middle of of trying to understand why Jacob Newman was hurt more severely and still in the hospital, in the searching for the answers of why, in the difficulty of trying to give comfort to the families, in the hardship of trying to teach and lead our students and leaders, I walk away with one essential truth: God is sovereign.
There is a lot of pain, hurt, anger, sadness, depression and more. But in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty I find my way, and I am constantly trying to point others in this same direction. Every time we feel lost, every time our emotions are overwhelming, every time we find ourselves struggling to find out the why in a situation, we must always come back to what we know to be true. I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know this: God is still God; He still sits on His throne; He is still sovereign; He is still in control; He is still aware of all things; He is never caught by surprise; He is always paying attention. God does not just know about my tomorrows; He is already there.
So I will continue to ask God to prepare me for the future. I will continue to ask God to help me be submissive to His will. I am reminded that God does things that bring Him glory and are for our own good. I cannot, in this moment, see how this accident is for our good. But I have already seen many times where God has been glorified in the midst of this. Many of our church family have had multiple Gospel opportunities and open doors to share about Jesus. The Salliotte’s, Novak’s and Newman’s have continued to praise God in the storm, even when it’s hard!
When I have been asking “Why?”, I am reminded of what God said in Isaiah 55:8 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” When I question the timing of this all, I think about Job who lost everything, yet in Job 1:20-22 it says, “Then Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, 21 saying: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.’ 22 Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.” When I wonder when we will make sense of this, I think of how God answered Job’s “why” with a reminder that He alone is God, and I am not. When I feel like God does not know or care about me, I remember Psalm 139:17-18, “17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God ! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.”
So what about you? Do you trust God with your future? Are you willing to be submissive to Him no matter where the path leads? Will you let go of trying to control your future and allow God to be God? When we are at that point, we are simply and finally walking by faith and not by sight.