What Are You Doing Here?
By: Gene Markland, cbn1.com
Once there was a minister who was lonely, depressed and feeling defeated in his life and ministry. One night in his despair, he found himself in a bar on the seedy side of town. With his head bowed low in shame, he walked across the dimly lit room and took a seat at the bar. He sat staring into his drink, a drink he had never had before, and pondered his life and his failures.
Suddenly, a man sitting two seats to his right, a man who had obviously been drinking heavily, turned to him, looked at him with piercing eyes and said, “What are you doing here?”
The minister was shocked and thought to himself, “Do I know this man? Does he know me? All the while the man stared at him with those piercing eyes awaiting an answer. An answer he already knew. This minister did not belong there.
Immediately, he rose from the bar stool and left the building. As he sat behind the wheel of his car he thought to himself, “Lord, what has brought me to this low point in my life?” It was as if the Lord had spoken through that man.
As he pulled out of the parking lot he asked for forgiveness. In his beaten and defeated condition, he went back to his home, to his family, and to his ministry. Ashamed of himself, he put one foot in front of the other, and went through the motions, feeling unworthy yet determined to try again. The Lord restored him and he continued his ministry.
There was a man in the Bible, a prophet named Elijah, who also reached a point in his life when he felt defeated and wanted to give up.
“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’” 1 Kings 19:3-4 (NLT)
“But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” 1 Kings 19:9-10 (NLT)
Even the great prophet Elijah reached a point in his life when he felt so defeated that he just wanted to die. The Lord asked him again “What are you doing here Elijah?” Then he was given instructions on what to do next.
There may be a time in your life when you were brought low, a time that only you and the Lord know about. Do not let that define you. Do not let that set your course for a lifetime of defeat. Instead, put one foot in front of the other — and though you feel unworthy, determine in your heart to try again. The Lord will hold you up with his strong right arm. He will set your course and make straight your path. Defeat will humble a person, but with the help of the Lord, there is hope, restoration, and a victorious future.
What Is God’s Will?
“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.” Matthew 5:14 (MSG)
I used to think it was crucial for me to know God’s will. If I knew His grand plan for at least this season of my life, then I could direct all my decisions to fall in line.
Is it His will for me to stay in this job or change to that one?
Is it His will for me to send my kids to that school or make another choice?
Is it His will for me to teach that Bible study, serve on that committee or go on that mission trip?
I ponder and pray. I ask friends. I read the Bible. I look for confirmations that point in one direction or the other.
I assume there is one correct choice and in order to stay in God’s will I must figure out that exact choice.
That’s a lot of pressure for a simple girl like me. After all, I’m choosing between one good thing and another good thing. So I fret and wonder, which of these things is God’s will?
But what if I’m wrong?
What if God’s will is more simple than that?
It’s great to ask friends and look for confirmations. But what if God is more concerned with us looking for Him than looking for answers?
We want big directional signs from God. God just wants us to pay attention.
Yes, pay attention to Him and ask Him what is our Best Yes in the midst of all the choices.
Recently I heard a story that shook me to the core. It had been a busy day at a restaurant with lots of customers coming and going. But at one point a guy came up to the manager and handed her a card. He told her, “This is for your staff.” And with an emotional catch in his throat, he said, “I just wanted to make sure they knew.”
The customer then turned and left as the manager tucked the card into her apron pocket.
A little while later, she had time to open the card.
It was a note directed to the staff thanking them. It wasn’t for their service or for the food. It was for their smiles.
He explained in the letter that he’d made plans to take his life that day. But their gift of simple conversations with simple smiles gave him the gift of hope.
As I heard the story, I cried.
Something stirred deep inside of me.
I got this overwhelming feeling that this was a beautiful picture of how God’s will works. He intersects our lives with people who need His hope and whispers to us, “You have the hope they need … give it to them.”
Maybe it’s to offer them a little of our time. Maybe it’s to share a little of our story. Or maybe, like with this customer, it’s to simply offer a smile. And when we listen, a shift happens. It’s like the world splits open with each of our simple acts of obedience to God and His light breaks apart the world’s darkness. This is a Best Yes. This is us paying attention.
In our key verse, Matthew 5:14, we’re instructed to be the light to those around us, “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.” God wants us to let our light shine. This is His will. This is His plan. This is His instruction.
And when we get in the habit of obeying His instruction today, we’ll develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.
The more we pay attention to these moment-by-moment instructions by God, the more our thinking starts to line up with God. Our mind gets in a new rhythm of seeing what He wants us to see, so that we can do what He wants us to do.
God’s Plan Triumphs
Scripture Reading — Acts 22:30-23:35
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” — Acts 23:11
The religious leaders were trying to stop Paul. They were willing to do whatever it took, even agreeing to a plot to kill him. More than forty people had taken an oath not to eat or drink till they had killed Paul. It seemed as if this could be the end of Paul and his earthly ministry.
But the Lord had encouraged Paul the night before, saying that he would also bring the good news of Jesus in Rome. God would provide a way for Paul. It might not be the way Paul initially thought it would be, but God’s plan could not be stopped.
God’s plans always triumph over the plans of people— especially when it comes to plots of destruction and death. God’s plans may sometimes appear to be frustrated or even defeated, but there is always more to the story when people think they can do as they please, ignoring God or believing he has no power. Eventually and finally, God’s plans prevail.
In the next few chapters, we will see Paul testify about Jesus in places and to people where he would not normally have an audience. As a prisoner under the protection of Rome, he may be in chains, but he is free to preach about Jesus and his love.