“Overflow with Hope” Devotional | May 4
Each Monday during this season of remote living and learning, the Chapel Office is sharing a devotional written by a member of the Gordon community.
By Arley Kangas ’20
Wow, what an unexpected season we find ourselves in. I’d like to share a passage of Scripture that has been uniquely encouraging to me during this uncertain time:
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:1–4)
This is a period of uncertainty, and I’m sure many of us can resonate with that. Perhaps there were summer jobs that looked set that are now cast in doubt, or plans to visit loved ones that simply aren’t possible during this time. In times like these it is often hard for me to let go of control, and my mind races with all of the possibilities and ways that I can attempt to salvage a specific situation. I find myself questioning God’s provision and theologies of goodness and sovereignty when the things I’d hoped and prayed for don’t happen or are slow in coming. Maybe some of you can relate.
Yet in this season I have been constantly reminded that I have never been in control, even when I’ve been under the illusion that I was. I have been reminded that every step of the way, from my birth until now, God has been providing in crazy ways time and time again. Oftentimes these provisions have looked different than what I’d initially expected or prayed for, yet turned out to be exactly what was needed for the time. Put simply, I am reminded that I am not God. And, wow, there is so much peace in that statement. Jesus tells us that instead of needing to sort out everything in our own power and intelligence, or needing to be as independent as possible before asking for God’s help, we can have the posture of kids even during the time of COVID-19.
What does this look like? I think it means that just a child is wholly dependent upon his parents, so we need to embrace this dependence on God. It is true whether we acknowledge it or not. Every breath comes from him; even the fact that the sun rose today is a gift! Everything we “have” is given by him and we have no inherent right to it. God has always been in control (and still is), and nothing about our current situations have caught him by surprise or are too complicated/messy/difficult for him to handle.
I think this childlike posture also means that as we acknowledge this dependence we take comfort in knowing that he sees and knows and cares about us more than we see or know or care about ourselves. Wow! So, the one who is in total control loves us even more than we do ourselves, and knows exactly what is needed during this time to bring about his purposes in our lives and the redemption of the whole Earth? That’s insane! As children, then, wholly dependent on our Creator, we can delight in these truths and make sure our eyes are firmly fixed on him always, just as a little child sits in awe of his parents. This can look many different ways, including the reading of Scripture, time in prayer and reflection and asking God what he is doing in this situation, interceding for others and being faithful in the work/relationships that he has put before us in this specific season. It is vital that we as a community are spending time with the Lord during this season, in the different ways that may look like for each of us.
As part of God’s family, we can find peace in knowing that we are his beloved kids and don’t have to have everything figured out. Throwing up our hands and acknowledging our fears and doubts and uncertainties, just like a child, is not a sign of weakness in the Kingdom. Rather, it is a sign of strength as we actively wait and see what God can do while being faithful with what is directly before us. As Dr. Elaine Phillips (biblical studies and Christian ministries) shared from II Chronicles 20:12 recently, when King Jehoshaphat hears about a multitude of armies approaching Jerusalem, this is his prayer:
“. . . For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes on you.”
Let this be our prayer in this season, with eyes firmly focused on our Father, trusting that even when we don’t know what to do, he does.
Looking for some encouragement during these uncertain times?
The Gordon worship teams have curated Spotify playlists full of hopeful and uplifting worship songs for the Gordon community.