When God Puts You on the Shelf
"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."1
"When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
And the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low, and debts are high,
You want to smile but you have to cry...."
I'm sure most of us have felt this way on more than one occasion. I surely have.
However, if we hang in and trust God He will, in all things, "work for the good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose." And, as I like to say—even if it is eventually!
For instance, a Daily Encounter reader, Cheri Q, shared how she lost her job but instead of staying discouraged, she decided to write a book and titled it, How to Survive the Loss of a Job.
I can certainly identify with Cheri. In my beginning days in Christian ministry I accepted a call to be the South Australian director of Youth for Christ. For the first year or two I had an incredible opportunity to teach the gospel message in many religious instruction classes in the public high schools. These classes were conducted by the local churches, who, after having done this for many years, voted in one night to discontinue teaching religious instruction in the schools.
As a result about 90 percent of my ministry vanished overnight. I told my YFC board that I was going to look for another job, but they wouldn't accept my resignation for three months as this is what my contract required even though I had precious little to do. At the time I felt God had forgotten me and put me on the shelf. For something to do I decided to put into writing what I had been teaching in the public schools and wrote the booklet, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian—Without Having to Be Religious." We ended up mailing a copy of this with a letter and questionnaire/response form to some 600 high school student leaders from 50 high schools. To my utter amazement well over a hundred students replied and 98 marked on their questionnaire/response form that they had read and understood the gospel message and had prayed the prayer at the end to invite Jesus Christ into their life as Savior.
You know what? I've been involved in literature and writing outreach ever since! Over three million copies of "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" have been distributed in a number of countries, and multiplied thousands have read this same message on the Internet. From this message and other gospel messages on the ACTS website there have been more than 44,000 salvation and re-commitment to Jesus Christ responses that we know about from over 164 countries. And more than 40 million of ACTS printed gospel brochures have been distributed worldwide.
I could give many more fascinating examples of how God has used what I felt were very discouraging setbacks to greatly expand our ministry and to reach thousands, if not millions, more with the gospel message.
As the hymn-writer expressed it so well, "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform / He plants his footsteps in the sea / And rides upon the storm."
So dear reader, when the storms of life surround you, remember that God rides upon them, and through it all He has a wonderful plan and purpose for your life.
For many years I have daily committed and trusted my life and way to God and He has worked my many setbacks for good. In fact, if it weren't for the setbacks and being "put on the shelf" for a season, I wouldn't be where I am today, and I certainly wouldn't be writing Daily Encounters for I never had any ambition to be a writer. God will use your disappointments for your good, too, as you daily commit and trust your life and circumstances to Him.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that in all things You work for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. I commit and trust my life and way to You and pray that You will use every circumstance in my life to help me become the person You want me to be, and to lead me to do what You want me to do. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Romans 8:28 (NIV).