How Will You Know Unless You Try

            There once lived a young man, named Thomas, who announced to his father that he would sail around the world, and live life to its fullest. When his father heard this, he laughed so hard he fell off his chair.

            “Oh, dear son,” he said through tears. “How will you survive? You eat only cheese puffs and drink sweet tea. You refuse to taste anything else.”

            “Do not worry father, for I have purchased enough cheese puffs and sweet tea to last my entire voyage,” Thomas said.

            The day of his departure, Thomas arrived at the dock with his large crate in tow. When the crew saw the container, they stood in amazement.

            “Sir, what is in this box?” a crewman asked.

            “Well, it’s cheese puffs and sweet tea for my journey.”

            The men looked at each other and frowned. “Sir, did no one tell you that the ship carries sufficient amounts of food and beverages for every passenger?”

            “Yes, they did, but I will eat what I like, and taste nothing more.” Thomas smiled.

            The crewmen shrugged and hoisted the box into the cargo hull. As Thomas watched, he closed his eyes and shook his head as the ship dropped lower into the water.  “My eyes must be playing tricks on me,” he said to himself.

            Six days into the trip, the cruise liner screeched to a halt and died. “What happened?” Thomas yelled.  Within minutes, a loud siren sounded, and the passengers jumped off the ship and swam to the lifeboats. “What’s wrong?” Thomas yelled again.

            “The ship is sinking. Get off the boat while you can,” said the Captain.

            Panic set in and Thomas ran to his crate below deck and strapped himself to the box.

            “What are you doing?” said the last crewman. “You have to leave now!”

            “No, my crate will float, and I will stay with it,” Thomas demanded. The men argued until the ship inhaled a massive amount of water. Soon the power of the waves overtook both men, and they sank below sea level.

            Thomas woke on the beach with the sailor sitting next to him. “What happened?” he asked.

            “The ship went down, and I saved you,” the sailor said.

            “Where is everyone else?”

            “Another ship came by and picked them up.” The sailor pointed to a barge several miles away.

            “Will they come back for us?”

            “Eventually,” the sailor said as he bit into an apple.

            “What about my crate?” he cried. Thomas ran to the shore where he could see his tea floating in the water, and the sea creatures eating the bags of cheese puffs. “No, no, no. What will I eat?” Thomas asked the crewman.

            The sailor shrugged and threw him an apple.

Christians today make the mistake of relying on themselves and not on God. We make decisions based on our reasoning, and then lack faith when difficult times arise.

However, Psalms 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good.”  Strong’s Hebrew concordance (#2938) says to taste is to perceive, to test, examine, or try.

All of this hit home a few months ago, during my church’s annual Faith Promise campaign. The elders asked every member to pray for an amount of money to donate and then to trust the Lord to provide that amount.  Well, to my chagrin, I failed to understand the exercise.

Yes, I prayed for a dollar amount and wrote it on the card. But, when I returned home, I sat down and wrote a check.  There were times when I waited a few weeks, maybe a month, or even split the amount into two separate offerings, but I always relied on my savings to meet my commitment. I never tried to wait on God to see how He would provide. I always acted on my own.

Granted, the Lord supplied those funds previously, but it wasn’t the point. I didn’t give God the chance to show Himself faithful. I acted according to my own will, and my personal preference to fulfill my promise quickly. Thus, in the end, I missed tasting the fruit of my prayers and observing God in action.

Well, this time, my finances are limited, and I cannot write a check so quickly, or so easily. However, I still want to participate in offering a special gift for our missionaries. So, this year, I decided to put God to the test and wait for His provision. In so doing, I promised to “taste” the Lord, and see what He will do.

Charles Spurgeon says it best in volume one of The Treasury of David, he says, of Psalm 34:8, “Make a trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste, you shall see that the Lord is good. You can only know this personally by experience. Faith is the soul’s taste; they who test the Lord by their confidence always find him good, and they become themselves blessed.”  (Slightly paraphrased)

How about joining me today, and tasting the Lord’s goodness? Then please share your stories in the comment section below and let us know what God did for you.

Shall I…?

The other day while reading through second Samuel, a phrase caught my eye, and I followed it. The saying came from David, who asked for direction from God with the simple expression, “Shall I?” When David becomes King of Israel, second Samuel 2:1, says, “After this David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said again, “To which [cities] shall I go up?” Then in chapter 5:19, “And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” Then, a few verses later, it says, “And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up.”

It is evident to me that David received the title: “A man after God’s own heart,” because of his desire to do God’s will and not his own. David’s desire to please God and to seek His wisdom gained him much favor with the Lord.  It is a shame that David did not ask God before calling Bathsheba to his quarters to have an affair, nor did he seek God before putting Bathsheba’s husband in the front lines of a battle to kill him. David’s life would have been much different if he had.

When I turned on the news that same day, the commentary debated whether the State’s government should reopen for business while the number of Corona Virus cases surged.  Soon after, a news conference appeared, and the experts pulled out their charts, graphs, and medical reports, which spouted both bad and good news simultaneously.  As expected, a few hours later, another news agency hosted Financial experts to address the virus vs. the economy.  On and on, the discussions raged based on public opinion, history, and current trends.

I finally turned it off and sat quietly, wondering who or what to believe.   It was then that I remembered James 4:13-17 that says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin.”

In his sermon, “Responding to the Will of God,” Pastor John MacArthur says of James 4:13, “You see, the issue here is not in what is said, the issue here is in what is not said; that’s the implication. In fact, careful planning is essential and careful planning is expected, and nothing that is said there reveals the problem. But what is not said does reveal the problem, because there’s no mention of God. There is no thought for God. And we would say that this is practical atheism; this is living your life as if there was no God at all, the foolishness of ignoring the will of God, planning your life as if God did not exist at all, though you even may believe He does. And believe me, there are folks who believe God exists, but do not include Him in their plans.”

Read that last sentence again, “There are folks who believe God exists, but do not include Him in their plans.” Why are we, as Christians, living as if God does not exist? I have done this as well. I plot my future, I count my pennies, and I work towards a goal, trying not to stress out or worry if things fail.

I see now that I plan my life as if God does not exist, He is not control, and He will not bless and provide for me.  For a long time, I even worked on Plan B, in case Plan A didn’t pull through.  How dumb is that?  It was then I realized that I needed to destroy plan B because it lacked faith. Plan A will always work out when we seek God—first. God will not place us on a path to success, and then bring us failure, He gains no glory in doing such a thing.

So going forward, before putting pen to paper, keystrokes to Word documents, or daydreaming about our future, let’s seek the Lord first, and ask, “Shall I…?”