Session 4 – Commended to God
When I was a teenager my parents used to tell me over and over again, “We trust you, we just don’t trust anyone else.” Usually this was applied to the way people drove, or the parties I was begging to attend. My parents weren’t helicopter parents, in fact, we had no strict curfew or a list of rules, but I know they were pray-ers and had a good deal of discernment for sniffing out a questionable situation.
The world is a dangerous place. When I became a parent myself I wrapped myself up in anxiety about who could take my child, what holes they could fall into, and what dark paths might await them. But if there is anything my parents taught me, it’s that you can not control the circumstances, you can only pilot your way through it with your eyes wide open and the Word of God as your steering wheel. And eventually, the anxiety became so exhausting, that I had to give up the wrapping a little bit, and let them fly out there in the big, wide world.
Some things, we have to leave in God’s hands. Actually, a great many things. Acts 14:24-28 gives us a peek into how dark and difficult the road of life can be, but how big and bold our courage can be as we spur one another on:
“Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples.”
So, hold the phone. Paul and Silas healed someone, then people got hacked off and tried to stone them. Yikes! They knew a thing or two about the darkness of the world around them, pressing in, threatening to devour. What was the difference? Was the church sending Paul and Silas off any less scared than we are in our world today or with our children walking out the door tomorrow?
The church around them, the people of God, who loved them dearly, remembered where, or rather whom, they had been sent from…God, not man, and commended them back to the One who is able.
Sweet girls, God holds us close to Him. He does not let go. We may experience affliction, and hurt, and innumerable challenges, but we are held. We can encourage and commend one another to God.
I bet you have friends across the nation. I bet many of them are serving God in their little corners of the world. Take a moment and pray for one of those distant friends. Distant in miles, but never far from your heart. Wrap them up in prayer, send them a card or a text and let them know that they are prayed for today.
Dear friend, you are commended to God. He holds you close. You are in my prayers this day.
Discussion questions – what do you think is scary in the world today? Who did you choose to share encouragement with and commend to God?