Monday, December 11, 2006

The Will of God will never lead you where the Grace of God cannot keep you.

These words have been such a comfort to me over the years; I remember reading them when I was just a teenager. I love the promise in them: God will never abandon us. He will never leave us to fend for ourselves. He will always direct us and sustain us.

We recently moved from California back to Minnesota, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The moving part (packing boxes, throwing out half our belongings) was a piece of cake compared to the actual leaving part; it was so hard to say goodbye to my family and friends. Frankly, I didn’t want to go one little bit.

Kevin said he thought it was the best thing for all of us to move. I dug in my heels and looked at my husband and said,
“I don’t think so!”

He answered, “I think this is where the Lord wants us.”

And I said, “I don’t think so!”

It was the first time in our marriage that we couldn't agree on where we should live, and it was a true test of our love for each other, and our love for the Lord. I felt as if my whole life was in crisis—I couldn’t imagine leaving everyone and heading back to a place I had no desire to call home. It was awful.

Suddenly, I had new insight into the thought processes of a cranky old guy named Jonah.

Jonah said: “Lord, give me a break. Why are you sending me to Nineveh of all places? Why are you wasting my time? I have better things to do. My family is here, my friends are here. Give me a message for them
, okay? Are you listening to me, Lord?”

I don’t know why God sends us to certain places at certain times, I only know that He does. And I know that there are situations when we just don’t want to go . . . times when we think we know better, like Jonah.

Jonah. . . this guy was a real piece of work. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--the Creator--told him to GO, and he said, “Uh . . . nope.”

He said NO to God. And what happened? Selfishness led to disobedience; disobedience led to full blown, pigheaded rebellion; rebellion led to utter stupidity (running away on a ship) and total disaster (as in fish food).

Why? Because Jonah thought he knew better, and I thought I knew better. And in the final analysis, it was only God who knew better.

After a very long talk with the Lord, I finally agreed to move back to Minnesota . . . Kevin’s home and so, my home. After we’d been back a few months, a friend told me a story about someone whose husband had come to her one day and asked her to move to a different place. Times were hard and he’d found better work in a different city, far from her family and friends. She refused to go, so he was forced to go without her. It wasn’t long before he met another woman, and she was left with nothing. Selfishness led to rebellion, and rebellion led to disaster.

There are times when it makes very good sense to listen to the Lord; times when our wishes and desires must be set aside to accommodate His wishes—and the needs of other people. If you can’t set “me” aside and listen to the voice of God, you’re heading out on the great sea of life aboard the good ship, Jonah.

Is God calling you to do something you wish you could run from? Do you feel that overwhelming sense of hopelessness and fear? Hang on to this wonderful promise:

The will of God will never lead you where the Grace of God cannot keep you.

I have felt this awesome Grace of God over the past year. I have experienced His strength and joy and peace. And I can tell you this . . . He keeps His promises. God will never abandon us. He will never leave us to fend for ourselves. He will always direct us and sustain us.


Dwayna Litz said...


I loved this post. It was a delight to read, especially since I spent last year in a place WHERE I KNEW GOD HAD LED ME BUT I DIDN'T WANT TO BE! :-) You are right; He is faithful, and the best place to be is right where He wants us to be and leads us…as we sumit our lives to His will.

We got a new street ministry going there in CO, and the Lord pruned me in deeper ways than I could have certainly ever imagined, making me lean on Him more and stronger for His glory in the end.

I must admit, it was one fine day when the moving company loaded up the truck for me to move to NYC!
:-) I actually cried tears of joy.

I am sure that God used last year, though, to make me stronger for His glory through the suffering and loneliness. He is faithful.

I used to pray in my little apartment in CO telling God that I would stay there for the rest of my life if that is what He wanted. Thank God, He wants to give us the desires of our heart...IN HIS TIMING...

For His glory,


2:15 PM  
JohnD said...

Your blog depresses me. I am where you were about leaving my California.

The blog itself I suppose is a sign from the Lord. Does this sound so Jonah of me or what?

Just pray for my wife and I. I have 9 years left carrying mail before I can retire. Almost everywhere else is hotter and colder and wetter than Southern California (mailman heaven).

The last time the Mrs. brought up the feeling we ought to move I told her I'd agree to it as long as she agreed to stay outside of the house in the weather each day the same amount of time I work out in the weather that day.

I know, that's mean of me to say. But it's how this Jonah feels.

Please pray for me / us.


10:07 PM  
JohnD said...

A little background, we have been flip flopping back and forth between CA and TX for 23 years. 11 years and change each in both places. A total of 7 transfers. The previouis one was to Ft. Worth (1998-1999) and I was miserable. I missed it CA every day and begged the Lord to return here every day of that year.

Bob George (whose theology I generally agree with) believes the Lord is not as big on these kinds of details as he was in certain Bible examples such as Jonah when he was making a major point (like the conversion / judgment of Nineveh).

Texas is the shiny buckle on the Bible belt (and where Bob George hails from, by the way). What Nineveh-like calling could await me there?

10:16 PM  
JohnD said...

In your case, Jill, I am reminded of the song from Fiddler:

Far From The Home I Love

How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land,
Far from the home I love.

Once I was happily content to be
As I was, where I was,
Close to the people who are close to me,
Here in the home I love.

Who could see that a man could come
Who would change the shape of his dreams.

Helpless now I stand with him,
Watching older dreams grow dim.
Oh, what a melancholy choice this is,
Wanting home, wanting him,

Closing my heart to ev'ry hope but his,
Leaving the home I love,

There where my heart has settled long ago
I must go, I must go,

Who could imagine I'd be wand'ring so
Far from the home I love

Yet there with my love, I'm home.

11:59 PM  
Jill Martin Rische said...


I am sorry to depress you--I had hoped to end on a happy note. :) God's grace has been more than sufficient for me. We flip-flopped between CA and MN for years, too. I know exactly how you feel.

I love that song from Fiddler on the Roof; such a great movie (I think I know most of it by heart). Thank you for sharing it. I feel for both you and your wife, it is never easy to move and it's especially hard if you don't want to go. I did discover one way to know God's will--He gave me no rest or peace until I set my wishes aside. There was a constant restlessness; a constant sense of searching. I don't know what the Lord has for you, but I followed my husband in obedience to him and to the Lord--not palatable by today's society--but it worked for us. :)

I will be praying for you and for your family, John. I know His Grace will be sufficient for you, too.

1:10 AM  
Jill Martin Rische said...

Thanks, Dwayna, for your sweet comments. I envy you New York. :)

1:13 AM  

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