Our lives are not our own
I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. – Jeremiah 10:23
Psalms 37:23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
Psalms 37:5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
William Borden grew up in a godly home. Reading the Scriptures and praying together with his family was the norm. The values of his family became his values. When he was seven years old, challenged by R.A. Torrey, he decided to consecrate his life to God’s service. He attended Yale and Princeton Theological Seminary. After graduation, Borden set sail for China to serve as a missionary.
As an heir to the Borden fortune, he was independently wealthy. He gave his inheritance and his life to the cause of world evangelism. He dedicated his life to serving the living God. On the way to China, he stopped in Egypt to learn Arabic. At 25, while in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died within a month.
Nearly every major American newspaper reported what had happened. It was said in his biography, “A wave of sorrow went around the world . . . he not only gave up his fortune, but himself to be a missionary.” For Borden, it was all about obedience. He told fellow students, “There must be a definite determination to do God’s will. Do you lack power? Ask yourself, ‘Have I ever truly surrendered? Have I definitely consecrated myself? Have I put myself at God’s disposal, to use as He deems best?’” He added, “Obedience, which is the price of power, must not only be absolute but daily.”
But his death was no tragedy. It was a triumph for the kingdom of God. God used Borden’s death to inspire thousands of young men and women to surrender all they had and dedicate their lives to spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we struggle to understand these events, the answer is found, engraved at the bottom of his tombstone written as a memorial, “Apart from Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”
Sherwood Day, one of his old friends at Yale, wrote in his journal: “I have absolutely no feeling of a life cut short. A life abandoned to Christ cannot be cut short. ‘Cut short’ means not complete, interrupted, and we know that our Master does no halfway jobs.”
As children of the King, our lives are not our own. We were bought with a price. We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
REFLECT & PRAY
“Jeremiah was crushed physically, domestically, and socially along with the people of God. His calling as a prophet of God did not deliver him from suffering – it destined him for it” (Ryken).
Father thank You that you have an eternal plan for my life. You have a dream. You want me to fulfill Your vision while I am here on earth. Encourage me to walk in submission to you.
As children of the King, we have surrendered our eternal destiny to our loving Father’s hands. Effective, undefeated life of faith depends on our heart’s attitude and relationship with the Father. It is incumbent upon us to recognize that He desires to lead and direct our lives to work out His will on earth. It is always our choice to yield control to Him both once and for all and continually.
And so it was with the prophet Jeremiah. He serves as a prototype for the walk of faith and submission. In the midst of the turmoil in which Jeremiah lived, he recognized that the Father was in control and prayed that in mind.
NLT Jeremiah 10:23 I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.
NET Jeremiah 10:23 LORD, we know that people do not control their own destiny. It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.
His thoughts and prayers echo the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.
Proverbs 20:24 The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?
“Jeremiah is saying something like this: ‘This is not my life. The life that I live does not belong to me; it belongs to God.’ The life you live is not your own. Even your footsteps are directed by God . . .. Jeremiah did not always know where he was dancing. It is often the case that we see how God has directed our footsteps most clearly when we look back over our shoulders. Then we can see the pattern of our footprints behind us along the trail” (Ryken).
“The prophet here acknowledges the sovereignty and dominion of the divine Providence, that by it, and not by their own will and wisdom, the affairs both of nations and particular persons are directed and determined” (Matthew Henry).
The two clauses of Jeremiah 10:23 are synonymous poetry in Hebrew. They rhyme in thought but not in sound. They say essentially the same thing in two different ways: “No human person has absolute control over his own destiny.” In GECL the verse is rendered as follows: “Lord, I see that a man’s fate is not in his own hands. It is not he who determines his way of life.” FRCL has “Lord, I know that man is not capable of living [or conducting his life] as he should; he doesn’t have the means to direct his steps in the right direction” (UBS).
Jeremiah’s difficulties in his day are common for every child of the King. We often experience tremendous inner tension regarding our circumstances and response to them.
“Jeremiah’s words betray an internal struggle between acceptance of suffering and a desire for vindication and revenge. Jeremiah accepts the fact that he is going to suffer alongside his fellow Israelites, even though he is not guilty of the sins . . .. Suffering is a part of life, whether “deserved” or not. The attitude of faith accepts such suffering, looking to God for comfort, not an explanation. This attitude continues in Jeremiah 10:24, as Jeremiah prays for mercy in the midst of his suffering.”
“He sees suffering as part of his education. The LORD is “correcting” him, disciplining him (see James 1:2-8; 1 Peter 1:6-7). He prays only that his suffering will be meted out with justice – not in your anger. The ultimate purpose of such hardships is the building up of those who suffer, not their annihilation” (Timothy M. Willis).
5 Have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.
6 For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child whom its father never disciplines?
9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.
11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
“God made us to depend on Him, to look for His guidance and direction and counsel. We commit our lives to Him, not merely for salvation, but for what we need and where we go every moment of our life” (Stanley).
© Dr. H 2022