WEEK 1: Lord and Master
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15, NIV)
One key principle in chemistry is that matter essentially changes in only two ways: physically and chemically. Physical changes are mostly reversible (e.g. heating and cooling), while chemical changes result in matter becoming irreversibly different (an example is an egg being cooked).
In my own experience, reading the Bible has often brought about ‘physical changes’ in my heart and mind: many times, the Word has ‘heated’ something in me and I want to hold on to the revelation, but with time, the lesson fades and God needs to remind me of it again. The verses above, however, were the catalyst for one of the most tangible ‘chemical changes’ that transformed my thinking irreversibly.
I read them at a time when I was at a crossroads in my career – I knew it was time for a change, but I wasn’t particularly seeking God’s guidance about it. I was just planning to pray about things once I had made my decision and to ask God to be with me as I made the changes.
Then I stumbled across James 4:13-15, and had a shattering realisation: I had been a Christian for more than 10 years, but I had never actually asked God what He wanted me to do with my life. It had simply never occurred to me to go to Him as a ‘blank page’ and ask Him what He wanted for me. I had received much Christian teaching by that point, but had never been challenged to let God ‘call the shots’. Until then, my decision-making process had always been guided by “I and me” and the advice of career counsellors and aptitude tests.
A while later, I asked a long-term missionary about how God had led him to where he was, and he said that when he came to faith, the person who was discipling and mentoring him had made no distinction between Jesus as both “Lord and Master”. The missionary “committed his life” to the Lord with the knowledge that he was surrendering his own plans for his life in the process, and from the beginning of his Christian walk, he sought God’s will for all the decisions he made.
Needless to say, once I started asking God what He wanted for my life, all my own plans went out the window and He led me in a very different direction to the one I had been considering. The journey that followed came as a surprise, and one that has been so much better than anything I had ever hoped or imagined.
Jesus is a good Lord, but He is a good Master too.