Why am I here right now?
(Finding purpose and comfort in God's Sovereignty)

Why am I here right now? In considering this question we could examine a number of facets to the answer found in Scriptures. The foremost of these would be to understand that each of us has been created for the purpose of glorifying God. While many believers nominally understand this, they still often wonder why they are in a particular place at a particular time in their lives. Paul answered this very question in the middle of his presentation of the gospel to unbelievers in Athens.

Acts 17:24-26 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. (NIV)

How often do you think about the fact that God is in control of everything? More specifically, he has determined exact places where you will live and the time you will have there. Even at this very moment, as you read this work, God has determined that you would do so at this very time and place. Every day of your life has been determined by God; a fixed time frame that cannot be extended by any desire or action of self (Matthew 6:27).

Job 14:5 Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. (NIV)

All the plans in the world, of the righteous or the wicked, cannot change the time God has allotted to them or to you.

Daniel 11:27 The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. (NIV)

How is a believer to make plans? Can we plan on tomorrow? If God has me here right now, does this prevent me from wanting to be somewhere else, doing something else?

1 Timothy 6:6-9 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. (NIV)

Contentment, being satisfied with what God has given you, is a message that seems to be lost on much of the church in the western world. All too often the materialistic mindset of 'needing' to have bigger and better - for the sake of bigger and better - is the focus. It can't be emphasized enough just how many believers have fallen into the trap of believing that they 'need' the same toys, autos, and homes, that all their friends and associates have. Rampant consumer debt has become the norm, in and out of the church. Children having no appreciation of what they've been given - having been given everything - is another side effect. In the last passage we examined in Timothy, Paul equates this desire with those 'who want to get rich.' While some justify the financial condition they are in as only trying to get by and pay the bills, their choices to keep buying, or to buy beyond their means, has enslaved them in the fashion of those 'who want to get rich." Contentment is not in future tense. Many claim they will have contentment when the reach some future goal or state, only to arrive there and find contentment a still farther away and elusive goal.

Luke 12:16-21 And he (Jesus) told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat , drink and be merry." ' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (NIV)

Can you be satisfied with what God has given you; the place He has you, the task He's given you, the friends and acquaintances He's surrounded you with? Do you believe He wants you to be in the place you're in for a purpose - for His glory? Another Bible passage addresses this very thing&ldots;

Matthew 6:24-34 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)

Is seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness the focus of your plans? Many believers pay lip-service to this idea, but in their day-to-day lives rarely make any consideration of God. God is relegated to a back-seat passenger on the road of life who they might ask for help if they think they're lost or broken down.

To strive to always seek God's kingdom first, to make plans based on this calling, to desire to be in the place God would have you to go - now these a plans worth making! (And, by the way, these plans will not have you neglecting your spouse or family, because God has commanded us to take care of them). As for location, for the apostle Paul the set times and places God had for him included most of the Roman world. Regardless of where Paul was, he had times of plenty and times of little. His focus was to still seek God's kingdom and righteousness, and look to the One who determined where he should be for all the provisions needed to carry out the task at hand.

Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)

Before entering into any agreement, long-term plan, or purchase, the question needing to be asked is whether or not it is God's will. Is my choice one that puts God's kingdom first, or is it one that effectively has me striving to be rich (in money, friends, possessions, etc.) focused on my personal wants?

James 4:13-17 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." 14 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. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (NIV)

Let me be very clear. Earning money, seeking to have friends, and making plans is not always wrong. In focus is the intent of your heart - the 'why are you doing this?' question.

Psalms 31:14-15 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." 15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. (NIV)

David knew that his times were in God's hands. God had him in that place for a purpose and a limited time. When David, in this Psalm, calls out to God to deliver him from his enemies, he is showing his complete dependence on God. Perhaps it's time we started to call out to God to deliver us from our enemies; materialism, greed, jealousy, wrong goals & motives and many more.

Consider the case of king Nebuchadnezzar. Excluding the fact he ruthlessly ruled over an entire empire, he was wasn't much different that many (upward mobile) power seeking individuals of today. His focus was on acquisitions, success, and being thought better than everyone else. In this headlong pursuit he saw himself as the master of his destiny (perhaps giving nominal credit for help to his gods, whatever their name). Only after God showed that He alone gives and can take away, that He was in control of even a pagan king, did this ruler see the big picture.

Daniel 4:34-35 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" (NIV)

Coming to an understanding of the fact that God is in control of all times, places, and powers for His glory alone changed Nebuchadnezzar for good! One of the kings of Israel needed to come to the same conclusion. Solomon, who was known for his wisdom, yet had wasted much of his life, finally came to this understanding:

Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. (NIV)

Knowing that God is sovereign over all actions and decisions brings understanding that He is in control of all my plans (many though they may be). Though I plan anything, whether to say or do it, it is God who determines what will truly happen. For example, I can plan to go visit someone, have all the money to do so, have every detail in place, and if God doesn't want me there He will use events and circumstances to make sure it doesn't happen - or He will use others, including His Spirit, to teach me why it shouldn't happen.

Proverbs 16:1, 3-4, 9 To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. &ldots; 3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. 4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends - even the wicked for a day of disaster. &ldots; 9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. (NIV)

Proverbs 19:21 21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. (NIV)

There is not a thing anyone (righteous or wicked) can do that will change God plans and purposes.

Psalms 33:8-11 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. (NIV)

Job 23:13-14 "But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. 14 He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.

Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (NIV)

The unfolding of God plan throughout history has been with perfect timing and will continue to be right on time to the very end of time. The following passages will provide a glimpse of the many portions of Scriptures that speak to this very thing&ldots;

Habakkuk 2:3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (NIV)

Isaiah 14:24-27 The LORD Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand. 25 I will crush the Assyrian in my land; on my mountains I will trample him down. His yoke will be taken from my people, and his burden removed from their shoulders." 26 This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. 27 For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? (NIV)

Isaiah 45:21 Declare what is to be, present it - let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:10-12 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (NIV)

Galatians 4:4a But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son&ldots; (NIV)

Daniel 11:35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. (NIV)

Acts 1:7 He (Jesus) said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (NIV)

Understanding some of the sovereignty of God, how then should a person respond? Of course, the wicked shake their fist in the face of God, declaring their independence, proclaiming that God has no control over them and no right to it. The believer though should respond much differently, for we acknowledge that all things are for His Glory and He has the right to use them as He sees fit.

Roman 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. NIV

Our faith rests in the knowledge that every one of God's promises can never fail.

Titus 1:2 &ldots; a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time&ldots; (NIV)

One way or another everyone will be part of God's plan. For the believer we seek to be a part of it, to be used for good as the Master sees fit. Trusting in self, or mankind, or anyone other than the eternal God is a futile effort in rebellion.

Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in himself is a fool&ldots; (NIV)

Psalms 146:3-4 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. (NIV)

Acts 5:38-39 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." (NIV)

The bottom line, for every believer, is this: Rejoice and take comfort in the fact that the One who has called you and loves you, who sets the times and places, will work out everything according to His plan. Nothing is out of His control.

Ephesians 1:11-12 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (NIV)

So why am I here right now? Because God wants me here for His glory! Now my goal is to make the most of it (consider Colossians 4:5, Ephesians 5:15-16, Galatians 6:10).

Written by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 2004.
Duplication permitted as long as the source is cited.