Monday, November 14, 2011

The Art of Acceptance

"In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." - Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
(Reinhold Niebuhr)

I think we all know the Serenity Prayer, at least the first 4 lines. But the rest of the prayer is just as important. There are so many circumstances in this life that are out of my control. Cancer, divorce, abuse...death. Not a thing I can do to change any of them. But God can!! What? God can change death? Yes, I believe He can. Jesus overcame death on the cross and because of His sacrifice, even though my human body may die, I have eternal life because I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. That was the first time I practiced the art of acceptance. And that's how I know that God can change death!

We all have plans for our lives. Marriage, kids, vacations, time with friends, nice home, great job. We never plan to have anything bad happen. But it does. Our marriage falls apart, we lose our jobs, our kids get sick, our parents age and we have to care for them, the bills pile up, the vacations don't happen, loved ones pass away...on and on. When the trial and troubles come our way, we have two choices: cry and complain and rail about how unfair life is OR accept what has happened and lean on our Father who is faithful to see us through. Only one of those choices will lead to peace about our circumstances. Guess which one that is?!

He knows his plans for us; His will is bigger than ours. He doesn't force us to follow His will and purpose, but He can and does allow circumstances to lead us there. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." His purpose WILL prevail!!

It's easier to practice the art of acceptance when I'm living in God's will. When I give Him control of my plans, they seem to go much smoother. When I'm trying to be in control...not good.! We're studying the book of Jonah at church and he's the perfect example of the lengths God will go to to bring me back into accepting those things I cannot change and surrendering them to Him. As I pray each morning, I am learning to give God my plans for the day and asking Him to show me which of those plans are more important to Him. I'm also learning to ask God for His leading when it comes to decisions I have to make throughout my day. When I say I'm learning, it means more often than not that I forget to give my plans to God but through His Word, such as this verse, He reminds me to keep practicing the art of acceptance. His will be done, not my own.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Dear Heavenly Father, teach me to accept those things in my life I cannot change. When I am discouraged, give me hope. When I am anxious, give me peace. When my plans fall apart, give me acceptance. I place my trust in You and the purpose for which You made me. Your will be done in my life, Lord, not my own. Direct my paths. You are the God of my life and I give that life to You. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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