The University of Pennsylvania has nominated transgender swimmer Lia Thomas for the NCAA’s Woman of the Year award. Prior to this season, Thomas had competed against men with a ranking of #462. Competing against women, Thomas achieved a #1 ranking.
Sixteen UPenn teammates wrote a letter noting that Thomas “holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category.” If guidelines now in place had been enacted at the start of the season, Thomas would not have been permitted to compete.
In other news, a thirty-year-old man survived eighteen hours adrift at sea while clinging to a ball that had been lost by two boys on a beach ten days prior. An Airbus A380 flew fourteen hours from Dubai to Australia with a large hole in its left fuselage, landing safely with no risk to passengers.
One other story: in response to the pandemic, single, non-religious young adults are reporting the highest levels of unhappiness since 1972. A researcher explains, “American young adults have begun to take an extraordinarily dim view of the world and their own lives.” He adds that among people who attend religious services at least two times a month, unhappiness during the pandemic rose only 4 percent; for those who attend religious services less frequently, unhappiness rose by 15 percent.
What do these stories have in common?
One reason the news can be frustrating
When you read about transgender conflicts or other battles in the “culture wars,” do you sometimes feel as if you cannot do anything that makes a real difference? You could not rescue the man adrift at sea or alert the Airbus A380 crew to the hole in their fuselage unless you had been there at the time. Unless you have personal influence with single, non-religious young adults, reading about their unhappiness feels more speculative than practical.
Most of the news is this way. Seldom do we find a story or issue about which we have personal agency and influence. We can and should intercede for those in need, of course. But most of the time, there is little else we feel we can do about the challenges many in our world are facing.
Here’s the good news: God has a specific purpose and plan for your life and day. He has identified needs and opportunities you can uniquely meet in the power of his Spirit. He has been equipping you for the opportunities and challenges to which he is now calling you.
In fact, today is the tomorrow for which God was preparing you yesterday.
Doing what only we can do
Yesterday, we discussed the importance of trusting God’s providence in order to experience more fully his providence. Today, let’s focus on this principle: If we do what only we can do, God will do what only God can do.
The pattern of Scripture is clear: God commissioned Noah to build the ark that saved the human race. He called Abram to become the father of the Jewish nation. He called Moses to lead his people from Egyptian slavery to the edge of the Promised Land and Joshua to lead them to conquer that land. He raised up specific prophets at specific moments with specific messages for his people.
Then his angel called one young woman to become the mother of the Messiah. That Messiah called specific men from their vocations into his kingdom advance. His Spirit later commissioned Paul as apostle to the Gentiles and Peter as apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:8). The risen Christ met with John on Patmos to impart the Revelation.
We could continue through church history: God prepared and empowered apologists to defend biblical truth, theologians to explain and advance the biblical worldview, Reformers to lead the church back to its biblical foundations, and missionaries to share the gospel with the nations. Each believer, then and today, has a unique story of a unique calling into a unique purpose.
It is the same with you and me today. When we do what only we can do, God does what only God can do.
“As your days, so shall your strength be”
Though Sen. Elizabeth Warren is demanding that life-affirming pregnancy help centers be closed, these ministries saved an estimated 828,131 lives from 2016 to 2020 and millions of babies since they began work a half-century ago. Church-run laundry services have sprung up across the country, enabling volunteers to form community with those in need. One leader explains: “It allows us to help people, care for them, and help people have some dignity. When you’re doing it, you are caring for people that God loves.”
You may or may not be called to serve in a pregnancy ministry or a laundry outreach, but God has a purpose uniquely suited for your gifts, abilities, education, challenges, and experiences. However, as I noted in my latest personal blog, “Man pushes peanut up Pikes Peak with his nose,” your Father’s plan for your life yesterday may not look like his plan for your life today.
Jesus taught us to pray for our “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) because today is the only day there is. God cannot help us with yesterday, for it is gone, or with tomorrow, for it does not exist. Moses taught the Jewish nation before they entered their Promised Land, “As your days, so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).
In the meantime, the Jews gathered manna in the wilderness “morning by morning” (Exodus 16:21), a fact that led Charles Spurgeon to note: “Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone forever.”
What “manna” are you seeking today?
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