It was my first science project. I was in sixth grade and I chose to chronicle the lifecycle of the common house fly. My plan was to place a can of cat food in the open air allowing flies to lay their eggs. After a few days, maggots would appear and on each successive day, I would document the changes until the adult flies appeared. Simple. Defined. What could go wrong?
On day three, the maggots appeared and I continued my observations. On day ten, I was anxious to see if adult flies may be emerging. I eagerly went outside to the patio where I had placed the can. To my horror, the cat food and maggots were gone. My cat had managed to find the can and did what any cat would do, it ate it!
It was too late to restart the project; it was due in three days. Completely dejected, I met with my teacher and explained the situation. Expecting her to fail me, I was surprised and elated when she laughed and exclaimed, “Oh my! I have never heard that one!” We then worked out a new project that chronicled the timeline of events and described the anticipated changes. For the last event, I drew a picture of my cat eating the can of cat food and below it was the words, “My cat ate my homework!” No joke!
There was a happy ending. In spite of the mishap, I received an “A” for my project. If only all of life’s problems could be so easily resolved! When we undertake a project or make a decision, we attempt to research and predict all of the possible outcomes, hopeful that we have controlled for the unexpected. Yet, as my simple childhood experience illustrates, the opposite may occur.
What about our spiritual lives? When we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we receive salvation and eternal life. This is assured. What is not always assured is a life free of problems or persecution. The Apostle Paul was converted to Christianity when he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Jesus told Paul in no uncertain terms what he was to expect.
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Acts 9:15-16 (NASB)
How did Paul suffer?
Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NSAB)
Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Simple. Defined. What could go wrong? If our expectations are focused upon worldly outcomes, everything. If we focus on the heavenly expectations, absolutely nothing! Paul would triumphantly state:
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NASB)
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.