24 September 2015

The Sovereignty of God & "Stonewall" Jackson

A Lord's Supper devotional I gave:

Psalm 4

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
2  O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3  But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
    the LORD hears when I call to him.
4  Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5  Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
6  There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
7  You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8  In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

In reading this, especially the last verse – it strikes me at how often I lie down to sleep yet cannot, as my mind races with concerns and worries. While I claim to believe in the absolute sovereignty of Yahweh, there are still times where I do not put it into practice. 

Our prayer should be that we can rely on Him and not ourselves, and that we can have faith in his almighty hand and guidance in our life. Every time I think of the sovereignty of God in my life, I recall the story of General Thomas Jonathan Jackson – better known to most as Stonewall Jackson. I have relayed this story before in a message I gave last August on manhood, so many of you may recall it, but here is a recap:

Thomas had a strong unshakable belief in the sovereignty of God, that God is always in control even when it seems the world around is falling apart.  At the first battle of Bull Run, while shells and bullets were flying around, Thomas stayed on his horse and remained calm and collected like nothing was going on.

Jackson’s courage and composure really came out in this great battle.  During the heat of the battle a messenger came and handed Jackson a letter to sign.  He dismounted and when he did a canon ball blew up a tree that was near by.  Wood chips rained down on Jackson, but without missing a step, he calmly brushed the wood chips from the paper and continued reading.  He then mounted his horse like nothing happened.

Others saw this and were amazed at his composure when danger was all around.   Someone asked him how he could do it. Jackson answered:  

“My religious belief teaches me that I’m just as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bed.  The Lord has already appointed the day of my death so I need not worry about that.  I live my life and prepare myself so I will always be ready to meet my Lord, when death does overtake me.” - Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson

If we rest in the sovereignty of the Lord, what do we have to fear? If we believe all is under his control and providence, and nothing can be done to change that path, then what can we possibly fear or seek to change by our fear? As we are told in 2 Tim. 1:7:

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7 ESV)