Trust and Obey - by Jack and Diane Stinziano - March 5, 2017
The sun has just come up over the Inner Harbor here in Baltimore, Maryland where Diane and I await my upcoming surgery the day after tomorrow. It is with a great sense of peace that we are here, not that we know what the medical outcome will be, but in the knowledge that our Sovereign God knows the plans that He has for us, and that they are plans for our welfare, to give us a future and a hope. The specifics of His plan, well, those are not necessarily for us to know. If we did, we would likely do everything we could to take control and move it along in our timeframe to produce the result we think best. But that is not how God would have it. There was a song that we used to sing in church many years ago: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey”. Simple, often forgotten words and a simple recipe, and yet how enormously difficult to do, especially when we are forced to step out into the uncertain and the unknown.
God has brought us along on an amazing journey with Him these last few years. Our move to Rome was in response to what we unquestionably sensed God calling us to do. He developed in us a passion to see Italians come to a real saving faith in Jesus Christ and He gave us a heart to stand alongside those who had sacrificed so much to minister the Gospel to a people who had no desire to even hear it, much less live it. And although we did experience those whose lives were changed as we ministered to them, the real change; the most dramatic change, occurred in us. To live in an unfamiliar culture, alone and far away from the security of friends, family and what is comfortably reassuring, etches something in a person that indelibly remains, for the good or for the bad. James 1 reveals that the trials and testing of life can produce something good, if we allow them to; that the testing of our faith produces an endurance and if we let that endurance have its perfect result, then we will be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. So whether the result is good or bad all depends upon the choices we make in the midst of the trials. For us, many trials came from this almost daily battle between what life is like in this almost surreal environment, versus what life had been like before venturing out, untethered to anything that had been certain. Choices that are forced upon us by the circumstances we are confronted with; by the trials and tests that befall us along the way. And on that journey that little simple song begins to reveal such a complex truth that as we trust Him in the trial; as we obey Him in the trial, we become more and more as He would have us be and happiness and joy are the byproduct.
The trials and tests that we have encountered after making our move into the Italian culture should have been expected, in one form or another, but most, if not all, took us by surprise. After all, weren’t we trying to do something good that God had directed? First, Diane’s diagnosis of breast cancer and following bi lateral mastectomy. Then to return to Rome after her recovery only to find that our apartment had been burglarized and the majority of tangible wealth lost. Then Diane’s bout with chest pains and resulting heart catherization and stenting. Then my diagnosis of a tumor that necessitates the removal of the tail of my pancreas and my spleen. Then Diane’s torn meniscus in her knee confining her to a wheel chair in the midst of our physical move from Rome back to the U.S. None of these are noted as complaints but rather as exercises in our training of endurance. Each have given us opportunity after opportunity to make a choice; to trust and obey, or not; to allow them to produce something good, or not. I wish that I could say that through these trials we have always and immediately embraced the right choice; in many instances it took some time for us to get around to allowing endurance to have its perfect result. But when we did, and do, then the joy of knowing that God is doing His work in us is, and can be, like no other.
We face this upcoming surgery with a resolve that its result will be for our good and that it is all part of the plan that God has for us.
We want to encourage you to run the race that He has set before you, trusting Him, the author and the finisher of faith. We would covet your prayers for us that we do the same; that we finish the course that He has set before us in a way that not only positions us for becoming who He wants us to be, but gives Him the Glory He so definitely deserves.
Thank you and may He richly bless you and cause His grace to overshadow you.
Jack & Diane