Most of the time, life’s reveals come to me in retrospect. “Oh, now I see why that had to happen that way!” But after many years of repeating that to myself over and over, now, in some moments, the images slide together in focus, and I comprehend that—Aha!—God is at this very moment providentially moving about in the world, through human action, to bring about his will for his glory and my good. I don’t know what he has planned as the outcome, but there are things he is doing today that are instrumental in accomplishing it.
Simeon believed. He didn’t merely exist, letting the days go by unmarked, unmindful of greater things being done in the heavens, oblivious to the work the Lord was doing to prepare the world for His coming—or even discounting the prophecies, and deciding God might not be as trustworthy as he supposed. He noted the times, and he believed the prophets who said no one is like God. No one could perceive how he works. He is beyond this time and space, and as such, he is the only One who can demand we trust him as he is.
Disappointments, slights, brokenness in life. Mistakes, but also sins, hardness of heart, dissension. Sometimes I echo Dolly’s words when she says, “I just don’t feel like I have any more hope left in me.” My heart is troubled, and my coordinates don’t register on the radar. I’m lost, with desperation rapidly closing in. How do I know he will come back for me, to take me to him?
The blessing of going into love blind was like a concrete foundation of faithfulness and devotion that no passage of time could erode. The long-term consequences have been the greatest gift of all: I never have to worry about not being enough. Despite what my father had hinted, the most important decision in my life could be made without regard to the acceptability of my appearance. Looks fade; shared interests in fads and fancies wane. Love built on companionship, sealed by Christian integrity, and sprinkled with like-mindedness withstands the battering of discontentment, selfishness, and distrust. (A repost of an original blog post at Servants of Grace)
In our flesh, in our insecurity, in our anxiety, we know very well what we should be doing. And we hate the fact that our will sides more often with our flesh than it does with our mind, where we have stored what we know is true.
But should is really where the beauty lies. We cannot escape the indicatives and the imperatives. The Scriptures are full of should statements, so to hate should is to hate what God has told us in this wonderful letter of love to his children.
Should is there because of could.
In accordance with his sovereign will, the circumstances of my life are set along a route with the goal of his glory in view. But they are mere wisps and shadows of this world. If I am claimed by Christ’s blood, they are not my life. Jesus in me is life, eternal life. The circumstances are really inconsequential.
And I, almost-58-year-old me with all my baggage and experiences and stumbles and failures and memories and gifts and skills and wisdom-gained-through-affliction-and-hurt and compassion-grown-through-seeing-others-through-my-own-mistakes and faith-growing-like-a-mustard-seed, am the one he has prepared for the journey, this particular journey, because this is the one that will reflect Jesus. None other is suited to me. No one else’s is matched to how he has tilled the soil of my heart or how he nurtures the seed of faith in my soul or how he plans to shine through in love and truth.
The world cannot dislodge our footing in Christ. He is steadfast and so are his promises, more than anything we could find from this present vapid and groundless age. He has said he will complete the work he has begun in us.
I woke up this morning and checked my investment portfolio. It’s something I do as often as I can to … More
He doesn’t owe us the birds singing or the flowers budding or the smiles or the warm connections. But he gives them to us because he loves us and he doesn’t want us to panic or be anxious. They are the tokens that his promises of relief and redemption are true.
We all love to re-watch our favorite movie scenes, including the suspenseful ones, and we experience all the nervousness and anxiety all over again as if it’s the first time. It’s almost irrational because we are behaving as if we are in the dark about something we actually know quite a bit about. In part, that’s because it doesn’t have anything to do with what we don’t know, but how we are perceiving in the moment what we generally know. It’s also because we know all too well that death is ultimately inescapable, no matter how many times the hero thwarts it in repeat showings.