Darkness is pushed back as a spotlight flashes on. It’s over my head and I am in the middle of its sharply defined circle of light. I look down at my trembling frame, encased in rags and smudged with ash and dirt from the fire. I am not prepared to meet Him who “has roused himself from His holy dwelling.”
Surely I am doomed.
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.
Although we reside in the Lord’s garden, the inclination of our still-fleshly lives is to choose our own path for growth. We strive for reproduction of ourselves—more of me! more of me! But God has a way to strengthen and beautify us, drawing forth applause and glory—more of Him! more of Him! And as happens in the cycle of growth, that often involves deadheading and affliction.
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.
We do what we are now, as a new creation, able to do. The bear is made to hibernate in the winter. The sheepdog is made to herd sheep. The bird is made to fly and the fish is made to swim. We are made to glorify God. And his merciful conversion of our hearts away from sin and in love toward him makes it possible.
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.
Opportunities come and go in our lives. Most poignantly, they happen in small slices of time. A moment’s hesitation and a job prospect is gone. One second more and that car would have sideswiped you. The phone sounds its last ring and you grab it in time to hear the apology you’ve been praying for. You crest the hill at exactly the same moment the sunset sky reaches its most glorious and spectacular release of color and light.