Despite the growing societal disdain for “evangelicals” as a loosely identified political class in America, evangelism (which, by default, is practiced by evangelicals) is a thing. A believer embraces the evangel, the good news, the gospel. To the one who believes, it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), by which we are saved, if we hold fast to it (1 Corinthians 15:2), a truth embedded in the Scriptures which gives eternal life to those who come in truth (John 5:39-40).
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.
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 the days following 9/11, there was story after story about heroes.
Here’s mine of my failure.
If you search through the whole creation, could you find any like Him? Are riches, honors, pleasures, or other relationships comparable to Jesus, whom you ought to love supremely? Should not the highest good be the best object of your love? Can you love lesser things, and not the greatest good? Is not all the goodness in the creature but as a drop compared to the sea, as a candle compared to the sun, as a speck of sand compared to a mountain—when compared to the goodness that is in Jesus?
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.
Don’t let conduct or conversation steal away opportunities to proclaim freedom to those enslaved to sin and life to the despairing. (originally published at Servants of Grace)
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.
If I disregard the protection my blood pressure medication affords me or neglect the exercise of regular dosages or leave it in places where it would get lost or stolen, I am making my heart an easy target for stroke or attack because of weakened and malfunctioning systems. When we disregard the value of the graces the Lord has provided, or fail to put on the spiritual armor available to every believer, or neglect the benefits in growth and maturity accessible through the body of Christ, the church, then we make ourselves easy targets for the side-of-the-road attacks from the fiends of temptation, affliction, and sin.
I know the temptation there is to feel the drudgery or the wastefulness of life, especially in this time of stay-at-home orders, economic uncertainty, an invisible microbial enemy, the endless waiting for a positive turn in the news, the exponentially greater hazard for those in at-risk situations (whether health, abusive environment, trafficked, in poverty).
The good news of Jesus’s reconciling and restoring acts of atonement and resurrection is reflected in the tiny minutiae of stories like yours and mine.