Wednesday, June 25, 2014

But God . . .


“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life . . .” (Psalm 23:6)

A few friends insist on having the last word. Even in email conversations, if I say “thank you,” they must write back with “You’re welcome.” I’ve learned that silence is not always rude; if we both insist on the last word, the conversation soon becomes ridiculous.

These past few weeks, I’m also learning the wisdom of letting God have the last word. Last Sunday’s sermon was titled “The Journey of the Homesick Soul” from Psalm 84. In my longing for those things that will always be missing in this life, I need to look forward to the God who promises. He will make all things right. For now, He answers my ‘why’ questions with “. . . in a little while.”

Before Jesus came, John the Baptist declared he was not the promised Messiah. He said, “No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.” Notice the “but” that changes the focus from what is not now to what is coming soon.

Later in the passage, it happens again. Paul tells the story of Christ’s death, “. . . And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead . . .” (see Acts 13:24–35) But God — changed death to life.

I look back at my life story. I was “dead in the trespasses and sins, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” For nearly thirty years, I did whatever I wanted to do . . .

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved me, even when I was dead in my trespasses, made me alive together with Christ—by grace I have been saved— and raised me up with him and seated me with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus. For by grace I have been saved through faith. And this is not my own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that I cannot boast. (Ephesians 2:1–9, personalized)

Notice again, “But God” changed everything. Because God’s goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life, I can look back and see those wonderful changes. But I can also look forward and anticipate them. Right now, I am experiencing trials that have put many “why questions” in my heart, but God answers me. He says, “. . . in a little while” and backs it up with words like these . . .

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3–9)

There is nothing for me to say. It is becoming easier to let God have the last word.

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