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Archive for September, 2009

The Who of God

“The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9b

Why did God put the tree of the knowledge in the garden when He knew what Eve, and then Adam, would do? Why did He create Lucifer when He knew the havoc that would result from his downfall? For that matter, why did He even create us, when He knew the price He would have to pay for our sin? The answer, for me anyway, is I don’t know. There have been a lot of questions in my life with the same answer. Sometimes, God shows me the answer in time. Some of the questions, however, I believe won’t be answered until I’m on the other side of the curtain (if I still want to know at that point). But the more I walk with the Lord, the less the ‘I don’t knows’ bother me.

When I can’t figure out the what, I’ve learned to trust in the who. What I mean is this. Sometimes, we don’t understand what God has done or allowed to happen. In those times, we need to trust who we know Him to be. My husband lay on a hospital bed, wires going every which way to the various machines attached to him, while the doctor told me he was having a heart attack. I walked in the door a wife. I could have easily walked out a widow. In that moment, not later after I knew he would be OK, I knew that God loved me, He loved my husband, and He was absolutely trustworthy to get me through anything He allowed to happen. I didn’t know why the man I loved was in that hospital bed, but I knew the God who was holding us both while he was there. It was enough.

Sometimes God won’t tell us why, but His Word clearly tells us who He is. That is the one thing we can hold on to when nothing else makes sense.

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“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’” Genesis 1:28a

I was out working in my garden yesterday, trying to get some fall cleanup done before the rains begin in earnest. As I pulled weeds, cut back the Lithodora that wants to take over my walkway, and dead-headed rose bushes, it occurred to me that I was not just doing a chore, I was obeying God. He said to subdue the earth, and I was out there subduing my little corner of it. Suddenly, the mundane task of yard work didn’t seem so mundane. Yard work can be God’s work? Yeah, right. But what if instead of seeing it as endless weeds that just keep growing back, I see it as an opportunity to marvel at the beauty of God’s creation? What if as I trim back the roses I thank Him for giving me roses to trim back?

It’s funny how a shift of attitude can change everything. I can’t count the number of times I came out into a kitchen I’d left clean the night before only to find a mess I didn’t make waiting for me. I’m embarrassed to admit my attitude while cleaning it up was not exactly gracious. But I knew my attitude wasn’t right and asked God to deal with it. He did. Eventually, ever so gradually, I saw the chronic mess-maker – my step-son – not as an inconsiderate, thoughtless burden I had to bear for the privilege of being my husband’s wife, but instead as a frightened, hurting young man fighting a terrifying, exhausting battle with mental illness that I couldn’t even begin to understand, and doing it alone because he believed everyone and everything was against him. I won’t say living with him got easier, but my attitude did change. The mundane task of cleaning the kitchen became the sacred task of showing love to a step-son who couldn’t let himself love me in return.

We don’t have to be a Billy Graham to do sacred work. All we have to be is someone willing to look around, see where God has placed us, and seek to obey Him in that place.

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“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20

With these words, plus a benediction, the book of Revelation ends. It ends with a prayer. John has just finished glimpsing the distant future, a future filled with both tremendous horror and tremendous praise. Look at the book of Revelation from the perspective of one apart from Christ, it is a book of horror. Calamities beyond imagination are coming and there is no escape. Look at it from the perspective of one belonging to Christ, and it is a book of praise. Yes, there will be much pain, much suffering, much destruction, but the overarching theme of Revelation is not the horrors of the tribulation period, it is the victory and supremacy of Christ. What happens on earth happens at His command. When all the dust settles, He stands victorious with the sanctified children He died to redeem.

John saw this day and longed for it to come. Do we? I’ve heard many people say they want the Lord to return, just not yet. Some of their reasons are noble. They have unsaved friends or loved ones who aren’t ready for the Lord’s return. Others don’t want Him coming back yet because there are things they want to do first. Whatever the reasons, this viewpoint seems to be foreign to the men God used to pen the New Testament. They write of our Lord’s return with longing and anticipated joy. If anyone had cause to hesitate regarding the Lord’s return, it was John. His vision could not have been easy to watch. But what were his words when the vision finished? “Come, Lord Jesus.” He longed for the day when His beloved Lord achieved that final, complete victory over evil.

Should we all go stand on a mountain top and stare at the sky? No. But should we long for the return of the Lord even as we go about His business? I think so. Do you?

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