Postcards from the Bible?
Here's some I think you'll never see:
"Sunny skies as far as the eye can see! Noah"
"Having a whale of a good time. Wish you were here. Jonah"
"We should arrive in the Promised Land any day now. Caleb"
"Delilah thinks I need a trim. Samson"
"Enjoying my retirement years being a shepherd. Moses"
"No plans – just on the roof sunbathing. David"
"Life is good. Job"
Yup, these would number among the most unlikely postcards ever.
Sentiments that were proven wrong in short order.
Heading in one direction, each of these people experienced a great reversal in their lives. Life took a huge turn in another, completely unexpected, direction.
The Bible is like that.
Not full of contradictions, but filled with plenty of re-directions.
Unlikely circumstances that lead to blessed outcomes. Setbacks that become divinely-planned appointments. Desperate situations that bring great leaps of faith.
And what about the people?
The Bible contains a motley crew of misfits who somehow bear the image of God, and are used to advance His purposes in the most unusual ways.
Sometimes when people doubt the veracity of the Bible, I think about this fact.
Who in their right mind would compose a book full of flawed heroes, scared prophets, foolish servants, evil kings, stubborn messengers, impetuous disciples, and disobedient men and women?
Well, I guess God would – for that is what He has done.
He has written His love story truthfully. Interwoven with real people, with real flaws and real problems.
And, in His divine wisdom, all the ragged and unraveled and frayed ends of thread that look like a chaotic mess somehow weave together to a specific end – a beautiful tapestry of intentional purpose.
I'm thinking about my own life.
And the lives of others.
I love Blog Land. I struggle with Blog Land. For in my travels I come in contact with many people and many stories.
Many of those stories are uplifting and inspirational.
But I am also deeply touched by some really hard things out there, too. Cancer, death, depression, physical illness, wayward children, addiction, job loss…
The list could go on.
Maybe your story fits in there somewhere, too.
And at times I am overcome by sadness at what I read. Dismayed by the difficult twists and turns that life can take.
I sometimes wonder…
"Where is God in all of this?"
Most likely, He's right where He's always been – behind the scenes, weaving and weaving.
(Think of the book of Esther. God's name is never mentioned. But does anybody have any doubts that God wasn't behind the scenes orchestrating every single moment?)
For yes, God is a God who allows unlikely circumstances, great reversals and setbacks, desperate situations…
But always for a reason.
He has intentional purpose in everything that happens.
Whether we understand it or not, nothing is changed. His will is accomplished as a foregone conclusion – for God has already gone to the future.
So God is always working His purposes out – and always working them for good.
I believe this statement…intellectually.
But my feelings doubt it all the time. How can bad circumstances work good purposes? How can pain bring sanctified blessing? How can suffering bring about something wonderful?
I think the answer must lie in perspective.
The kind that God possesses – outside of time, eternal, all-encompassing, omniscient, perfectly holy and wise.
How do I know this?
Well, I'm pondering another rather unlikely postcard from the Bible:
"I have a plan for the sin of mankind. Sending a baby. God"
Would you have picked this plan?
Who would have thought that a baby who couldn't feed himself, couldn't clean himself, couldn't stay alive without nurture and care would end up saving the world?
Um, I guess God did.
And this is the Truth that I hold on to as I face my own struggles, and read about the ones that you are facing.
This one stunning reversal of fortune – cradle to crucifixion to conqueror – this is the shocking truth that I hold on to so tightly.
It is the one truth that gives me hope when circumstances unravel, when plans and dreams fray, when emotions become ragged.
The end of the story has not happened yet – not mine, not yours, not the Lord's.
The threads are still being woven.
His purposes are being worked out in the most unlikely characters, in the most unusual ways, and in just the right timing.
I've got proof!
Noah's stormy skies didn't prevent him from saving a remnant of God's creation.
Jonah's boat ride and whale-watching expedition didn't keep him from saving an entire city of repentant people.
Caleb's wilderness trek of 40 years didn't exclude him from the Promised Land.
Samson's haircut didn't stop him from destroying the Philistines.
Moses' age didn't impede his role as the leader of an entire nation.
David's sin didn't disqualify him from the kingship that God had ordained.
Job's obvious and terrible suffering didn't thwart him from winning a terrific victory against the devil.
And my trials, my suffering, my struggles, my doubts – nor yours either – will avert God's ultimate purposes for our lives and our roles in His story.
No thing, no one, no how!
And someday, there will be an end to the story, for it has been written by God Himself.
It WILL happen…
In just the right way, and just the right timing.
We can hold on to that Truth when we're in the middle of the book. Keep your eyes on the epilogue, for the story has a very happy ending.
Here's one more unlikely postcard:
"I win. The Enemy."
Uh no, you don't.
History is His Story.
The future is already written.
And the story ends
happily ever after!
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)
"O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them." (Psalm 40:5, NLT)
"Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (Ephesians 1:11, NLT)
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
(Romans 8:28, NASB)
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good..."
(Genesis 50:20, ESV)
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)
"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37, NASB)
"'I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.'" (John 16:33, NLT)
"...'Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.'" (John 6:68, NLT)
Are you confident in the way the Story ends? How does that affect the way you live out today?
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