You never know what lies around the bend.
James, the guy who came to believe that Jesus, his older brother, was God (and brothers have ample opportunity to observe character) wrote this: Just a moment, now, you who say, “We are going to such-and-such a city today or tomorrow. We shall stay there a year doing business and make a profit”! How do you know what will happen even tomorrow? What, after all, is your life? It is like a puff of smoke visible for a little while and then dissolving into thin air. Your remarks should be prefaced with, “If it is the Lord’s will, we shall be alive and will do so-and-so.”
We just learned that our friend, who has spent months preparing for a move to Western Africa and was about to depart in a few days, died suddenly during minor surgery. We are stunned, but trusting God to turn even this situation into something better than we hoped.
Here’s the thing: Trust is built on character. Proven character.
Come election time (which seems to be perpetual in some places) a great deal of money is thrown around trying to convince the public that this person they have never met is of exemplary character and actually cares deeply about your personal needs, Mrs. What-did you-say-your-name-was? We’ve all seen that game played long enough to know trust may be bought temporarily, but the truth will out. We’ve seen false promotion, but we’ve seen slander and spins and false accusations of opponents as well.
Jesus Christ was falsely accused and executed on the basis of those kind of accusations. Religious presumption has always said, “If you are really God and really in charge you will show your love in a way I would do it. If I were God people could indulge their cravings and fight to be on top without consequence to others or the environment. If I were the one who was all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful I would give unlimited freedom and intervene miraculously to save people from the repercussions of listening to the father of lies if only to save my own reputation. If you are love, this is how you will show it.”
For many people abused by religious presumption on God’s grace (which ironically morphs into a legalistic portrayal of a vengeful God without grace) trust is difficult. It is difficult because they do not know him or his character because they have only heard about him from people with agendas. They have never met him personally.
Our friend’s wife has. In the midst of grief and turmoil and upset plans she can still say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” And our friend? To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. For a man who loved the Lord with his whole heart what could possibly be better?
I keep remembering the night when the Lord spoke kindly to me in a dream and said, “Those who are afraid to pray ‘Thy will be done’ do not fully comprehend my love.”
Was our friend a casualty of the clash between two kingdoms or was this Gods’ timing for his life? I don’t know. All I know is God is God and I am not. But he has proven his loving character to me over and over through Jesus Christ who loved me so much he said he’d rather die than live without me –and so he did. And then he conquered death so that we could be together forever. I trust that kind of love.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.