Surely no one will see me. I’ll just run in, grab the three items the kids couldn’t find, and run out. My face looked like a war zone after an emergency facial in my never-ending quest to achieve perfect skin! No makeup. Nothing to conceal the things I don’t want anyone to see. In I rush. First aisle. Clear! Then it happens.“Oh, H-i-i-i-i-i-i…” It’s a mom from my kids’ Monday co-op. Next aisle. “Oh, H-i-i-i-i-i-i…” It’s one of our customers. We commiserate on the canned vegetable aisle together. She just got her face waxed and didn’t expect to see anyone either. Wait. Here comes someone I’ve met at several women’s events at our church. “Oh, H-i-i-i-i-i-i…” And then there was the lady I met at a birthday party a few weeks ago. So much for getting in and out under the radar! My plan was to see no one and be unseen. God’s plan was totally different. My cohort on the canned vegetable aisle happened to be on the phone with her daughter when we spotted each other. Her daughter who recently miscarried at eight weeks. “I just went through that too,” I share. Coincidence? Not a chance. “Why?” we ponder. The answer? God is faithful. “Why?” my hairdresser asked me only an hour earlier. The answer? God is faithful. Today’s post concludes this series on God’s faithfulness with the last two of ten irrevocable truths He’s shown me in a year flanked and filled with disappointment and doubt. And the overwhelming conclusion at which I’ve arrived is this: God is faithful. God can be trusted. He is good, and we can believe He will work everything, even years like yours and mine, together to make us more like Christ. Thank You, Lord. Your grace truly is sufficient.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #9: God does things to show Himself mighty so others will know He is God. In my forthcoming book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, the chapter “Irrevocable Love: on Understanding Covenant” contains my favorite confirmation of this truth. Here’s an excerpt:
After the Israelites are in bondage in Egypt four hundred years, the Lord calls Moses to go to Pharaoh and command him to let the Israelites go. His first attempt is met with complete defiance, and in Exodus chapter six, the Lord assures Moses that He will deliver His people. Moses tells the Israelites about God’s promises, but they do not believe Moses “because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage” (Ex. 6:9). Despite their stiff necks, God is still faithful! The Lord has Moses go back to Pharaoh eight more times, and every time the Lordhardens Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 7:3). It must have looked as if the Lord was setting Moses up for failure! How do we respond when it seems like the Lord has set us up for failure, when things aren’t going our way, and we’re in aguish and distress? No matter how it looks, we have to learn to trust God’s sovereignty and faithfulness.
Even though the Israelites didn’t know it and couldn’t see it, the Lord had a purpose so much greater than their freedom. In Exodus 7:3-5, God explains His plan to Moses:
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them (emphasis mine).
You see, it’s not all about us! When we are in a time of waiting for the manifestation of a promise or the satisfaction of a Godly desire, we absolutely must look beyond our personal discomfort, disappointment, hurt, fear, sadness, and longing and look to the Lord our sovereign King whose ways are not our ways, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, and who likely has a plan so much bigger and beyond us than we can imagine.
Are we willing to let God use us for a greater purpose? Are we willing to let God use our suffering for the salvation of another? Are we willing to let God use our tragedy as a way to show His mighty power and the depth of His grace and mercy and love and deliverance for ANOTHER???? Are we willing to remain obedient even when it doesn’t appear to be “paying off?” Are we willing to be holy as He is holy no matter the cost and even when there doesn’t seem to be anything in it for us? Isn’t that what Jesus did for us?
Later, in Exodus 10:1-2, the Lord tells Moses: “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” There had to be much frustration, suffering, and sorrow as the result of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. It’s hard to understand that from our perspective. But God clearly answers with scripture: He does things we may not understand in order that we may know He is God, our children and their children may know He is God, and others may know He is God.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #10: Our part is to dwell in the secret place of God Most High, a branch clinging to the vine. At the breakfast table with my two amazing friends last week, we talked of God’s goodness and the power of His word, and one friend shared the revelation God gave her about Psalm 91, one of my favorite Psalms of promise and assurance of God’s protection and deliverance. The very first verse states, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” and then verses two through sixteen chronicle the protection, deliverance, and blessing to those who dwell there. In order to experience verses two through sixteen, we must dwell in that secret place! As we talked, I remembered an explanation I read that week about John 15, and the two connected. The secret place of Psalm 91 is the vine of John 15:1-10. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, and we are to abide in Him. Jesus uses the word abide eight times to stress that we are to remain in Him, to be held and kept continually, to remain as one with Him. And to wait. We simply must cling to the vine, and the vine does everything else: it nourishes, and it provides the ability to produce fruit. As we as branches abide in Christ, in the secret place of the Most High, He produces what He desires in and through us. Sometimes clinging is hanging on for dear life, as I did this last year. Sometimes clinging is grasping the vine with arms raised high because there’s no other way to express our love and praise for Him. Sometimes clinging is the discipline of studying God’s word and spending time in prayer when we’re in between the valley and the mountaintop. Any time, it’s remaining in a place of absolute surrender, seeking His face, spending time in His presence, resting in His peace, studying His word, and by His grace, doing each next thing He puts in front of us.
Yesterday, chaos morphed to order as the painters left their finishing touches on baseboards and my husband transformed our children into a lean, mean, assembly machine. I wasn’t home to witness this first hand, but knowing my husband and family as I do, I have a pretty good mental picture of the likely scene. Pack mules at the hand of their master, our girls lugged every bit of our closet contents from the dining room to their rightful home while dad and son hauled furniture from the back porch to the bedroom. Pulling back the covers last night, my bed relocated from an upstairs bedroom back to the master suite, newly finished wood floors beneath my feet, I breathed a sigh of thankful relief. We made it! Not just through the wood floors, but through the year.
Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.
Praying that we all, by His grace, are more wholly His today.