Friday, March 16, 2012

Are things spinning out of control? (Answer: No)

If you read the news today it seems like everything is out of control. Politics is out of control. I mean, really:


Cost of living is out of control. Gas prices are out of control. Tell me about that last one. The price of regular gas went up ten cents last week, and two cents just today. $3.69 on the way into work, $3.71 on the way home from work. I don't get paid for two more weeks. I wonder what the price will be then. The weather is out of control, there's 80 degrees in Maine and twisters in Michigan and 250,000 tons of snow in Anchorage. The Middle East is out of control, with hundreds of rockets falling in Israel and at one point a million Israelis huddling in shelters. Iran is threatening the destruction of the US. You heard right, they're not just the usual threats against Israel, but Iran issued a direct threat to destroy the US and not to rest until they have accomplished that. The economic situation is out of control. 80% of Americans say they are not better off than they were 4 years ago. UK unemployment is up more that they even figured for February.

A report is out that antibiotic overuse is so prevalent a scratched knee could be deadly. That last one reminded me of a documentary I'd seen recently in which a global epidemic occurred and within two weeks civilization collapsed. In the documentary, which was interspersed with live drama to illustrate the effects of the situations the various authorities were describing, the father, who had led his family out of LA and managed to survive gangs, disarray, hunger, thirst, loss of possessions, and all sorts of animal and human dangers, died from a scratch on his hand.

I think I have mentioned every sphere in which we live; food, transportation, government, war, medicine, peace, etc. Every sphere of our lives are unraveling, undergoing pressure, or otherwise getting worse. It sure feels like things are spinning out of control.

They're not.

I was musing on God's orderliness. Time and time again in the bible he shows us just how much He is in control. Everything happens in His schedule, in His timetable, in His timing, for His reasons. Nothing escapes His notice. Nothing happens unless He causes it, allows it, or oversees it and then brings it all to the Good for those who love Him.

You have to read the bible a lot to get this broad of an overview. I can put in bible verse after bible verse, but it wouldn't broaden the scope enough to illustrate what I'm saying. The best thing to do is read Matthew 1-3. I'll synopsize here.

For millennia, the People knew that there would come a Messiah to redeem them and bring them to sinless glory. They waited and they waited and they waited. It seemed like a long time was passing. And a long time was passing. But in God's orderliness, this is how time was passing:

"So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations." (Matthew 1:17).

Orderly. Precise. Jesus arrived at the fourteenth generation of the fourteenth generation of the fourteenth generation, just as planned.

When the Magi arrived, Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Mt 2:3). So Herod called the priests and teachers and asked about this birth and where it was supposed to take place. They replied:

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:5-6)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just as He planned. Orderly.

Herod was much troubled and he decided to kill the boy Jesus, this coming King he had heard of, by killing all the tots under the age of two. But God sent an angel to Joseph, advising him to flee to Egypt. And so another prophecy was fulfilled.

"When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Matthew 3:14-15)

Herod's massacre then happened, and so the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled--

“A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.” (Matthew 3:18).

Peter Paul Rubens Massacre of the Innocents
God sent the People their first prophet in 400 years, a man to announce the coming kingdom and to call for repentance: John the Baptist. This was to fulfill he "who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘ Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” (Matthew 3:3).

Orderly. He was spoken of to come, and he came.

If you take the broad view you see that all had happened just as it should. You see that it is all happening now just as it should. Though daily events seem out of control, over the long term they are actually very orderly.

As an example,  you look at the Reubens painting it looks like chaos. The mothers of the slain babies sure didn't feel like life was orderly- it felt like it was spinning out of control. As the angel shook Joseph's shoulder and told him to flee to Egypt, it sure must have felt like things were spinning out of control. You know how you feel when you get a 2 am phone call! It is scary at best and chaotic at worst, especially if the call brings bad news, especially if you have to run out to the police station or to the hospital.

I understand how the people of Jesus' day would be confused, the disparate verses calling for a Bethlehem-born, lamenting Rachel, out of Egypt, Nazarene presaged by a Nazrite eating locusts and honey didn't seem to fit together. But then, just as suddenly, they did. His prophecy is perfect and perfectly orderly.

If you feel like life is getting out of control, I understand. There's high crime, wantonness, bloated lusts. But they too are prophesied:

“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." (Matthew 24:3b-8).

All these things must come to pass. And then He will call for us, and suddenly everything we have been told for thousands of years  in the twinkling of an eye will become past history.

God has everything in control. If you are saved by His grace, your soul is secure. Everything is progressing just as it should be. Nothing is out of control.

It is happening in an orderly way, precisely, and perfectly. And no matter what happens in my life, no matter how low my bank account gets, or how many rumors of reduction in force swirl past my ears, no matter how many times I have to hide in the tub with a pillow over my head from tornadoes, no matter how empty my refrigerator gets, I know He has everything in control. That knowledge is the securest place I could possibly be, and I wouldn't trade it. I am grateful for His grace, His perfection, His plan, His love for keeping me sheltered in this wonderful knowledge.

If you would like to partake of the sweetness of His security, knowing everything is perfect in the world according to His plan, then repent of your sins. Appeal to Jesus as your savior from the wrath of God, and fling yourself on Him in sorrow for your crimes against Him. He will forgive you. And then I would be blessed to say to you, "Welcome to the family of God."

3 comments:

  1. I was just catching up on my current events and everyone seems to have a fire lit under them.
    Every country has impending war issues and/or natural disaster issues. Everything is just 'buzzing' like a bunch of little ants!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice job with this post. I enjoy your work. I read it often.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Elizabeth. The following personnal story is the best comment I can think of. SPUNKY THE MIRACLE DOG

    This true story is dedicated to my daughter Gisele.

    This is the amazing story of a little dog named Spunky who belonged to a friend of ours.

    At that time, my 2 children and I had moved to Hendersonville and had gotten acquainted with Spunky. Giselle, my daughter, was particularly fond of Spunky. One day the little dog disappeared and in spite of all that we did to find her whereabouts, our search was unsuccessful.

    About 9 months after her disappearance, my 2 children and I were invited for dinner at our friend’s house. Around the dinner table, ready to start, I suggested that each one say a little prayer of thanks for God’s blessings.

    After everybody’s came my daughter Giselle’s turn. She was only 8 years old at the time. She just whispered this simple unexpected prayer from her heart: “Heavenly Father, I really miss Spunky; could you please bring her back? Thank you for your love, amen!”

    For a few seconds, my adult mind was musing silently: “Oh what a cute little prayer while at the same time doubting that the Lord was going to do anything. In my mind, her request was apparently for no less than a resurrection since Spunky has been missing for 9 months. As far as I knew, the little dog was dead. After all, my adult and skeptical reaction was natural.

    Next morning, at 7:30 AM, I put the children on the school bus and left for work.As I was turning from the gravel driveway onto the main road, guess who I see in the middle of the road about 200 yards away? You got it! Spunky, together with 2 or 3 other wild dogs who were crossing the road!

    Ouch! The Holy Spirit smote my heart in a strong, inescapable, convicting manner. His still small voice whispered a few words of rebuke: “You have been walking with me for so many years and you know my word so well. But your daughter, an 8 year old child asked me a blessing in faith and love and here is the answer right in front of your eyes. Jean-Louis, you are lacking in faith, a childlike faith like your daughter’s.”

    Woe is me… once more I was in the dog house… being spanked by the Lord! Right then and there, I had to confess my lack of faith and ask forgiveness for my cynical attitude and asked Him to grant me the faith of a child.

    This couldn’t have just happened by coincidence. After all our human efforts, we couldn’t find Spunky, but God is attentive to respond to the call of a small child, even to the arranging of what seemed an impossible circumstance. He knew exactly where Spunky was and guided her steps in my path precisely at the moment I was leaving for work. Can you imagine?

    The most incredible things that happen with God have a sense of the eternal present. The timing was perfect. If I had been one minute or maybe seconds earlier or later, I would have missed the whole thing. I was driving my truck and the dogs were running across the small country road surrounded by woods. Spunky looked skinny and mangy. Her fur was missing large clumps of hair and was full of fleas. She acted as if she didn’t recognize me.

    Still under the effect of the amazing surprise, I took her back to our friend’s house. After several weeks of treatment and care, she regained her good health, a normal weight and her happy, spunky disposition.

    You can imagine the joy we felt and the gratitude towards our Good Shepherd who cares not only about His lost sheep but also about our lost dogs!

    Jean-Louis.

    ReplyDelete

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