Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life In The Balance

Life is so often spoken of in terms of balance; not too much of any one thing, nor too little of things which provide health for both mind and body.
To exemplify... a "balanced" diet is necessary to maintain a healthy body; in both function and form. An un-balanced diet, on the other hand, affects all systems in a negative way. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:1-4) .....Jesus rebuked Satan when tempted; surely hungering for what the mouth senses that tastes good.

I would submit that life is, indeed, about balance. Not a balancing "act,", mind you, but maybe a journey down a narrow ridge; not controlled merely by such forces as equalibrium and ability of balance, but in full view of God's sovereign authority, infinite wisdom, and certainly His protection.

But if God is our protector ....then why "do" bad things happen? Is it because of imbalance? Aircraft are dependant upon physical forces, the dynamics of "pitch", "yaw", and "roll" are in effect.

Are we varying from our plotted coourse? Is, in fact, our course plotted? It would seem this would assume that "we" are in absolute, decisive, control of our circumstances. Are we protected, by the way, even in our disobedience?

Scripture provides plenty of examples of people whom, while under God's protective hand, certainly faced often imminent, and often terminal, danger.

"Cancer was a blessing." -Dave Dravecky's story
I never imagined hearing those words spoken by a cancer survivor. Dave Dravecky (retired SF Giants lefty pitcher) shares this at his speaking engagements. His career endedabruptly after battling a cancerous tumor in his pitching shoulder. Despite a dramatic comeback, he ultimately lost his arm. He'll tell you, today, of the blessing of wrestling with his true identity Christ.

So why do bad things happen to people, whom God created? Is it because God sees the intrinsic value of His very nature being lived out, or even dying for, His eternal glory, our eternal good?

"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV)

Jeremiah wrote a letter to the captives, exiled in Babylon. It carried the idea of recognizing that God, Himself, ordained their captiviity....
"The message to the exiles was very practical. First they should realize that God had sent them into captivity. That being the case, they should make the best of their situation. The normal activities of life should be resumed. Specifically he mentioned building houses, planting gardens, and marrying their children. Jeremiah directed them to pray for the welfare of Babylon, because as Babylon prospered, so also would the captives who were there (29:4–7). Among the captives, as in Judah, nationalistic prophets kept stirring up hope of a quick overthrow of Babylon. They urged the captives to maintain a posture of non-cooperation with the Babylonians. Jeremiah maintain a posture of non-cooperation with the Babylonians. Jeremiah warned that the prophets and diviners7 were prophesying falsely. Only when seventy years had been completed for Babylon would God fulfill his promise to bring them back to the homeland (29:8–10). God’s plans for the captives were positive but not immediate. He was planning for their “welfare, future and hope.” -Old Testament Survey Series: The Major Prophets James E. Smith

Those remaining in Jerusalem, appearing to have freedom, were pending doom. God would chase them out with sword and famine, Jeremiah indicated. We must follow God's leading, even when it doesn't make sense to us. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your path." (Proverbs3:5-6)

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20 ESV)

God used Joseph' seemingly unfair, undeserved circumstance to bring "good" to many. In 50:20, Joseph was specifically reminding his brothers that, though they “meant evil against” him when they sold him into slavery, “God meant it for good in order to … preserve many people alive” through the seven years of famine. Think through the chain of events that Joseph was encapsulating in that verse, and think how they worked out for good:

• Had Joseph not been sold into slavery, he would never have ended up in Egypt.

• Had Joseph not ended up in Egypt, he would never have gained distinction in Potiphar’s house.

• Had he not gained distinction in Potiphar’s house, he would never have been falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife.

• Had he not been falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, he would never have ended up in jail.

So far, things do not seem to be working out for good! But think on …

• Had Joseph not ended up in jail, he would never have interpreted the cupbearer’s dream.

• Had he not interpreted the cupbearer’s dream, he would never have been called upon to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.

• Had he not interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, Egypt would never have been prepared for the coming famine.

• Had Egypt not been prepared for the coming famine, many in Egypt would have died—and so would Joseph and his brothers!

• And had Joseph and his brothers died, there would have been no Israel and, therefore, no Messiah!

Joseph’s whole life is one long trail of evidence that demonstrates how God uses the worst of circumstances to turn our lives into something useful and profitable! And the profit of Joseph’s suffering continues down to this very day! As believers in Jesus, we benefit from the fact that Joseph’s suffering kept the family tree of the Savior alive! “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)! -Opening Up Genesis by Kurt Strassner

Down to Christ' own acceptance of the cup He must bear, we too have our burdens, or crosses, to bear. Jesus shunned Peter's notion of saving his Lord from arrest, as He knew what He must do. He told Judas to do, quickly, what he must do. I put these thoughts in word form a couple of years ago shape of a poem. Maybe it most clearly communicates the all too, yet very real, human condition of our willingness, or lack thereof, to follow God's will. Truly, as I once heard a preacher say, " The question is not... What is God's will for our lives, but ....what is God's will?"

Ebb & Flow

Life all but handed on a plate
How grateful I can be
Circumstances begin to irritate
How grateful will I be?

For lack of hunger, and abundance of wealth
How grateful I can be
With fading sight, and fleeting health
How grateful will I be?

A desire to grow, and resources plenty
How grateful I can be
Options depleting, closer to empty
How grateful will I be?

Entitled nothing, consumed with all
How grateful I can be
Desiring something, facing a fall
How grateful will I be?

Ever so blessed when all is well
How grateful I can be
Aimed toward a future I cannot tell
How grateful will I be?

Plotting my course down a road I know
Circumstances change.
Ebb & Flow
-Steve Terrell

God has a plan for your life today; not to lead you into harm, but into eternity with Him. Will you trust His plan?