wan·der verb \ˈwän-dər\: to move around or go to different places usually without having a particular purpose or direction : to follow a path with many turns(Source: Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
If you ask my husband what my hobby is, he would most likely ask you what day or week of the year it is. As hobbies go, I tend to be more of a flight-of-fancy person. My true hobby is learning. Once something catches my attention and I get a hankerin’ to learn or do something new watch out. I will spend the next few weeks or months Googling, at the library looking at and checking out any book that increases my knowledge and, of course, discussing the topic with anyone who will pretend to listen.
My current flight-of-fancy is drawing. Art is one of those topics that I thought was way out of my league. If someone would ask me to draw anything, even a stick figure, I was pretty sure I would die of embarrassment if they actually made me (drama added for emphasis). Let me tell you the traumatic story that brought about this phobia [deep sigh]. When I was in 8th grade, we had a special assembly to watch a magician. At various points during his show he would ask for volunteers. I raised my hand even though I was over half way back in the auditorium and figured only the kids up front would get picked. The magician picked two of us to be a part of that particular illusion. Once on stage, we were given a pencil and something to write on and instructed to draw a stick figure. When we were both done, he had us turn our pictures around. To this day, I have no idea what the magic trick was, but what I do remember was when I turned my picture around I heard nothing but laughter.
Fast forward 20ish years – I was working on my undergraduate degree at an Ohio State extension campus in the town where I was living. Although there were plenty of humanities courses to choose from, I was sick of being afraid. Most anyone who knew me would not have classified me as a fearful person, but hindsight is much clearer. Nearly all areas of my life had some sort of superstition attached to it, I was afraid of heights, afraid to draw, afraid to let people know the real me… Being a fairly young Christian at the time, God had begun teaching me that I didn’t need to be afraid all the time and that I really could rely on Him to take care of me. So I took the plunge and enrolled in the basic art class. Honestly, I was hoping to pass the class with a C and a minimal amount of snickers from the other students. By God’s grace, the teacher was so patient and encouraging. He truly believed that each person in that class could make a similar representation on a piece of paper to what their eye was seeing – it just had to be taught how. I now believe he was right.
God taught me so much through that experience about His faithfulness and letting go of trying to protect myself from “bad” things happening to me. Echoing Paul’s sentiments, I do not to mistake my growth in this area for having reached a completed state. Nevertheless, this was definitely a moment in time when I could clearly see the lesson God wanted to teach me. It amazes me how our faithful Lord wastes nothing in our lives. From our perspective, we are traveling our earthly course and, on occasion, He inserts a lesson of some sort. However, our perspective is faulty and extremely limited. To make matters more challenging, those who have not put their faith in Christ’s atoning death, burial and resurrection in their place do not have the Holy Spirit living inside and have no hope of understanding (1 Corinthians 2:6-14).
My point? Unlike me and my propensity for flitting about from one project or endeavor to another, that is not God’s modus operandi. Things don’t just randomly happen to us – He is Sovereign over everything. No, I don’t have all the answers, but I trust in the One who does. Remembering that everything in our lives will ultimately be used for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-31). Look at a few Old Testament passages with me that show God’s passive and active interaction with His children.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV)
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:9-10, NKJV)
Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1, NKJV)
Just in those three passages, Yahweh has told us that He thinks about us, plans our future, call us from the ends of the earth and claims us as His own. He trains for battle (short term) and war (long term), strengthens and upholds. Finally, He speaks words of comfort.
As for the New Testament, there is no lack of evidence that Jesus is active in the lives of those around Him. Even when He was mourning the loss of John the Baptist and just wanted to be alone, He cared more for the people (Matthew 14:1-14). The Holy Spirit is no different in His interaction with the grafted branches. I am in awe many times throughout a given week that the God of the universe would not only come to earth and suffer a horrible death to pay for my sins but would actually live inside of me in order to (1) be a seal on me (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 4:30)and (2) continue the process of sanctification (2 Corinthians 3:18) until I either die or meet Him in the air.
Even as I write this, He overwhelms me with His grace. I pray that you are encouraged by the reminder of how purposeful and active God has always been, is today and will forever continue to be in the lives of those who put their faith in Him. It is my hope that you will spend time worshipping Him today. This might look like attending a church service, praying, writing to Him in a journal, sharing your faith with someone, singing praises, serving a neighbor…
- For reassurance about claiming some Old Testament promises, click here.
- If you are unsure as to whether you can claim any of these promises, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).