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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Purpose’

One Sunday morning years ago our Bible study teacher, Andy, gave each of us a pencil and a piece of paper with a large grid—4 squares across, 4 squares down. One square at a time but out of order, he guided us to draw various sized curves in various positions.

 

 

Sometimes he instructed us to revisit a square and add more detail.

 

 

 

The bits and pieces made no sense—just haphazard strokes accomplishing nothing–until the last few curves remained, and Andy told us to rotate our papers bottom side up.

 

 

 

 

 

Each of us was constructing a very recognizable Mickey Mouse.

And you can probably guess Andy’s objective:

God does indeed know what he’s doing, even when events seem random to us. Sometimes he reveals the reasons for nonsensical curves in our lives, as purposeful outcomes finally sharpen into focus.

Such was the case with Joseph in the Bible. The violent curves of his life story finally made sense when he became prime minister of Egypt.

To his brothers whom had terribly mistreated him he said,

 

 

Quite often, however, God chooses to withhold explanation.

I have to wonder if he’s waiting until all his children are gathered together in heaven and then he’ll reveal the complete, awe-inspiring panorama of intricately wrought events, involving billions of lives over eons of time.

Andy Andrews, in his delightful children’s book, The Boy Who Changed the World, offers a glimpse of this panorama, as he tells the story of a farm manager named Moses and his wife Susan who raised an orphaned boy. Together they shared their love of plants with the child. That boy was George Washington Carver.

 

 

In addition to his many scientific achievements, George provided an important influence for a young boy named Henry, teaching him all about plants. Henry Wallace grew up to become the U.S. secretary of agriculture and then vice president of the United States.

 

 

Henry hired a young biochemist named Norman and instructed him to develop a high-yielding, disease-resisting wheat. Norman spent twenty years in laboratory and field research to achieve the objective. He also developed superior corn and rice.

 

 

More than two billion lives have been saved because of Norman Borlaug–and Henry Wallace who impacted Norman, and George Washington Carver who influenced Henry, and Moses Carver who inspired George.

 

 

Who else but God could have directed such events, connecting one life with another to create such epic results?

We, too, have the exciting privilege to participate with God.  There are grand possibilities in every encounter–to impact our corners of the world as Jesus’ agents, speaking on his behalf, acting in his name, and drawing people to him.

And at those times when the effort doesn’t seem to accomplish much, we can remember:

  1. 1. “God does some of his best work when we don’t think he’s doing a thing” (Priscilla Shirer, The Kingdom Woman Devotional, emphasis added), and
  2. 2.  God’s work in us and through us isn’t over until we’ve completed the last curve.

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Father, I want to be a person who seizes the day under your instruction, who chooses to honor you in word and action. I want to be a participant in what you’re accomplishing, not just an observer. May I be faithful to follow your lead, knowing that in the end the results will be gloriously worth it.

 

(Art & photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg (4); http://www.canva.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikimedia.com (2); http://www.sunraybook.com)

 

 

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The view out our windows has not been inspiring of late.

Swaths of flat gray clouds hover overhead, sometimes dipping low to drape gauze in the treetops.

 

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Tangles of bare tree branches claw at the sky.

And where flowers swayed in the sunshine last summer, straggly twigs stand forlornly, grieving their former beauty.

But amidst all this gloom and dormancy, God is at work–behind the scenes.

For example:

  1. Many plants require a season of rest.

All summer long perennials labor to create flowers that in turn attract pollinators. They also spend the long, warm days developing seeds, in preparation for the following spring.

Come fall, these plants pour their energy into root growth.

Now, during the quiet winter months of inactivity, they enjoy a much-needed rest.

 

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(One of our hydrangea bushes at rest!)

 

  1. Plants benefit from snow.

The soft covering (with its air pockets between the flakes) insulates plants from the harm of frigid temperatures.

Melting snow in spring provides the extra hydration plants need for the accelerated growth process of the season.

 

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  1. Seeds benefit from snow.

A period of moist, cold weather is essential for some varieties of seeds to germinate in the spring.

 

Winter is not a mistake, a season God forgot to adorn. Winter has purpose.

It’s just that we can’t see what he’s up to.

But come spring? Then we’ll see the benefits of winter in a magnificent display of glorious splendor!

 

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Perhaps you are enduring a season of winter in the circumstances of your life.

It’s not a mistake, God has not forgotten (Psalm 9:10).

This season does have a purpose (Psalm 138:8a), it’s just that you might not be able to see what he’s up to.

 

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Even in the middle of bleak, colorless winter, we are confident that spring will come, aren’t we.

And even in the middle of bleak, colorless circumstances, we can stand confident with the psalmist, because:

 

“You, [God], will restore my life again;

from the depths of the earth

you will again bring me up.

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You will increase my honor

and comfort me once again.

I will praise you with the harp

For your faithfulness.”

–Psalm 71:20b-22a

    *     *     *      *     *

 

(Information about the value of winter for plants came from “4 Reasons to Celebrate Your Garden in Winter” on http://www.houzz.com.)

Photo credits: Nancy Ruegg (3), http://www.wallpapersmela.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org.)

 

 

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Evidence confirms: God loves to take ordinary people living ordinary lives and accomplish impossible feats. Examples include:

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  • An imprisoned slave, elevated to prime minister in a matter of minutes
  • A village shepherd boy who became the greatest king of his nation
  • A widow who took a stranger into her home, and witnessed miraculous events
  • A common girl, chosen as queen in a foreign land and became the savior of her people

No doubt you recognize these persons. We would never consider them ordinary because of how God used them:

  • Joseph
  • David
  • The widow of Zarephath
  • Esther

But if we visited Joseph in prison before Pharaoh sent for him, if we passed by David watching his father’s sheep, if we ran into the widow of Zarephath at the village well, or if we met Esther in her cousin Mordecai’s home, would we have recognized greatness? Would we have known that these people were extraordinary? I doubt it.

We easily forget that what we see from our human perspective is never the whole picture. Only God has an omniscient view of circumstances and events—including past, present, and future.

Only God has the capability of weaving complex events to accomplish his purposes. And his work is always extraordinary. The wonders of creation offer undeniable proof.

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And since you are part of God’s wondrous creation, you are extraordinary. Yes, YOU!

That means:

Our seemingly ordinary lives, lived out through ordinary days, can have extraordinary significance, because God Almighty is orchestrating them.

That doesn’t mean we just sit on the sidelines and watch God work. Choices must be made:

  • Joseph chose to honor God in Potiphar’s house (Genesis 39:4), and in prison (v.22), long before his miraculous promotion from slave to prime minister.
  • David chose to spare King Saul twice, even though the king pursued David with the intent to kill David chose to wait for God’s timing for his coronation (1 Samuel 24, 26).
  • The widow of Zarephath (a town not in Israel) surely knew nothing of Elijah or his God when she met him at the town gate. There was no reason to take him in; she had nothing to offer him. As it was, the woman and her son were starving. The land was parched dry by famine. But she chose to believe his assurance that God would supply their needs. And miracles resulted (1 Kings 17:7-24).
  • Esther chose to intercede for her people, even though it may have led to her own death. She saved the Jewish captives in Persia from annihilation (Esther, ch. 4, 5).

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We never know when a decision or choice may directly or indirectly cause significant, extraordinary results.

Therefore, our decisions must be based on scripture-based convictions and values. It is God-influenced choices, day by day, even moment by moment, that will lead us to extraordinary living, accomplishing divine purpose.

But be prepared. We may not know the significance of some of our choices until we reach heaven.

Think of Ruth, who chose to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, from her home in Moab, back to Naomi’s home in Judah. She also decided to follow Naomi’s instructions and glean barley in Boaz’ field. At the end of the beautiful drama it is revealed that Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David and a descendant of Jesus himself, and a book of the Bible is devoted to her story. What an honor for a woman not even from the house of Israel!

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But Ruth never knew.

Extraordinary people live extraordinary lives when they’re led by God–choice by choice, decision by decision. And they leave the results in his capable hands.

(Art & photo credits:  www.St-talkla.org; http://www.1decision1day.com; http://www.ammiministry.org; http://www.joyfulphpist.wordpress.com.)

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