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Monday, October 11, 2010

A Better Planner

Today I had planned to run some things to the post office before I sat down to work on this blog.  The funny thing is that today is Columbus Day, a national holiday here in the states, and therefore the post office is closed.  I came back from the closed doors, grumbling all the way (the necessity of going back again tomorrow has scrambled my schedule for the rest of the week), but I think there is a lesson to be gleaned from my mistake.

The fact is, we all forget things, and our plans get scrambled, but if we know the Lord, we know that what needs to happen will happen at the proper time.  You see, God plans far ahead, He's never late, and His plans always succeed.  Isn't it great to know a God like that?

Already On It

The Bible says that God always plans ahead.  In fact, Jesus said, "your Father knows what you need before you ask him," (Matthew 6: 8 NIV).  He sets His plans in motion before the need is even perceived.  This is like buying and administering medicine after infection but before the first symptoms of the flu hits.  A delay in treatment means a prolonging of suffering or possibly even death.  Perhaps that should give us some insight into why God does this.

The very best example of God's proactive planning is Christ's redemption.  The Bible says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5: 8 NIV).  When God found us, we didn't yet know the true need we had for redemption, especially if sin was still fun for us.  The terrible price of sin is best known to those who have to pay it, and those who have to require it.  God knew and hated the price, so He sent us a remedy before we understood we were ill, long before we comprehended that our illness would lead to death.  This is more than thoughtful--it is compassionate.  It shows love, not hate, to want to spare pain!

The first time God stated His intention to send Jesus to restore fellowship with humankind is found right at the very beginning, at the fall of Adam and Eve.  God set up the price for sin, but at the same time He was already planning an easier way!  God said to Satan, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel," (Genesis 3: 15 NIV).  Thousands of years later, Jesus was to fulfill this by becoming the offspring of Eve (that is, a woman named Mary), not Adam (a human father).  He crushed Satan's power, though Satan would try (and succeed) in killing Him first.  Through Jesus the curse was fulfilled, and the awful sentence of eternal death and separation from God has been lifted from any who seek forgiveness.  

A Timely Appearance

Another thing I am reminded of today is that God's timing is always perfect.  He never gets delayed by even a day from doing what needs to be done.  Sometimes, however, we feel that His timing is less-than-perfect, because He doesn't seem to be moving fast enough for our liking.  It is significant to note that Jesus once told His own brothers, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right....You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." (John 7: 6, 8 NIV).  The timing He was discussing was related to revealing Himself for who He was to the crowds in Judea who had gathered together for the Feast of Tabernacles.  In fact, the "right time" was half-way through the Feast, a move with symbolic significance that I will not discuss here today.

The point is, God moves at the "right time," which He knows is right because He can see the future and the time line from the outside.  We who are on the inside are controlled and driven by time and schedules, never sure of the future of our plans, but God is confident of His timing.  He has already seen it!  As Paul wrote, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5: 6 NIV).  God moved at just the right time, so that everything would work perfectly.  Premature action or a delay would have been disastrous. God will move again, at precisely the right time, to judge the world when it has reached the fullness of its wickedness, but before the righteous can be swept away (Matthew 24: 21, 22). The next time we are anxious about the future, we should stop and contemplate this.

The Richness of the Harvest

A farmer waits patiently, watching his crops to see when he needs to harvest them.  He never brings in the wheat while it is green, nor does he leave fruit on the trees to grow overripe and fall to the ground.  It's all about timing, and judging when, and how fast, the work needs to be done to get the maximum yield for the year.

God has many more projects, like harvests, going on at all times.  Today I am reminded that He is on top of them all, and still He confidently promises a good "harvest," or outcome, at the end of things.  It is written, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8: 28 NIV).  He is creating a good outcome, even from bad circumstances, for those who love and obey Him.  This means that even the wicked schemes and evil lives around us are at this moment being turned to do His will and to create a good outcome.  That is something to think about!

When life seems too difficult to press on, and we want to just give up on God and trying to obey and follow Him, let the words of Paul to the persecuted Galatian church remind us that our present circumstances are not indicators of the plan God is working in our lives.  Paul said, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6: 9 NIV).  We have a victory coming.  Let us find hope in that!

Until next time, remember this: God is working in your life now.  He started long ago.  He will act when the time is best for His purposes, and if you know Him, you will live to praise Him for the glorious outcome!
For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2: 6-8 NIV)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this word of encouragement.