Acts 16:22-25 NASB
“The crowd joined in an attack against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Now about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” (Emphasis is mine)
Well, wasn’t 2020 a hoot! I obviously can’t speak for anyone else but for me, 2020 was a year of some difficult rethinking. And as perplexing as it was, as some of the dust seemed to settle towards the end of the year (key word being “some”), there have been some positive and solidifying results. I think one of the positive aspects (again, for me), is learning to focus on the eternal versus the temporary. If you are wondering why I chose Acts 16:22-25 as my lead-in Scripture, I would like to draw your attention to the last sentence in this portion of Scripture, in particular “Now about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God . . .”
Note what had just transpired, Paul and Silas had been bodily detained, had their outer garments taken from them, beaten with rods many times, thrown into an inner cell with their feet put in stocks and here they were, praying, which is throughly understandable, and singing hymns of praise to God.
What is wrong with this picture? Nothing, from the perspective that we serve a God who IS in control of all things, and that is the whole point. And what do you suppose, the other prisoners, who were listening to them, thought? Can you imagine some of the dialogue that might have gone on between some of those other prisoners or in their minds? “What is with these two guys?” “They have their freedom taken away from them, their outer garments taken, they have been beaten, thrown into an inner cell with their feet in stocks, and they are singing!”
It’s almost like the other prisoners might say, “You two fellows obviously don’t realize what has just happened!” And Paul and Silas might have responded, “No, we do understand what has just happened, what you fail to realize is that the God that we serve, is thoroughly able to remedy this situation that we are in, should He chose to do so AND because He has called us to preach the Gospel AND because we have complete trust and faith in Him, what happens next depends not on what has transpired here, but in fact, what our God decides to do. And regardless of what happens next here, we are assured that we are eternally safe in the arms of our God.”
If there is one thing that has been made very clear to me this last year, it is this:
What happens to me and around me, is secondary, to the reality of filtering all things through my total dependency and need to follow the perfect will of God for me. God is in control, not me, and if I really believe all that Jesus says about not worrying about what I am to wear or eat, or whether I succeed or fail, or even live or die, then that changes how I interact with others, what I focus on and how I relate to what happens around me.
Jesus told us that He would not leave us like orphans, that His Holy Spirit would live in us and guide us. Jesus is our shepherd, He is thoroughly capable of guiding us. I call that Jesus ordering or directing my steps and that is what I seek. Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice and hear Him.
The practical application of this mind set has a learning curve.
Did Jesus tell you to quit your job? No? Then don’t. Does God’s Word tell us to love our wives as Christ loved the Church? We know He does. Do it. Does Jesus tell us to do good to our enemies and bless them? You know He does. Some of these are not optional choices. Jesus said to learn of Him and we would find rest for our souls. I’m in the “modifying my behaviour” mode right now and it is progressive but I am backing off from some of the things that I used to do. I am trying real hard not to jump into every conversation or comment that my mind takes exception to. Jesus tells us that making judgements about things starts with ourselves. We are indeed to make judgements but not hypocritical judgements. Just using that filter alone reduces my output considerably. My heart needs to be softened to be more like God’s heart, my mind needs to be renewed to include God’s thoughts and God’s ways. I have already spoken about some of these things in some of my recent posts.
This world is temporary, God’s Kingdom is eternal. We really need to grasp this reality and all of its implications.
I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have a whole bunch of time to get to where God wants me to be or comprehend what God knows I can comprehend or need to comprehend, so what with me being completely overwhelmed at accomplishing this particular task, I have decided to leave that totally to Him. I’m thinking that is what He wanted me to do a long time ago and although I thought I was moving in that direction, God has been turning this perspective up a notch. He will show me what I need to know, He will show me when to speak and when not to speak, when to act and when not to act in some particular situations that I do need direction on. Then there are the “no brainers”, forgive as we have been forgiven, do good to all, especially to those within the household of God. Forsake anger, malice, and any attribute that puts a bad light on who God is.
So that is what came to the surface for me in 2020. It was not an easy year but it was a good year. I readily admit that I am not even close but there is some additional clarity that wasn’t there before, so I will, with God’s help, continue to move in that direction. I do not know how God keeps His patience with us, especially me, but He does and I love Him for that and so much more.
I do have one closing thought. Jesus is the bodily personification of God the Father. He who has seen Me has seen the Father. Hebrews 1:3-4 NASB reads as follows:
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, to the extent that He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”
I may not know all the answers but I know Who does.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!