Oh how I wish I’d seen those two trucks coming in time to get out my phone and photograph them, coming one after the other on the opposite side of the freeway. I might not have noticed them a second later, but as it was, I’d literally just finished a prayer as we were driving, asking for God’s clear guidance and reminding myself, as well as the LORD, “God, help me to put YOU first” when I opened my eyes to see the large words “U FIRST” on the back of the transport truck passing us, followed closely by a second transport truck painted with the large words “OUR MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE” and a red arrow pointing forward.
No, I didn’t chalk it up to “coincidence.” My words “you first” weren’t more than a second out of my mouth when I saw the trucks. The message wasn’t lost on me: GOD Himself is my/your/our most valuable “resource,” and it’s more than right to put Him first in my/your/our life. I look back over my life and think about kind things people have done for me, and I look back over events that”happened” which later turned out to be obviously God’s prior “set up” hand and provision for needs I’d have even as much as ten years down the road.
True confession, more often than not I look for goodness from other people, as though they directed the path of my life. When things don’t go right, though, aren’t we ALL, and I include myself, all too prone to immediately blame God, rather than laying responsibility at the feet of those other people? How in the world do I fall into the flawed mindset that good things come from people, and bad things come from God? I think I know the answer. In a devotional email yesterday, the author made the point that yes, Adam sinned,and stood accused before God, but now that Jesus has paid the price for every sin you and I ever commit, we stand before God covered in the righteous Blood of Jesus. Satan can’t stand before God and accuse us as he accused Job, because Jesus took our sins upon himself and paid the full price, so Satan speaks accusation against us and accusations against God into our thoughts. Oh, the crafty, subtle lies of the Father of Lies!
I have to remind myself of the Truth, and God’s Word in the Bible is Truth:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17-18 NIV
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 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. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8: 26-32 NIV
I’ve seen hurtful evil slung at me in the past eight years, more evil than I – naive girl who I was growing up into adulthood in the midst of God-honoring, kind, honest, caring people – ever knew existed in the world, on either side and right in front of me. In complete honesty, I’ve cried out to God in confusion, asking why He allowed such painful, heart-ripping, gut-wrenching things to come into my life, as though God was the author and purposer of harm. BUT this I know for sure: we live on a battlefield of the mind, with genuine evil warring against all of the goodness that God intended and still intends to reign in, for, and through His children on Earth. At the times I’m feeling lowest, thankfully I can remind myself of Joseph, thrown into a pit, sold as a slave, wrongfully accused of evil, thrown into prison, seemingly forgotten by God, UNTIL a confrontation with the brothers who did him intentional harm revealed a powerful purpose for God’s saving grace and goodness both for Joseph and through him for many others:
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 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: 15-20 NIV
Personally, intimately, God has spoken so many affirmations to me in a variety of ways in these same eight years: waking me up to His words ”You’re worth fighting for” ; bringing me word from a woman I didn’t even know that “You are my chosen child. Do not fear what man tries to do to you”; a slip of paper with words from an intercessor who was praying over the people who were praying with me, “I’m trying to bless you – you have to let me”: license plates like the three in a row I saw in 2014 “JUSTICE” “CHRISTZ” “CHRONOS” ; the chrome words ‘Jeremiah 11” on the back of a black car in front of me last month, powerful words God gave Jeremiah about people who knowingly break His covenant, when the only words in chrome I’d ever seen before or since on a car were model names; the license plate “PS7686” leading me to these Scriptures
It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry?
8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—9 when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Ps 76: 7-9 NIV
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. Psalm 86: 2-17
Truth, Truth, Truth coming against all the lies, all the “but look at these nasty things happening to you that God could have prevented” insinuating lies that I know, I know that I know, come from the enemy of my soul, not from the Lover of my soul Jesus. The Truth is this:
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.…..“ John 10: 7-11, 14 NIV