Sunday, February 19, 2012

Your Future Probably Won't Be the Way You Imagine It

This morning I was reading about Elijah and the widow at Zarephath. The basics of the story go like this:
  • A great famine has spread across Israel
  • God sends Elijah to Zarephath because he's prepared a widow to feed him
  • The widow is down to her last food supplies, she's going to cook one more meal for herself and her son, then they plan to die
  • Elijah tells her to cook the meal for him instead
  • She does. God miraculously keeps her food supply from running out until the famine is over.
What I like particularly in this story is the initial interaction between Elijah and the widow. When he asks her to provide him with a meal, she replies, "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple sticks that I may go in and prepare it for my myself and my son, that we may eat it and die."

She's very matter-of-fact. "We're going to eat this last meal. And then we're going to starve to death." She's accepted the inevitable. She's come to grips with how this story is going to end. She's lost all hope.

But Elijah suggests that the story may not quite be over. He says, "The jar of flour shall not be spent and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth." In other words, he tells her that the story isn't going to end the way she thinks it is. God's agenda is different than hers.

As I mulled this story over this morning, I jotted down (yes, I jotted) four thoughts about God's agenda often being different than mine:
  1. God always does that which will bring glory to Himself.
  2. In bringing glory to Himself, God always does what is best for us and what will meet our needs.
  3. God often works out His agenda in ways we might not expect.
  4. God usually works out His agenda in timing we would not choose.
The story almost never ends the way we think it is going to. While we may not always have a Zarephath kind of moment (sometimes God's timing is vastly different than ours), we can rest and be comforted that whatever God is doing in the moment is intricately connected to what He will be doing in 5 weeks, 5 months, 5 years, even 5 decades.

Our hope is not in the expectation that we will get what we want in this moment, but rather our hope is that we will receive all that we need both now and in the days to come, but especially when our adoption is made complete at the end of time.

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