As we read this we are conscious of the fact that March is upon us, the worst of winter is in theory behind us, the gardens are showing evidence of Spring and the clocks will change at the end of the month ‘heralding British Summer’. Again our weather has set records by being the wettest winter on record for some parts of the country. Our hearts surely go out to those deluged on the Somerset Levels, while we are reminded of human limitations against the power of creation, as we see railway lines that have stood for over 170 years being washed away in one day! It has not just been ‘on the news’ – a number of our families have been on flood alert and some have actually been evacuated. How do we respond to these extremes? Where is God in all of this? He is still in exactly the same place – on the throne.
An old hymn says
God is working his purpose out
as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near; …
We are not always clear as to God’s purposes, but we can be sure that we have an unchanging God. It was written of Jesus – “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Lk 9:51) Jesus had come to earth with one main purpose – “to save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21) and nothing was going to stop that happening. His friends, out of love for Him, tried to stop, but He had to rebuke them strongly. His enemies, both religious and political, thought that they would destroy Him in death, but in reality they took their role in fulfilling God’s purpose.
Jesus, it seems had time for all who came to Him for help. Again, His friends at times thought that too many demands were being made of Him. With good intentions they thought that Jesus had greater priorities than “a bunch of screaming kids”, but He encouraged them to come to Him.
I am sure that in the horrendous storms of this winter many would have loved to have tried, like King Canute, to halt the advance of storm and tempest. We see it from our own stand point, but God like Christ has set His face to complete the redemption of this world and His people. In order to get to Jerusalem Jesus had to go forward. He had to follow the road that God had laid out for Him. While we are all to follow Christ as Christians, and some will have to take up crosses to do so we can never re-offer the great sacrifice of Calvary, but we are to equally set our faces to do God’s will.
Jesus set His face, but took His disciples with Him. The cost was great and in the darkest hour they all forsook Him and fled. We do that so easily, but as we approach Easter this year may we know something of that tenacity that Christ displayed. We have a responsibility to love God, that includes His body the Church, so let us show the world this Easter time that just as Christ loved us and set His face to go to Jerusalem, so we will set our faces in order that others might know the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The God of creation has not been dethroned. We need to heed His voice in providence and we are to remain confident that the Gospel will go to the ends of the earth, so that the earth might be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
Let us commit ourselves to following God together , no matter the cost.
In His Purposes,
Bernard Lewis March 2014