This is an interesting time. Another school year is in the books (to coin a phrase). I don’t think I’ve ever seen more snippets from graduation speeches than I have this year. Lots of talk about knowledge, the future, credentials and stuff.
It’s also a time for remembering, especially on this day, that freedom isn’t free. What we know and enjoy today is based on the sacrifices of men and women who gave their lives so we could be free from oppressive and abusive government.
It’s a time in which we are reminded almost daily that we live in a world where people die before they’re “supposed” to, and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be inalienable rights, but they’re not time-bound guarantees.
At any point in our lives, most likely, we can point to things with humble gratitude and declare, “I don’t deserve this.” At any point in our lives, we can point to things with frustration and despair and declare, “I didn’t sign up for this.” At any point in our lives, it’s a valid question to ask, “Where is God in all this?”
So in this season of talk about knowledge and the future and no guarantees and credibility and freedom, I wanted to encourage you with some reminders that have encouraged me lately.
1. God knows what you don’t.
Some people find their security in being able to figure things out. Things like what’s going to happen in the future or why somebody is doing something (two colossal wastes of time, but hey, if you must, go for it). But sooner or later we all collide with our own ignorance.
True, some of us get there a lot faster, but we all get there. And this really bugs people, including me, because our oldest ancestors made it clear: given the choice between life and knowledge, we prefer knowledge.
That said, there is great comfort in knowing that while you don’t know a lot of things, you can know the One who knows everything.
Know what’s even crazier? Some of the things you think you know, you don’t really know at all because you’re wrong. Guess what? God knows that, too.
So He wants you to know today that He knows stuff. Stuff about you. Stuff about your world. Stuff about His intentions and plan and grace and love and how He’s finishing what He started in you. And He wants you know He’s a God of understanding, and you can trust Him.
2. God thinks about your future more than you think about your present or past.
As long as we live in a time-bound world, we will encounter events that look completely random, senseless, and purposeless. Or worse, we will conclude that the only explanation for what we’re seeing is that somehow we’re reaping what we have sown.
Yes, sometimes that happens.
Oh, and let’s just go ahead and admit it – nobody asks why this is happening to them when they’ve just won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes or just got a big fat raise or bonus. It’s always during the times when life hurts and it doesn’t make sense.
But if you’ve suddenly been jerked away from your places of security or happiness, maybe there is another possibility to consider. Maybe God has reestablished you on a pathway to joys you have yet to discover. And maybe the only reason it looks senseless or purposeless is because you can’t figure out where the road is taking you.
Don’t you think He has earned the right to expect your trust – that He can see what you can’t? Haven’t you learned by now that He can even take the evil intentions of wicked people and turn them into good? Haven’t you figured out that “Stop” and “Yield” signs on your pathway are there for a reason, even when you can’t see it or it wasn’t your idea?
So He wants you to know today that He’s thinking about your future. And all His thoughts toward you are precious. And He wants you to know He’s a God of purpose, and you can trust Him.
3. God speaks with credibility you don’t have.
We don’t recognize the power of our own words, much less His. It’s easy to forget that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). It’s even easier to forget promises we have made, curses we have spoken over people, or hearts we’ve stung with criticism or mockery.
And that’s saying nothing about the words that have stung, disappointed or crushed you.
Here’s the deal about words – we always treat ours as temporary. Even our commitments come with an OBO clause (that’s “or better offer”). What we say today we likely will contradict sometime in the future. We can break hearts with words today and tomorrow excuse it with, “I didn’t mean all that” or “I was just frustrated.”
We’ve even invented our own phrase to prove our words are meaningless: Jus’ sayin’.
God’s words are different. He speaks with such clarity, force, and credibility that what He said a long time ago still has the authority of truth today. The literal Bible translation would be, “He declares and it remains declared…”
No “just kiddings.”
So He wants you know that He has declared some things about you… more than I can list here. I think it’s time for a review, and here’s just one to whet your appetite: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Even though they were recorded long ago, the force of His declarations to you remain as true today as they were the days they were first revealed. And He wants you to know, He’s a God of truth, and you can trust Him.
4. God gives what you can’t afford to buy… or to reject.
You may be in a season where it looks more like He’s taking things away from you. And maybe that seems terribly unfair or cruel. I can relate. Until I remember that everything I have is on temporary loan from Him in the first place.
See, it’s all a gift. And in a larger sense, we don’t deserve any of it. I need to say this delicately, but I need to say it: You don’t deserve the lives of your children or grandchildren. You don’t deserve your material blessings or even the means to attain them. You certainly don’t deserve your spiritual heritage or relationships.
And even if those things could somehow be purchased or bargained for, you wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway.
It. Is. A. Gift.
But here’s the good news: Every good and perfect gift comes from the hand of an uber-generous God, who loves to lavish His kindness on you. And at no time is that more important to recognize than when you’re tempted to feel sorry for yourself because you think somehow you’ve been deprived.
You, my friend, have bigger issues with God than what you think He has taken from you… and that’s what He has offered freely to you that you have not received. How many blessings go unrealized because we were too busy building our own kingdoms, accomplishing our own do-it-yourself projects, or insisting “if it’s to be, it’s up to me?” How much more could He lavish on us – starting with the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ – if we could just humble ourselves enough to receive it with thanksgiving?
So He wants you to know today that He’s offering free gifts to you. He’s giving you every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. He’s giving you a life of abundance. He’s giving you the possibility of a legacy to leave behind you and a future to embrace before you. And He wants you to know that He’s a God of grace, and you can trust Him.
Understanding, purpose, truth, and grace. All four of those qualities of our rich and faithful God converge in one of our most cherished Bible verses. It’s just that sometimes we get so focused on the benefits – the gifts – that we forget the actions of the Giver. Read this verse again and pay attention to the verbs:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Don’t you think that’s worth remembering?
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