Romans 14:8c—Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
If you will allow me to refer to personal experiences, one in this post and another in the next, I believe they will help illustrate how God treats us as his cherished possessions.
God is responsible for those who belong to him. I have expreienced God’s personal care of me and my family over many years of ministry! I did not always discern God’s plan, or the steps laid out in that plan, for my life, at the time. I did have to keep on walking, though.
I have to admit many times I had been making my way in the dark, so to speak. I often asked God, “Why did that experience come into my life at that moment?” “Why didn’t I get that other church?” “Why did that officer have to die at that crucial moment in the church’s life and leave the flock open to attack by that cabal of Satan’s tools?”
Rev. G. Campbell Morgan, the great English preacher, used to tell younger people, “Dis-appointment; His-appointment.” He had learned this valuable lesson after a lifetime of walking with God in difficult circumstances. Christ knows best even if we do not understand why as yet. (see “G. Campbell Morgan” below).
One faith formative experience occurred for me when our second son was on the way. We had had both sons without insurance in the late 1970s. The doctor’s fee was $800; the hospital bill was $800; total money owed = $1600. In between their births, Joseph (age 18 months) contracted meningitis. He had a 10 day stay in the hospital that ate up the money we had saved to pay for his brother’s birth.
Let me go back a bit. When Joseph had been born, I had the painful experience of going to the business office and appearing before the hospital bursar. He was a curmudgeon of a little man who tried to squeeze money out of me. He tried to get me to borrow money from the bank, from my family, and my friends.
Those I knew had little money, as did I. I was in full time ministry which paid room and board plus $150 a month.
I never will forget that little man’s first words to me when JoEllen was admitted to the hospital. He said, “Well, I see you didn’t take care of your wife.” Then he let me sweat a while before adding, “We’re not going to turn her away. We’ll take care of her.” I then signed a document that I would pay in $100 a month installments until the bill was fully discharged. I left feeling quite smaller than that little man appeared to me. (This conjured up in my mind images of Ebenezer Scrooge and those who owed him money, pictured to the left above.)
Nevertheless, God provided for us so that we paid the bill in installments of $100 per month until it was paid off.
Joseph’s meningitis stay, 19 months later, had been $1600. This was the exact amount we had saved for John’s birth. Since we had no money left in savings after paying Joseph’s bill, I had to appear before that same “little man” again when JoEllen was admitted to the hospital to give birth to John. He looked into a manilla folder, looked up at me, and sneered, “Well, I see you didn’t take care of your wife, again.” Then I sweat awhile before he added, “We’re not going to turn her away this time, either. We’ll take care of her even though you didn’t.” I then signed the paper and agreed to pay in monthly installments of $100 until it was paid off.
God provided again so I could pay out of my monthly wages in installments. I learned through both of these painful experiences that God always provides for his people’s needs! Two passages of God’s Word came alive.
Psalm 34:15—The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.
Psalm 34:17—The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
God let me know through these incidents that he is ultimately responsible for me and all that concerns me. No mean “Scrooge” in a business office controls my life. I learned more about God through this than I had through the whole of my theology books, I think. God hears a desperate cry from His child!
When I say “God provided,” I am not saying money fell from the sky. I did not beg on the streets. I didn’t write letters to friends and churches asking for money. I can say we didn’t go on vacation. Christmas money from relatives went to pay off the bill. Sometimes, dear friends sent money, and for that we were grateful. But, we didn’t ask for money. Mostly God stretched the little we had into enough to meet our needs and obligations.
Jesus is my Lord, I am his bond slave, and therefore, he takes responsibility for me when he sends me anywhere on his mission. He will do that same for you, too!
I like the poem that King George VI quoted the year England faced invasion by the Nazis, Christmas Day 1939. “The Gate of the Year”—
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
I can say from past expreience, as merely a sinner saved by grace and not by any means a “super-Christian,” my hand in God’s hand has been better than the brightest light and much safer than any familiar way!
The same will be true for everyone who by faith puts his hand in the hand of that same God. He is faithful to keep covenant with His children!
I can’t see a way ahead for me just now.
My life is dark and seems meaningless.
I’m on a treadmill that never stops.
My bills mount up and I can barely get by each month.
Take my hand and lead me from this place.
I trust You to take me in the right direction, although it is dark before me.
My needs are still great but I trust You to meet them all as I walk with You.
Keep me close to You as I go further into the unknown.
I know Your light is at the end of that way.
In Jesus name name, Amen.
G. CAMPBELL MORGAN—”A Preacher Come from God,” Part 2 accessed 16 July 2018 from https://sharperiron.org/article/g-campbell-morgan%E2%80%94-preacher-come-from-god%E2%80%9D-part-2 N.B. Jill Morgan, daughter-in-law and biographer of the great preacher, attributes this adage to her mother-in-law, Mrs. Morgan.
Gate of the Year. (1908). Accessed 16 July 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ The_Gate_of_the_Year
© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved