Jesus Surprises Us along the Way!

I want to relate the second personal experience in which I learned God takes care of us as His cherished possessions.

Romans 14:8c—”…whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

Christ_Pantocrator

Interior of Montreal Cathedral, with Christ as Pantacrator above the apse

In Eastern Christianity, churches have a central picture (Icon) under the dome directly above the congregation. It is Christ as Pantocrator—Christ as Almighty Ruler over the Universe. In the above photo, the picture demonstrated to the congregation Christ is watching over his own children.

In Greece, during the Ottoman occupation, all pictures were stuccoed over, since Muslims do not permit a person’s physical representation in art. After the Ottoman withdrawal from Greece, the stucco was removed. In one such church, to the surprise of the construction crew, the Pantacrator still stared from the ceiling. All the while covered over, Christ was still watching over his own though unseen beneath the plaster.

Today we cannot see Christ physically. He is in heaven unseen by us. However, he is watching over us, his own children, in every experience of our lives.

Personal Experience Two

One faith formative experience involved our oldest son, Joe (age 10 at the time), contracting appendicitis. This time we had insurance, but the deductible was $1,000 on hospital stays. In 1987, $1,000 might just as soon be $1 Million. We didn’t have it.

When Joe had his surgery in 1987, I again thought there would be another mean, “little man” before whom I would appear and hear that same spiel about not taking care of my child, feel just as lowdown, and then sign to pay in installments. God had another idea.

Surgery

When I went back to the Seminary after Joe’s surgery, I checked my post office box. There was a letter saying someone had made a donation to my account. Inside also was a check for $100. I was happy. I thought, “Well, there is a down payment on that deductible!”

I informed my wife and sons of the gift. We all were happy, but the visit to the hospital bursar was still in the back of my mind.

On Monday morning, I had another letter in my P.O. Box saying someone had actually given me a gift for $1,000. However, the seminary had a policy of giving 10% immediately and then verifying with the institutional bursar that no further debts were owed to the seminary before giving the person the remaining 90%. I was angry at first. Why didn’t they at least let me know more was forthcoming? In the envelope was a check for $900. That met the $1,000 deductible. No visit to the bursar of the hospital was now necessary. The bill was paid in full. 

The Unseen Majesty of God’s Provision

Here is the majesty of the Lord’s provision. The person who gave the money had already sent the gift before Joe contracted appendicitis. I learned through that experience that God is always previous to his people’s needs!

Before they call I will answer 2

I was used to the Lord hearing prayer and then answering in a way that met my needs. I told him I had a need, and then he met it. This time he was prior to my need and had already sent the answer before I knew anything about it. (Isaiah 65:24)

That is true from a human standpoint, but not good theology. My praying does not really tell God anything he does not already know. Then, why pray? First, because God commands us to. Second, his answer often incorporates our praying into the process. God let me know through this incident that he is ultimately responsible for me and all that concerns me. I learned more about God through that incident than I had through the whole of my previous experiences, I think.

Why all the Pain, though?

C.S. Lewis said it so well in his book The Problem of Pain:

God…

whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our conscience, but
shouts in our pain… .

(see “Miller” below.) 

God got my full attention in this experience and not only “burned the dross out, but burned in His promises.” (C. H. Spurgeon quotation; for source see “Taylor” below.)

Two further Scriptures have come to life from the printed page of my Bible.

Self-Humbling

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)—Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

This is self-humbling—

God cares for us, and He is mighty. He calls us to humble ourselves under Him. Not because He is a controlling God that wants us to force us to bow down to Him because we are nothing. Rather it is because He wants to lift us up and care for us. As we humble ourselves, we truly submit to Him. We’re trusting Him with what’s going on in our lives and believing He is the provider for our needs instead of us ourselves. (adapted for clarity; see “Mobley” below.)

All Things do Work together for the Good

Jesus already knows all of our troubles before they happen. He wants us to accept all from His hands and submit to his providence. Once humbled, he lifts his children up into His arms and meets their needs.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)—And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This was my mother’s life’s verse. She quoted it often to me. Now it has become a light for my path. 

Prayer

Lord, I may not always see Your hand,
But I know I can trust Your heart to do what is right!
If I am struggling against Your best for me,
Help me to cease the struggle and trust in You!
Your ways are perfect and past finding out by my puny intellect.
I rest upon Your perfect way to give me what I need.
Thank-you ahead of time. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Notes

Miller, Jeffrey. (2001). “When Tragedy Strikes.” Accessed 16 July 2018 from https://bible.org/article/when-tragedy-strikes

Mobley, Mike. (2013). “How To Humble Yourself Before The Lord.” Accessed 16 July 2018 from https://www.beforethecross.com/biblical-teachings/humble-yourself-before-the-lord/

Pantocrator picture. Accessed 16 July 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monreale

Taylor, Cami Marie. (2016). My Mountain: Overcoming Problems. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press.

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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