Our knowledge of Christ is somewhat like climbing one of the Welsh mountains. When you are at the base, you see but little: the mountain itself appears to be but one-half as high as it really is.
Climb the first rising knoll, and the valley lengthens and widens beneath your feet.
Peter and I were taking a few days’ break at a small beach town. One late afternoon, I was taking a walk along the beach, when I looked up to find one of the most stunningly beautiful scenes taking shape before my eyes.
The scattered clouds began to take on pastel hues of peach, violet, and gold against the deepening blue of the sky. I love sunsets, but every once in a great while I encounter one that is so awe-inspiring that I can’t take my eyes off it. And the Great Painter was certainly getting my attention with this one. It was as if He was pouring liquid colored light into each cloud. The colors crept higher and higher until they seemed to overflow, and their streams became a living, swirling kaleidoscope of ever-changing beauty.
Sometimes I’m amazed at how dense I can be! I’ve been reading the Bible regularly for the past 40 years, but it was only yesterday that something so elementary struck me that I wondered where my head had been the past four decades.
I’ve been bothered recently by what a raw deal God usually gets. In many of the books I’ve read and the television shows and movies I’ve watched, it seems that whenever God comes up, He is portrayed as hard and unyielding, even mean. I was getting tired of this portrayal because it simply doesn’t match up with the God I know. At the same time, I admit that I have myself also occasionally wondered about God’s goodness—not so much whether He was good, but rather if I was the only one somehow missing out on it. But even when battling with my own questions about God’s justness, I knew that these other portrayals were grossly unfair.
Jesus said that if we will “seek the kingdom of god above all else,” God will give us everything we need.1 If you work hard and do your job well, it’s in your boss’s best interest to notice and reward you with a pay raise or promotion. God thinks that way too. If we invest our time and energy in His work, helping others and living as He would have us live, God will notice and see that we are rewarded.
As a career Christian volunteer, I’ve spent my life sharing God’s love with others and trying my best to live my faith. There have been times, however, when I’ve compared my life with those of people around me and wondered if I might be better off materially if I worked at a secular job.
Question: When there is a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane that claims many lives, some people say that God is judging those people for their sins. Does God really operate that way?
Answer: Only God knows why certain events happen to people in one country or area and not to those in another, or to certain individuals and not to others. Paul said that the judgments of God are “unsearchable, and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”1
In the middle of math class,one of my second graders made this startling declaration: “There is no God!”
Considering that this was a Christian school and Martin was the son of a pastor, I had to wonder how he had suddenly come to this conclusion in my classroom. When asked, he proclaimed, “My dad says that there’s God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but also that there’s only one God. It makes no sense.”
Within the span of a week, I heard three people say three different things that got me thinking about God’s involvement in my life.
Person one said that he didn’t know if God actually cares about what we do, and that He may not be particularly interested in the choices we make beyond accepting salvation, especially the less important ones.
Some unlikely people have remarkable insight. I’m thinking specifically of the Roman army officer who begged Jesus to heal his servant. “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof,” the centurion told Jesus, “but only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”—And the centurion got what he asked for: his servant was healed immediately, without Jesus having to go and see to it personally.1
Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s great faith, and I’m amazed at his understanding. He realized something that few others do: God delegates.