This week I am scheduled to appear at the police station for my fourth day of investigation on charges related to our balloon launching work. I have decided not to make any public comment on the investigation while it is underway. But since it has now been one month since I began appearing at the police station for these weekly sessions, I wanted to share with you a little of what the Lord has been teaching me through this time. I hope the following notes may be helpful as you also seek to be a faithful witness to the Lord wherever he sends you this week.
The world and everything in it would cease to exist if God did not give it the gift of life moment by moment. Biblically, each moment of life originates directly from God. He creates each moment ex nihilo (from nothing) and fulfills within each moment his promise to work all things in that moment together for the good of those he loves and calls.
We must first be receivers of God’s good gifts before we can be givers of anything. That is true not only of the good things we give but even the bad things we give, like persecution or disobedience. That is because evil is not a raw material obtainable from some other source. There is one source for all things, God the Father. Everything that he gives is good, and he gives to everyone. Evil is always the wrong use of God’s good gifts.
Even when God’s good gifts are used in ways that seem to threaten or thwart God’s promises, God’s will is always accomplished. In fact, it is the glory of God that he fulfills his promises especially through the actions of the very people and circumstances which seem to endanger his promises the most. This includes our persecutors and enemies, as well as secular authorities. His will is always done because each moment emerges directly from his hands, shaped precisely according to his promises that are guaranteed.
This is why we never need fear any exercise of power against us. Power ultimately does not serve the purpose of the one wielding it. It serves the purpose of its original source and its end. The Lord Jesus is the source and end of all power. Accepting this reality fundamentally changes how we view the authorities and our persecutors and enemies. It removes the fear, anger, despair, defiance, or weakness we might otherwise feel in their presence.
How do we hear God’s word of promise addressing us moment by moment? Can this happen only in the moments we are reading the Bible? Does it come only through direct spiritual revelation in moments of intense prayer?
No. We are to hear his word of promise in each moment as its unfolds into the world. The promises of God are plainly recorded in scripture. But the world is the scroll on which the fulfillment of every promise is “written”. That writing occurs continually, because the promises of God are the structure of reality in which we live and move and have our being. We are to “read” the reality we see as the moment by moment unfolding of the promises written in scripture. We do not receive the future from the hands of persecutors, friends, enemies, scientists, police investigators, or governments. We have only to do with Christ, who gives us the future through the hands of all these people, and a multitude more. But it remains only ever Christ’s future, Christ’s good and personal gift to us, and it unfolds exactly according to his promises.
Biblically, there is no mystery about what will happen in the future. We know what will happen, because it has been made plain to us in the scripture. As to when each of God’s promises will be fulfilled, and how, the scripture does not reveal. These are matters requiring our humility and trust in God. We are given only the plain promises of God, not advance knowledge of the time or the way in which God will fulfill them. We are not called to supplement the plain promises of God with personal supernatural revelation or clever interpretations of scripture in order to fill in details sufficient to persuade ourselves or others to believe. We are called simply to remember that scripture and history show that God hides his promises under the opposite and fulfills them when and how we least expect.
From the moment the world was created, the future has always been defined as “the fulfillment of the promises of God”. The mystery is not what will happen, or how, or when, but who we ourselves will become as God’s promises unfold. As the Talmud puts it, “All is in the hands of heaven except the fear of heaven.” In other words, the future is not the mystery; the future is God’s guaranteed gift. The mystery is how each of us will respond to that gift when it comes to us each moment. The Apostle John says it like this: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” It is this revealing of the children of God, not the revealing of the future, that has all of creation waiting in eager expectation.
God’s promises do not show up only when we pay attention to them. God’s promises do not apply only to the people who believe in them. All people we encounter at every moment are God’s servants, accomplishing his purpose, bringing his word to pass. All power in heaven and earth has been given to the Lord Jesus, and he uses it to work all things together for the good of those he loves and calls.
Some of the people we encounter are God’s willing servants. Others are his unwilling or unwitting servants. They insist to us that our future is in their hands, not God’s. With Pilate, these unwitting, unwilling servants of God say to us, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” But with Jesus, we are to respond, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” We have to do only with the Master, who is shaping us and all of creation moment by moment through the unfolding of his promises according to his providence.