Sunday, December 7, 2014

Not a Straight Line to Glory

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of seeking something out vs. being called. In immigration history, there is the similar concept of Pull and Push. (For example, the German Jews who came to America before 1880 were pulled by the dream of a new life, as opposed to the Eastern European Jews who were very much pushed out of their countries by discrimination and conflict at the beginning of the 19th Century).

In ancient Judea, Mary and Joseph (and womb-bound baby Jesus) were very much pushed away from Nazareth by the census of Caesar Augustus. The Magi, on the other hand, were pulled towards Bethlehem by their desire to understand the star’s significance. And we can’t forget the Shepherds. Their lives, also, were completely changed by a Call. As lonely and lowly sheep herders, I am sure they did not feel like they were living to their full potential. Yet God glorified and redeemed their calling, placing them in the perfect time and place to humbly receive the first good news about Jesus Christ.

Every single character ended up exactly where God needed them to be for the Christmas story to unfold as the centuries-old prophets had foretold!

Often when I am thinking on a concept like this, I will end up listening to a sermon which almost directly parallels or at least solidifies the idea. In those moments, I get a better glimpse of the way the Spirit works in our lives.

As I was traveling by bus to spend Thanksgiving with my family, I listened to such a sermon. It was a 1984 sermon by John Piper, the final installment of a four-part series on the book of Ruth entitled, “The Best is Yet to Come”. If you are at all familiar with these chapters of Scripture or the character of Ruth, you’ll know that so much of the book is a foreshadowing of Christ (who himself descended from Ruth’s very lineage—a genealogy which, in and of itself, tells so much about the nature of God!).

The main lesson of the sermon was this:

"The life of the godly is not a straight line to glory, but they do get there."

Piper draws this out with an analogy of driving on a mountain road with rockslides and hairpin turns that make you almost go backwards before you are able to move forward towards your destination. But along the way, there are signs to guide the way. He says,

“Ruth was written to help us see the signposts of the grace of God in our lives, and to help us trust his grace even when the clouds are so thick that we can't see the road let alone the signs on the side. Let's go back and remind ourselves that it was God who acted to turn each setback into a stepping stone to joy, and that it is God in all of our bitter providences who is plotting for our good.”

Ruth was pushed from Moab by hard, hard circumstances. But she was also pulled by a desire for Naomi’s God to be her God. The road was not straight, but the call on her life was clear. As Ruth’s story unfolds, the Lord redeems that which was lost, and in the end (a few centuries later), He brings ultimate Redemption through her line.

So this week, as we dwell on Peace—an easy word to say, but a difficult concept to hold on to—let us think on this: The whole of human history, with its winding and treacherous, pushed and pulled, often-going-backwards-in-order-to-go-forwards road, has been played out in order to give us the Prince of Peace.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor,
    Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father,
    Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.
-Isaiah 9:6-7


  1. Becca-this is excellent and truly a God breathed, timely word. Please keep it up! It's wonderful.


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