Recently, I had an opportunity to share a testimony of God’s love, care, and provision in my life in the weeks following news I was being made redundant. In this testimony I shared how clearly God had worked, and the many “God moments” where He seemed to bring things together and in so doing actually bless and encourage more than just me.
The highlight was that God had opened the door to a new job and given me the assurance that this is the job He wanted me to do as I continue to pursue pastoral ministry.
People were encouraged and I learned later, people were talking about it – even using it to encourage others, to whom I had not spoken.
I got to Thursday of that week (having spoken on the Sunday) – and for whatever reason, I started to question whether this job really was what God had willed for me. This voice echoed the early chapters of Genesis “Has God really said…???” The reality was that I was tired, my back was sore, and I didn’t see how in the world this job could be God’s provision – I didn’t want to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day doing repetitive tasks with the addition of 45 minutes travel each way on the train.
I spent a bit of time that day working out how I’d get on if I was to throw the towel in and go on a benefit. It was doable, just – and surely that would allow me to concentrate more intensely on my studies.
This despair and following investigation did not reflect the genuine concern of a broken heart – this was a 180º move of sin and rebellion through which I was calling God a liar and declaring through my attitude and self-talk that God was not good, and that this job was not His will.
An interesting factor in this was that this day of despair was sandwiched between the testimony I had given, and a sermon I was to preach the coming Sunday. I would preach a message from Exodus 15. In this chapter Moses and all Israel sing of the triumph of Yahweh their God, and yet just three days later they grumble in the absence of water – which rather than a genuine concern from a people trusting the promises of God was a nation that had set themselves in opposition to God – calling into question His power and promise.
This object lesson had been played out in my day of despair – and in the process allowed me to actually embody the message I was to preach. It would be more than just an intellectual exercise of explaining the passage, how it related to Jesus, and subsequently His people living in 2013 – it was an experiential, from the heart sermon that related to the experience of those to whom I preached, and really cause their hearts to burn within them.
All this to say that the Holy Spirit was doing much more than just allowing my fleshly doubt and fear to overshadow God’s evident blessing – but had ordered things in such a way so as to amplify the power my preaching.
As with the Israelites, my rebellion ought to have attracted the wrath of a holy, true, and living God. But, as I said during the sermon, because of Jesus – this is something that I will never, ever receive. The reason? Jesus paid it all. There is no penalty for my sin left to pay.
Instead of cursing and wrath – God showered blessings and favour upon me. Again, the question of “Why?” needs to be asked. This, I said during the sermon, was because of Jesus’ obedience – it was on account of His sinless obedience, even unto death, that all the blessings of God in heavenly places, in Jesus – became mine. Thus I was not only spared from the wrath I so rightly deserved, but was given the grace, love, favour, and forgiveness of God – and these things I could never earn.