The Way Ahead…
Looking across this room through the imperfections of an old, outside window pane to the magnificent Frenchman’s Bay and Cadillac Mountain, we are given a visual parable of how difficult it is to see the road ahead when viewed through the tears and confusion of a tough journey. Beyond the pane lie the beautiful skies and mountains of Acadia which can be viewed more comprehensibly only by advancing beyond the obstructing window.
The strain of tribulations, the pain of unfathomable human tragedies, the negative impact of present sadness, disappointment, or moral failure taint our perception of where the future leads or how bright it may become. Can one regain sure footing, readjust to adversity or regain losses? Will the tears stop flowing and the pain lessen? Are the broken circumstances redeemable? Will the pastures turn green and the waters become still again? Will we ever regain equilibrium and have peace and joy as our world spins out of control? Is it all bleakness and no hope?
We tend to associate meaning and joy with good times, happy moments, positive happenings, and special people in whom we find pleasure. But what happens with loss, difficult times and offensive, oppressive people? We often find ourselves in the world of “what has been” or “what might have been” or “what might be.” We all seek a world free from the baggage and consequences of our misdeeds and bad behaviors. Regardless of our worldview, we desire redemption! We generally want to be a better person with a rewarding future. We need and want forgiveness and opportunity for renewal. All around this earth, people seek those things as they offer prayers, as they confess and plead and lament and sacrifice to all kinds of gods for their intervention and help.
All Scripture presents God as our Creator, who is also our sovereign, personal, benevolent Father, who is present and endures with us, and whose holiness and justice bring us righteousness. Moses repeatedly reminded the Israelites that God was “concerned” or knew or understood them and their situations and that He was their “rescuer” and would keep His covenant with them.(Exodus 2, 3, 6) Their role was to revere God, walk in his ways, to love and “serve” him with all their being, and to observe the Lord’s guidelines for their lives for their “own good.” (Deuteronomy 10:12) The promise was that things would go well with them if they did what was “good and right in the eyes of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 12:28) God is always concerned for the well being of His children even in a fallen, broken world where evil happens. The reality of Jesus’ life is the greatest evidence of God’s loving concern and helps us understand how desperate but how meaningful life can be.
Christ was born into poverty and controversy. He was misunderstood by all who knew him, including his family. He was minimized and victimized by gossip and innuendo, disbelief, oppression, prejudice and hatred. His life was difficult and lonely and exhausting. He experienced sorrow and sadness, grief and loss, the death of friends. He wept and was sad for the vulnerability and folly of mankind but was always grateful, seeing life through opportunity and purpose.He was humiliated, rejected, abandoned, betrayed, treated unjustly, violently brutalitized and died in the shame of a wrongful, cruel death. He was strong in spirit but never rebellious, always submitting to the will of His Father even in the worst adversity and personal danger. A person of integrity, he spoke and lived truth. He courageously and compassionately faced and forgave his detractors and tormentors. He had unwavering faith in the love and care of his heavenly Abbe, for whom he joyfully lived and fulfilled the purposes set before him. He lived as he taught us how to live—seeking the Kingdom of God always in the present circumstances, not anxiously looking for what happens next, and trusting God’s provision and strength for the day.
Christian doctrine perceives in Jesus, a Rescuer, a Savior, a Redeemer who was tested and lived without sin. He who knew no sin became sin for us and gave us his righteousness that we might live with God. (11 Corinthians 5:21) Israel knew the Law as God’s wisdom. The Christian focus is on Christ. He is the one who has walked earthly and spiritual journeys like ours and has finished his course with joy. (Hebrews 12:2) The New Testament shows us that Christ is God’s wisdom to us. He is what the Law could not do because we can not keep it. He is our righteousness, redemption, and hope. He is our confidence for the presence and future.
There is an old African-American spiritual which succinctly summarizes these thoughts. The multiple verses of “He’s got the whole world in His hands “ capture truths from several Psalms including Psalm 47 about God’s reign over the cosmos including His care of His people.
“He’s got you and me, brother, in His hands… He’s got the whole world in His hands” “He’s got you and me, sister, in His hands… He’s got you and me sister in His hands…”
Those hands came to us in human form and were pierced for our redemption, peace and hope. They sustain, protect, and lift us up in the winds and rains and tempests of life. Even when we fear our faith will fail, or when temptation is great or when hope seems gone and love is cold “He will hold me fast/He will hold me fast/For my Savior loves me so/He will hold me fast.” ( from the hymn by Ada Habershon 1861-1918)
The way ahead is more clearly understood in the context of faith. God deals powerfully with our past, is present with us now, and opens the future to the best possible, ultimate results.