BE CERTAIN OF THIS
My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.
John 5: 17, NIV
OK, so memory is an issue these days. There are, however, a few remembrances that are still desipherable in those dusty mind catalogs. One is the day Dr. Henry Blackaby taught from John 5: 17, the above listed Scripture. A small group of pastors were being trained to implement Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God in South Carolina churches. By that time I had been a pastor for more than 10 years, had completed two seminary degrees, and had preached through the Gospel of John on several occasions. Dr. Blackaby's lesson that morning ignited a new sense of awareness in me. I had never considered the implications of what Jesus had said to that group of angry religious people. That God was always working was a confessional truth long acknowledged by me and most every other believer I knew at the time. It was, however, a teachable moment. That lesson became a life-changing theme for me. I've preached, taught, and written from John 5: 17 and the accompanying verses more than any other Bible passages. If you read this space regularly you can recite these points. They are five of the most assuring certainties that have guided me through some hard times, even the senseless and tragic murder of our son Brian in 2011. So, make note---
1. God is always working (reference John 5: 17, above).
2. God's is always working his pleasure and not mine.
...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2: 13, ESV
3. God is always working for my good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have
been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8: 28, NIV
4. God will complete the work he has started in me.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion
at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1: 6, ESV
5. God works so that people will be in awe of him.
I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God
works so that people will be in awe of Him.
Ecclesiastes 3: 14, HCSB
Scripture also notes the many times God's people either failed to perceive God's working or somehow forgot it. Israels failure to teach their children the remarkable work of God following their 430 years in Egypt and 40 subsequent years in the wilderness is a prime example. The historian wrote---
And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another
generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for
Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord...
Judges 2: 10-11, ESV
Another reminder is Isaiah 43: 19, another favorite Scripture. God said---
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Humans can be so self-contained and focused on the exigencies of life that they do not comprehend what God is doing. It's a hard fact of life right now. Last evening I read many warnings and dangers of Covid-19, expert medical advice about how this virus is transmitted, and dozens of subsidiary questions. Can our government abridge our constitutional freedoms? Can our economy rebound when the virus has run its course? One says one thing, and many others affirm something else. It's the basic truth that we humans can't know everything. Some life realities are hidden in the mystery of God's ways. This pandemic might be one of them. Speculate, theorize, hypothesize, and give it your best shot. In the end, we still may never know.
With so many questions and angles we're scrambling for some answers and meaning. There are certainties, however. One of them is that God is always working and the four addenda to that biblical truth listed above. There are, of course, others. The truth of God's working is a certainty that prayerfully will be clear to us as this thing develops. That is, if we're paying attention!
His working is a powerful exclamation point in a universe of question marks.