Sitting at my computer day after day for a solid year, dependent upon God’s Presence for the writing of these lessons, has been a true joy. Time after time, as need arose, God brought to mind a specific event about which I would next write, and time after time, He talked me through each event’s message, delivering specific Truth.
Faithfully steadfast, God upheld the process, completing more than two dozen lessons, one every other week. The journey, one of both remembrance and enlightenment, has been a spiritual one, punctuated with off-the-chart highs that, at times, have raised me out of my seat and into worship. The opportunity given to me to connect to God through the lessons has been an abundant blessing, pure and simple.
But now the opportunity is about over and a new one begins. Time will reveal how God chooses to continue using the lessons. Only in obedience’s fulfillment is benefit realized. Not until the lessons’ completion could their full benefits become activated to provide more together than they ever could have offered separately.
Similar in manner as to how God places individuals with specific knowledge and abilities within the Body of Christ to increase the Church’s effectiveness, so God has structured the lessons for maximum benefit. Using something as simple as specifying the order of their writing by bringing only one event at a time to my mind, this is what God did apart from my full understanding:
1. He selected twenty-four mostly unrelated events from my life.
2. He used the events to reveal Truth about Him.
3. He never duplicated a message, but compiled Truth upon Truth.
4. He structured a complete and orderly message from chronological disorder.
5. He divided the events by their physical and spiritual natures, creating two categories.
6. He placed the lessons containing physical events first, emphasizing the discernment of Truth through physical reality.
7. He followed those lessons with others based on spiritual events, emphasizing the discernment of Truth through spiritual reality.
8. He opened the lessons with a message concerning the confusion that is caused by personal misinterpretation of God’s Word.
9. He split the two categories at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion, history’s turning point, when the Truth of God’s love was fully revealed in salvation.
10. He opened the second half with a message about our personal relationships with Him, showing Himself to be Father.
11. He concluded the lessons with a message about eternal reconciliation to Him through Christ.
12. Then, after the writing of the lessons was complete, He revealed His finished handiwork for what He had designed it to be all along: a singular, unified and cohesive body that glorifies God through His Word.
The revelation shocked me, for I had completely missed the big picture. Immersed in the typing of the details of the individual lessons day after day, I had focused so much upon the specific messages that I had remained unaware of the totality of the work that God was accomplishing, even as He was accomplishing it through me.
“Through me” was the shock. Though I was involved the entire time in the lessons’ development, God still had no difficulty surprising me (once again) with His greatness. Stunned, I could only say, “God! How did You do that?”
So orchestrated by God, The Lessons of the Cross retells the story once again of God’s relationship with men in yet another new way. Working with selected events from just one individual life (in this case mine), God took what appeared to be a collection of random occurrences and gave them cohesive purpose within His Kingdom. He revealed His Story that had been hidden in the ordinary day to day events of one person’s history, demonstrating His dominion over any given set of circumstances. God’s fingerprints, invisible to the world in general, proved to be all over every event, no matter what their nature.
The same is true within every individual’s life story. While our histories are different, we all exist as interconnected parts of the one Story that contains every individual one. Our lives are God’s Story in the making. They all have design and purpose beyond our scope of vision. They will outlast this world, as will we, leading us into our selected eternity, whichever way we have chosen to go: heaven or hell. Our stories, like us, are eternal.
God, ever-Present and ever-loving, is continually working behind the scenes (out of range of our awareness), as well as overtly, in our stories. Weaving every component of Creation into a united whole, God is perfectly reconciling all into a singular finished work. Each person is born with intrinsic value and designed to fill specific purpose within Creation. No life is ever demeaned or devalued by God, despite what the world may have to say about any individual.
No one is born in isolation from God’s plan, and no one lives in isolation from it. Together, with all Creation, we are God’s Kingdom under construction through Christ Jesus. Wherever we go, wherever we are, God is there in advance, anticipating both our next move and our need. His righteousness reigns, as God comes to us, accepting us as we are and loving us perfectly. No matter our circumstances, God is above them all, creating a finished product of perfection from what appears to be the chaos of our seemingly less than perfect lives.
But all chaos is redeemable by our God, who accomplishes perfect redemption. He is with us and for us all:
- the alcoholic, passed out in a plush penthouse…
the bellman, who stocks the liquor cabinet for a fee;
- the orphan, huddled under a cold, dark bridge…
the aunt, who refused to take her in;
- the evangelist, tortured for sharing his faith…
the non-Christian, who never heard the Truth;
- the widow, left alone day and night…
the neighbor, who meant to drop by for a visit;
- the boy, picking through garbage for his daily bread…
the relief worker, who lacks sufficient resource;
- the girl, held against her will…
the men, who use her to have their way;
- the woman, overwrought and suicidal…
the doctor, who sent her home with pills;
- the executive, sacrificing all to his job…
the employer, who terminated those near retirement;
- the rock star, unfulfilled amid a frenzy of fans…
the agent, who overbooks him;
- the religious zealot, mocking his neighbor…
the neighbor, who mocks a life of faith;
- the guerilla combatant, beheading his captive…
the diplomat, who failed to negotiate;
- the sassy child, raised by hired help…
the nanny, who wants a child of her own;
- the invalid, needing a helping hand…
the retired nurse, who doesn’t feel needed;
- the boy, shamed by his father’s guilt…
the mother, who predicts, “Like father, like son”;
- the prisoner, forever confined to a cell…
the judge, who can’t see beyond his own closed mind;
- the grandmother, forced to choose between medication and heat…
the social worker, who again says, “I can’t help”;
- the child, drinking from pools of infested water….
the mother, who watches with no other option;
- the out-of-work laborer, dropping his last coin in the donation pot…
the good-will ambassador, who asks for more;
- the politician, personally smeared by the press…
the reporter, who didn’t realize the cost of his scoop;
- the authority figure, accepting a bribe…
the collaborator, who looked the other way;
- the baby in utero, not given a chance…
the mother-to-be, who prays to give life;
- the soldier, who will never see his child…
the comrade, who will always remember him missing;
- the addict, besieged by the pain of the past…
the dealer, who helps her stay that way;
- the woman, feeling unworthy of love…
the man, who is certain that he isn’t worth much;
and the list goes on, encompassing all:
you, in your circumstances and me, in mine—
every man, woman and child ever given life.
Equally loved… equally important… equally covered by the blood of Jesus… no soul is overlooked by God. Jesus died for all. (See 1 Peter 3:18)
Bestowing grace upon grace on everyone, God is righting wrongs with divine wisdom in ways that we are not always capable of comprehending. But He is doing so, whether we understand or not. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
We can be certain that in the eternal end, God’s wisdom will be evident to all, no matter what we believe now. Wise and all-knowing (See 1 John 3:20). God alone understands the perfect implementation of His perfect plan (See Job 42:2).
In this world, God is countering our ignorance and misperceptions of Him with Holy Spirit revelation, enlightening us to the Truth through various means. Disclosing a reality superior to the visible one of this world, God leads us into more blessed lives, enabling us through transformed thinking to better realize His active love for us.
Every life is God-given and has God-given purpose in this world and the next, fulfilling God’s “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2c). Every face has a history, and every tongue has a story. Each one is known by God in minute detail (See Psalm 139). Each is an integral part of His exquisite Masterpiece.
From a worldly perspective, however, life’s events can cause us to misconstrue the Truth of God and His relationship with us. From the midst of the production process, we cannot yet see God’s finished work that brings understanding. But God does. He sees perfectly the product of His envisioning.
At times, a tapestry is used to help visualize this point. While the back side of a tapestry is typically a tangled mess of knotted threads that appear to randomly crisscross one another without rhyme or reason, the front side reveals a work of art, every stitch perfectly planned and executed. The apparent waywardness of each and every thread on the backside is used to specifically increase the beauty of the artwork on the front. During the tapestry’s creation, disorder and order simultaneously appear from two differing points of view.
Similarly, but in a far grander way, God is producing beauty from every part of our current lives (See Isaiah 61:3). Even the less than pretty is being woven by God into His magnificence.
To know that God is in control in a world that seems ever-increasingly out of control, changes our perspective, giving us a new outlook of hope and expectation. The excitement of discovering that “God is with us” (actively Present in our lives) is superseded only by the realization that, in Christ, “God is in us.” Boggling the mind, the revelation is an eternal show-stopper, changing everything through renewed thinking.
God loves expanding our vision with glimpses of Him, for those revelations are an outgrowth of our ever-deepening fellowship with Him that He so desires. Rain or shine, blue skies or grey, God remains Present, blessing us with Himself, meeting needs in countless ways, both seen and unseen.
God’s ceaseless blessings to us in this world are a precursor of the life to come in God’s eternal Kingdom. They are a taste of God’s goodness that whets our appetite for more of God—the precise outcome that God desires. God is the “WOW Factor” of life that we need and of which He wants to make us more aware.
Right now, in this world, the Truth is best seen from our God-provided vantage point of the Cross. Jesus is true perspective, complete revelation, an exact representation of our Father God (See Hebrews 1:3)
But the day is coming when God will reveal Himself from the “other side.” Then and only then will we see the bigger picture: the finished work of “perfect love, fully applied” (See The Lesson of the Love). Permanently woven into God’s picture through our faith in Jesus Christ, we will be immersed in a beauty that provides understanding and needs no further explanation.
And, when God stuns us all with His finished Masterpiece, we will all undoubtedly respond uniformly:
“God!!! How did you do that???”
Amazing Grace… amazing all… after all and for all.
Once the Truth of God is seen, every other perspective fades from view.
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever…” (Deuteronomy 29:;29)