The more I learn about both the Bible – and human history – the more I am convinced of God’s providential hand at work in the midst of everything. That Isaiah would prophesy the birth of a messiah – a Prince of Peace – and later describe a “suffering servant” who takes away the sins of the world – is more than just coincidence. These texts existed hundreds of years before Mary and Joseph went to the Bethlehem for Caesar’s census. There was no conspiracy – no re-writing of history. The Gospel writers were very aware of how thoroughly the stage had already been set. They wanted us to understand God’s revelation through the Prophets didn’t end with the last pages of the Old Testament, but continued in the life and teachings of Jesus. It truly is ONE STORY from beginning to end.
Likewise, as People of the Book, we have come to understand God as one who works in the midst of history – oftentimes with the most unlikely people. Therefore, even though we live nearly two thousand years after the final words of the New Testament were written – we believe the same God who was revealed through the prophets and most fully in the person of Jesus Christ – is still at work in the world today.
God continues to guide and to shape history – even when we don’t see it clearly. As human beings it is oftentimes only in retrospect we really understand what was going on right under our noses. The great preacher and evangelist Billy Graham once put it this way: “I am convinced one of the joys of heaven will be discovering the hidden ways that God, in his sovereignty, acted in our lives on earth to protect us and guide us so as to bring glory to his name, in spite of our frailty. As I look back over the years, however, I know that my deepest feeling is one of overwhelming gratitude. I cannot take credit for whatever God had chosen to accomplish through us and our ministry; only God deserves the glory, and we can never thank him enough for the great things he has done.”
I believe God has been at work setting the stage for the present moment – just as God set the stage for Jesus through the prophets. The question is not whether God is at work, but rather whether or not you have decided to join him in that work. I believe even now God is setting the stage for a new thing.
God has so much he wants to do. But as I once heard someone say, “Without God, we can’t and without us, God won’t.” God needs you to become a conduit of his life and hope and peace to the world.
The stage has been set… and we are the current actors on that stage. Each of us has a role… and each of us has a part to play. But never forget it is God who directs. Follow him, surrendering your life to his direction and guidance, and you can be certain that everything will turn out just as God has planned. In a world of uncertainty, conflict and pain that is… and will always be… the Good
News of God’s peace to all people.