This year I seem to be seeing a basic recurring theme of the mysterious balance of God’s sovereignty (or control of the happenings in the world in general and my life in particular) and the individual’s role in carrying out the purposes of God; how our actions affect not just our lives but the lives of those around us; how God often uses ordinary people to accomplish things, yet sometimes he just shows up with some supernatural force.
In our Old Testament reading the up/down cycle continues. “He/they did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord” is followed by hard times and captivity, then “he/they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” followed by peace and prosperity. We have it in multiple combinations (Manneseh starts out on the evil path then repents, Amon is evil from birth to death, Josiah is on the good path from start to finish). While the people seem to reap consequences of their actions, both good and bad, when we step back we see that God had a plan all along. Each part of the cycle had a part to play in the grand scheme of things.
In our New Testament reading yesterday we learned that God intended for Paul to go to Rome. Today we see that plan starting to unfold. But people still had a part to play. Paul’s nephew happened to be in the right place at the right time to learn of the plot to kill Paul, but he also had to be brave enough to get to Paul, pass on the message, tell the commander, etc. The centurion had to obey Paul’s request, the commander had to listen to this boy/young man, the commander had to take quick action. Everything had to be done in quick succession. People had their part to play, but we can see the orchestration if we take a step back and observe the big picture.
I know that when I am facing a trial I need to make sure I take a step back and realize that God is in control. My job is to do my part. I may not know until many days, months, years, decades later how the various events of my life played a part in a grand plan, but I can be confident that ultimately God is in control. Any my God is the God who saves.
10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. (2 Chronicles 33:10-13)
27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. (Acts 23:27)