We live in a world of cause and effect. If I put birdseed in the bird feeders, the birds will come, right? And if they don’t come, well, that’s a disappointment. After all, I don’t put seed that I’ve paid good money for (and protect from the mice in the garage, I might add) so I can sit on my patio and look at the seed.
Let’s be honest. This is how we do much of life. I know I have certain expectations—probably too many and some that are w-a-a-a-y too entitled compared with the rest of the global population. But if I pay for something, I expect to get what was advertised. If I exercise and eat healthy, I expect the scale to bow to my expectations. (Okay, so it’s not a perfect analogy…)
Unfortunately, I also tend to put the same kind of expectation on God. If I do this, God does this.
The man Job is our usual go-to on that one. But there’s another intriguing example, King Hezekiah. For two chapters, his reformations are lauded. Here, in part, is his to-do list with a lot of accomplished checkmarks:
- Reinstating the Passover with significant contributions from his own livestock
- Praying for the people who wanted to participate
- Encouraged the Levites in their assigned duties
- Opened the door to the “smashing of idols” that had polluted the land
- Organized the priests and Levites for continued service in the Temple once Passover was completed
- Required the people to help provide for the priests and Levites, as prescribed in the Law
So much so, this is the finally assessment:
“In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.”
Great way to finish up a chapter. Hold on, though. Look what verse one of the next page says with very little fanfare:
After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls
Seriously? Now, in my culture, there are those of us who would take great offense at such a circumstance. I did all this good stuff for You, Lord, and this is what I get in return? This is NOT what I signed up for!
Actually, we did. In fact, Paul makes this very important observation:
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?…
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s not about what Francis Schaeffer so wisely termed our pursuit of “personal peace and prosperity”. It’s about His Presence. Perfect heaven is coming, but this ain’t it, not yet. In the here and now there are still battles to be fought. That fact didn’t seem to phase Hezekiah, and it shouldn’t us either.
Time to go fill up the bird feeders.
2 Chronicles 31:21; 32:1; Romans 8:35, 38-39 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.