Not too long ago, while walking around my neighborhood, pieces of a broken bottle littered the sidewalk in front of me. After that, I avoided that area, except one time when I was occupied with my dogs and forgot about the glass. By accident, I walked right through the fragments, fortunately without stepping on any of them. The next time, I intentionally stepped a clear path through the pieces.
Life is not always easy. It is sometimes messy because of challenges we face. The question is how best to respond when things do not go the way we expect. Faith provides a unique perspective and puts everything that happens in the context of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. All the obstacles are no surprise to God and the well-message of Christ has a way of putting together all the pieces of life, so they fit perfectly to create a vivid picture of what He wants our lives to accomplish.
Examples of faith teach us that daily walking with God is possible. Abraham and Noah show us that maturity and perfection are possible, while the paradox of being pleasing to God and not feeling we have arrived can be true simultaneously, as the teaching of Paul reveals. Trust and obedience to the voice and leading of Christ is essential to honoring God.
More than showing up along neighborhood walks, obstacles are part of life. Dealing with deep hurts, overcoming towering hurdles, and solving financial problems challenge how we live. At times, life is not tidy but messy. We must decide how to deal with difficulties or whether we will deal with them at all, if we will open ourselves to the best way forward or if we take the passive approach and just go along leaving what happens to chance.
How we approach what we face now or have faced in the past does not have to come from a special feeling, a fleeting thought, or selfish ambition. We can choose a different perspective. Alternatively, exalting Christ as King in life and enthroning Him in our hearts orders every aspect of life toward perfection, not the attainment of an impossible standard but the maturity of the life of Christ in us. Yes, it is possible to be mature while at the same time knowing we are not perfect. It sounds like a contradiction, but that is how the apostle Paul could look at himself as one of the mature yet not having attained perfection.
Like a jigsaw puzzle with every piece in its proper place, God is able to restore into a cohesive whole every part that appears out of sync in our lives, whether it is from our past, in the present, or to come in the future. God can even change something that we always thought impossible to change. All the pieces can be put in their rightful place only by our Creator by our waking up and returning to God, making Christ King of every area of life, the good as well as the bad, the right steps as well as the missteps.
How the term “good news” was used before Christ was born on earth helps us see everything we go through as threads of a glorious tapestry. A Roman inscription from 9 B.C. containing the Greek word “euaggelion”, translated good news in the Bible, conveys the ordering of the whole of life.
Erasmus in the Textus Receptus, the Greek Interlinear of the Bible, chose to translate the Greek word “euaggelion” as the “well message” of Christ. In the well-message of restored happiness, peace, salvation, and wholeness with Jesus exalted as King, not only do all the puzzle pieces of our lives fit perfectly together, but, to switch metaphors, each of our lives, as a finely tuned instrument, produces the perfect, unique sound God desires for the symphony of His Son’s Messianic reign.
Each obstacle is actually a way forward toward discovering how God wants to orchestrate our lives for His glory and honor, because God intends each and every detail to help us know Him more, if we will only respond to what is happening and has happened by coming to Him and opening ourselves to walk with Him through the shattered pieces of our lives. God desires each of us to walk habitually with Christ, participating in His divine nature through His great promises to us.
Enoch walked habitually with God and God took Him, having received the testimony that he was pleasing to God. Elijah was taken up into heaven after he fulfilled the divine appointments God had ordained for him. Jacob, the son of Isaac, strived with the angel of the Lord and prevailed to receive the name Israel. Each of us walking with God must go through what we must in preparation to see Christ in glory. We must be overcoming in our walk with God. Noah, called perfect in his generation and walking with God, found grace in the eyes of the Lord, saved his family from the waters of the flood, and was used to repopulate the earth.
Jews distinguish between Noah, whom they say was born circumcised, and therefore perfect from birth, and Abraham, who was not called to perfection (or circumcision) until he was 99 years old. Abraham would become perfect by walking with God while Noah did not have to go through the processes of becoming perfected because he was born into the state of perfection. Noah was perfect in his generation, and in this state of relative perfection, he could understand what was coming upon the earth compared to those around him who believed life would always continue, as they had known it.
Now, by God’s infinite wisdom, we have the privilege through Christ to participate in both the perfection of Abraham and Noah, the concept of arriving at the goal of maturity and yet living with the very real need of learning to obey Christ in all things to complete the work He has for us to accomplish on earth.
Abraham, born Abram, received God’s promise to be the father of many nations. God’s word to Abraham, “Walk with me and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1), is also His desire for us today. While Abraham was called the friend of God, Jesus said that if we do what He says, we are His friends.
We today are also like Noah. Since we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light in God’s beloved Son, we can also understand what is coming upon the earth if we continue to walk in the light as Jesus is in the light. We are, in a sense, as perfect as Noah was, not being born perfect but being born of the perfect will of the Father and having been declared righteous on the basis of faith in Christ. We cannot walk according to our will to please God but by the will and grace of Jesus.
Christ makes both the righteousness of Abraham and the righteousness of Noah true of us, who abide in the well-message of Jesus. By faith, He gives a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone, so we can hear His voice and do His will. Our perfection or maturity only becomes real in daily life when we walk with Jesus and respond to His call to trust Him with all the issues of life. Though we humbly understand our shortcomings, we are nonetheless made completely whole by the act of God’s mercy and grace.
I was surprised when the glass on the sidewalk I mentioned in the first paragraph was cleaned up. At times as I get closer to that area of my walk, I have to remind myself just to walk because there’s nothing to worry about; the glass is gone. God has His way of dealing miraculously with messes that may have shrouded our way in the past. He remakes them into part of the process of our knowing Him and by doing so causes us to love Him all the more. We can be fully assured that God intends all that happens or has happened to create positive results for His Kingdom.
Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not need to be afraid. We really have nothing to worry about, for our Good Shepherd guides our steps in His ways of righteousness for His glory, so our lives will bring Him the honor due His name.