A further very important reason to connect strongly with ‘who God is’ as well as to ‘what He does’, is because we want our friendship with Him to stay strong when He doesn’t ‘do’ what we think He should, or what we want Him too. God is always who He says He is, there is no shadow of turning with our God, He is utterly true to Himself, and to His character, but He isn’t always predictable. C.S. Lewis captured this aspect of our God in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Mr Beaver, when asked if Aslan the Lion (who represents Jesus) is ‘safe’ answers, “’course he isn’t safe. But He is good”. God isn’t predictable but He is consistently ‘good’ in His dealings with us.
I believe John the Baptist found this ‘unpredictability’ difficult to cope with when, after pouring out his young life in ministry to ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’, he finds himself in prison. Probably knowing that his days, humanly speaking, were numbered, he sends some of his disciples to Jesus with a question, “Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?” Code, I think for, “Hey don’t forget me, I’ve made a way for you, now if you are the Messiah surely you will get me out of here?”
Jesus reply is very interesting, He says “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up…. And blessed is he who does not take offence at Me”. Matthew 11:2-6 NAS. Jesus at the start of His ministry had quoted Isaiah 61:1,2, as His Messianic remit. This includes the words “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners” Luke 4:18, but in His reply to John He has left out the part about setting prisoners free. He then says, in effect, “don’t be offended with Me John, if I don’t ‘do it’ the way you think I should”. May be John remembered, at that point, some other words from Isaiah when God said to His people, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways….. My ways are higher than your ways.” Isaiah 55:8
Perhaps he also had Job’s words ringing in his heart “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust in Him”, Job 13:15 and “Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I will see God”. Job 19:26 AV. If we concentrate our faith on what God does, we may be limiting our perspective to this world, and the outcome that we want here on earth, but God sees everything very clearly in the light of eternity. Jesus in fact made it clear, to any who could hear, that John had done nothing wrong and that He wasn’t just abandoning him, by saying about John, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John”, Matthew 11:11. There was clearly great reward awaiting John in heaven.
Yesterday, we were looking to personalise those aspects of God’s character that are revealed to us in His names, and so it is important, that we see that they represent ‘who God is for us’, and that we don’t lock it in hard to what He does for us in specific situations. I suspect that we have all had people die, for whom we have fervently prayed, or maybe we have had doors shut in our face that we prayed would stay open. This is why like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we have to rest our faith in who He is and not simply on what He does for us.
These three men knew that God was their Deliverer. They were so sure of who He was for them that they were able to say to King Nebuchadnezzar, “ the God we serve is able to save us from it (the blazing furnace)….. but even if He does not we will not serve your Gods”. The deliverance for them did come, but at a very late point, after they were put into the blazing furnace. Perhaps their faith wavered as they were thrown in, but I’m thinking that their thanks and praise didn’t stop and, had they been taken to heaven at that time, they would have had a glorious reception. When we read of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, we have a glorious list of those who have seen the miracles of God in their life time, but then in the last few verses, from verse 35 on, we see the heroes, the martyrs, those who ‘died’ in faith, and they too knew who their God was.
This may seem a little dramatic for what I hope is an encouraging blog, but my point is simple. We need to keep thanking God for who He is for us, particularly in those times when He doesn’t seem to be ‘doing’ what we think He should. It’s our relationship with Him that matters, and that will last through the whole of eternity. What He does for us here on earth is wonderful and we love it, but it is only the foretaste of what is to come. Miracles, deliverences, healings and provisions will all come to an end, they won’t be needed in heaven, but our relationship with the Lord will last forever and ever and ever.
I want to see the miracles and the moving of God, ‘the goodness of God in the land of the living’. Psalm 27:13 , but I also want to make sure I am not disappointed when God doesn’t ‘do it’ my way. I want to remember that my life is just a blink of an eye from the perspective of eternity, and join with Paul in saying that any ‘present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us’. Romans 8:18. As we thank Him for who He is, our relationship with Him grows, and it is this relationship that we will enjoy for all eternity. I don’t want any disappointment or disillusionment about things that do or don’t happen for me here on earth, to spoil that in any way.