I sit as far back as I can in the row of pews without looking too unsocial. I volunteer at a Vacation Bible School (VBS) each summer and this is the week. This year I’m saved from rigorous planning. All I have to do is show up and work in the nursery. It’s painless really. But this is also a challenging week for me. It’s actually been quite a challenging year but this week…this week is sort of a culmination of it. Last week my husband and a friend pointed me to the story of Joseph. A man who was treated unjustly but who had a God who defended Him in the midst. Though He endured hardship and men meant it for evil, God meant it for good. God used the bad for good…”the saving of many lives.” Joseph, though looking defeated, trusted in a God-intervened victorious life because He chose to see God in it instead of wallowing in the mistreatment and misfortune.
So I sit far back feeling as if my insides are weeping, I brace myself for the kick off of this 2013 VBS. Inside I’m kicking off a season of self-pity.
But the pastor speaks to me. He announces that, much to my surprise, this VBS is based on the life of…Joseph!
God has His ways of intervening doesn’t He?
So I’m immersed this week in the life of Joseph and thinking about the choice. The choice to live, as my good friend encouraged me a couple of weeks ago now, as a victorious child of God or a defeated one.
In Psalm 48, we are encouraged to see God as the defender of Jerusalem, the holy city of the Jews and also our defender and guide forever. Verse three says, “God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.” And verse 13 says, “consider her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.”
This is what the people of Jerusalem did after an enemy attempted to besiege their city. The people of God would inspect the city and praise God for his protection. As one of God’s people, I too can inspect what He is doing in my life and praise Him as He has shown Himself to be my fortress.
In the ruins of your everyday life, are you able to see what is left still standing?
Sometimes a day can be so bad that the only thing you can see still standing is the list of things you were supposed to do. Maybe it’s a messy house. Maybe it’s much much worse because what you see are not things to do but loss. A lost career or dream. Lost health. A lost pregnancy, child, husband, family or friend.
When this happens, perhaps all that is left standing is this:
The Word of God.
But sometimes even our faith in God and His Word can tremble.
As Christians in the US, we are feeling a loss of victory.
There is a sense, in this country at least, that Christians are being defeated. That this is a post-Christian era. That we are dwindling and going by the wayside.
There are people all around me who want me to believe that my faith is ignorant and childish.
The 10:00 news would have me know that this country is spiraling toward the darkness rather than the light.
So I try really hard to see victory…God’s hand renewing things all around me. Sometimes it is hard to see because I’m looking from my own personal standpoint.
Right now there are more Christians than EVER on the face of this earth! Though people are turning away from the faith here in the US, others are turning toward it in remarkable numbers overall in the world.
Everywhere the gospel is proclaimed, it is changing lives.
So…today at VBS…in a little country church in Missouri…a woman who happened to be visiting the US from Beijing attended with her young son. She is not a Christian and wanted to do something cultural so the people she is staying with brought her to this VBS.
The volunteers were feeling discouraged because two fell ill and under 20 kids showed up.
But this Chinese woman took pictures of the happy children learning bible verses and singing. She took pictures of a woman painting props next to a field of soybeans. She wanted so badly to touch the little two year old blond girl I was caring for in the nursery. She would touch her arm and pull away feeling embarrassed at her desire. She shyly explained that she loves children and longs to have more but is only allowed to have one back in China. She looked longingly at the children. She said that there, the children have to work so hard always studying. They are not happy like here. Here they smile and sing songs about their God. The green grass and fields in the heartland of Missouri and these happy children singing songs of their king make her heart ache for something more than the concrete ground and brick sky of Beijing. She senses something here that brings delight to her heart. I wonder if she is really longing for Jesus and His righteousness. Is she getting a taste of it?
Can you sense it?
Perhaps there is more than we see. Maybe there is more potential than we know. Or does Christianity play more of a role or influence than we realize?
Today I saw a foster child learn about Joseph and, more importantly, how God interacted with Joseph in a life that looked so defeated. A life unwanted by family-members and sold away to strangers. A godless China-child’s lips chanted words to an old hymn. There were numerous other children and adults there too–all dedicating three hours this morning x 5 days this week to studying about Jesus on their summer days off.
Today I read multiple blogs on how God is working in the lives of other women. Radical women who are loving their husbands and families well for the glory of God.
Today I saw my husband choose not to be angry when he rightfully should have been.
Today my son chose to forgive his little sister and she forgave him…because they have been forgiven much.
Today I can think of a family who has a daughter with a brain tumor. But they choose to see God’s hand working in their lives. They continue to hope and pray.
Today I’m choosing to believe that God is active in my life even when it doesn’t appear so in some areas.
God is doing things in my little world. If He is doing all of this in one day in my life, I know He’s doing things in yours. Something Is happening here…much more than the dark stuff we tend to readily see.
He is our ever-present defending intervening victorious God.
I wonder what would happen if I…we…would choose to think upon what God IS doing instead of what Christians and or the culture around us aren’t doing.
I wonder what would happen if I would walk this spiritually war-torn area around me and count the fortresses still standing. How could I encourage someone when all they see is the darkness? Who could I tell about God’s defending power? Perhaps they would then be able to see and say too that, “God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.”
Linking up this week with: