If you are having a grand day, rejoice in it and thank God for the blessing. If you are watching the news and finding it hard to be at peace about the state of the world, be comforted. World events do indeed seem to be spiraling out of control, toward one disaster and another. But no matter what horrendous things we do to each other and our planet, God keeps making His next move, inevitably bringing about the progress He wishes toward the result He has planned since before time began.
A look at Genesis 1-12 shows this in vivid, worldwide action. In Genesis 1, God creates a gorgeous, perfect garden planet and gives it to our parents, Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3, they decide not to follow His instructions and make a huge mess of everything, for all of us, for a very long time. Things deteriorate quickly, even while our family gets bigger and spreads out.
By Genesis 6, when surely people were feeling that world events were spiraling out of control, God is ready to make His next move. He chooses Noah and family, gives odd instructions about a boat which Noah obeys, and washes the planet clean. Our family, suddenly only eight people, grows bigger again, but refuses to spread out even though God specifically tells them to fill the earth. Instead they decide to build a skyscraper and make a name for themselves, abandoning any pretense of following God.
In Genesis 11 God takes care of the skyscraper project by confusing their language. This has the effect also of making them scatter across the earth, just like He had told them to do. Scurry, hurry, fret and worry, dream your scheme and man your plan…nevertheless God’s sovereign will shall be accomplished.
Abram (who will be Abraham) shows up at the end of Genesis 11, minding his own business. God taps him on the shoulder and changes the world again. This time He chooses a family to be His chosen people, to receive His special blessing and provision, to be for the rest of the world a picture of what it looks like to live in obedience and receive the resulting abundant blessings. God makes gigantic promises to Abram: to make him a great nation, to make his name great and to make him a blessing to all peoples on earth. He promises him innumerable descendents and a huge expanse of prime real estate. Abram sees very little of all this come to fruition in his lifetime, but God is still making it happen, even today.
If you continue reading Abram/Abraham’s story through Genesis 21, you’ll wonder what God was thinking. Abram lies, sleeps with his wife’s slave and then banishes her and his illegitimate son to the desert, negotiates with God about sparing Sodom and Gomorrah, and lies some more. Admittedly, those are the lowlights. He also does some great things, the most important of which is: “Abram believed Yahweh, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Two millennia later James adds, “and he was called a friend of God.” This is really good news for us. We all accumulate our own “lowlights,” but if we believe Yahweh, He will also credit it to us as righteousness, and call us His friends.
Abraham does grow in his ability to live rightly and well. Genesis chapter 22, the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, paints a picture of Abraham as a man totally devoted, completely trusting the God with whom he has walked for so many years. God knew, of course, what decisions Abram/Abraham would make, and that his true faith would outlast his foolishness. God kept making the next move, moving His plan along despite His chosen instrument’s bad decisions, weaknesses and sins. He keeps on today, putting into place this piece and that person, moving our world inexorably toward the fulfillment of His wondrous plans for us. I am so grateful that my errors and my disobedience cannot throw a wrench in the works, and that even the most powerful modern-day villain has no chance of derailing God’s plan for a moment.
The evening news is bad, but I’ve read the end of the Book. God’s perfect will shall prevail, just as it did in Abraham’s day. He will set everything right. All will be transformed and perfected beyond our wildest imagination. He will keep each and every one of His glorious promises. I will take a deep breath and rest in that truth.