God’s Redeeming power

In the promotional blitz for her biographical movie, Soul Surfer, I watched a Beth Hamilton interview where she recounted how a few months into 2003, she and her mum were praying for Gods direction for her life, and to be used by Him, not too long after, on an otherwise typical day in the life of the 13 year old surfer, a shark bites off her arm-How s that for answered prayers for direction!

In the wake of the accident, it looked like her passion for life and her main passion in life-surfing were over. Having listened to her testimony, I try to imagine how I would have reacted, I would probably have thought that my life was over, my soul would probably have felt as deformed as her missing arm, as Jesus cried on the cross, I would have gone – My Father, My Father, why hast thou forsaken men ( I would have said it that way, in ‘King James’ english, as if to get through to God faster). I would have come round eventually and declared Romans 8:28, and concluded that God meant it for good but I am pretty sure I would have seriously questioned what good could come out from that.
So I am  inspired by Bethany, who when she was asked 5 years later if she would trade the attack, to have her life and arm back, said no. She said, if she had 2 arms she probably would have turned away from God, and been living a life that was not worth living (i.e. without Christ).

Her testimony reminds me that sometimes God let’s things happen to us (not in a sadistic or vindictive because God is love-1 John 4:8); to help us keep our perspectives right. God does not cause our pain, according to the bible ‘God doesn’t tempt anyone, He is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way, the temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us through the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lusts; and lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin!’ (James 1:13-15 the MSG).
Biblically, the word lust didn’t always have negative connotations, it could mean a strong desire or a craving; sometimes the desires are not wrong, for instance Beth desire to surf was by no means evil but because we live in a fallen world, bad things do happen, some people get into car crashes on the way from bible study, missionaries get killed in the course of preaching God’s word. Bad things happen and we ask why we suffer and feel pain even while doing God’s will, and  I am reminded of Jesus, d ultimate implementer of God’s will who also suffered immeasurably to accomplish that.

Our greatest assurance through all suffering is that God loves us beyond measure, so much so that He knows and numbered each strand of our hair (Matt 10:30), that nothing catches Him by surprise, and that He does in ALL things work for our good,   according to the bible  ‘He knows us far better than we know ourselves… That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good’ (Romans 8:27-28, the MSG).

We shouldn’t always run away from pain, I like the saying that God speaks loudest in our pain, it’s not always the most comfortable place but pain can really be God’s gramophone. Sometimes like Joseph, the pain is the pathway to the podium(I use that figuratively); sometimes the most important lesson we learn in our pain is that we cannot do life by ourselves, that we were created to give God glory, and we learn to give Him credit for our deliverance and success. In the aftermath of pain, we can realize that God saved us for a reason and are more eager to work with Him to bring that to fruition. Lecrae puts it aptly (as usual:-) in the song, Background, where he prays that he won’t succeed by himself and learn to trust in himself rather than in God, because the path of self help ultimately leads to despondence.
Beth realizes that without the shark attack, she probably would be just another surfer, but the accident has given her a platform like none other, because of the accident and more importantly her unceasing faith, God has opened doors for her, made her a global witness for Him. She has inspired countless others so much so that Hollywood came calling and ultimately did a biopic of her and she’s only 21 years old.

The greatest example of God’s redeeming love surely is Jesus, in one of my favourite and oft quoted verses of scripture we are encouraged to keep our eyes on Jesus who endured the cross, scorning its shame, and  as a result of that is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God ( Hebrews 12:2). Philippians 2 records of Jesus that although He had equal status with God He didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave; an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion and because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honoured him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honour of God the Father. (Verses 5-11 paraphrased, MSG).

 I pray that you are encouraged to trust in Gods redeeming power, that we learn to lean on Him when the difficult times come, hear the message in our messes and that after the pain, once dawn breaks, and we are in the delight-some place(I love that phrase from Malachi 3:12) we rely even more on Him and recognize that every good, desirable and perfect gift comes from Him and Him alone (James 1:18), that He is the owner and author of all that is good in us and that He gifts us so we can do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he makes—taking us  from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. (1 peter 2:9-10, The MSG).
Shalom fam

 Postscript

I hope you go see the soul surfer when it’s showing in your area; No, I am not getting paid to market the movie but I think it has a positive and uplifting message, that will inspire you to look beyond your present pain and trust in God’s redeeming power.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Hajel
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 22:31:06

    Oh wow! As I read your post, I felt wave after wave of joy flow over me. I am reminded of God’s love, of His mercy, that my pain is not meaningless and that it serves a purpose! Thanks for that Ramblinggoose! You have such depth, such an understanding of the Word and its application to everyday life. I look forward to reading more and more from you! I believe the Lord will do great things in and through you and this blog!

    Reply

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