Saturday, January 09, 2010
Zachary, my brother-in-law, is getting married to Hannah on March 13th. Six days later marks our fifth anniversary—wow! It's hard to believe that our son Joshua turns four this month, and that Lucy and Esther fill our days with hugs and laughter. God has blessed Amanda and me far more than we deserve.
Five years. . .five years filled with dramatic changes, going from single to husband to father. Going from carefree to cost-conscious to mildly concerned about finances. I can no longer drop my life on a whim to go on a road trip; I have to actually plan a vacation (and sometimes wonder if we can actually afford one). But God is so good; He is teaching us to lean on Him, and consistently shows us His grace and presence.
Five years. What will Zack and Hannah’s fifth anniversary look like? Beyond that: what kind of world will my children inherit?
I believe I’m a realist—yes, a realist with his head usually stuck in the sand, but still a realist. And I see that we live in pretty hard times: our country seems more blatantly anti-Christian every day. Our government has become overtly socialist (if it wasn’t apparent before, our current President has made that quite transparent!). The Senate is currently discussing government takeover of health care. Here in Oregon we’re voting on two tax measures that, if passed, will probably do a lot of harm to small businesses, mine included. They may well pass. But you know what? I’m not worried. Our God is big. He is sovereign, and He knows what He’s doing.
I’ve often been struck by this as Amanda and I have read through Judges, the Psalms, and now Daniel. Over and over again, God’s people are given a choice: worship him (and enjoy His blessings) or worship false gods (and suffer the consequences). In Judges, we repeatedly see the same cycle: the people reject God, choosing instead idolatry; God chastens; His people turn back to Him; He delivers them. The faithful Psalmist repeats the same theme: I am oppressed Lord, deliver me! And lo, He does!
Since we would have a hard time claiming that we are as faithful as David (even with all his faults), it's entirely probable that we are in a cycle more like that of the Judges. We have rejected God and as a result are suffering His chastisement. We must repent of our personal and cultural sins and turn again to Him: He is faithful and just to forgive us. And the hard times we live in? They certainly won't go away overnight. We are "in exile" in a very real sense, and can appreciate the Psalmist's words (137:1): "By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept." We don't have to like where we are, but we're here.
We should remember the example of Daniel and his three friends: their perseverance in doing good; their refusal to bend the knee to false gods—their faithfulness—spoke clearly to the rulers of their day. Nebuchadnezzar and Darius both acknowledged that [Daniel's God] "is the living God, enduring forever; His kingdom shall never be destroyed, and His dominion shall be to the end." (Dan. 4:34, 6:26)
Five years: till then and beyond, our task is clear: we are to repent of our idolotries and worship God alone; we are to be diligent and trust Him. It's that simple. In the words of Jeremiah:
Build houses and live in them
Plant gardens and eat their produce.
Take wives and have sons and daughters
Take wives for your sons
And give your daughters in marriage
That they may bear sons and daughters.
Multiply there and do not decrease
But seek the peace of the city
Where I have sent you into exile
And pray to the Lord on its behalf
For in its welfare you will find your welfare.
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