We say God’s taking care of that. Do we believe it?


 

“Yes, something terrible had happened. But God was taking care of that. It wasn’t her concern now. What mattered now was that she had been loved. That she was loved. That she had been called to love.”

 

     from “Thunder of Heaven (The Heaven Trilogy Book 3)” by Ted Dekker

Whether you believe God is in literal control of every little thing thing –
or, like me, believe that God is in ultimate control – but still allows us to screw up all on our own – we all have to deal with the issue of whether or not we believe that God is really taking care of “it” – whatever “it” is.

This question’s a lot harder than it might seem.

Let’s start with just the first three sentences in the quote at the top –

“Yes, something terrible had happened. But God was taking care of that. It wasn’t her concern now.”

I used to have a sign in my office that said –

“Good morning …
this is God…

Today I’ll be handling all your problems.
I won’t need your help.

So relax and leave everything to me.”

I wish putting up the sign was all it took to make that really happen.

So often, it seemed like God just wasn’t doing His part.

I also had a bigger sign hanging from the ceiling – from Nike.  It has their slogan from that time –

Just do it …

When God didn’t do His job – then the Nike sign was for me.

There’s another sign that you’ve probably seen before – this one in car repair businesses.
In some ways, it’s kind of like the first sign about God taking care of “it”.

LABOR RATES PER HOUR

Normal Labor rate$ 45.00
If you watch us$ 55.00
If you give us advice$ 65.00
If you help or assist us$ 85.00
If you worked on it before$105.00

Do you see a problem here?

Let’s add a couple examples from the Bible.  
Specifically from Peter – a man who was so much like most of us.
A man who often went into action before engaging his brain.

First – this from Mark –

Jesus Predicts His Death

8:31—9:1 pp — Mt 16:21-28; Lk 9:22-27

Mk 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
Mk 8:33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Second – this from John –

Jesus Arrested

18:3-11 pp — Mt 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-50; Lk 22:47-53

Jn 18:1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.
Jn 18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jn 18:4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
Jn 18:5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Jn 18:7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jn 18:8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
Jn 18:10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
Jn 18:11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Now, let me restate what I said earlier about Peter not engaging his brain first.
Not that he really did engage his brain – but the bigger issue is whether he engaged with what Jesus had been teaching them.

In the first example – Jesus tells Peter that he’s not thinking about the things of God.  
Rather – Peter’s concerned with the things of the world.
Peter is thinking about the little things, short term things – rather the the big picture and eternal things.

In the second example – we see the same thing.
When He said – “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” – 
Jesus is again telling Peter that his focus is in the wrong place – on the wrong thing.
Again – Jesus is saying Peter’s thinking about the little things, short term things – rather the the big picture and eternal things.

Where are our minds?

Are we any different?

Let’s look at the mechanic’s sign first.

When we take our car to a mechanic – obviously, we believe something’s wrong with the car.  

One question then is whether we’re going to a mechanic just to get the car running again, or are we concerned about whether it will still last for some number of years.
Are we concerned with the immediate or short term problem – or are we concerned with something more long term?
It’s like – can we literally afford to do nothing other than get it running again – are we going to replace it soon anyway – or are we planning on replacing it some years from now?

Another question would be why are we taking it to a mechanic?
Presumably, it’s because we can’t take care of it ourselves.  Years ago, when I had a motorcycle and a much simpler car – there were all sorts of things I could repair myself.  Not anymore.  For one thing, I’m too worried about other people to ride a motorcycle – but even if I still had one, I’m sure it’s much more complicated now   For another – when I open up the hood and look at the engine in my car – I wouldn’t dream of working on it.  I don’t have a clue what half that stuff is.  So I’d definitely be going to a mechanic.

So we need to look at these two things and decide what to do.  
Depending on the answer to the first question – we’d decide how much it’s worth paying to get the car fixed.
The second one though – once we’ve decided we need to take it to a mechanic – why would we even want to give advice or help?  Before we went to the mechanic – if we worked on the car, was it reasonable to even try – or was that an example of acting before putting our brains in gear?  If we want to watch, because we don’t trust the mechanic – maybe we should have gone someplace else.  It seems like – in most cases – the only reasonable choice would have been to take the car to a mechanic we trust – don’t help (they don’t need it), don’t give advice (if they’re good enough to take your car there, they don’t need your advice either), don’t watch (what’s the point – it’s not like we’re going to learn how to repair it just from watching).

Now – let’s look at the Nike sign.

So I had the Nike sign – just do it.  For me.

But I also had the sign about God’s going to take care of things and He doesn’t need my help.

Sound familiar?

Obviously, most of what goes on at work, we need to “do it”.  If we’re not qualified to do the job – we don’t belong there.

However – things happen.  “Terrible” things happen.  and then we turn to God.
I even had that sign reminding me that He was there – and when that kind of thing comes up – He’s got it.

But did I always remember that?

No.  

Like me – we’re all just like Peter.  
Act first.
Engage brain later.
Be reminded that God’s got it.
Be reminded that we already knew that – but forgot to remember.
Pay a higher price for whatever happened – because we got involved when we didn’t need to.

Going back to the quote –

“Yes, something terrible had happened. But God was taking care of that. It wasn’t her concern now.”

As Christians we claim to believe that God will take care of things. Let’s ignore the simple things for this topic.  Let’s focus on the terrible things.
When it comes to those terrible things – we use words like “lifting them up to the Lord”.
And then we proceed to worry about them – or do something about them.
And then we cut off someone’s ear –
or say / do something that would be 180 degrees opposite of what God’s trying to do – 
or tell someone else to do something that makes God’s task harder –
cause something to happen that has unintended consequences –
Etc.

Some will disagree with me on that last paragraph.  
Some will claim that God’s literally in control of everything.
Some will claim that God makes us – or someone else – do things that are / certainly appear to be evil.
I simply cannot accept that – I cannot believe that God causes evil.
I do however believe that He loves us so much – and wants us to freely love Him – that He does allow us to do stupid things – evil things – things where we act before engaging our brains or having even the slightest thought about Him..
I also believe that He’s right there at that same time – trying to get us to love Him – and He’s more than ready to welcome us back as soon as we do.

Love

And that gets us to the last part of the quote –

“What mattered now was that she had been loved. That she was loved. That she had been called to love.”

Like the character in the book – the important thing, even when terrible things happen – is to remember that we are loved – by God.
Maybe, rather than even, it should be especially when terrible things happen.

Remembering that God loves us – 
that should be our key to engage our brains –
to think in terms of God’s plans – rather than ours –
to think in terms of eternity – rather than the next 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days, Etc.

And don’t forget that last part either – that not only are we loved by God – but that He also wants us to love others.

The word “love” appears 51 times in the NIV Gospels.  Here are the last three of them –

Jesus Reinstates Peter

Jn 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Jn 21:16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
Jn 21:17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Notice the progression for each of the times Jesus asks Peter “do you love me?”

  1. Feed my lambs
  2. Take care of my sheep
  3. Feed my sheep
  4. Follow me

Let’s go back to the original Greek words to see what Jesus meant at the time –

  1. Feed – 1 to feed. 1A  portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church. 1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
  2. Take care of – (this is actually one Greek word that translates into our English phrase) – 1 to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep. 1A to rule, govern. 1A1 of rulers. 1A2 to furnish pasture for food. 1A3 to nourish. 1A4 to cherish one’s body, to serve the body. 1A5 to supply the requisites for the soul’s need. 2)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
  3. Feed – same definition as item 1 – 1 to feed. 1A  portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church. 3)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
  4. Follow me – 1 to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him. 2 to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple. 2A side with his party. 4)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

So, what does it all mean?
Given that we start with something simple like “feed” – and end up with something quite complex like “follow” – there seems to be a progression in order here.

The word lamb appears four times:  2 for the Passover Lamb and 2 for Jesus, as the Lamb of God.

The word lamb appears only twice.  
The second one is the instance we’re looking at here.
The first one is this – 

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-two

10:4-12 pp — Lk 9:3-5
10:13-15, 21, 22 pp — Mt 11:21-23, 25-27
10:23, 24 pp — Mt 13:16, 17

Lk 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”

Let’s look at the sequence again – what it could mean –

  1. Feed my lambs – 
    feed the ones who being sent out to preach the Word of God – the good news – the Gospel.  Remember when Jesus responded to temptation by the devil with these words:
    Lk 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’’”
    So these lambs need both physical and spiritual “food”.
  2. Take care of my sheep – 
    tend to the basic needs of Jesus’ flock – the people who know His voice.  Protect them.  As in when Jesus said these words:

    Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
  3. Feed my sheep – 
    feed the ones who have not gone out yet.  Remember when Jesus responded to temptation by the devil with these words:
    Lk 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’’”
    So these lambs received shelter – both physical and spiritual above.  They would also have received physical food – and some level of spiritual “food”.  Now they’re ready, as both Paul and Peter called it – for meat instead of milk –

    1Pe 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
  4. Follow me – 
    Join Jesus.  Since Jesus ascended to Heaven – leaving the earth – that leaves it to us to spread His message.  
    And now we see – we’ve gone full circle.

    1. Jesus sent out some of His followers.
    2. The followers take care of His sheep. Newer Christians.
    3. The followers help the sheep (newer Christians) grow in their faith, belief, Etc – growing from milk to meat.
    4. Those sheep (newer Christians) become followers.  
      Who will then step up / out and proceed from item 1.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

Yes.  Interestingly enough, if we look at details of “Malsow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see here if you’re not familiar with it) – they line up quite nicely.

  • Physical food, shelter and safety are the basics.  They are the bottom two layers of Maslow’s pyramid.
  • For Christians, spiritual food and shelter are also basic.  For Christians – this adds the next level of Maslow’s hierarchy – Belonging and Love.
    We see these met in items 2 and 3.
  • By the time we get to item 4, the next level is added – Self-Esteem.  But for the Christian – it’s not self-esteem of ourselves – if self-esteem that we have through Jesus.  His self-esteem, which is far greater than anything we could get by ourselves.
  • Which takes us to item 1 – which is both the starting point (for the original followers) and our goal today.  That takes us to the very top of Maslow’s hierarchy – self actualization / fulfillment. 
    “Fulfillment”.  Not my word – the one from the article.
    If that sounds familiar – hopefully it’s because of these words from Jesus – especially since we just looked at them a few paragraphs above:

    Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Wow – how did I get here? 
Not at all what I would have thought.
And yet – here we are…

About two thousand years ago – Jesus, a Jew who is the namesake of Christianity said that He came so that His followers may have life to the full.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow – also Jewish – published his paper that included the hierarchy of needs.  He said of Sigmund Freud – It is as if Freud supplied us the sick half of psychology and we must now fill it out with the healthy half. 5)Toward a psychology of being, 1968  Maslow thought psychology needed to fill out the healthy half – and it should come from spirituality.
I wonder – since he was Jewish – was Maslow even aware of the words from Jesus.
Whether he was or wasn’t – 
Maslow’s pyramid and Jesus statement about why He came end up with the same conclusion – us having life to the full.

Conclusion

“Yes, something terrible had happened. But God was taking care of that. It wasn’t her concern now. …” 

When something terrible happens, as Christians, we claim to believe that God will “take care of it”.  
Sometimes that means totally supernaturally – but often it means – as we saw – using one (or more) of us, His followers.

We need to remember that we believe God will take care of it – in whatever manner He chooses.
Because we have a job to do.  
We promised to follow Him.
And part of that promise includes helping – loving – others.

If we’re so busy focusing on the horrible thing that happened,
rather than on loving the people involved and maybe even playing a part in bringing about God’s plan for “taking care of it” –
then we’re never going to get to the loving / being part of the solution parts.
No – we’re going to be in the initial “Peter” mode, before he turned back to Jesus / before he was reinstated – saying the wrong things – doing the wrong things – being part of the problem – making things worse.

Fortunately – when we do remember our role, when we can finally accept that God really can / will take care of this terrible thing
(in His way, not necessarily our way)
He’s right there to bring us into our part and supporting us in playing the role He had for us all along.

“Good morning …
this is God…

Today I’ll be handling all your problems.
I won’t need your help.

So relax and leave everything to me.”

He will take care of our problems – usually by using someone else to help us.

He also will call on us to help take care of other people’s problems – helping us along the way.

Either way – relax and enjoy His presence.
Because that’s life to the full!  Being with Him.

“… What mattered now was that she had been loved. That she was loved. That she had been called to love.”

 And that love – from God – doesn’t mean doing what we want.  That’s not life to the full.

That love is doing what He wants – life to the full.

And life for eternity – with Him.

There’s nothing better.

References   [ + ]

1, 3. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
2, 4. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
5. Toward a psychology of being, 1968

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