Seeing the Redeemer Through the Rain

by Vicki Johnson

Have you ever wondered about those people? You know, the ones who seem to get the blessing all the while they’re complaining and grumbling? I was thinking about this as I was doing housework on a rainy day. The verse from Matthew 5:45 that says,  “…He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous.” Sun and rain, in their seasons are blessings. Some blessings, in various forms, are given to all simply because our good God has prescribed it. But sun and rain out of season can cause grief and pain. So, my thoughts, as they tend to do, wandered and paused on a book from the Old Testament: Job. If it EVER rained torrentially or scorched a person to the bone, it was Job.

Job was described as blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil and the greatest of all the men of the east. What a guy. He had numerous sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. A host of servants.  Ten children whom he loved and prayed for continually. And one wife.

This blameless man was chosen to prove that God was worthy to be worshipped, even if all earthly blessings were stripped away. So it began. One by one, all he possessed and loved were taken away, eventually, even his health. Except for his wife.

Mrs. Job has only one thing to say to her hubby and she muffed it. “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” This woman, the mother of his children, also benefitted from Job’s wealth and prestige as his wife. But she also suffered the loss of her children as well as the rest of their earthly riches. Sun and rain for both.

Integrity is easy to hold on to when life’s good. It’s the testing of integrity that determines how deeply it goes. Though Job struggles to understand why he is suffering at every turn, yet he clings to the one absolute truth that keeps him drawing breath, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God;” (Job 19:25-26) Job, because he is a righteous man, came to a point of humility saying, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)

Job’s intense suffering comes to an end. God restores his fortune twice fold. He father’s 10 children: seven boys and three beautiful girls. He lives another 140 years, seeing his sons and grandsons. No mention of a new wife, so Mrs. Job partakes of the restored blessing also. But, where is her proclamation of faith and confession? Her life had its ups and downs; sunshine and rain. But how did she fare in her relationship with the Lord? Her terse comment to her boil-ridden husband is the last we ever hear of her. Truly a sad and faithless epitaph to have on one’s gravestone.

On the other hand, Job’s righteous testimony and tenacious trust in God has stood the test of time and served as a beacon of hope to countless generations.  He understood that the sunshine and rain would cease; his security is founded on neither.  No, Job’s true hope and joy was anchored in the Lord of Life, his Redeemer through the rain.

Child Like Trust

By Vicki Johnson

Oh, to be a child again!

A daily desire for some; a repulsive concept for others. As a child, I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to grow up and be an adult so I could do my own thing and be my own boss. The adult world always seemed ideal, as I peered through childish eyes.

The tables have turned and now my spectacled vision regards my childhood days with envious longing. Those days are history,yet, my Lord draws me back to re-live them in light of eternity.

In Matthew 18, verse 1 the disciples ask Jesus a question they had been mulling over for some time.   “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” they ask.  In essence, who is greater, larger, elder, and stronger? I get the idea the question was asked with a supposed answer in mind. They simply wanted Jesus to confirm their assumptions. But, Jesus’ response would correct their focus from worldly perceptions to heavenly insights.

“ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 2-4 (ESV)

Jesus gave the answer nobody wanted to hear. That happens to me so often.  I ask Him a question after I have worked on the possible answer just to have Jesus come at my pre-conceptions from a totally different approach. Not fair, Jesus! I wasn’t ready for that one. He is the ultimate game changer.

So, who is greater, larger, elder and stronger in the Kingdom of Heaven? A child. A little one. The one who must look up to find her answers. One who must trust for strength from above to lift her higher than she could go herself. It is the child who asks for guidance at each turn and step of the way. A child doesn’t disguise fear, loneliness, and anger. She knows that fear is changed to courage, loneliness to belonging, anger to peace when she comes to her Father’s throne of Grace. She knows that she isn’t the Beginning and the End of all things, but she is a part of the One who Is, and that’s alright with her. Her response to Grace is uninhibited joy, wonder, and praise for the Grace Giver.

Mature faith is child-like trust. The kingdom of heaven is made of this.

The Freefall of Jesus

By Vicki Johnson

“One more step, Michael. When you’re ready, let go. I’m here. I’ll catch you.”

My husband, David, who was speaking at a summer camp, got our 6 year old to help him in a visual aid during his message. The plan was for Michael to climb up a 6’ ladder, one rung at a time, and freefall backward into his daddy’s arms. As Michael advanced to the next height, he could hear his dad’s voice behind him encouraging him to “let go” and trust. For a short time, Michael couldn’t see or hear David, but he knew what the plan was. Don’t goof off, get silly, or switch things up and there would be a happy ending. Michael was obedient and held true to the plan. His confidence in David’s trustworthiness was a wonderful example.

It’s been a long time since I thought of this story.

Three things stand out to me:

  1. Michael and David knew the plan from the beginning.
  2. Michael took the steps needed to fulfill the plan.
  3. Michael finished the plan, relinquishing all control for the final outcome to David.

When the world began, a Father and a Son knew a plan. The Son took the steps needed to fulfill the plan. The Son finished the plan, relinquishing all control for the final outcome to His Father. Jesus Christ, fully divine and fully human, came into this sin-sick world and lived a life of perfect trust in His Heavenly Father. There was never a time when Jesus would be out of fellowship with his Dad, except for the cross. On the cross, Jesus would need to experience that devastating sin-separation from the Father. There was no other way for the plan to be completed.

Jesus, nailed to a cross, is raised up for all to see. The sun is obscured. He cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He has been abandoned; left alone. Then John writes in chapter 19 verse 28, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, ‘I am thirsty.’” The price is paid. The plan is complete. His parched lips are wet with sour wine and he affirms, “It is finished!”

With one last act of trust Jesus,”… crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.” (Luke 23:46) Jesus freefell into the gracious hands of God. May I live each day in that way.

My Heavenly Father knows the plan; I can trust Him with my life.

My Savior lived a life of trust in God, the Father, to the point of death; I can also, in Jesus’ strength.

The best outcome is when I relinquish control and allow God to work in me and through me to accomplish His plan, to His praise and glory.

My Days

By Vicki Johnson

Ps 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

My days. Those empty little boxes on every calendar I see. A plan yet to be executed. An anniversary yet to be celebrated. A debt yet to be paid. A time yet to be prepared. I look to the calendar to remind me which numbered day I’m on and I function according to the agenda of that 24 hour period of time. Sleep. Wake. Dress. Eat. Read. Work. Play. And on it goes.

So what? A day in the life. My life? Is it my life? Or does my life belong to Him, the one who rescued me from darkness and transferred me to the kingdom of His beloved Son? My life is not my own.  I have been bought with a price. I forget that so often. I play in the kingdom of Light and reside in His grace and mercy. Day after day. His days of grace.

So, how will I number my days this year? They are mine. God has given me my days. They ebb and flow with other’s days, but still uniquely belong to me. He has placed them in my control; entrusted their usefulness and purpose to me, and me alone. Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon defines “number” as: to count, reckon, number, assign, tell, appoint, or prepare.

This year:

May I be faithful to count my days as a treasure, summed up in God’s mercy and grace.

May I reckon the time spent on tasks and projects as an offering to give Him praise and glory.

May I number the seconds, minutes, hours, and days as a singular gift. To be present in the present.

May I deliberately assign a purpose to my time so that it will bear fruit that is pleasing to God.

May I tell the worldly pilferers of time to clear out and my frantic heart to rest in His Presence.

May I appoint each day to work for the King of Kings, to be about His business.

May I prepare each day to formulate ways in which I learn and apply God’s wisdom in my life to glorify my Father in Heaven.

Psalm 90:14-17 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.  Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, {And} the years we have seen evil.  Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children.  Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

God has given us purpose for our days, purpose with our praise and purpose in our ways.