The Lord Watches and Listens

For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10–12, NIV)

Do you ever find yourself mulling over the world’s inequities and thinking, if God were really watching and listening he would not let people get by with so much evil? Take heart — God is on the job! In fact, he made us this smart and this strong so that we may endure the troubles of this foreign land. But we are also weak — our emotions can bring us up and down. And with all this going on, Peter still tells us to “love life and see good days” — so it makes sense to ask, are there really any “good days” to see… I mean really? The days feel evil end to end!

To follow Peter’s admonition we must first understand that “good” days are “God” days — and not necessarily “good” as the world measures “good.” For instance, God may send you to take-one-on-the-chin for him today — or he may send you to preach the truth like Stephen… and be stoned in place because of it! These would never be pleasant, but they are under the reasonable aegis of a sovereign God’s goodness; it is just that they do not feel good. But we also experience periods of joy and blessing, and these too are part of the human experience.

But we should never view these ups-and-downs as direct responses to deeds-performed; this is merely the Christian life — this is how it goes with us. We are self-determining creatures and we choose our own paths. But, be they paths of service or paths of destruction, God is watching over us… and he is listening for us… hoping that we will turn to him in prayer. But even when we do, God does not bless us “on-queue.”

To his everlasting praise, however,  God does not punish us on-queue either, that is, God does not respond to every evil incident instantly. But (and this is a huge “but”)… evil-doers shall not get by with their sin… it just feels like it when God does not strike them dead in a timely fashion. But if you read the Bible you will find precious few incidents where God doles out theatrical-type punishments … and this in spite of people performing countless sins — any of which would justify a lightning bolt!

But before you complain further, think about this: What if God punished you before you found him? Hmm. Perhaps his “delay” in punishment is a function of his mercy. After all, God wills that none should perish — and he desires that everyone make right choices continually. But our creaturely free-will guarantees some level of disobedience… and God alone knows which punishment algorithms will optimize creaturely salvation.

The well-adjusted Christian is the one who has come to grips with God's nature — that he does what he wants when he wants and to whomever he wants. Therefore, we do not “steer” him — and he is not bound by humanity’s sense of fairness, justice or timeliness. Indeed, it takes a while to "grow-up" as a Christian — and the phrase “born again” is apt: We are born as spiritual babies, and it takes a while for us to mature. So, what are the signs of maturity? Among others, letting God be God — and having peace amidst the storm.

Is that you? Are you intrinsically at peace when the world crumbles around you? And if not, why not? We Christians enjoy God's continual protection — and we always have his ear! So knowing that we have these benefits, it should be easier for us to avoid evil, to do well and to seek peace. But we are human and he is God… we should expect failure and we should expect trials. But we should not expect him to conform to our ideas of how he should behave before we rest in him.

Both the Scriptures and experience teach that, by and large, God lets us be us. The least we can do is to let Him be Him. And as such, God watches and listens.

(End).  

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