Episode 1. An Improbable Journey
When things aren’t going all that well in life, the idea that God wants to bless us, that He wants to take us on a journey towards something better, seems somewhere between improbable and …
When things aren’t going all that well in life, the idea that God wants to bless us, that He wants to take us on a journey towards something better, seems somewhere between improbable and impossible. That’s why we need to hear what God has to say on the subject.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of flying – a LOT, and I used to be in Qantas’s top two hundred frequent flyers and they’d send me all these expensive gifts each year at Christmas time. Now jetting around the world from country to country to those who don’t do a lot of it sounds exciting and glamorous but let me tell you the excitement and the glamour wear off after a month or two.
It’s all about taxis and airports and flights and hotels and hard work when you land, hopping time zones, being tired. I mean in the US I’ve flown over the Grand Canyon so many times now and each time I look down and think, “you know I’d really like to be able to stop and check that out”. I never have; its always work.
Back in the days when I was a high priced management and IT consultant most of the time I flew business class and as hard as frequent travelling is, let me tell you, business class makes a huge difference – the seats are wider, there’s more leg room, you can actually get a good night’s sleep on a long flight – but these days in full time ministry I fly economy. Now it helps that I’ve lost a lot of weight, I fit into the seats much more easily these days but it’s pretty hard to get a good night’s sleep on a long haul flight.
I recently came home to Australia from Ghana in Africa via Dubai, Delhi and Singapore, a forty-two hour journey, and it was anything but comfortable. I’m not complaining but here’s my plan. What I’d really like to do is preferably get from point A to point B by the most direct possible route preferably flying business class. That pretty much sums it up and that also sums up our attitude towards life.
Whatever we’re travelling through we want it to be quick and comfortable and direct, would you agree? Life’s full of awkward transitions, from being single to being married, from being married to being single, from being a child to becoming an adult, from being a couple to being a couple with a baby. It doesn’t matter what the situation is there’s always an awkwardness in the transition have you noticed that? And somehow we always seem to be in some transition of some sort.
If only we could just arrive, if only we could get to the other end of what we’re going through, from point A to point B in a straight line preferably in the comfort of business class.
I know this speaks directly into the reality of many a person’s life and maybe you’re travelling through one of those awkward transitions in your life at the moment, a relationship that’s not quite right and you just want to get to the point where it is all right and that’s what we’re kicking off a series of messages today called “There Is Light at the End of the Tunnel”.
If we can get better at travelling through life’s transitions, the change from A to B, from something that’s certain to something that appears uncertain frankly we’re going to have a much better life, we’re going to enjoy life a lot more because I’m going to let you in on a little secret, are you ready? The reality is that life is one big transition.
See we’re always wanting to arrive at the point where everything is going swimmingly well, where everything is absolutely perfect, like one of those picture perfect summer days where the sun is shining, everything’s at peace, the temperature is just right and all is good in our world.
Of course most of us we have some seasons like that in our lives but seasons come and go ceaselessly. It seems to me that most of our lives are about travelling through transitions and instead of just wishing the transition phase was over, instead of wishing today or tomorrow away, I believe with all my heart that God actually wants us to enjoy every minute of every day. En-joy – quite literally to enter into His joy.
There was a time in the history of the nation of Israel when they were about to start going through a major transition and I guess over the coming days I want to explore that time of transition to discover how God handles transition, our transitions in life. Because we’re not travelling this alone you and I, He has a plan and the whole world’s plan, come on, it doesn’t always revolve around us. You and I fit into His picture, a much bigger picture, a much bigger plan and He’s a player in all of this.
When we’re going through transition and we’re feeling uncomfortable and we’re looking forward to something much better you know where our focus normally is? It’s on ourselves; 100% on ourselves. See through these transitions we become all inward looking and self pitying and we do all this whole ‘woe is me’ kind of thing. My friend that’s no way to live our lives, it’s no way for me to live my life and it’s no way for you to live your life.
Israel at the point we’re going to pick up their story, have been exiled in Babylon as slaves for close on seventy years. It was Gods punishment for their unfaithfulness. Now most of the Israelites can’t even remember back to the Promised Land in Jerusalem because they’ve never been there, most of them were born as slaves in captivity. But God is about to take them back to that place, back to the Promised Land; they’re about to go through a major transition.
But change, even good change, is always difficult. Even getting them to believe the good change was even possible was hard. Hey come on, they’d been slaves all their lives most of them, God appears to have failed them even though He hasn’t, that’s not what happened but that’s how they see it and then there was this big Babylonian kingdom, it’s so powerful, it’s so strong.
They’ve been hoping for salvation, they’d been hoping that God would do something, they’d been hoping beyond hope that they would one day, one day come back to their country, that Israel would be restored and God’s promises would be restored but you know, in the face of their present reality, slaves in the most powerful kingdom in the world, that seems somewhere between improbable and impossible, really.
So this is what God says to them through the Prophet Isaiah into this situation and incidentally I believe that this is what God says to anyone today who’s in the same sort of place as the Israelites were back then. Isaiah chapter 51 beginning at verse 1. God says:
Listen to me you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord, look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you for he was but one when I called him but I blessed him and made him many.
For the Lord will comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places and he will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
So what’s God saying? What does it mean to look to the rock from which you were hewn and the quarry from which you were dug? Well God’s pointing back to an impossible promise and an improbable journey that they’ve all heard about. They know it backwards, the promise to Abraham, seventy five years old he was when God promised him a son. His wife Sarah was barren and yet off they went on a twenty-five year journey and he was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was finally born.
God promised him a future, He promised to make him a mighty nation, He promised him the Promised Land and the very nation of Israel, descendants of Abraham and then Isaac were themselves the impossible fulfilment of that impossible promise.
And so God’s saying, look I know it looks impossible, I know your present reality is all that you can see at the moment but look back at what I’ve already done for you, how far I’ve already brought you, look back on the many impossible promises I fulfilled and the many impossible journey’s like Abrahams that I’ve already made happen. This is your heritage, this is your reality, I am that God, I am your God.
Wow talking about standing on the promises of God, come on. Whatever transition you’re travelling through in your life at the moment look back and see how far Gods already brought you, look back at Jesus, at the cross, at the empty tomb, at the grace that Gods already poured out on you, at the many blessings, at the many provisions that He’s already bestowed upon you.
However overwhelming your present circumstance is this is your reality, this is who God is, this is who your God is and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.