Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Inevitability of God

It never fails. Sheep wander away. That's what sheep do. They're rather predictable that way. Fortunately for them, they often don't have the final say as to whether they remain lost or not. A determined and decisive Shepherd may just decide to go find them, and is wholly undeterred by their pathetic nature as sheep. He knows they're sheep. He knows their nature, and it doesn't phase him in the least. He WILL find his lost sheep. It's really rather inevitable.

For this reason it is so very appropriate that God is likened to a Shepherd in several places of Holy Scripture, and we likened to his "sheep." Many wander off that fall into traps of their own making. However, for reasons which seem good to Him, God will select some "sheep" to hunt down, seek out, track and rescue even in spite of themselves. There is no way to predict it. God is his own person and often plays things rather close to the vest. In fact, among the more meaningless exercises is to busy one's self with speculations about why he chose to rescue THIS "sheep" but not THAT one. That is why I often say, "for reasons which seem good to him..." to preface something he apparently has done or is up to. But in any event, when he decides to track down and rescue a "sheep" that has wandered astray, there simply is no stopping him, avoiding him or resisting him. He is the preeminently inevitable force that cannot be deterred, redirected or stifled.

God can be likened to a freight train with a mile long link of connected boxcars. There is simply no stopping it. To try would be the height of folly. Only this "train" is not going to run you over, per se. It's going to pick you up and carry you to a land of blessing you didn't expect, and didn't even think to ask for. I suppose that inevitability applies as a destructive force for those rebelling against God and filling the world with evil, but his preferred role has always been that of a Redeemer who swoops in to rescue people from destruction. Any time he has announced pending judgment in the Bible it was always to offer people time to turn away from their destructive practices and avoid harm. It seems God prefers to be the "rescue train" that comes barreling down the tracks with no signs of slowing.

I have experienced God's inevitability many times in my life. Each time I have been rescued by his unstoppable force it has always left me humbled that I seemingly was never out of his mind even as I was trying to push him out of mine. I had a very distinct experience in the Navy when I thought I was "far from God," only to soon find that train coming down the tracks toward me. "He found me!" I remember thinking to myself, "How did he know where I was? I mean EXACTLY where I was?" Such thoughts speak to the inevitable nature of God's rescuing instincts as a Good Shepherd. In like manner I have had friends that, having been rescued by God after having wandered away said, "I see now that he was never going to leave me where I was. He saved me in spite of myself." Their thoughts reflect how all that are rescued from truly hopeless situations feel: that God was the rescuer who, by his own will and drawing on his own resources, saved the day all on his own. His love as a Good Shepherd, his determination as a tracker and rescuer, was simply inevitable. When we realize it, we kneel in quiet thankfulness that he is the way he is, regardless of how "sheep" are.

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