Behind the Scenes

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players… -Shakespeare

A brief list of current events contains some pretty disturbing things:

A group of atheists is trying to get the Good News Clubs kicked out of public schools. States are still fighting the Obama administration over gender and bathrooms. The Christians in the Middle East are facing unrelenting persecution, even the women and children. Race relations in the US seem to be getting worse and worse as both sides give in to hatred and bitterness. ISIS continues to attack in different places around the world. And in 19 days, we will have a presidential election in which (unless the Lord intervenes) there can be no *good* outcome.

I have talked with and listened to so many people who are truly terrified of what the coming weeks and months may bring. They are not wrong about the grave concerns they raise – the issues of today are serious and often dreadful. Decency, liberty, morality, freedom, democracy, and peace seem to be drawing their final breaths.

The future seems a fearful thing, indeed, but I wonder how much we are thinking about all of this upside down.

This is not to say we are seeing troubles that do not exist, but rather that we are looking at the troubles the wrong way. Bad things are bad,
and they are probably going to get worse – but we have a surety in all this madness: our God reigns and rules over all.

O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.  -2 Chronicles 20:6

…that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Isaiah 45:6-7

The wickedness and chaos we see around us should not be ignored, but neither should we despair. Yes, things are precarious and the world seems unbalanced, but if things do come crashing down, it will be because God has something new He is building up. He is not passive, he is not asleep. He is at work in everything that is going on in and around us.

Our world really does feel like it is falling apart, but what if it isn’t falling apart? What if, instead, it is falling into place?

Call me crazy, but I look forward (with the oddest feeling of excitement) to finding out what God is going to do next. I know that there is so much more to this world than what I can see with my eyes, I know there is a spiritual battle going on all around us. From studying the Bible and history, I know that when things get hairy it is because God is doing big things behind the scenes.

My friends, Aslan is on the move.

Abortions in the US are at their lowest rate since 1976, abortion clinics are closing across the country. The church in China is growing by leaps and bounds. Untold numbers of Muslims are putting their faith is Jesus Christ. Ethiopia is on fire with the gospel.

Something big is coming. The stage is being set, the cast is being called. I cannot wait until the lights dim and the curtain rises. I feel the anticipation in the air, and it is crackling like distant lightning during an electrical storm – and getting stronger all the time. Do you feel it?

For several months, this hymn has kept coming to mind at the most random moments. When I remember the intense persecution Christians are experiencing around the world, and the amazing things going on with the gospel, and then read these words, I am strengthened, comforted, and overwhelmed.

Amid the fears that oppress our day,
Across the clouds that obscure our way,
One golden truth sheds its shining ray—
Our God is sovereign still.
His holy purpose unchanging stands,
The stars still turn at their Lord’s commands;
He holds the world in His mighty hands—
Our God is sovereign still!
Our God is sovereign still!
Though wars may rise, and though kingdoms fall,
Though ills may threaten, and fears enthrall,
Our God still lives, and He hears our call—
Our God is sovereign still.
Though fierce the fight ’gainst the hosts of wrong,
His Word is sure, and His arm is strong;
The day is His: raise His triumph song—
Our God is sovereign still.
When Christ shall come to receive His own,
When His the kingdom, the pow’r, the throne,
Eternal King He shall reign alone—
Our God is sovereign still.
-Margaret Clarkson, 1966.

Maybe we just need a reminder that God really is in control. Maybe we just need to stop, pull out our Bibles (or scroll down below) and read Isaiah 40.  The chapter is an amazing testimony to the unshakeable sovereignty of God.

Aslan is on the move. The stage is being set, the cast is being called. The anticipation is building. Do you feel it?

Isaiah 40 (ESV)

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.

Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
and because he is strong in power,
not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

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