The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
What would you name as God’s ultimate creation? Many of you know how I love the stars. If I go down behind the house, the lights from the church street sign and the business next door is shadowed, and I can see a slice of the evening sky in total darkness. If you stay out there long enough allowing your eyes to adjust, more and more stars appear; and when looking through binoculars – the sight is breath-taking: literally billions of stars dot the sky like something out of an astronomy textbook! Are the heavens God’s ultimate creation? Or is it the beauties of our earth: crashing waterfalls, breathtaking summits, or the myriad of unique creatures in the animal kingdom?
Although all these are wonderful creations which shout of their Creator’s existence, God’s ultimate creation is man. Though he cures God, denies His existence, and goes his own way, man is made in the image of God; and only man carries a living soul within his body. (Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.)
At times, this ultimate creation requires the ultimate sacrifice on our part: the death of a loved one. This summer, we witnessed the amazing faith of Dr. and Mrs. Phelps and others in their congregation as they were interviewed by the local press concerning the loss of their son, daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild in a horrific bus accident. Other lives were lost as well, but because of their loss, many souls of God’s ultimate creation were saved.
Just this morning, I heard of another death: a retired missionary in Mexico. After a weeklong visit with her grandchildren, the wife came home to find that her husband had been bound and beaten to death. My first reaction was, “Why, Lord,” especially because he was the brother of my dear mentor who just lost her husband several weeks ago. “It’s too much, Lord,” my heart cried.
How do we square the idea, that God is always good and always does what is best when we face the ultimate sacrifice?
Years ago, while visiting in a nearby neighborhood for our church in Greenville, SC, we finished a newer development and then started walking down a dirt road that led out of the back of the development. We literally crossed over the tracks into what I can only describe as a shanty town: a row of ramshackle houses lined both sides of the road. As we walked up onto the porch of the first place, we were careful to miss the holes in the flooring and knocked on the two-room shack. From inside, we were called to come in. A black man who looked to be as old as time itself spoke to us awhile before he motioned us to the other room. “She’d like to hear what you have to say,” he said.
In the adjoining room lay his wife on a bed. The sheets were gray, and although it was warm outside, the place was stifling because of the wood stove that was burning in the living room. As she beckoned us in, the first thing I noticed was her missing teeth, but then I noticed that both her arms were missing as well. It was one of the hardest visits I ever made, but it was also one of the most rewarding. As we spoke to her, she became the one with the “Good News” that ministered to our spirits. I can still hear her quoting Job 1:21: “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
How can these people “stay the course” in the face of such difficulties? Once again God gives us the answer through His Word and His Spirit working in and through His people. Hannah Whitall Smith states:
“We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut (a very large, heavy truck) to crush us or a chariot of God in which to ride to heights of victory. It all depends on how we take things – whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.” (God is Enough, October 2)
The ache is still there, the vacant place still haunts us, and there are times of defeat and discouragement; but our anchor WILL hold if we don’t let go of the chain!