And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
This is the first promise to fallen man. It contains the whole gospel and the essence of the covenant of grace. It has been in great measure fulfilled. The seed of the woman, even our Lord Jesus, was bruised in His heel, and a terrible bruising it was. How terrible will be the final bruising of the serpent’s head! This was virtually done when Jesus took away sin, vanquished death, and broke the power of Satan; but it awaits a still fuller accomplishment at our Lord’s second advent and in the Day of Judgment. To us the promise stands as a prophecy that we shall be afflicted by the powers of evil in our lower nature, and thus bruised in our heel; but we shall triumph in Christ, who sets His foot on the old serpent’s head. Throughout this year we may have to learn the first part of this promise by experience, through the temptations of the devil and the unkindness of the ungodly, who are his seed. They may so bruise us that we may limp with our sore heel; but let us grasp the second part of the text, and we shall not be dismayed. By faith let us rejoice that we shall still reign in Christ Jesus, the woman’s seed.
… that the Mayan calendar did not see coming. I guess we showed them? Now we’re REALLY walking in the dark.
It’s felt like an eternity since I last posted, but so much has come and gone.
For me, this year’s been a huge one, full of major changes and surprises. My very first year of life, 1989, would probably win out in this category. But why leave it subjective like that? Here’s a list!
- Met new people (meeting parents is kind of a big deal, so 1989 wins here)
- Joined a new church (I’ve only changed churches once since I was born, so it’s a draw)
- Learned new things (of all the things I’ve learned, crawling, eating and basic hand-eye coordination will always win out, so here’s another win for 1989).
- Got a new job (in 1989, I made quite a living playing with blocks and who knows what else. But I’m earning money doing slightly more meaningful work now, so 2012 wins by a squeaker).
Among other things. That was less entertaining than I thought it might be.
But in all seriousness, it’s staggering to look back and see where I’ve come. At the beginning of this year, I was newly graduated, unemployed, and still living with my parents. All my hopes lay on hearing back from graduate schools. Not an ideal situation for sure. It was a daily struggle, one that left me confused and unsure many times. I had little to no idea what my greater future would look like. For the first five months of 2012, I was stranded at sea. Figuratively, silly. I don’t think I actually have the means to own anything more than a rowboat.
And in April, all the schools I’d applied to had turned me down. Now I really did not have any sort of idea what to do. Dead end.
It was in this anxious time that God taught me patience and faith. But it did not come easily, and I was anything but a willing student. Doubts filled my mind, but unlike other times of suffering in my life, the Lord refused to let me wander more than an arm’s length away. I had no idea what to do at this point. I had little else going on.
Here’s one of my favorite hymns from John Newton that tackles this masterfully. The lyrics are absolutely priceless, so don’t miss them!
Now, there’s this word that comes up a lot in the Bible. It’s the word “but.” If there’s anything my high school kids at church should’ve learned from me, it’s that this word is incredibly important. It signals change, contrast, the ending of something and the beginning of another. HUGE reversal, as Mark Driscoll would say. And in these cases, the actor is always God. The phrase “but God” marks divine intervention, and we believers should care to highlight that when we come upon it. And for me, and I suspect for many more, this phrase refers to Jesus and His coming to save sinners from their sins and give them life. A refusal to leave us in our helpless state, but to graciously provide a way out where there was none before. But as I learned, there are many other gifts God provides.
As many of you know, I got my current job around the middle of May. I was just looking for a summer internship at best, but God had decided that I needed more than that. Moving out to Orange County has been one of the greatest blessings of my life for sure.
Fast forward seven months, and here I am, not living with my parents, with an apartment of my own in Santa Ana, bills of my own, a wonderful new church family at Mars Hill, and freaking Disneyland like 15 minutes away. More importantly, a fresh new take on life, and most importantly, a fresh appreciation for God’s providence and grace. I could not imagine a greater reversal (in earthly circumstance) this year than my Savior’s provided me, and for that, I owe Him my everything.
And yet, despite all these blessings, I do my best to return as often as I can to that time before, when I had nothing more than the gift of faith, an inexplicable joy I had through sorrow and confusion.
One passage stuck with me this year (it’s not Romans 10:14-17, though that definitely ranks pretty high up there). This one is from Solomon at the end of his life, as he did his best emo impression in Ecclesiastes 7:
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It’s a strange series of verses. But it’s true, isn’t it? There’s certainly a place for feasting and mirth, but there is so much more to learn in the midst of sorrow. That’s a lesson I’ll always take with me.
So this new year, I might make a few new resolutions, probably lasting three consecutive days at most. Or better yet, I might take what I’ve learned, and instead of looking at myself for change, trust that in the blessings and trials to come this coming year, God is faithful to never forsake me. Me, a wretch He would for some reason call His very own!
I am beyond excited to see what is in store! And hopefully you, dear reader, are at at a place in your life where you share that anticipation for your own lives. And we only have that hope because we have seen the surety of God in the past. How glorious is that truth that we can trust in future grace because we have seen past grace!
For those of you who are Facebook friends, you may see that I post quotations pretty frequently. I do so because there’s something about words that are put together well, to the point when the quotation is more than sum of the words that make it up. I trust wordsmiths greater than me to communicate what I want to. And so, here’s one from the hymn writer Ora Rowan calling us to look outside and beyond ourselves and wondrously towards the Lord we are called to glorify.
Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand own Him,
Joyful choose the better part.
Wishing you all a very happy new year!
Your brother in Him,
Its noblest tribute bring
When He’s the subject of the song
Who can refuse to sing?
Survey the beauties of His face
And on His glories dwell
Think of the wonder of His grace
And all His triumphs tell!
“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” —Hebrews 5:8
We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through suffering”—it is, that He can have complete sympathy with us. “He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He suffers in me now; He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.” Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in His steps. Find a sweet support in His sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing—to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does He honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”