During the course of my life and ministry, I’ve experienced many amazing and incredible things through the grace of God. But I must confess I’ve also experienced many weird and unusual events as well, starting from my first kidney stone in September 1985 which occurred while I was preparing my first sermon on the body of Christ functioning properly from 1 Corinthians 12. I still believe the promise of Romans 8 where Paul writes, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose”, (Rom.8:28 NASB). It certainly seems during the course of my journey that God has chosen me to be an object lesson in His sustaining grace and His ability to overcome obstacles through a very weak and flawed person. Sometimes in the course of my service to Christ, I have a very clear understanding of why God allows something that happened, and sometimes I don’t at all understand what God is doing.
Let me share a couple of illustrations that I may apply to this sense of being the chosen one. At our church's 90th anniversary, we had a wonderful time celebrating God’s blessing and God’s hand of provision and guidance in 90 years of service for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. One of the interesting things that happened to me occurred when we went downstairs for the luncheon following our Sunday morning service. The tables were set for 180 people, when I found the table that I would be sitting at I proceeded to sit down. When I sat down the chair under me completely collapsed. I was only saved from crashing onto the floor because of the seat covering that Tracy had placed on each of the seats. That seat covering and my knowledge that this is not how the chairs are supposed to feel when I sit saved me from crashing to the floor and possibly injuring myself and certainly from much embarrassment. Of the 180 people that were there for that event, I chose the one chair that collapsed when I sat down. If someone was trying to injure me deliberately, they could not have known where I was going to sit, but it was the Lord who allowed me to sit in that seat. It made sense to me and was a good thing that I was the one who chose to set in the seat that completely collapsed. If it had been someone else that sat in that seat, they may have been injured and that would have really put a damper on our event. I’m not sure anyone else even knew what I was experiencing (in fact maybe you’re hearing about this for the first time), but the Lord had directed me to sit in the only chair that would collapse.
I had another experience while on vacation that illustrates this sense of being the chosen one. We heard about this amazing bio-Bay luminous nighttime snorkeling event, where you swim and the algae light up like sparks off your fingers while you are swimming. We decided to experience a vacation inside of our vacation at one of the few places in the world where you can actually snorkel and experience this amazing event. So, there I was having this once-in-a-lifetime experience, thoroughly enjoying myself in a totally amazing happening in my life. There were about 45 people in the two boats that we were snorkeling with, I was surely the oldest person on both boats as most were high school students, who had a work service trip to the rainforest and were being rewarded with this amazing experience. One thing they had neglected to tell us when we were sold the trip is the possibility of getting stung by jellyfish. After about 20 minutes of this most amazing experience, I had an incredibly sharp stabbing pain in my right arm. I was stung twice by a jellyfish. Once again, I was the chosen one out of that group that have gotten stung. I think there may have been one other person on the other boat that was stung as well, I guess they were chosen as well. I’m not sure of God’s working everything together for good, but I know for sure I got quickly out of the water and asked what just happened. I guess if someone was going to get stung, it was best that me as the oldest person there who had this once-in-a-lifetime experience. If any of the young people would have gotten stung it would’ve probably greatly ruined their night and they were having such a good time together.
I think there are things in our spiritual journey that we do not have an explanation for, nor do we see how God is going to work it out for our good. But there is one thing that I’m sure that Paul also mentions in Romans 8 that I believe to be true, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” (Rom. 8:37 NKJV). Another version says we “overwhelmingly conquer through him who loves us”. Even when bad things happen in our lives, we can trust that God is still at work in those things, even if there is no rational explanation as to how God can use this for good in our lives. This is a concept that is repeated throughout the Scriptures that “the just shall live by our faith” (Hab.2:4; Rom.1:17; Gal.3:11). Understand that it is indeed the Lord who was the one who is working out all these things in with this providence and our response is to trust Him and believed Him to do good things, even when we don’t understand exactly what He is doing. So won’t you rejoice with me today in God’s kindness and care as He continues to provide and guide in our lives through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rejoicing in our Savior,
Pastor Rich Sivo