The End Result

Pivotal changes in life don’t happen quickly.  They slowly simmer … more like a crock pot instead of a microwave.  It takes time.

When I look at what God’s people accomplished, I am more in awe of their commitment than the end result.  It took Noah approximately 100 years to build the ark, give or take a decade.  It’s not mentioned in scripture, but I wonder if he ever wavered in his commitment to build the ark.  Abraham took Isaac to the altar to sacrifice.  During that obedience, did he question whether he was really hearing God?  And after being anointed King, David was hunted by Saul and lived on the run for years before finally taking the throne.  His dismay is recorded throughout many of the Psalms.  Yet this one is the most powerful to me.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.  Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.  All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.  “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.  From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.  Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.  Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.  Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.  My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.  All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.  But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.  I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.  You who fear the Lord, praise him!  All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!  Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!  For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.  From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever!  All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive.

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.  They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”  – Psalms 22

The first line of this Psalm were the some of the last words spoken by Jesus as he hung on the cross.  I don’t think that was a coincidence since the entire Psalm is a prophecy about his persecution, death and ultimate victory.  Pretty cool that it was written over 2,000 years before Christ was born.

The point is that neither I, nor others who profess the name of Christ, are the first to be shaken when faced with pressing forward in obedience.  It’s scary.  The path is full of hurdles of doubt that need to be overcome in order to continue to press forward.  It forces your entire existence to be reviewed with raw honesty, and for those who remain faithful and build the ark, or commit to offer the sacrifice, or choose to wait patiently on the Lord despite persecution and ridicule, for those the end result is what is remembered.

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