by Mike Ratliff
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NASB)
As I shared on Facebook, I had lunch with my wife, my daughter and my youngest grandson at a local restaurant this morning. Everything was normal. However, as we prepared to leave, I took that last bite of my burger and reached for my glass of iced tea when something unexpected happened. My reflux kicked in and I found myself unable to breathe. My wife and daughter got me up out of the booth, I guess because I don’t remember doing it myself, and they asked for help. I don’t remember much. The next thing I know I felt some very strong arms grab me from behind and do that classic Heimlich Maneuver on me. I had never experienced it before. In any case, with just two very sharp thrusts I was breathing again. There were two men who helped us. I gave them both a very big hug and my wife bought their lunch. I am so grateful and I thank God for men like that. I really do not know how much longer I would have had if they hadn’t been there.
I have been quite reflective since that happened. I posted a short explanation on Facebook and got a lot more responses to it than I expected. Up until this happened there has been a little voice telling me that I should just quit this ministry and fade away because no one really cares and no one would really miss me if I just died except for my immediate family. Of course those who do what I do I can tell you that this isolates you from the mainstream Christians. We become separate in a very odd sort of way. We have a heightened level of discernment that causes us to examine the things at church in ways that others don’t and this can cause great suspicion and discomfort. This deepens the separation.
However, after I shared the experience on Facebook I was absolutely shocked at the response. God is good. He has shown me that my brothers and sisters in Christ and my family are there and they do care and that little voice is not coming from Him, but is of the enemy. One of my friends from Church said to me that this shows that God has a plan for me. My response to that surprised me and is the reason for this post.
First, read Romans 8:31-39, which I placed at the top of this post and then carefully read a portion of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25-34, below.
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34 (NASB)
Obviously, much of what this world puts us through we do not really find pleasant, but God uses it to bring the truths from these teachings into clarity for us. Yes, there is common grace, but for those truly in the Kingdom of God, those in Christ, they come under the full care and provision of God (Romans 8:32; Philippians 4:19; 1 Peter 5:7). Our Lord is teaching us that we are not to despair about our daily provision, our jobs, our careers, et cetera like unbelievers. Why? God knows what is best for us and provides that for us.
Since the company I work for merged with another company back in 2010 things really changed. Every day I look forward to the day of my retirement with great anticipation. That did not used to be the case. Our company has lost its identity. During the merger there was a lot of despair and many of our employees panicked and left. I was one of those who simply got angry and started looking for another job. However, the more I looked the more it became apparent that God wanted me to remain in place and go through it, therefore, I have taken Matthew 6:10 literally and pray it back to him every day, “Let your kingdom come, let your will be done as in heaven also on earth.” Think about that. This is a petition of surrendering our will to his will. His will is always best. When we are despairing and resentful about our circumstances I promise you we are not doing this.
As I was gasping for air in that restaurant this morning I was thinking of what passing out would feel like because I knew that would be next. I was so surprised when those strong arms grabbed me and squeezed my chest area and I was able to breathe again. God is good. No matter what is going on in our lives, God is above them and is in full control.
Soli Deo Gloria!