Good things that have happened

When Christ died on the cross, he brought wonderful things to those who followed him. Mary sang that the Lord “has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty” Luke 1.53 NET. Paul said God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ” Ephesians 1.3. The writer of Hebrews speaks of Christ as high priest of the “good things that have happened” Hebrews 9.11./1

Those good things are the blessings of forgiveness and redemption, Colossians 1.14.  “Salvation has been brought down,” goes the song. One of these marvelous “good gifts” given us from the Father’s hands is the Holy Spirit himself, Matthew 7.11; Luke 11.13. The presence of the abiding Father and Son is the best thing of all, John 14.23.

Along with Christ, we have been also given “all things” Romans 8.32. Certainly, each saint of God can enumerate in his own life what many of those things have been. You have your list of good items, I have mine. Let me share a few.

One of the good things that has happened is the joy of being used by God to reach others with the gospel. This is—excuse the phrase—a common experience of saints, I know, but it is no less amazing to witness in our own service to the Lord. Nothing renews our own confidence in the power of the gospel more than to see a new creation taking place when someone is immersed. Nothing enlivens our heart more than to know that God is working in us and through us, Ephesians 4.6. This privilege of sharing in the gospel—of sharing the gospel with others—is one of our most profound means of communion with God. We are sharing his very heart.

A second good thing that has happened is the simplicity of the single eye, Matthew 6.22. Singleness of eye has to do with “being motivated by singleness of purpose so as to be open and aboveboard” BGAD. So the eye is unclouded, sound, healthy, as some versions put it. The single eye has no interest but the Lord’s, no sight but to please the God of heaven. Enemies plot to accuse one of haboring hidden motives, but the Lord knows the heart. To enjoy that simplicity is more than paring down one’s possessions, but being able to enjoy the fullness of Christ, John 1.16; Ephesians 3.19. It is fascinating that living in another culture, through and for faith, has given us a better perspective on the things of this world and the good things that God offers us.

Another good thing that has come to us is a greater faith in God. We are learning to trust him more, 2 Corinthians 1.9, Philippians 4.11-13. In the last four years, we have had large losses of support for our work here in Brazil. The first was about 80% of our personal support. Now we have experienced another significant loss. After 29 years of living and working on the field, some loss can be considered normal attrition. But dealing with the process of losing support has caused us to look to the Lord for our needs. Not that we don’t stop inviting churches to partner with us. But we know nothing will happen without his hand in the matter. And by his hand good things do happen.

Some people live from hand to mouth, spiritually. God’s people live from faith to faith, through grace upon grace, by the overflowing of God’s love toward us. Each day teaches us that wonderful experience and imprints it deeper and deeper in our hearts, until we are ready for the fullness of his eternal presence.

1/ The translation is from Albert Vanhoye, A Different Priest: The Epistle to the Hebrews (Miami: Convivium Press, 2011): 272, although Vanhoye believes the sense to be future, good things still “to come.”

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