A Place Prepared

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Alphie was a millet-brained little betta fish. What did he know? Even if some inborn instinct told him that there should be more than this, his one-gallon fish bowl was the only world he’d ever experienced and he was content to live there. He had no clue that there was a better environment being prepared for him.

I’d learned that betta fish deserve a better environment than an unfiltered fish bowl, so I was setting up a proper ten-gallon aquarium where he could enjoy life to the full. He was going to have a heater and filter to keep his water fresh and pure. Bliss, betta style.

This preparation couldn’t happen overnight. An aquarium needs to go through a nitrogen cycle to develop the right kind of bacteria in the filter so it will purify the water passing through. Alphie’s tank sat on the counter for over a month as it went through this cycle; during this time I added driftwood and various ornaments that would make his new world so much more interesting. Meanwhile he circled round and round in his fish bowl, cramped maybe, but relaxed in the world he knew.

Then one day his new home was ready for him. I set his bowl beside the tank, then scooped him out in a small ladle. Now he was really confined! And scared, too; he squirmed and fought this horrible new situation. He was only a little fish; he couldn’t comprehend the big picture.

Though the transfer was uncomfortable and confusing for him, it was accomplished quickly. I placed him in his new tank and his delight was obvious. So much room! So many interesting things to explore. Constant warmth and pure water. For a little fish this was paradise!

Most of us are fairly happy in this world. Some content, some not so content in our little lives, but it’s the only space we’ve ever known. Like my betta, we’re not very willing to leave it — and we’re not at all enthused about being carried out in a small box! Our comprehension of what waits on the other side is so limited.

Unlike my little fish, however, we can know God’s plans for us. Jesus has revealed them to His followers; by faith we can grasp His words:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14: 2-3

And rejoice like the Psalm writer:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23:6

Plans Gone South?

Have you ever had it happen that something seemed a disaster, but turned out to be a blessing in the end? Have you been tempted to grumble to God about delays and messed up plans, then later thank Him for trouble you’d been spared?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ran along the dock one day to catch the ship heading for home. He’d been delayed too long by a fussy editor and was grieved to see the ship just pulling away from the pier. When he reached the ship it was still so close he contemplated a big leap, but the possibility of landing in the ocean didn’t appeal to him so he sadly turned away.

The ship never reached its destination; it struck something en route and down it went with everyone on it. The Longfellow family were expecting him home on that ship. When they got the news of its sinking they were heartbroken — until they got his wire the next morning informing them he’d missed the boat and was still among the living.

I read an account recently about soldiers engaged in combat near the city of Sevastopol in Russia. At one point they heard the whistle of an enemy shell and covered their heads, preparing for the worst. Thankfully the shell passed over them and landed on the side of a hill nearby, blowing a crater in it.

To their surprise a little trickle of water began to flow out of the hole. Soon it was a tiny bubbling fountain and they realized that the explosion had exposed a hidden spring. As the battle continued the spring became a gushing stream where they filled their canteens and drank of the refreshing clear water.

That which was intended to kill them, which did indeed strike fear into their hearts, actually proved a moral-lifting blessing and source of new strength.

Consider the story of Joseph. If ever someone had cause to be dismayed and lose hope at the way circumstances were unfolding, it must have been that Hebrew lad. In a fit of spite his brothers tossed him into a pit, stripped off the beautiful coat his father had made, dipped it in blood and headed home with the evidence that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph they sold to passing slave traders.

To add to his woes, after some years of faithful service to his master Joseph was falsely accused and sent to prison. Then he was forgotten by his fellow prisoner — the only one who could have done him a good turn — as soon as the fellow was released.

Yet later he told his brothers (my paraphrase), “You meant to do me harm, but God used my situation here to accomplish his purpose.”
And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Genesis 45:7. See also Genesis 50:20.

So if you’re going through a rough patch, give it to the Lord and soldier on. Time will tell what He will do with it — but it will be for your good, if you leave it in His hands.

The thickest clouds often bring the heaviest showers of blessing.

God Has the Last Word

Back in the 60s a radio station in British Columbia, Canada, was offering a discussion period where listeners were invited to phone in and give their views of the subject at hand. One day the question for discussion was “Is God Dead?”

Folks began calling to give their opinions, pro or con. Of course the lively discussion was replete with 60’s philosophical musings and callers were getting quite worked up about the issue. It had gone on for almost an hour when suddenly lightning struck the transmitter and the station was knocked off the air for the next twelve hours.

Now, was that just “happenstance” or did God get tired of the foolish debate and decide to put an end to it?

When they were finally back on the air again someone phoned in and all he said was, “Galatians 6:7″ Those who took the time to look it up found the familiar verse: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked.”