What do you look for in a greeting card? A message that closely expresses your sentiments best? Or do you key on the cover picture or image? Perhaps you prefer sparse text or even blank inside that allows you to write your own thoughts?
Most likely, a combination of elements in involved in your greeting card selection that also depends on the occasion or situation and, most of all, your relationship with the card recipient.
All those factors came into play last week when I was picking out an anniversary card for my wife. Expressing what’s in my heart regarding her is difficult to put into words. Sometimes I simply want to say, “Honey, because it’s you” and know she’ll understand what I mere words fail to say.
But “Just Because” isn’t very romantic, right? Still, does not the completeness of being truly loved have everything to do with the integrity of the person offering love?
That’s what I see in God with the people he chooses. Take the story in Genesis 21 of God comforting Abraham who is distraught about having to send his first-born son Ishmael away.
Let’s review. Recall God selecting Abraham to father a nation to be known as the people of God, promising that Abraham’s offspring would populate this nation. But when Abraham’s wife Sarah didn’t conceive soon enough, she urged Abraham to impregnate her servant Hagar. Thus came Ishmael who was 15 when Sarah finally conceived, giving birth to Isaac. Now Sarah resents Abraham’s sentiments toward Hagar and Ishmael, insisting they must go.
Enter God to who counsels Abraham to comply with Sarah’s demand. Meanwhile he (God) would take care of Hagar and Ishmael this way:
“I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” (Genesis 21:13, NIV)
Key on: “Because he is YOUR offspring… “ Also note that the nation Ishmael would “make” isn’t just any nation but the Arab nation.
Recall God’s prophecy regarding Ishmael:
“He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Genesis 16:12).
When God made this promise to Abraham, did he know how that prophecy would play out down through history? How the ferocity of Arab nations would keep the Mid-East region of the world in constant conflict? Did he foresee terrorism by Arab extremists? Continuous animosity towards Israel? That the homeland of Arabs and Israel could become ground zero for the next worldwide conflict? Was all that known when God promised Abraham regarding Ishmael.
Amazingly, the answer is yes, absolutely yes. All of the above was known to God and he gave his word to Abraham ANYWAY! And the only reason he offered was, “…because he is your offspring.”
Perhaps my takeaway is overly simple, that God’s RELATIONSHIP with Abraham, his chosen man to have a huge role in his redemptive plan for all humankind and creation was MORE IMPORTANT than how the implications of the promises he made to Abraham would to be viewed in the minds of people down through the ages.
Likewise with God’s relationship with you and me. Our relationship with him is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE to him no matter how much we mess up along the way. We may break trust with him but he never breaks trust with us.
Note in the Bible that God initiates relationships with people – Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, every prophet, the Apostles and Paul are just a few examples. We claim to choose God when in fact he chooses us, even before we were born. (see Ephesians 1:4 and Jeremiah 1:5)
I offer that compared to relationship with us, orchestrating the implications of the choices we make to achieve his purposes is easy for God.
“For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27)
However, God chose not to control our choices, especially regarding our choice to accept his invitation to be in relationship with him, even though he knows how we will choose. (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:5).
Relationship with you and me really, really matters to God. Because it’s you, because it’s me is reason enough for God to allow or support even the most ill-advised choices we make because he is able to work everything out for our good and his glory.