------------------Arman Sheffey is a introspective, yet fun-loving Jesus follower. He believes for the salvation of all those close to him and those that God places in his path in the coming days. Arman is a husband to a beautiful wife, Lariza, and a father to a wonderful daughter, Leila. He is an avid reader, writer and wild dreamer. He is also the Director of Torch Online, the online division of TorchChurch.tv. He currently prays that his discipline, passion, pride, and his faith reach levels that better glorify Jesus Christ.
"I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’” ~2 Sam 7:1-17 NLT
As I read through the readings for our Advent devotional today, (http://www.crivoice.org/advent2.html), and meditate on the love of God I am brought to my own personal struggles, specifically with hope. I often feel like a man trapped in chapter one of a beautiful novel. I know that the story is to be one of triumph, that it is continually filled with victory and blessing. However, I recently find myself falling prey to the predatory thoughts of my present struggles being the plot for the whole story. It is amazing how my memory fails. It is amazing how I struggle to recall the Lord's past faithfulness in even more trying times. It is amazing how I tend to think that God is done working miracles and blessing me beyond belief.
Then I go back to the readings for today and I encounter the most meaningful word in scripture to me personally: BUT. The Lord continually infuses this conjunction throughout His holy word to show that mid chapter, mid verse, mid-sentence…he has a history of turning things around.
In 2 Samuel 7:14, I read of the discipline a father gives and feel that this greatly characterizes my life right now. Not that my life is riddled with sin, but that I strongly feel the corrective hand of the Father on me.
Then the Lord spoke to me with the first word of verse 15, But…
The story doesn't end with the correction. God speaks of the continual favor that rests with David, unlike his predecessor, Saul. This awoke a new sense of hope for me. So I continued to the next scripture.
"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. " - Titus 3:3 NKJV
This once again had me remembering my past sins and searching within me for any of these in my present life. Then I reencountered His love in the following verse.
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…" - Titus 3:4-5a NKJV
God intervened into my past darkness and out of LOVE, He saved me.
He has a history of stepping in and changing the story, just when we think the final chapter has been written.
Joseph could have given up in the pit. He could have quit in the dungeon. Instead, Joseph remembered his God and waited on His Love to be shown.
Then he could declare to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20
"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever." - Psalm 73:26
The truth may be that you are failing. The truth may be that you are in a world of hurt. The truth may be that you have been too low for too long.
The truth does not end there. Keep reading the story that God is writing with your life. Don't quit in the first verse. His love will appear again and again. His love is present now in Christ Jesus and we celebrate that gift in the next few days.
You might not be feeling like that love is real for you right now, but if you have accepted that free gift of grace through Jesus then it is no less true for you than for any of the other Gospel heroes of which we read.
Let God finish telling you the story.
Wait for the "But."