Hope Seed 5 – Crown of Life

Ask yourself this one simple question. Is it odd, or is it God? Take a look back in time and remember some of the events that transformed your life. It is my hope that you, just as I did on the morning of December 15, 2000, after reading this verse, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” My hope that morning was that my mother’s dying when I was a month old and my grandfather’s, who I loved dearly, dying when I was seventeen, and my wife’s dying suddenly when I was thirty-six, somehow would be used for some greater good.   As it turns out, by having faith, if I persevered through the trials I was going through at the time, I would receive the crown of life God truly was preparing me for something bigger than I could ever imagine.

So if you are not feeling better about yourself by now, let’s take a look at the hope God provides for us in the form of His servant Moses, and in particular the Passover, the foreshadowing of Jesus.

So take a look in the rear-view mirror .   Then set out on the journey of a lifetime. But fix your Retrospectiveeyes firmly on Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith.   He is there as you look through the windshield, but you may not see him yet. But move forward.   Up the road He is waiting for you.

So back to Moses.   He was born at a time when the Israelites, who were slaves in Egypt, caused Pharaoh great concern. So he gave an order that every boy child should be thrown in the Nile and drowned (Exodus 11:23).   Moses’ mother had him until he was three months old and then placed him in a basket on a river where he was rescued by none other than Pharaoh’s daughter, who even struck a deal with Moses’ mother to raise him in secrecy.

When Moses had grown, he went out to observe the harsh treatment his own people were suffering from the Egyptians.   After witnessing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, Moses took revenge and killed the Egyptian. Moses acted out of his own free will. And after realizing what Pharaoh would do when he found out, he fled Egypt and traveled to Medina, which is located in the southeastern corner of the Sinai Desert, a rather inhospitable place.   Moses, now forty, would spend the next forty years in the desert.   So once again God’s providence comes into play.   The forty years that Moses would spend in the desert was a time of preparation for something much bigger.

crown of lifeAre you in that place now, a time of preparation?   Have you set your mind on the hope that God has promised?

One of the defining moments in Moses’ life was the last and final disaster to hit Egypt, and ultimately Pharaoh, that would allow the Israelites to flee Egypt.   The Passover, once again, is a foreshadowing of the cross and ultimate redemption of mankind to their loving Creator.

I once heard from a Hasidic Jew that the way the Israelites were told to sprinkle the blood of a one-year-old lamb without defect, they were to slaughter the lamb at twilight, take the blood, and using a bundle of bitter herbs, dip it into the blood, and with broad strokes, mark their doorframes from left to right and from top to bottom, thus making the sign of the cross.   Fifteen hundred years before it was widely used as a form of torture by the Romans.

Can you remember the other two examples of a blood sacrifice as an offering of forgiveness?   Remember Adam and Eve and the skin God provided to cover their sin?   What about Abraham and his act of faith by taking his son to the mountaintop and how God provided the lamb?

So I ask you once again:   Is it odd, or is it God?   Knowing that the lover of your soul has been taking care of His creation should bring you great comfort, and you will take these words from Jeremiah to heart, “But blessed is the man whose hope is in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.   He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes. Its leaves are always green.   It has no worries in the year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7)

By now, on our journey through Faith, Hope, and Love, you are developing a deeper relationship with the lover of your soul, and you are drinking from the living water that is the word of God.   And just like any tree, your root system (hope) is growing deeper and stronger every day.

I will leave you with this footnote.   I visited Sequoia National Park and went to an orientation meeting about the park and the magnificent sequoia trees.   We were informed that for the trees to grow they needed three conditions to be just right: (1) they needed to be just the right distance away from a constant water supply, (2) the soil needed to be just the right firmness to support the massive trees, and (3) they needed a temperature of over 2,000 degrees for the seeds to germinate.

The same could be said of our condition if we want to live our lives in the fullness God intended.   Some of us are facing intense heat in our lives, which may seem overbearing.   But we need to do something counter to our natural instincts and turn to the living water so we can start to build a strong foundation on which we will build our lives.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.   In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”   (Proverbs 3:5-6)

So is it odd, or is it God?   It is God when you look back and see your life as a time of preparation.   Imagine what the view looks like through the windshield.