“What is God up to?” It is a question that I have pondered from time to time. I live with the Biblical understanding that God is sovereign over all creation. As a result, when events in life happen, whether it is tragedy, “coincidence”, or good fortune, I can’t help but ask the question, “What is God up to?”
I also wonder if that was a question asked by Naomi and Ruth. Their situation was less than ideal, both experiencing the death of a husband and Naomi also struggling with the death of two sons. In those life events, did Naomi and Ruth ask What is God up to?
Jack and Sarah -&- Travis and Nikki
Many have looked at the story of Jack and Sarah Keller and asked that question… “What is God up to?” Jack and Sarah have suffered so much earthly tragedy, so much pain, and so much loss. In all that mess, what could God possibly be up to? The answer to that question for one young couple…a lot!
Travis and Nikki came to Triumph in May of 2011 because of a phone call I had made regarding the Keller Benefit. Travis is part owner in a marketing company that I used to do business with at my former employer and I wanted to pick his brain on some social media marking ideas to spread the word about the benefit. Based on that phone call, and the 30 minute conversation that ensued, Travis and Nikki were looking for a new church. They decided to attend Triumph West and found it a place they enjoyed coming to and a place where the people were friendly.
At one of our New Crew BBQs, Travis and Nikki decided to stick around and had the opportunity to meet Jack and Sarah, who also decided to hang around. A friendship was born; and what a friendship it would be. As it turned out, that friendship would lead to a conversation in the Keller’s living room about 4 months later. In that conversation, Jack asked Travis and Nikki and important question, one that would change their lives forever: “If the roles were reversed, and you were sitting here with an oxygen tube and death coming, would you know where you are going?” The answer to that question, and the time spent in the scriptures, led Travis and Nikki into a relationship with Jesus that they had never known before; having their eyes opened to the free gift of the Cross for the first time!
“As it Turned Out…”
When Ruth went to glean wheat from the fields, the scriptures say “As it turned out, she found herself working in the field belonging to Boaz…” (Ruth 2:3, NIV) Why Boaz’s field and not the field next to it, or the one down the road a little? As it turned out, that was the field chosen by Ruth.
The story of Jack and Sarah & Travis and Nikki has several “As it turns out” moments:
- As it turned out… Jack needed a double lung transplant 7 years ago which led to skin cancer, which led to that cancer spreading, which led to a benefit auction to assist with financial pressures…
- As it turned out… Jack and Sarah were looking for a new church and God brought them to Triumph…
- As it turned out… Travis and Nikki were looking for a new church…
- As it turned out… Doug called Travis for advice on the benefit fundraiser…
- As it turned out… Travis and Nikki decided to stay for a New Crew BBQ (something Travis wasn’t planning on doing because he wanted to get his kids home)…
- As it turned out… Jack & Sarah decided to stay for a New Crew BBQ (Jack was on a special diet and wouldn’t have been able to eat any of the food we served and Sarah’s parents were in town from Montana!)…
- As it turned out… Jack’s recent diagnosis provided a platform for Jack to ask a question that got to the heart of the matter for Travis and Nikki…
“What is God up to…” right now? What is he up to? What is he up to in the life of the coworker in the office next door? What is he up to in the life of the neighbor that lives across the street? What is he up to through the tragedy we have felt recently here at Triumph?
If there is one thing (although there are many) that I have seen and been reminded of through our time in The Story this year at Triumph, it is that God is always working out his Upper Story Plan through the lives of the Lower Story Participants. As we have read, it may take 450 years in the Lower Story for the plan to make sense, but it ALWAYS makes sense and it ALWAYS points to God’s goodness and kindness and his never-ending pursuit to draw His people back to himself.
What is God up to?
Well, “as it turned out,” for Naomi and Ruth, God was up to something. God used the death of three men to drive Naomi and Ruth back to Bethlehem where they met Boaz, who married Ruth, and bore a child that would ultimately lead to Jesus. So, was God up to something? Yea, he was up to something that changed Ruth’s life, and ultimately our lives, forever.
Well, “as it turned out,” for Travis and Nikki, God was up to something. God used a series of events to get the attention of a husband and wife and revealed Himself to them through the church and the words and actions of Jack and Sarah.
My Question Now for Us:
So, the question for me, and all who read this is simple: Number 1: What is God up to? Pray that God will give us the eyes to see what he is doing in the lives of those around us. And number 2: How can we be the second half to the “as it turned out” statement? Is there a phone call we need to make? Is there a prompting we need to listen to? Is there a smile we need to give? How is God planning on using us? May it be said of us, “As it turned out, God used ___ and what they did/said to change my life forever!”