After and Before
The older I get the more I stand in awe of the Sovereignty of God and how He has ordered the events of my life, both before and after I surrendered my life to Him. Two passages that have long held my interest become even more relevant with each passing day.
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” In the same light, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…” (Galatians 1:15).
In January of 1972, I surrendered my life to Christ. I have now walked with Him for 51 years and served His church for 46 of them. Today, I can tell you of the countless times that I have intimately known His presence in the events of my life and ministry. But, recently, my thoughts have been drawn to His workings in my life for the 21 years before I surrendered to His Lordship.
According to the Apostle Paul, God’s Sovereign hand was involved in the choosing of the time and place of my birth as well as the locales that I have inhabited since then. (Acts 17:26). As I study my life’s path from the day of my birth, I now see how the seemingly random zigs and zags of my life’s trajectory were not random at all. I now see how God used various individuals and events to guide me and to fit me for the plans that He had for me. In High School, He brought my beloved Sandy into my life, knowing that she would be the perfect fit for me, the partner that I would need at my side throughout the years that we have served God and His people together.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. From this vantage point in my life, I could write volumes telling of the times and places that I now see His fingerprints on my life before I ever bowed in submission before His throne. So many, before Christ events, including His leading Sandy and me to the office of Dr. Richard Upton at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, where we together surrendered our lives to the Savior, one Friday night in January 1972.
Like Jeremiah and Paul, I too have come to believe that God’s hand was on my life and a purpose determined for my life, from my mother’s womb. And when I take time to ponder all of this, I stand in awe of the wonderful ways of my Heavenly Father. Of those ways, Isaiah wrote, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” ‘declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Take some time and contemplate where you have seen the fingerprints of God in your life, both after and before. For your life also, has been in His sovereign grip. (Psalm 139)
So, to the One whose hand has been on my life since before the moment of my conception, “…to Him who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen” (I Timothy 6:15 & 16).