Today, as the birth of our neighbouring country is celebrated, only a few short days after our own Canada Day, we are drawn into two contrasting scripture narratives. Both stories highlight God’s presence and his mighty intervening power to bring about change.
The continuing saga of 2 Kings, places us in the midst of a vivid account that relays the gruesome demise of sovereigns who had done “evil in the sight of the Lord.” These leaders chose apart from God’s direction and received their consequences. Is this not the outcome I, too, deserve? According to Jeremiah 17:9, our hearts are all deceptive and wicked, just as these evil monarchs, who were destroyed.
What I love about our God is that he does not turn a deaf ear to the chorus cried in Psalm 80; a plea we of 2020 would be wise to echo today for ourselves, our country and our world.
Restore us, O God
Make your face shine upon us
That we may be saved. Psalm 80:3
The same God who caused the evil kings (and Queen Jezebel) to be destroyed, is seen in today’s Acts 23 reading, miraculously intervening to save Paul from a conspiracy devised to kill him. God enlists Paul’s young nephew, along with others who weren’t even followers of God, in performing this life-saving feat. The thing is, this Paul is the same guy who was previously known as Saul, a persecutor of the church. Fairly foul past? I believe so. Not vastly different, in some aspects, from our evil group of monarchs whose lives ended abruptly. So, what made God reach out to protect Paul? I believe the answer has a great deal to do with God’s restoring work of grace. Truly, God shone brilliantly on Paul as he travelled the road to Damascus, and his love and truth penetrated Paul’s unworthy heart, saving him. It wasn’t Paul’s inherent good, but his acceptance of the life-giving, restorative work of Jesus that made the difference.
God is still in the restoration business. There is hope for the world, for our nation, for each of us. May our hearts be open to him, seeking his healing work in our own lives, so that we are able, as Paul was, to guide others to him, the one who saves.
Soon to be a mother-of-the-bride!