Grand Parents Day – May 12, 2017 – “The Mighty Acts of God”
Note: Several months ago I was asked to speak at the Grand Parent’s Day chapel service. Here’s what I said.
Psalm 145:4 – “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts…”
There’s a simple song that goes, “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good to me…”
God’s goodness, to us, day-by-day is one of his many mighty acts.
For over 450 years the Heidelberg Catechism has been used to teach generations of believers the basic truths about God… about his goodness and how we can respond to his goodness. I remember being taught it and memorizing it. Maybe you remember this…
Q and A 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own, but belong—
body and soul, in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
That saving act, the daily care, the assurance of eternal life… these are mighty acts of God….
A long time ago, before the Heidelberg Catechism, there were Israelites. We read about them in the Bible. We read about how God rescued his beloved, chosen people and saved them from the tyranny of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He brought them out of Egypt after a series of horrible plagues, led them through the Red Sea on dry ground, drowning Pharaoh’s army which was in hot pursuit. All mighty acts of God.
He led them through the wilderness. Every step of the way providing protection, food, water, daily needs. Even in his gentle daily providence we see the mighty acts of God.
The Israelites made it to the promised land and God gave it to them. The Jordan River stopped in it’s tracks, walls of cities crumbled to dust, enemies were defeated in spite of impossible odds. God was at work. God’s mighty acts.
Things were great. The Israelites told about and remembered the mighty acts of God, his acts of salvation. They praised God for them. They loved and worshiped him, the God who loved them first.
And then, the wheels fell off… Generations later, after Moses, after Joshua, after the Israelites were comfortably settled in the land God gave them, they forgot about God. They forgot about his mighty acts. They became just like everyone else, putting other things – idols, themselves- above the God who saved them. And I wonder why? What happened? Here’s what I think… I think that parents and grandparents stopped telling their children and grandchildren the stories, the stories about the mighty acts of God.
Stories… Stories are gifts from God.
Some are just for fun… like… “Once upon a time there were three bears. They lived in a small cottage deep in the woods. One day a young girl, Goldilocks by name happened to come walking by …”
Some stories just occur naturally, in casual conversation, as we tell each other about our day.
A student comes home and gets asked the question, “How was school?” Answer: “Fine…” Next Question: “What did you learn today?” Answer: “Nothin’”
Short and to the point!
Teachers often use stories to make a point in lessons they teach. For example, here’s one I use from time to time…
One Saturday, I just decided to bake a blueberry pie! … And the story goes on to make some educational point remembered by few.
But what about the ‘God’ stories, the stories of our lives that we share that tell about how he daily cares for us… Stories that tell the ‘mighty acts of God’ in our lives.
They maybe simple stories, simple truths… I had a student a long time ago in another school in another place When it was his turn to pray at lunch he was nervous and he would stand in front of class, and like a pitcher on the mound… He’d wind up scrunching his eyes closed hands folded, he’d pray… “Deeeaar God….” and then deliver the pitch, “Be with everyone on the ro – oads…” And the simple truth, the mighty act of God was that everyday, students made it to school safely. There were no serious accidents, that I’m aware of, among our school family that year. God is so good…
Some stories are more complicated…There was Mary….
Mary’s life began about the same time my teaching life began. She was born the year before I began teaching, in a different town … a different place. There was no connection between our lives… except God was at work in both places. I didn’t know it, but God had a plan…
Fourteen years later, in a different school, Mary became my student. My memory of the details is a bit sketchy, She came as an eighth grader. I was teaching eighth graders at the time. She was bright, full of energy, fun – a beautiful child of God. But also, as I found out, troubled. If I remember correctly, she came to us in the middle of the year. She had moved in with relatives because things weren’t working out at home. Home was not a good place for her. I don’t know the details, but for some reason it was better for her to not be there.
At school there were good days and bad days. And if I remember correctly, really bad days. She ran away. She didn’t finish the year with us.
But God is good. God had a plan. I couldn’t see it. Many times since then, even today, I wonder, “Why did God bring Mary to my school?”
The following year I tried to keep track of Mary. I prayed for her. Visited her while she lived in a state institution for troubled teenagers. In fact the last time I spoke to her, almost 30 years ago, was to say good-bye as I walked out of the dreary, gray visitation room at the state mental hospital.
That was pretty much it for me and Mary. The paths of our lives intersected for just a small bit of time. As far as being part of my life, at first she wasn’t – then she was – then she wasn’t… As far as God being part of Mary’s life, at first he was, and now he is, he always will be.
From time to time, via a mutual friend, a former student… [It’s so nice to say that a former student is now a friend.] I would get reports about Mary. She had a kid…. She was too young, not married, I think… I’d pray, then she’d fade from my mind. She moved down south… I’d pray… for awhile.. She got married … I prayed, “Thank you.” I prayed for a normal, not messed up life.
I found out her husband died, cancer, I think… Three little kids.. Mary is struggling was the report. Mary’s fighting addictions they said… Pray for Mary. And I would, for a while…
Time moved on… Our lives moved on, Mary and mine … almost 30 years of our lives… And then, not so long ago, my friend said. We’re going to get Mary. We’re bringing her home, back to Kalamazoo. And they did, family and friends… God was at work. He had a plan. And I prayed some more. And I hoped that maybe I would get to meet up with Mary again…
I don’t know all the details, but Mary started going to church… The God who loved her first, was at work… through family and friends and the work of the Spirit… her relationship with God became more and more real. And at some point… before she passed away… she met Jesus.
She realized in her heart that in spite of the tyranny of her troubled past, she belonged body and soul, in life and in death, to her faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
At the funeral we sang:
My chains are gone,
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
How will the next generation know the mighty acts of God unless we tell the stories? We need to tell the stories of God’s grace… God’s goodness… God’s mighty acts.
“One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts… “ Psalm 145:4
One thought on “The Mighty Acts of God”
You are, and have, such a gift. I love this post.