Illustration: Over recent days I was able to take to the trails again. I took different routes this time, steeper ones. The views always more than repay the efforts needed to make the climbs. The flora differs on the rocky ascents. Laurel fills the saddles. Rock outcroppings serve as handholds on the spurs. Felled trees from the winds lay in abundance. I strung up my hammock at a good spot, unzipped my ruck, retrieved a Gatorade and a book. Today was a sample from one of my enduring favorites: Flannery O’Connor. She had a sharp tongue, a sharper pencil, and a mind aflame with the things of God. And because all things exist under the sovereignty of God, she wrote about a lot of things–some pretty, some grisly.
I looked down towards the direction I’d ascended the last few miles. Still breathing heavily, pulling on the Gatorade, the wind against my sweaty face felt good. When I looked back at various times, several passages came to mind. One of them was an enduring favorite from the pen of Moses when he wrote to Israel in Deuteronomy 7:
Wisdom from God: For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today. (Dt 7:6-11)
Context: Moses was reminding the people that God’s people are chosen by God and chosen for holy purposes. It was not that they were special in and of themselves. Far from it. They were not special. It was simply God’s sovereign grace towards them. He chose them, not vice versa. And Moses the mediator was reminding these people that God is faithful, that He keeps his covenants and promises, and that He repays. God is not fickle. He is not a fair-weather friend. No, He is unchanging, holy, and faithful.
Connection and Encouragement: Today my wife and I celebrate 20 years of marriage. I am certainly nothing special but I do know this: I would not be where I am without the grace of God towards me, without the patience of God towards me, and without the faithfulness and patience of my wife towards me. She keeps the train of our lives on the tracks while I get to do what I love.
When I looked back down the trails, I could see the granite outcroppings, streams I had crossed, massive trees above and below, and I looked down, and then up, and then out and across at the display before me. I tried to recall the passage from Deuteronomy from memory. God calls His people not to forget Him, not to become smug, not to be proud–but to be faithful, humble, and to work hard at what He has commanded us to do. He gave me a good thing when He brought her to me (Pr 18:22) and it is my joy to provide the best I can. I’m remembering my history while on the trail this week, and I am glad it has been, by God’s grace, with my CJ. It is important to remember our history and the faithfulness of the Lord, and the faithful ones He puts in our lives.