A God-composed journey of faith life-script is partially hidden to outsiders (2 Cor. 4:2-4; Jn. 14:17), is incomprehensible to many people (Jn. 15:19; 1 Pet. 4:4), and is contrary to the worldly goals and aspirations of horizontally conventional thinking (Rom. 12:2). These two conflicting worldviews…a journey of faith willingly following Jesus Christ through free-will choice, and an unbelieving indifference to any knowledge of God whatsoever in our lives…could not be more different.
A large part of the program of worldly acceptable thinking is to keep up the outward appearances of success at all times. But no one is “winning” out there in the world in a guaranteed, indefinitely sustainable, secure sense of the word. Fortunes can disappear overnight, beauty fades away, athletic prowess wains over time, fame and the power it bestows can dissipate in a moment.
The outside world at large is mostly competitive, not supportive. Many people work extremely hard to “keep up with the Joneses” next door, to live in the right zip code, and to be seen moving about in the highest social circles. But the outside world coldly says: “first prove your worth, and then we will pay homage to you.” The struggle and pressure to “keep up appearances” is in actuality a limiting reality located in the top-half of successful human experience that allows little or no room for the sometimes beneficial but worldly humiliating challenge of adversity.
God as our Creator has no such doubtful starting perception of us that requires us to first show Him our worth before He will accept us and commence a personal relationship with us. God knows us inside and out…better than we know ourselves. He sees our hidden talents and our future potential because He placed these things within us. Our journeys of faith following God are courageously unbounded and conceptually unlimited because they begin within the mind of the God who knows who and want He created us to be.
This broad outlook admits the width and breadth of human experience unlimited by horizontally conventional thinking. The narrow gate of Matthew 7:13-14 is surprisingly the gateway out into the broadest and most liberating of horizons possible, because God alone knows the optimum end-point destinations for each of our life journeys. This narrow gate is the correct starting point for every imaginable life-plan and career path, and every conceivable Christian ministry.
When our God-composed journey of faith life-script therefore takes us through the hard terrain of difficult times, we know that we are not permanent “failures” and that the negative verdict of the world’s judgment for our temporal plight is based upon a short-sighted and uninformed assessment of our current condition.
Abraham for a time is a wealthy herdsman but disappointingly childless for the highest imaginable reason, setting up the unique scenario whereby he can demonstrably grow into becoming “the father of faith.” Jacob for a time struggles against an unethical and miserly uncle. Joseph’s unique “graduate course” in management takes him through the humbling social positions of being a servant-slave and an unjustly convicted prisoner.
Moses the great deliverer and prophet is assigned for a time to being a sheep herder in the quiet obscurity of the land of Midian. David is being chased for his life by the established and recognized King Saul of Israel. Gideon protests his calling to push back the invading Midianites by saying he is nobody important in Israel or even in his own family.
On paper, Ruth as a foreigner does not stand a chance with the wealthy and influential Boaz. Hannah by all outward appearances will continue to be childless. Esther is only the newly selected queen with little or no influence, and her uncle Mordecai has the deadliest enemy in the capitol city for his adversary. The great prophet Elijah complains to God that seemingly everyone is against him. Jeremiah protests that he is too young to be God’s mouthpiece.
Upon seeing the miraculous catch of fish, Peter in a moment of honest self-appraisal says to Jesus: “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8). Paul candidly tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:9, in terms of his social status as a missionary evangelist to the first- century Greco-Roman world: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last…” even though Paul and the other apostles go on to write the brilliantly inspired New Testament gospels and letters to the churches that have helped untold multitudes of believers down through the centuries to our present time. Yet in the first century, no one is naming hospitals, universities, or cathedral buildings after Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint John, Saint Luke, or Saint Timothy.