When Things Don’t Work

One of the things that Jesus always reframes for us is this – what is truly important?  What are the things that really matter? What truly counts?  What is the point and purpose of everything?  We see that dynamic play out in our reading today, Luke 10: 17-20:

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

The disciples in this passage have really done some amazing things. They have exercised some of the same power that Jesus has.  And they came back really pumped.  I mean, what a huge win for them.

You know that feeling, right? That feeling when something amazing happened through you?  As a pastor, on a powerful day at church, you are just so excited that God moved in amazing ways. Or maybe when you try something that God wants you to do, and it works!  Or perhaps when you see a prayer answered.  We’ve all been there, so excited, not necessarily that we “did” something but that God “did” something through us!

What an awesome feeling.

770px-StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_GoodShepherd_PortraitJesus is excited for them, but that is not what He wants them to remember.  What does He want them to be thankful for?  That their names are written in the book of life.  That they are His.  That is what is most important.

Why is that what He focuses on?

He wants them to know what is most important because things won’t always go right.  Sometimes you do everything right.  Sometimes you preach the sermon or pray the prayer or take the risk, and you know what?  Nothing happens.  People don’t get saved.  The risk doesn’t work. The prayer is not answered like we’d want.

And you know what?  God is still God.  You were still faithful.  All will still be well.

God is God when things go right.  God is God when things go wrong.  We are His children when things go right.  We are His children when things go wrong.

Jesus wants us to know what matters most, that we are His.

So, today praise God when it works and when it goes wrong. But if it doesn’t, know this – you are still His.  Continue to be faithful.  Know that your identity is not found in anything you do, but is found in who He is.  You are His. That is what matters most.

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