Reflections on God's Work

18 Jul 2016
Bill Lofthouse
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After an excellent message on the subject of God at Work, based on the second chapter of the Book of Ruth, John suggested that we should reflect on God at Work in our lives, and so I’ve been pondering how it is that I, born and brought up in a small North Yorkshire village where no-one had a telephone or car, am here in Durban working on a laptop. Coincidence? That’s the way it goes? Or, as it is recorded in Ruth 2:3 NIV, “As it turned out”?

Thinking it through I can trace it back to a certain day (I cannot remember the exact date) in mid-August 1942 when I decided to join the Royal Navy and put an end, once and for all to WW2. As it happened, one thing led to another and three years, or there abouts, later I met Amy, briefly, here in Durban. Five years later, after having been demobilised and spending some time back in my home village, I got myself a job in Johannesburg, reconnected with and married Amy, who by her love of God and lifestyle, led me to Christ. We eventually moved down from Jo’burg to Durban North, and at the invitation of a friend joined the Durban North Baptist Church. When we moved Westville we joined WBC, where the warmth and friendship enabled us to grow in faith. After Amy’s passing to glory, my daughter and her husband insisted that I move in with them so that they could keep an eye on me. That then, in brief, is how I come to be here – one occurrence after another, could have happened to anybody.

But here’s a couple of “what ifs”: What if I had decided to join up a month earlier or month later – my life would have been different. I would have, because of the timing, been drafted to different ships and it would have been most unlikely that I would have met Amy and later found employment in South Africa and married her and so be sitting here typing this. Have the occurrences over a period of 74 years been a series of coincidental happenings or “as it turned outs” or was the hand of God at work?

I believe that God has a purpose for our lives and that He directs these seemingly “strange the way things turn out” happenings to achieve that purpose. In my case, I believe, it was, initially, to care for Amy in her physical need, and now to serve Him in other ways.

We can look at other Biblical personalities, apart from Ruth, to see how God worked in their lives. Take Moses, according to the decree by Pharaoh, he should have been killed along with other male Israelite babies. What made his parents hide him for three months and then send him floating down the river Nile in a basket? How come he wasn’t taken by a crocodile? Good fortune? How was it that he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and not some other Egyptian lady who would have tipped him out and kept the basket? And so the questions can be asked and answered by skeptics with “He must have been born under a lucky star”. But as we read on and his story unfolds it becomes obvious that his experiences were all a build-up to make him fit to free the Hebrew slaves from the Egyptian yoke and lead them to the Promised Land. He was brought up as an Egyptian so that he knew how the Egyptian mind functioned. He spent 40 years tending sheep so that he became toughened and desert-wise so that he could withstand the rigours of 40 years wandering in the wilderness before crossing the Jordan River into Canaan. God was working in his life to achieve His purpose.

Even during the 400 years of silence between Malachi and the start of the new Testament God was at work making sure that a common world language, Greek, was established and that there was a good road system in place connecting the far flung Roman empire and the Pax Romana was in operation, al in readiness for Christ’s earthly ministry and to facilitate the spread of the Good News.

As Jesus told the Jews who were criticising him for healing on the Sabbath, “My Father is always at work, even to this day, and I too, am working”. (John 5:17 NIV).

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