In Progress or Completed?
It’s satisfying to finish a job. Each month, for instance, one of my job responsibilities gets moved from one category to another, from “In Progress” to “Completed.” I love clicking that “Completed” button. But last month when I clicked it, I thought, If only I could overcome rough spots in my faith so easily! It can seem like the Christian life is always in progress, never completed.
Then I remembered Hebrews 10:14. It describes how Christ's sacrifice redeems us totally. So in one important sense, that “completed button” has been pressed for us. Jesus’ death did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves: making us acceptable in God’s eyes when we place our faith in Him. It is finished, as Jesus Himself said (John 19:30). Paradoxically, even though His sacrifice is complete and total, we spend the rest of our lives living into that spiritual reality—“being made holy,” as Hebrews' author writes.
The fact that Jesus has finished something that’s still being worked out in our lives is hard to understand. When I’m struggling spiritually, it’s encouraging to remember that Jesus’ sacrifice for me—and for you—is complete . . . even if our living it out in this life is still a work in progress. Nothing can stop His intended end from being achieved eventually: being transformed into His likeness (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
As an amateur photographer, I enjoy capturing glimpses of God’s creativity with my camera. I see His fingerprints on each delicate flower petal, each vibrant sunrise and sunset, and each cloud-painted and star-speckled sky canvas.
My camera’s powerful zoom option allows me to take photos of the Lord’s creatures too. I’ve snapped shots of a chattering squirrel in a cherry blossom tree, a colorful butterfly flitting from bloom to bloom, and sea turtles sunning on a rocky, black beach. Each one-of-a-kind image prompted me to worship my marvelous Maker.
I’m not the first of God’s people to praise Him while admiring His unique creations. The writer of Psalm 104 sings of the Lord’s many works of art in nature (v. 24). He regards “the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number” (v. 25) and rejoices in God for providing constant and complete care for His masterpieces (vv. 27–31). Considering the majesty of the God-given life around him, the psalmist bursts with worshipful gratitude: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (v. 33).
While reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent and immense creation, we can look close at His intentional creativity and attention to detail. And like the psalmist, we can sing to our Creator with thankful praise for how powerful, majestic, and loving He is and always will be. Hallelujah!
While in London, a friend arranged for my wife Marlene and me to visit the Sky Garden. On the top floor of a thirty-five-story building in London’s business district, the Sky Garden is a glass-encased platform filled with plants, trees, and flowers. But the sky part captured our attention. We gazed down from a height of over 500 feet, admiring St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and more. Our views of the capital city were breathtaking—providing a helpful lesson on perspective.
Our God has a perfect perspective of everything we experience. The psalmist wrote, “For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To set free those who were doomed to death” (Psalm 102:19–20 nasb).
Like the hurting people pictured in Psalm 102, we are often locked into the present with its struggles, “groaning” with despair. But God sees our lives from beginning to end. Our Lord is never caught off guard by the things that can blindside us. As the psalmist anticipated, His perfect perspective will lead to an ultimate rescue that sets free even “those doomed to death” (vv. 20, 27–28).
In difficult moments, remember: We may not know what is coming next, but our Lord does. We can trust Him with every moment that stretches before us.
Jesus Reached Out
Sometimes life gets busy—classes are hard, work is exhausting, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and a coffee date is on the day’s schedule. It gets to the point where I force myself to read the Bible for a few minutes a day and tell myself I’ll spend more time with God next week. But it doesn’t take long before I’m distracted, drowning in the day’s tasks, and forget to ask God for help of any kind.
When Peter was walking on water toward Jesus, he quickly became distracted by the wind and waves. Like me, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29–30). But as soon as Peter cried out, Jesus “immediately reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30–31).
I often feel as if I have to make it up to God after being so busy and distracted that I lose sight of Him. But that’s not how God works. As soon as we turn to Him for help, Jesus reaches out without hesitation (vv. 30–31).
When we’re distracted by the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” (v. 31). No matter what we’re going through, He is there. He is here. Next to us at that moment, in this moment, ready to reach out and rescue us.
Riding along with my husband on some errands, I scrolled through emails on my phone and was surprised at an incoming advertisement for a local donut shop, a shop we had just passed on the right side of the street. Suddenly my stomach growled with hunger. I marveled at how technology allows vendors to woo us into their establishments.
As I clicked off my email, I mused over God’s constant yearning to draw me closer. He always knows where I am and longs to influence my choices. I wondered, Does my heart growl in desire for Him the way my stomach did over the idea of a donut?
In John 6, following the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the disciples eagerly ask Jesus to always give them “the bread . . . that gives life to the world” (vv. 33–34). Jesus responds in verse 35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” How amazing that a relationship with Jesus can provide constant nourishment in our everyday lives!
The donut shop’s advertisement targeted my body’s craving, but God’s continuous knowledge of my heart’s condition invites me to recognize my ongoing need for Him and to receive the sustenance only He can provide.