Is that cliché? I know it’s a title for a popular Christian song by 7eventh Time Down. Nearly 10 million people have watched the official version.
I guess I’m thinking about this phrase more in the context that I see God showing up in certain sectors where I think most of us would not expect him to find him there.
As someone who has been published in a number of periodicals, I’ve been surprised lately to pick up a general market magazine or newspaper (yes, I read newspapers, and I’ve heard the jokes on The Great Indoors) to find a writer expressing a strong Christian sentiment. Or I’ll be out shopping and suddenly the shopkeeper, who I’m fairly certain doesn’t affiliate with a particular church, will quote one of the more obscure portions of the Bible. Or I’ll be relaxing watching a sitcom when suddenly, I’m like, “Where did that come from?”
And every time this happens I keep coming back to the same image. It’s the one in 1 Kings 19 where Elijah suggests he’s the last — for a more second covenant word — the last believer left. In The Voice Bible it reads:
Eternal One: Why are you here, Elijah? What is it that you desire?
Elijah: 14 As you know, all my passion has been devoted to the Eternal God of heavenly armies. The Israelites have abandoned Your covenant with them, they have torn down every one of Your altars, and they have executed all who prophesy in Your name by the sword. I am the last remaining prophet, and they now seek to execute me as well. They won’t stop.
Eternal One: 15 Travel back the same way you traveled here, but continue north to the desert of Damascus. There, I want you to anoint Hazael as Aram’s king, 16 Jehu (Nimshi’s son) as Israel’s king, and Elisha (Shaphat’s son from Abel-meholah) to replace you as prophet. 17 Jehu will execute anyone who escapes from Hazael, and Elisha will execute all who escape from Jehu. 18 I will keep for Myself the 7,000 Israelites who have not bowed down to Baal or offered him kisses.
The story continues and is retold by Paul in Romans 11:
4 How does God answer his pleas for help? He says, “I have held back 7,000 men who are faithful to Me; none have bowed a knee to worship Baal.” 5 The same thing is happening now. God has preserved a remnant, elected by grace. 6 Grace is central in God’s action here, and it has nothing to do with deeds prescribed by the law. If it did, grace would not be grace.
As I study the account of this, I realize it’s not exactly the same, but it’s a similar story insofar as we don’t expect — at least I don’t — to see God working in certain places and yet that may actually be where he does his best work. (Did anyone else reading this grow up on Romans 5:20? Where sin abounds…)
Grace is alive and well.
Perhaps at some point in the future I can be more specific about some of the things I’m seeing. Otherwise, that will have to suffice for today.
Have you seen God at work in some places you considered God-forsaken?