“Past, Present, and Future”

The Upper Room devotional reflection for Wednesday, January 26, 2022 comes to us from Bill Kirklin of Indiana

6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” 12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” 16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.

Acts 12:6-17 NIV
 

“Past, Present, and Future”

When my wife was hospitalized after a stroke, a church group gave her a blanket embroidered with her name and Mark 11:24. When I looked up the verse, it gave me hope. Along with our friends and our church, I was fervently praying for my wife’s complete recovery. When she died seven weeks later, I was grief-stricken. Not only did I lose my wife, but our prayers had not been granted. I felt like I had failed. Surely if I had been more faithful, God would have healed my wife.


For years I have wrestled with this verse. The mix of past and future tenses is puzzling. I believe prayer changes things, but this passage teaches me that our prayers are never just about the future. Praying conforms us to God’s will in the present. We are comforted in this transformation by looking to God’s faithfulness in the past. Further, like the disciples in Acts 12, sometimes we don’t immediately recognize the answer to our prayers. I’m still mourning the loss of my wife, but slowly I am beginning to appreciate the profound ways God answers my prayers – ways so amazing that I don’t always understand them. I have come to accept that God doesn’t require my understanding, just my steadfast, faithful confidence in God’s love for me.

 

Friends –

I don’t understand much, if anything, about God. But somehow, I know when I see God at work. I marvel at the wonderful creation that surrounds us, knowing that we surrounded by God’s handiwork, but not really understanding it. Still, I trust in God and God’s always loving grace. I invite you to consider moments when you see God at work or marvel at God’s holy and precious creation. Do you completely understand those moments? Can you trust God, even when you don’t understand?

--Pastor bea

 
Prayer:

Dear Lord, help us to see the ways you have guided us in the past, and grant us faith to trust our futures to you, no matter what is happening in the present. Amen.

--Bill Kirklin


Prayer Focus:

Those who have lost Loved Ones.


Thought for the Day:

How has God acted in my past?

 

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24 NIV