Seventy-two-year-old actress Helen Mirren made headlines recently when she released pictures of herself before and after she was made up for her appearance at Sunday night’s Academy Awards. Time magazine claimed that the candid pictures “prove she’s a queen among mortals.”
Aging is a decision as well as a reality.
Scientists have confirmed that exercise in old age prevents the immune system from declining. After following 125 long-distance cyclists, some now in their 80s, they found that they had the immune systems of twenty-year-olds.
On the other hand, we can miss some of life’s greatest opportunities at any age.
A note written by Albert Einstein to an Italian woman scientist who declined to meet him sold at auction this week in Jerusalem. Einstein wrote the note to Elisabetta Piccini, a chemistry student who lived one floor above his sister. However, as the auction house explained, she was “introverted and too shy to meet with such a famous person.”
Live life in chapters
Philosopher Elton Trueblood encouraged us to live life in chapters. The present chapter is made possible by the previous one and leads to the next. Be present where you are, remembering that all of God there is, is in this moment. But also look for ways God is redeeming the present for the eternal.
Exodus 17 illustrates Trueblood’s advice: “All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord” (v. 1a).
As they followed God’s leading, however, “there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink'” (vv. 1b-2). If the Lord was indeed leading his people “by stages,” why would he lead them here?
God’s direction to Moses provides our answer: “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink” (vv. 5-7a).
Moses obeyed the word of God, and the people received the provision of God. But more than physical water was in focus here: the people learned that the God who parted the Red Sea could also bring water from a rock. They learned that their elders could not do what God could do through Moses. And they learned that the Lord would use Moses to lead them in his perfect will.
In other words, God redeemed the drought by using it to draw his people to himself.
Join God at work
The next section teaches the same principle.
Amalekites came to fight with Israel. Having survived Pharaoh’s armies by God’s miraculous deliverance, would the nation now be destroyed in its first battle?
As Moses worked with the elders before, now he enlisted Joshua to lead the people (v. 9a). So long as Moses held up the “staff of God” (v. 9), the people prevailed. When he lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed (v. 11). So Aaron held up one arm and Hur the other, and “Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword” (v. 13).
In this way, the Lord of the Israelites proved himself to be Lord over the Amalekites as well. In a day when people believed in territorial gods associated with specific nations, the God of Israel showed himself to be King of all nations.
David noted God’s universal sovereignty when he prayed, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2).
Henry Blackaby’s classic spiritual guide, Experiencing God, taught us to discover where God is at work and join him there. How can we know where he is at work in the present chapter of our lives? Ask how God could bless you for your greatest good and his highest glory.
That is where he is at work. Join him.
“The victory that has overcome the world”
If we are willing to trust God with our eternal souls, can we not trust him with our temporal needs? If he could part the Red Sea, he can bring water from a rock. If he could defeat the mighty Egyptians, he can defeat the Amalekites.
What God leads us to, he leads us through (Psalm 23:4).
All of God’s people pass through trials, as Scripture predicted: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NIV). It is difficult to find a person greatly used by God who has not been greatly tested by the world.
This fact is more than coincidence. The greater our challenges, the greater our need for God. And the more we learn to depend on God, the more we can be used by God.
So, name your drought and your Amalekites. Ask God to show you what he wants you to do to partner with him in redeeming your present chapter for your good and his glory. And know that your faith is a shining witness to a skeptical culture.
God promises: “This is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith” (1 John 5:4). Will you “overcome the world” today?