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How is it that I am in this place?

May 11, 2017

“Place” can be literal— as in a location— or descriptive of our season of life, process or challenge.  People sometimes have a happy place and we each know the difference between being in a good or bad place in a relationship, job or other difficult life passage. The valley of the shadow of death is a bad place if you’re walking it alone, but that same place is transformed by the presence of the Good Shepherd. So, wherever you are right now, God is sovereign over that place.  I’m inviting you today to operate according to the reality of God’s sovereignty over whatever place you’re in.  

For eighteen years, my friend and colleague Rodney Wood has opened the Louisiana Legislators’ Bible Study / Prayer Breakfast with the same message. He says it provides an annual reset of perspective for those in leadership. His goal is simply to remind them they are appointed by God to serve people.

His annual message includes these words:

There are going to be days, as you walk these halls and sit in these committee rooms and in the grand chambers above, when you are going to find yourself being overwhelmed with a sense of privilege:  “How can it be that I am in this place?”  But then there will be other days when with equally strong emotions – frustrations, disillusionment, longing for home, concerns about matters pertaining to your livelihood – you are going to say to yourself, “How can it be that I am in THIS place?”

Regardless of the inflection, regardless of which of the two experiences you have most often, it is of paramount importance in your service to the people that you have a firm grip on the correct answer to that question:  “How can it be that I am in this place?”

The question of how is answered by the reality of God’s sovereign authority.

Romans 13:1-2 says, “. . . there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted . . . .”  

In Daniel 2:19-21, we read, “Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said, ‘Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.  He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them.”

At our very first meeting back in the year 2000, after reading that final phrase from Daniel, I asked, “So what does this mean?” And one who is still here among us gave the answer that I have repeated every year for 18 years:  “He says when it’s time to come.  And He says when it’s time to go.”

Do you acknowledge God’s sovereignty at that level of your life? Do you acknowledge that God is the one who says when it’s time to come and when it’s time to go?  And when we look at elected public servants, do we imagine that they are in the positions they are in for such a time as this because of their connections and political manipulations, dark money and deals, or voter turnout? Rodney’s lesson to the legislators continues:

Yes, those are among the reasons that you are here.  But this is what you must remember:  all of those are what theologians call “secondary causes.”  God is the “first cause.”  It is He Who chooses, according to His own sovereign will, to actuate or to allow the impact of those “secondary causes” for His own purposes, which only He fully understands.

It is by God’s own hand that you are here. Influential individuals, political organizations, companies, parties, and members of political movements may think they can remove you. But they are simply “secondary causes” that can do nothing except by the will of God, “the first Cause,” Who “establishes” every governmental leader, including you.  He decided that you would be here.  And there is a day coming when He, and He alone, will decide that your time here is over.

And that which is true of those in positions of political leadership, as servants of the people, is also true of you and me. I have learned to ask myself, with both inflections, “How is it that I could be in this place?”

Q: How is it that I could be in this place?

A: By the grace and the will of God.

Q: How is it that I could be in this place?

A: By the grace and the will of God.

Now, that is not to say that everyone is in the right place nor the right relationship nor the right position.  Many people are living completely outside God’s will at this very moment. But God can use them as well. Remember Cyrus?

Today, ask yourself, “How is it that I am in this place?” And then yield to the reality that God can use you right where you, for such a time as this, to glorify Himself and advance His Kingdom purposes amidst the kingdoms of this world.


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