Wednesday, February 11, 2009


During the summer of 1982 I had the privilege of attending the United States Marine Corps' Platoon Leaders' Class in Quantico, Virginia. To this day, that remains one of the top three hardest things that I have ever done. My life was not my own; we were told when to eat, when to sleep, when to awaken, when to wash, where to be, etc. We were constantly barked at and nothing we did was ever correct. We were told we would not last an hour in combat; and if we ever even mistakenly brush against one of our instructors we were threatened with certain death. But other than that we had a great time.

What I didn't realize at the time was that every detail of our time at PLC was planned to the nines. Even the badgering and death threats were all part of a master plan. There was nothing random, nothing left to chance. Every detail of this six weeks of "hell on earth" had one purpose: to make us battle-ready Marine Corps officers. No randomness.

I played football throughout high school and for my first two years in college. I remember two, sometimes three-a-day practices in the heat of summer that made men barf up a lung or two. I remember constant drilling to prepare our team for the gridiron battles that lay ahead. We scrimmaged and watched films of our opponents ad nauseum; yet it was always according to the plans of our coaches. We prepared for every contingency that might happen during the games. All of this was for the purpose of making us ready to fight to the finish on the football field. No randomness.

Today, I am an airline pilot. But before I was could wear my airline's uniform, I had to endure two years of professional pilot training, three weeks of indoctrination by my airline and worst of all: nine rounds of "no holds barred" wrestling with a beast they call the "Simulator". Now, some guys are born to fly and they take to that cursed box like a duck to water. I'm not one of them. That unfeeling, merciless contraption of satan has made me want to rip up my pilot's license, put on a blue vest and welcome people to Wal-Mart on more than one occasion! It is also on that "top three hardest things I have ever done" list. By the grace of God; however, I have made it through every time. The point is: they put us through every conceivable emergency scenario for one purpose . . . to make ready to be responsible for the lives of countless travelers. No randomness.

While reminiscing over these events recently, it gave me an insight about our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. Let's face it, if you have been a Christian for any length of time you already know the belief that "once you get saved your life get's easier" is a lie from the pit of hell. From relationships to finances, death and disease, from being put down to pagans bent on world domination; our very souls are tried regularly. Thanks be unto God for the gifts of faith and prayer which are the only avenues by which we are strengthened and given peace in the midst of our trials.

My insight; however, presented another perspective. One which I hope is biblical and will be of some help. Here it goes: if fallen man rightly attempts to prepare himself for the demands of temporal pursuits, shouldn't Almighty God even more so prepare His children for eternal glories? We proudly boast of our all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present and almighty God. We profess of a God who is "sovereign" over every facet of life. By this we mean that God is in control of ALL things, big and small. God, Himself, testifies to this in Scripture when He says in Isaiah 14: 24, 27: "The Lord of hosts has sworn:

“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand . . .

For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back"?

These truths, taken to their logical conclusion, say to me that nothing we encounter in this life is random. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that everything we encounter and every event on earth is planned by our sovereign God. If every detail of Marine Corps Officer training or every detail of the Pittsburgh Steelers' training camp, or every detail of airline pilot training is planned in order to arrive at a specific outcome; how much more are the events of God's world planned to bring about His desired outcome of an exalted Savior of men and the bringing of many sons to glory? No randomness.

Scripture makes clear that Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8KJV). It also proclaims that those who are in Christ were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4KJV). This clearly indicates that a plan was in place long before the earth began. A plan that encompassed all the failings, victories, temptations, trials; and yes even sins that the participants would ever commit. Notice that in the Old Testament after God established His covenant with the children of Israel He declared that they would not keep the covenant. "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them'" (Deut.31:16). Consider this: if the Israelites had been faithful and kept the covenant, would Jesus' death have been necessary? I think not. But that's the whole point of redemptive history; the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. An exalted Savior and Lord, a glorified Father and a redeemed people of God; that's the Bible! No randomness.

Did God make Israel fail? Certainly not! Israel, as are all mankind, was responsible for their choices; but their failure was inevitable. God is not the author of sin.

So, what of the trials and triumphs of our lives today? They are the training eternally planned for each of us. God, in His infinite wisdom, has planned every detail of our lives from the womb to the tomb. All with the purpose of glorifying Himself and producing battle-tested replicas of His perfect son, Jesus.

" For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29)"

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)"

What does this mean for our prayers and our expectations? If I am correct, does that mean we have figured out God's plan? Does that mean that, now, the jig is up and He must do something new? God forbid! Knowing this, is the reason for an even more uncompromising trust in our sovereign God. Since we know that He is invincible and that He is incapable of failure; we should of all people be the most assured and the most at peace. Jesus was able to endure the cross because of the glory that lay beyond it. Jesus was able to endure the very wrath of God the Father because of the glory that lay beyond it. Who are we to imitate?

Talk about "dangling chad" . . . for us who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, this is the most rigged "election" (Ephesians 1:4-6) in the history of the world. I, for one, would have it no other way.

No randomness.

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!! (Acts 17:11)