God saved us from two hurricanes. But that's nothing.

by Aug 13, 2014

Some people felt let down when Iselle and Julio brought no more than a sprinkling of rain and a few waves to Oahu. One of my friends posted: “Worst hurricane ever. I had to water my own plants.”

But there’s no doubt that God was sovereignly protecting our island from what could have been (should have been?) a major disaster. It was the first time in history that back-to-back hurricanes have threatened the islands. Close to half the homes on our island are single-wall construction (like mine), and ninety percent of those homes haven’t been reinforced with hurricane straps. A direct hurricane hit would have left hundreds of thousands of us homeless. Praise God for blessing us with an uneventful weekend.

Our God is a God of blessing. That’s what Paul celebrated in the beginning of his letter to the Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). Did you catch the word repeated three times? Blessing!

But you might have noticed another word in there: the qualification “spiritual.” Paul’s idea of blessing is different than ours. We usually focus our attention on the blessings of physical provision and protection, career success, and family happiness. But to Paul, the greatest blessings God gives are spiritual.

Like the blessing of being chosen by God: “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph 1:4-5).

Some Christians have a problem with the idea that God chose them, but notice what he chose us for: “adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” How could anyone object to that?

A few years ago, I visited an AIDS orphanage in Thailand. I met a little girl who was born HIV positive. Her mother abandoned her in the maternity ward. Hospitals in Thailand at that time didn’t waste their time on AIDS babies, so a nurse wrote on her chart, “Leave her to die.”

A Christian woman from Canada happened to be in the hospital, saw what was written on her chart, and decided at that moment to adopt her. She started adopting more and more kids, and now she has more than 80 kids living in a nice big home in northern Thailand. She and her staff take great care of them, giving them the drugs they need three times a day that will allow them to have a normal lifespan.

All those kids would be dead right now if it weren’t for her. So I didn’t hear a single one of them complain about how this woman chose them. No one grumbled about how she took them out of those hospitals and how she imposed her will on them. They’re alive. They’re loved. They’re cared for.

The fact that God chose you and adopted you is incredible. But it was a costly choice. You were adopted “through Christ Jesus.” Paul explains what that means: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight” (Eph 3:7-8).

Being redeemed means being set free from slavery with a payment. The Bible says you’re a slave to two things: sin and death. You can’t escape them. You can do as many Hail Mary’s as you want or as many meditative chants as you want, and you’ll still be a sinner. You can eat as many antioxidant berries and do as many crunches as you want, you’re still going to die. But, through his death on the cross, Jesus set us free from sin and death.

Blessings always come at a cost. After my visit to Thailand, I wanted to bless my kids with some good souvenirs. I knew my son Caleb would want an airplane. I looked in every street market we went through, but no airplanes. I thought, “For sure in the Bangkok airport they’ll have toy planes.” No dice. My last shot was a layover in Tokyo, where I had less than an hour before I had to get on the plane, and I knew Caleb would be waiting expectantly when I get off that plane.

I searched high and low through Narita airport, and finally find one little Japan Airlines 747. But it was Tokyo, where everything costs ten times more, so this little plane was $38. I was standing there working up the nerve to pay it when another dad came up next to me, and started to reach for the plane. I had no other choice. I pushed his hand away and said, “It’s mine.” He looked like he was ready to scrap, so I ran to the register. Blessings come at a cost.

It didn’t cost God anything to save us from Hurricane Iselle. But it cost him everything to save us from our sin. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.