I am not certain who first said, “Hindsight is much clearer than foresight,” but it is with that truth in mind that I offer this preface to these “incidences”. When I became a Christian at age 29, I soon became aware of “incidences” in my life that spoke volumes to me about the nature of this God, who, in Jesus, had quite literally “run me down” like the proverbial “Hound of Heaven.”
As I grew in my life as a Christian, I became increasingly aware that all my life had been riddled with divine “incidences.” I have a friend who once prayed that I might have “Retrospective Revelation.” I believe in every human being there is that “place” deep within that only divine intuition can come close to defining its reality. It’s the “That” of God the apostle talks about in Philippians. He says it like this, “that I may lay hold of that, for which I was laid hold of by Christ.” The “that” is that which Christ has placed in every human being that has ever been born.
As I have grown older, the ability to see these “incidences” has become clearer, bringing with them great comfort. I am writing this preface, to encourage other pilgrims as they journey on the “Way.” It is to all fellow pilgrims I say, “Our beginning and our end are in God alone.”
When I managed KORU FM at Oral Roberts University, I had a morning radio program called “Good Morning Brother Pilgrim.” I believed that whoever was listening, believer or unbeliever, that my story may be similar to everyone’s story, if we could only “see.” This “seeing,” I believe, is “revelation.” Jesus spoke of it when asking the disciples who they believed he was. Peter blurted it out, “You (Jesus) are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my father who is in heaven.”I have come to believe the gift of revelation is God’s great, holy gift.
The incidences of a person’s life may differ from culture to culture and time to time. But I think if any person would only ask, really wanting to know the truth about life and God, there would be a Godly rush to answer. All of these incidences are meant to draw us to The Great Eternal One who revealed Himself supremely in Jesus Christ. God, truly, “so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son.” Verse 17, of John 3, is a further example that God is for us and not against us, “For God did not send the son into the world to condemn (“judge”) the world but to save the world.”
I’ve come to believe that each of us is on a pilgrimage of our choosing, but also of God’s waiting delight. Because of His giving us free will, He waits at every moment of our life for us to “turn aside,” like Moses before the burning bush. How many must have passed the same bush but never turned aside? The moment Moses turned aside, “freely” God spoke! God has chosen not to manipulate our free will. Each of us can, through the “incidences” of life, turn aside and see God’s presence and His character or blindly walk on past. In Romans 1: 18-23, Paul tells us that all mankind knows there is God but deliberately chooses to avoid and deny His reality.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”
Another text is Ephesians 1:3-ff which speaks so eloquently of God’s choosing his family, as a friend put it, “before the beginning began,” meaning that before there was one particle of anything material there was God and the “elect,” predestined in Him! The word, “elect,” simply put, means, “marked out beforehand.” I don’t pretend to understand this entirely, but I do think it means that God is both inside and outside of time, i.e. chronos and kyros. He knows all time, as it all exists in Him, from before the beginning began, i.e. “Eternity past” as well as the creation, until the return of Christ. So God is present in chronological time. All time, as we humans experience it, is inside of God and his Eternal time has no beginning and no end. I have often laughed at myself when I say things like this as though I understood what I just said. For instance, to speak of Eternity past or Eternity future may be helpful but I certainly do not understand it.
This is a great mystery. There are many mysteries in God, such as the Trinity, or why some are healed and others are not, or why some reject God and others don’t. Another example is to read in the Psalms that God created heaven and then “moved in.”
Mystery is at the core of my belief in God and has only been answered to my heart by the gift of faith to believe and receive Jesus Christ. When this takes place the mysteries no longer assault me as an “inner knowing” satisfies until such time as God chooses to reveal and bring me into a place of understanding.
Even in the midst of the mysteries of God, I have more than enough “presence” of God out of which to live, move and have life. I now know that I am the created and God is the Creator, and to somehow think the created can know all is folly. Indeed, simply put, if we knew all, we would in essence be God! I prefer letting God be God and I will be one of His people. I can live with mystery as it releases me into a grace-filled life, a life through which the apostle Paul would, by grace, discover that God was “Abba,” his daddy. The one-and-only, true God has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. The opening verses of John’ gospel, as well as the opening verses of the book of Hebrews, underscores the incarnation. This series of “incidences” is a fairly chronological remembrance of how God has revealed himself to me. These “incidences” have been written after forty-plus years of ministry. Although what I’ve written is autobiographical, I prefer to add the caveat that my memory may not recall all things in their correct order or detail. So come along with me, “Brother Pilgrim,” as we journey together.
Here’s Tom at the console of the broadcast studio at ORU in 1968.