The God of Suspense
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Deliverance is grand except for one thing: it isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t deliverance unless itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the eleventh hour. There first has to be some kind of danger for there to be deliverance. Such drama is fun to watch in movies and great to hear in other peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stories, but we would prefer not to experience it in our own livesÃ¢â‚¬Â (p.83). With this observation, Welch introduces another facet of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s interaction with fearful people. The author hopes that our own experiences of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“eleventh hourÃ¢â‚¬Â will evoke an eager awareness of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s active presence.
Welch notes that GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ordinary means of care is not deliverance at the last possible moment. God is always sustaining and providing. Quiet care is the rule. It is against this backdrop that the Bible does record GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mighty acts in the nick of time. But the author wants to lead us to something he believes is even more dramatic: Ã¢â‚¬Å“As you read through Scripture, there is a gradual progression. Initially the deliverances are at the last minute. By the time of the New Testament, they are delayed to the point where even those who are tenacious in clinging to God have lost hopeÃ¢â‚¬Â (p.87).
Welch reminds us of the widowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s son who was resurrected, and of Lazarus, to show that after-the-fact deliverances are heralds of the real deliverance. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ultimate deliverance was not our rescue from the jaws of death, because any temporal deliverance from death meant only that death was postponed. The real deliverance was the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdeath of deathÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ secured by the death of Jesus ChristÃ¢â‚¬Â (p.88).
Welch acknowledges that the faith of Abraham and others like him (Heb. 11) was extraordinary. For most of us, deliverance is when the check comes in the mail with 15 minutes to spare. But these had reset their clocks so to speak. They still expected deliverance even when deadlines had passed.
Welch encourages us to examine our own experiences for evidence of a deeper deliverance that came after you went through the pain. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Those who imitate AbrahamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faith are always pushing the last minute farther out until it comes even after physical death. Such a person is fearlessÃ¢â‚¬Â (p.91).
My own journey
I like Ã¢â‚¬Å“nick of timeÃ¢â‚¬Â deliverances more than Ã¢â‚¬Å“after the factÃ¢â‚¬Â ones. That reveals a lack of trust in me and evidence that I stubbornly cling to the idea that I know whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best. Only someone who is consistently confident in GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s providential care can cherish and be grateful for an Ã¢â‚¬Å“after the factÃ¢â‚¬Â deliverance. I want to be there.
Can you identify times in your life when GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s deliverance was experienced on the other side of the trial?
Does Ã¢â‚¬Å“after the factÃ¢â‚¬Â deliverance count? What is true and necessary for it to count?
How is GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s glory at stake in differentiating between these kinds of deliverance?
What happens if we carry around a list of personal experiences when we perceive that God didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t show up?