I think about what it must have been like for the Angels as they watched Jesus pick His twelve? Did any of the Angels question the addition of Judas Iscariot? Were the Angels frustrated at the slow pace of learning? Did the angels question the lack of higher education of the eleven? I can imagine that after the first few failures of those original twelve, that a group of Angels might have approached the Lord with a recommendation of a young up and comer named Saul? To which God may have replied “Yes, Saul will do well, but for now, he will be our secret weapon. Our adversary won’t see it coming”.
I think about the fact that if the rapture had happened at the cross as Jesus commended Himself to His Father and died, Paul would have been “left behind”? None of which would have rattled our Father. His plan is always superior. God knew how and when He was going to activate Paul. In that vein, I’m confident that God knows what He’s doing with those who we desperately love who will be “left behind”. Imagine several million Pauls being unleased in harmony by the opening of the starting gate of the rapture?
Thinking about Churchill Downs, I’m intrigued at how the trainers “gate” the horses one at a time in preparation for the front doors of the box to fly open and the race to start. Some horses go into the small space with ease. As the doors close behind, it gives them no alarm. Some horses severely resist entering the confined space. The trainers sometimes have difficulty closing the doors that lock the horse into the starting position. Some horses thrash about in the box until the front gate swings open.
It seems to me today that God is “gating” people at His pleasure, for His will, to be released in His time. I suspect that we’re close to the so called “rapture”, an otherwise “random” moment in time where God will bring home those who at that precise moment in time, are known by Him. It appears to me that God is well pleased to “gate” in a stationary starting position those who will not be known by Him at that same moment in time. He’s positioning them for the incredible race to be run as the front gate of the rapture swings open. Those gated people will then start to run a three-and-a-half-year race designed by God. The finish line for those in the race is becoming known by God and therefore being prepared for the mission of the second three and a half years. No greater love … Jesus said. Some will cross the finish line in a matter of weeks. Some will take the bulk of the first three and a half years.
With that in mind, the “gating” seems to be staggered. Not unlike a marathon race, some individuals who are suspicious in their own minds that they are not truly following Jesus and are therefore capable of running the race in record time, will be “gated” at the front of the start line. Some who are more self-deceived pew sitters will be gated further back, and some who call themselves “Christians” but are not in fellowship, will be “gated” the farthest back.
Our era, our time, is like no other. Perhaps the reason some of those we love so much refuse to move forward, is because God is “gating” them for His designed plan. They may be God’s future Pauls? If we can determine that to be the case, then our approach to those persons, our patience with those persons can change. Perhaps we can love them knowing that God surely must have bigger things in store for them then we had imagined. As it relates to each one of those individuals, we can still agree with Paul’s realization that “love hopes all things”, but we can have the wisdom to be patient and know that God will execute His plan, in His time. And He will do it flawlessly.
If all of this is correct, it should allow us focus on those who are willing to move forward and be all the more loving and patient with those who are not. It occurs to me that God has stones prepared to cry out on command. He has donkeys able to speak His truth. He has bushes that burn … but are never consumed. He surely does not need us to further His plan. I think rather that He tolerates us trying and mucking it up, and trying again, and again, and again. He’s allowed us to “wax on, wax off” over and over and over, for His purpose of refining us. To make us more like His Son. To train us for the main event, the spiritual combat at the end with His adversary. Surely, He would be more efficient without us, but He chooses to allow us to try to love … as His Son loved.