I had a busy schedule of speaking in the Chicago area that week - but I had one night free. It happened to be during Founder's Week, the outstanding Bible Conference that's held by Moody Bible Institute every year. When I heard that one of my favorite speakers was there that night, I told my wife - who was able to make this particular trip with me - that I wanted to attend. And we did, along with some of our ministry team members. Now, since we would be arriving a little late, I called and asked that some seats be reserved - they were kind enough to accommodate us. But something very unexpected happened that night at Founder's Week - very unexpected. The president of the Moody Alumni Association began reading a brief biography of the person who was to be honored as this year's Alumnus of the Year. The more he read, the more familiar this life story sounded - to my total shock, he was describing me. Well, my wife says I slowly sank in my chair and fought a losing battle with the tears in my eyes over God's amazing grace in my life. Now, afterwards, I had a thousand questions about how I had actually ended up at that meeting that night. My family and team members had been involved in an eight-month process to maneuver me to Chicago for that week and to a schedule that led right to that place. I was sure it had been my choice - but I had actually been skillfully directed to that choice through the imperceptible workings of someone else. And as for the seats I reserved that morning, they had been reserved for a long time!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Big Plan and the Simple Choice."
Now, after that surprising night, I saw one of the most amazing, most debated mysteries of God's Word in a brighter light. Our Word for today from the Word of God is Ephesians 1:4-5. It's an incredible behind-the-scenes look at what it took to give you a place in God's family. God says, "The Father chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ." In other words, God has had His eye on you since before therewas a you, since before there was a world! In verses like these, God takes us behind the scenes of that day when you put your trust in Jesus to be your Savior, that simple choice - and there was, in fact, an eternal rescue plan at work that finally brought you to Christ that day.
See what I mean about understanding this through my surprise that night of the award. I thought I was there as a result of my decision - which, in a way, was true. No one ever mentioned that meeting to me - and I did make a choice to go there. But behind that, there was a master plan at work that had begun long before I made "my choice" - a choice to which I had been skillfully and carefully guided. In a way, I did make the choice. But in a larger way, it was predestined.
Now don't get me wrong - I'm not suggesting that I have resolved the centuries-old struggle to understand the tension between predestination and free will - and between us choosing Christ and God choosing us. But these verses - and the illustration I just lived - do make some very encouraging facts very clear.
First, you really matter to God! You may have been mistreated by folks here on earth - maybe passed over, unappreciated, undervalued - but the God of the universe values you so much that He's been working on you being in His family from Creation to Calvary to your conversion. Secondly, you're safe with God. After all He's done for all these millennia to bring you into His family, He's not about to let you go now. Thirdly, He is working on an awesome master plan to rescue the people you're concerned about - and you are part of His eternal plan to reach them. It's really pretty amazing, isn't it - and it answers so many of our self-doubts, so many of our fears, so much of our feeling of inadequacy. And it should drive us to our knees in amazed praise. That night I received that award, there was a lot more to it than I could ever understand at the time. And for you to come to Jesus that day you did - well, there was a lot more to it than you may ever be able to understand.