Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Robert Shelby

"Behind every frowning providence He hides a smiling face." For those of us who know God's absolute sovereignty over every detail of His creation and every moment of time we know these words to be true, but actually embracing them when God's providence has darkened and the fiery trials seem to consume takes much grace. On July 3 Pastor Rob awakened to face what he thought would be just another day. He'd taken the day off to prepare for our annual July 4 picnic the next day and decided to take the kids to a neighbor's house for an early morning swim. What happened next was a moment in time that would change the entire course of his life. Demonstrating how to dive, he misjudged the depth of the water, hit his head on the bottom, and broke his neck leaving him paralyzed from mid-chest down. He has no use of his hands or legs.

This is one of those frowning providences that seems to hide any possibility of a smiling face. Yet, Rob has demonstrated to the world that his contentment is not grounded upon the conditions of this life and his hope is not dependent upon things we can immediately see. What a blessing has already been realized in this affliction. His nine children are seeing that the God their daddy has taught them about their entire lives is real; He is sufficient through every trial. What a smiling face will be manifested if this will lead to their salvation as they embrace this God as their God. And to see the community of faith rallying around the Shelby family has been a wonderful picture of our union with Christ. When one suffers we all suffer. What a testimony to the world as they witness the reality of Christianity.

We are praying for Rob's healing and restoration, knowing that our God is mighty and He so often demonstrates His power before His people. But, at the same time, we know that if this is not God's ultimate purpose, He will use Rob in ways unimaginable. What a mighty God we serve.

In the words of Sir William Cowper:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footprints in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning Providence
He hides a smiling face.

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