“Suddenly” is such a good word for English composition in school. For a primary school kid, the word helps to create the ambience for a dramatic turn of events or introduce some form of suspense.
As one grows into an adult, there can be the highly-anticipated “suddenlys”. There could be an unforeseen job offer, promotion or salary raise; a surprise marriage proposal; etc.
As one grows older, the “suddenlys” can develop into something less desirable… diagnosis, displacements, disappointments…
I had a “suddenly” moment during a recent Sunday service. I was feeling lousy and so spiritually low during the worship service until this song was sung. The turning point was the phrase “the Lion and the Lamb”, which can be heard after the 2-minute mark of this video:
The strange thing is that this part of the lyrics had not meant much to me in the past, in fact, it sounded rather odd initially. But in this particular service, the words leapt out at me as they revealed the Lord in such a vivid way. I began to see that Jesus is:
The Lion: There is such majesty and splendour in Jesus, the King of kings, seated in the place of honour at the right hand of God!
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David, has triumphed.
He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
The Lamb: Yet in the next verse, Jesus is described as the Lamb, who looked very different from what a mighty lion should be:
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain,
standing at the centre of the throne,
encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.
Such assurance and forgiveness flooded over me as it was affirmed again that Jesus has died for my sins and He is mighty to save!
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
It was a “suddenly” moment which I really needed.
But I believe there is no “suddenly” in God’s vocabulary and plans. There was no panic in Heaven when Jesus was crucified on the cross. God did not have to say to His heavenly host, “Uh-oh guys, we need a Plan B…” God has in fact laid down the plan of salvation and redemption from the beginning:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Enoch and Elijah were not suddenly taken away; they had walked with God and served faithfully for many, many years:
Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
Genesis 5:23 to 24
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
2 Kings 2:11
What looked like a “suddenly” was actually preceded by a period of prayer and preparations:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:1 to 4
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Acts 1: 12 to 14
In our finite human understanding, it may seem that God’s appearance and answer could come suddenly and randomly. Maybe God will answer when He feels like it… maybe when the timing is just right… maybe when things happen to click in place…
But maybe… just maybe… if we were to take care of and take heed to the “consistentlys”, the “patientlys”, the “steadilys”, the “faithfullys”… the “suddenlys” might just not be so sudden after all.
And so after waiting patiently,
Abraham received what was promised.