Thursday, October 18, 2012

Repost: Taught a lesson by a philosopher

The beauty of a blog or a journal is that it functions rather like a time machine: Your past self can speak to your present self.

Tonight I headed a nudge from somewhere within to go back in time and read what my past self had to say.  I am humbled to find out that God still chooses weak vessels to bring His comforting Word of Truth.  I'm amazed to realize that things I mused upon some time ago still speak to me today.

But God is like that.  The ever-moving, unchangeable message goes forth, comes 'round, and goes out again.  Always it lives and breathes, yet ever it says the same thing.

Here's what I read tonight:Taught a lesson by a philosopher

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

God knows when you truly need rest

Doing some sermon preparation today, and my eyes happened upon some verses that I had underlined some time ago, but had not read since for quite some time.  Life's context--as well as the context of "suffering" from last week's sermon--made me appreciate the gift God gives in this verse:

Acts 9:31   Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

See,  in the time before this verse the church had been living under intense persecution.  These verses remind me that God knows the details and the difficulties of our lives.  If your life is hard right now, God has a purpose and motive for leaving you in that difficulty.  But it will not last forever, for when you can truly no longer endure it (and God will know when that time comes), He will provide a time of rest and peace to strengthen and encourage you. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I don't understand God . . . but that's okay.

Having vision brings a wonderful clarity to your life and direction.

Following the advice of the gurus, making a 10-year plan, setting goals, and working to achieve them--that gives you an insight that others don't have.  A sense of purpose.  Certainty.  You know without a doubt what you will become and the steps you need to take to get there.

This sense of planned destiny, of purposeful decision, gets you up in the morning.  It propels you through the day.  Days become steps.  Weeks become legs of a climb.  Months become another steppe achieved.  And the mountain is conquered.

I envy my friends who have such a clear purpose.  They seem to stride confidently from one room to the next, sure of their purpose and goal. Their sure-footed certainty speaks of the clarity of visionary leadership that is coveted by all who dare to lead a group into the future. 

Having vision brings a wonderful clarity to your life and direction.

But not to me.  Not today.  Not for a long while now.

My visionary clarity has been clouded by a spiritual cataract.  My sense of purposeful direction is blindfolded.  My halting, faulting, stumbling steps betray an uncertainty about what tomorrow may bring, much less next year, and God forbid that I should actually try to predict what may come next decade.

There are a number of reasons for that.  A number of circumstances that have brought my condition about.  Stumbling blocks have become monoliths.  Molehills have become mountains.  I can no longer see into the future, and I am reduced to doing only what the day requires.

And I have found that having uncertainty brings a wonderful clarity to your faith. 

Do I trust in God to provide me with strength for today?  My strength is gone, so I have no choice but to believe in that promise, and so I do.

Do I believe that He is able to provide for me and my family what the needs of today demand?  And that when tomorrow becomes today, He will be able to do it all over again?  Since I can no longer see tomorrow, I have to trust that He's already there.

Do I trust that He is a faithful guide, leading me ever forward on the narrow and treacherous path, and that He will bring me to the good destination He has chosen? 

Do I trust that Christ has come so that I may have life, and have life to the full?

Do I trust Christ?

Every sure and certain thing that I had planned has been revealed to be neither sure nor certain.  When once I had been certain that I could plan my way into the future, I am shocked and frightened to learn that my vision has become so clouded that I can only see what is right in front of me.

And there stands Christ.  My only remaining option.  He who alone is Lord.  He who alone knows the future.  He who alone knows the path.  He who alone provides.  He who alone is the light on the path, the Word in my ears, the quieter of storms, the giver of life, the peace that passes all understanding.  He is there, sure and certain in flesh and blood, in water and word.  Unwavering.  Unchanging.

I don't understand Him, but I see Him.  Clearly.

And I have found that having uncertainty brings a wonderful clarity to your faith. 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Taught a lesson by a philosopher

"The difference between the tragic hero and Abraham is obvious enough. The tragic hero stats within the ethical. He lets an expression of the ethical have its telos in a higher expression of the ethical; he reduces the ethical relation between father and son, or daughter and father, to a sentiment that has its dialectic in its relation to the idea of the ethical life."--Soren Kierkegaarad, Fear and Trembling

I just plucked this book off my shelf, opened to this page, and read this paragraph.

And to be honest, it shredded me. Just shredded me.

And I don't know precisely why.

But I believe it's because of this:

The "tragic hero" looks at life sentimentally. He says to himself, "Well, it's a rough lot, but I'll endure it." His actions convey that yes, he knows he's suffering, but he's going to endure it patiently. He looks at himself in the mirror and says, "What a fine, heroic figure I am! How many men could endure the hardships I have endured? And yet here I am, carrying on boldly in the face of adversity."

He sheds crocodile tears, but even those are for show. For himself and for others.

Abraham, though, is the man of faith. And he wastes no time making himself the tragic figure. He simply hears God, and he obeys God. He believes that what God says is good. "This is no hardship," he says, "this is God's good will! I won't pretend to understand it, but neither will I allow myself to be pitied. I have God, and He is always good. I have no need for pity."

And here's the rub:

I've spent a lot of time and effort throughout my life in playing the tragic hero.

How much better to simply be a man of quiet, humble faith. That simply walks where God leads. That believes and does not doubt that God has a redemptive plan for all hardships, all difficulties, all trials.
In other words, the man who has learned to stop looking in the mirror and congratulating himself on what a fine fellow he has proved to be under pressure, and instead simply looks to God for all that He declares to be "good."