Tuesday, October 22, 2013

God Works

The recent 16-day government shut down affected some friends of mine in ways that I never expected.  A couple of friends were out of work.  Another had to postpone a mission trip since her passport could not be processed.  National news spotlighted other unforeseen consequences of the shutdown:  Monuments in Washington D.C. were closed to the public; the tourist economy at National Parks was curtailed;  federally funded medical research was put on hold.   I guess it was one of those "you never knew what you had until it was gone" type of things.  

I wonder what would happen if there was a heavenly shut down.  Would we'd wake up one morning and find that today's sunrise has been postponed until further notice?  Would we look up at the stars on a clear night and notice that 30% of the stars have been blacked out due to lack of funding?  Would we get down on our knees at the end of the day to pray and hear a booming voice announce that "no requests can be taken today due to the heavenly shutdown"?  Would we show up a church only to see a placard announcing "We're sad to announce that no praise can be delivered to heaven today"?  Thank God that He never shuts down.  Who knows what would become of us if that were to ever happen.

Yet, that is how many of us feel at times, isn’t it?  We feel that God has shut down on us.  That God has been so overloaded that our concerns go unnoticed.  At times we feel that God has just given up on us.  Job must have felt like that as he tended the boils that had ravaged his body.  Joseph must have felt like that as his brothers brokered the deal to sell him into slavery.  Abraham must have felt like that as month after month went by and Sarah remained barren.  Jesus may have even felt like that as he cried out on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  We all sometimes feel like that and that's why Scripture reminds us that God never stops working, even when we wonder.

In a letter to Christians who had begun to suspect that God has shut down on them, the apostle Paul reminds them that even when that appears to be true that God is still working.  In one of the most-loved verses in the Bible Paul writes, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, NIV84). 

God works - what powerful words!

Even in difficult circumstances God is picking up all the broken pieces to bring about something good - God works! 
Even when he appears to us to absent and the world is falling in on us - God works! 
Even when we don’t even know it - God works!

I think that when we get to heaven and ask God what He was up to in our lives we will be quite surprised at all the things he was doing that we didn't even notice.  He affects our lives in more ways than we can even imagine.  He's working anonymously and behind the scenes planning good out of the messes we find ourselves in.   He' s working in your life right now.  It’s what he does.   He is never flustered.  He never runs out of resources.  He never is slowed down by evil.  He will never shutdown.  God works!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'll Take Another Slice

On those evenings when our family can all sit down around the table for dinner, one of our standard questions for our sons is, "How was your day at school?"  Often there's just the perfunctory "fine" or "it was school" but recently one of our sons told us that one of their teachers made a comment suggesting that being a Christian was easy.  My first reaction was anger, horror, outrage, annoyance, indignation (righteous indignation, of course).  How could anyone make the claim that Christianity was easy?  It sure isn’t easy for me!  But then I got to think about the claim and thought maybe the teacher was right!  Perhaps having faith is easier than not having faith.   After some thought I suppose it must be hard not believing.

It must be hard getting up on a beautiful morning, seeing the sunrise and feeling a sense of gratitude towards whoever is responsible for such beauty and then realizing that the feeling you have is just some neuro-chemical response that has evolved in our species for no apparent reason.  That must be hard.

It must be hard enjoying the companionship of friends and family and then realizing that this pleasure is simply a herd instinct also evolved over the eons in our species as a means to keep our pack alive.  That must be hard.

It must be hard welcoming a child into this world and being overcome with a sense of the miraculous only to be brought back to earth again when your rational mind takes control of the situation and reminds you that this "bundle of joy" is simply a mass of chemicals resultant of the sexual desire of two other masses of chemicals.  That must be hard.

It must be hard finding some reason to treat others with respect and kindness even when they are rude and cruel  knowing that humans have no more intrinsic value than a fly or even a rock.    It must be hard not to simply use people to accomplish our own means only to realize that we must conform to some sense of social norms in order to perpetuate our race.  That must be hard.

It must be hard going to the funeral of a loved one hoping against all hope that perhaps you will see this person again in some other reality and then coming to your senses realizing that this person is gone forever and whatever made this person appear like more than a mass of chemicals was just some coping technique our species has developed over the years to help us deal with reality.  That must be hard.

It must be hard with the passing of time seeing our hair go gray, our smooth skin get wrinkly, and our body wear out knowing that we will soon pass from this world never to be heard from again -- that we will follow the course of all humans and cease to exist and that eventually all humans, all life as we know it, will someday melt into the universe leaving no traces of our existence.  That must be hard.

Come to think of it, I agree with the teacher.  Compared to not believing, this faith thing is a piece of cake and while we're serving, give me another slice!