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As per the semi-anual tradition. Over halfway done with undergrad. God is good.
So February 25th marked one year in the books for Christ, Coffee, and Chacos (but who’s counting. This is Calvinball!) I realize I’m more than a month overdue in celebrating the blessing it’s been to write about the Lord’s work in the world and in my heart over the past year. But I did an Easter Sunday post last year, so I’m going to take the liberty of killing not one or two, but three (yes, three!) puppies with one lawn mower and make this a three-part celebration for (in order of importance): 1.) Our Lord and Savior’s resurrection and triumph over death, 2.) a lower-profile, but still exciting resurrection of my personal facebook account (may the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely…), and 3.) the past year blogging about a crazy God who never tires of inspiring my life and my writing with His overwhelming glory. Let’s go ahead and make the third puppy a set of Siamese twins, because I’d also like to give a shout out to the fact that people I love muster the patience to sift through my jarring voice to hear God in my writing. To those of you who just let me mutate the last puppy, do realize that you just metaphorically let me run over puppies with a lawn mower. You really couldn’t have called and stopped me before I could take it this far? Oh well, what’s done is done.
While we’re on the topics of resurrection and celebration by way of slaying immature canines, my iPod pulled a little Jesus number of its own right after I spent my spring break in St. Louis with my sister. Saturday, March 9th was my last afternoon in STL, and as my run came to a close, so did the Plains City, FL live performance of Josh Turner’s classic “Long Black Train.” After Turner’s final caution, “that devil’s ridin’ that long black train…,” my iPod flickered out into unresponsiveness. It was too good of timing, so I was inclined to wonder, “now, just what are you implying, God?” Oddly, I wasn’t too torn up. As far as I was concerned, if my 160-gig classic (named Poseidon) had just breathed his last, he had served me well and lived a good life—all the more excuse to read my killer Don Everts’s book “Go and Do” on the return trip to honor Poseidon’s memory. Of course, come monday (Jimmy Buffet, anybody?) before I ran, I tried to revive it with the common USB maneuvers, but there was no stirring Poseidon’s slumber. I said the last rites over the body, stowed it in my drawer of uselessness, and ran unaccompanied.
The next day, out of desperation, I opened the drawer of uselessness, and to my amazement…just kidding, Poseidon’s corpse was still where it had been entombed. At that, I had another go with the USB maneuvers, and was met with success as I successfully revived Poseidon. After, a generous charge period, Poseidon was ready to run with me again. As it turned out, “Long Black Train” ended up being prophetic of a conversation my roommate and I wound up having Tuesday night. God spoke a lot to both of us over the break, and we were still readjusting to being back in a thick place that isn’t necessarily “chock-full of the Holy Spirit inside and out” (it’s a Madison thing?).
The description of the long black train “feeding off the souls that are lost and crying…” really echoed a passage about Jesus in Matthew 9 that God had been impressing on me around the same time:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed an helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
—Matthew 9: 36-38
If somebody were to ask me the greatest way the Lord’s grown me this year, I would tell them that more than ever before, I know my Shepherd’s voice. I know when He’s issuing me words, calling me out, calling me to take arms, telling me about His character and the nature of His kingdom. I hear it in the words of the Old Testament prophets. I hear it in the red letters of the New Testament. God and Jesus’s voice are one in the same. I think that warrants a hallelujah! We have a reliable, God-breathed document of unique continuity. We get to serve a God of order who’s not out to confuse us, but paradoxically, should baffle every fiber of our being because of His illogical grace and love for us in spite of our sin.
But this passage in Matthew is troubling because the masses are “harassed and helpless.” They haven’t yet heard their Shepherd’s voice. As Paul explains:
Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?
—1 Corinthians 14:7
This is where I can see we, as people who’ve responded to the summons of our shepherd, seem to have a pretty urgent responsibility. Our words and conduct need to reflect our understanding that there is a “distinction in the notes.” But here’s the awesome catch to all this: we need not fear botching this task!
Paul assures us that when the Spirit of Christ is in us, “…we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8). Moreover, Jesus wouldn’t have told His disciples in Matthew 9, verse 38 to pray that the Lord sends workers into the harvest field if He wasn’t going to answer that prayer (or was, in fact, already at work bringing it to fruition).
This is the beautiful thing about prayer I’ve recently become obsessed with: God doesn’t need it—He’s just gracious enough to make us feel useful. We don’t have dominion over God. His decision to do something does not hinge on our asking. The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective, not because we’re inherently “powerful and effective” blokes that God likes to wait on and take orders from. Rather, He gives us words to pray so we know to give Him due thanks when we see the answer manifest itself. It’s like a six-year-old using their parents’ money to buy them a birthday present. Of course, if the kid’s not a total asshole (harder to come by these days than you’d think), their parents are probably going to adore whatever they can salvage with those funds. Only with God, when we ask for the money, and we seek out His will, He tells us exactly how to invest that money to please Him. It’s a neat system.
Knowing our Shepherd’s voice, on the other hand, is not just a means of making us feel useful. And it’s certainly not meant to dissolve our sense of dependence on the Holy Spirit. Sure, it’s a joy to hear from God, and an honor to commune with Him on any personal level. But His gift to us in that form is for building His kingdom. To help the helpless and harassed droves of sheep without a shepherd learn the distinction in the notes. For inviting them to respond to their Shepherd’s call. For seeing the decay and destruction as a place to enter into headlong, outfitted in the armor of a God whose got a radical plan for restoration.
Don Everts describes the anatomy of a missional Christian caught up in the Shepherd’s work: sober eyes, ready feet, servant hands, and a compassionate heart. He talks about the geography that leaves no square inch exempt from His redemptive effort: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
As we heed our Shepherd’s words and step into the harvest field, let’s take heart in the assurance that we aren’t flying solo, but are in fact accomplices in King Jesus’ ongoing conquest:
Before long, the world will not see me anymore but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
He is risen indeed! Peace be the journey!
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To preface what follows here, all my greatest ideas and most profound points of reflection (at least by my standards) seem to occur to me in the shower. So as per usual, that’s where I was yesterday when I was struck with curiosity over just how God ever inspired Himself to make something as estranged and frightening as me. Obviously, I can’t support this notion with scripture, but I will share what I came up with:
Before the Fall, it was a slow day in the heavens. The angels were getting real antsy since there was not yet any need for Divine intervention in God’s new creation. So out of His grace, He decided to entertain His kingdom-hands with a creativity exercise.
“Hear ye, heavenly hosts, before I get Adam and Eve lined out, all y’all get to draw up blueprints for my kids in future generations.”
Gabriel, always the smartass, protested, “But Lord, don’t you already know—”
God cut him off, “Everything? Yeah, I know everything, wise guy. I’m letting you participate in my ministry, you buffoon. Would you rather sit this one out? That’s what I thought. Now, my only criteria: Make them fearfully and wonderfully.”
The angels weren’t sure what God meant by “fearfully and wonderfully made,” but they tried their hand at the blueprints. God handled each as they were brought before Him, producing one wonderful specimen after another. Applause and ovations ensued at the making of each individual. The angels drew the kind of people you’d expect them to be inclined to—pleasant folks that wouldn’t keep them too busy—but God really seemed to have something better in mind with each blueprint. Inevitably, God trumped each one with ease.
A timid, sweet angel approached God with, practically speaking, a “nice” blueprint for a daughter named Jackie Brennan. God nodded as He looked over the blueprint, but sounded unconvinced, “She seems sweet…”
He breathed life into the blueprint, and the child that came of it was unlike any made before or since. “Just what you had in mind, eh?” God asked the timid angel.
The dumbfounded angel didn’t even have time to filter his words, “Not even a little bit. This…this thing is grotesque…and obnoxious. She’s going to give us all kinds of dire straits, Lord.”
God laughed, “I think she’s perfect. You gotta admit she’s funnier this way. Yeah, she’s a total wreck—a righteousmess, if you will.” God could tell the angel was disappointed with the monstrosity before them. Placing a hand on the angel’s slumped shoulder, God said, “Hey, I really, really love what I did here. She’s staying. She’s part of the family.”
“Seems like too much of a liability issue…” the angel said under his breath looking down at Eden.
“Her?!” God thundered. The angel looked up, surprised (but not) that He had heard. “Never. Jesus’s blood can make the foulest clean, don’t you know? Besides, job security!” God spoke up and looked to Gabriel, still working on his blueprint, “Isn’t that right, Gabe?”
Gabriel had no idea what God was talking about, but nodded absentmindedly to stay in His good grace.
God nudged the still dissatisfied and now nervous angel’s shoulder, pointing at His new creation, Jackie, “That, that right there is fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s how it’s done.”
Feel free to insert your own name in place of mine in this if it resonates with you. Rejoice and know that God could’ve had us all coded by angels if He wanted us to be boring and blameless, but He had something better in mind. Praise the One by whose hands we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
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Stumbled upon this gem down in the Loop before the Imagine Dragons concert at the Pageant with my sister in St. Louis during my spring break two weeks ago.
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So Urbana. There’s really not a subtle and smooth way to introduce an experience like that. Though I’ve long since parted with my tribal wristband and have already completed the first week of a new semester at JMU, I still find myself periodically reflecting on my final days of 2012 spent in St. Louis.
I can say out of no reservations of my own, but plain honesty, that the conventional idea of global missions is not my calling (or at least not right now). By conventional, I mean the kind of mission work that entails leaving behind everything, relying on the patronage of God’s church, loading up the fam, and planting the gospel in some distant corner of the globe. This part of Christ’s commission so happens to be the cornerstone of Urbana as a “global missions conference.” So viably, I was inclined to wonder just why the heck God had called me to invest in the conference on top of travel, lodging, and dining expenses over my Christmas break. I eventually found peace with the hints God had given me in response to my curiosity during the conference, but I’m aware that seeing the fruits of it will likely just be a matter of more time and reflection.
Fortunately, I’ve had some time, and I’ve done some reflecting. And in that, I’ve found that the deepest conviction I took away from the conference was presented in the most general terms. I’m as guilty as anybody of overlooking the urgency of the commission dictated in Jesus’ last words. I needed to hear somebody who could speak on that with authority from the Word of God. For me—and probably thousands of other participants—that somebody was David Platt. I don’t think I knew what it was to be truly kingdom-minded until I heard him speak on it.
If you’ve ever been exposed to David Platt, you know this man is heartsick for Jesus. And if you’re familiar with his collective thoughts on what we, the North American church, have done to Jesus, you know he aches for a world that’s lost sight of Him. Anyhow: David Platt. Discipleship aficionado. Outspoken proponent of reform in the church. Loves the Lord. Fantastic speaker among other things.
Almost any evangelical Christian with some biblical grounding will readily admit that one prophecy is yet unfulfilled. They are of course speaking of Jesus’ return. He’s going to put all the authorities, rulers, and principalities of this world back at the Father’s feet and again proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor; that’s not a question. I guess I had never considered the possibility of my first face-to-face encounter with Jesus happening on this side of eternity though. But even if it’s only a matter of time, why aren’t we heeding the command from Jesus’ last words with an urgency that would indicate we want to be the generation present to greet Him?
I’m reminded of when we’d go through rotations during pre-game volleyball practices. These usually involve repetition of the cardinal game scenarios you have to iron out with any given line-up: defense, serve-receive, and free-ball. For those of you on the outs, a free-ball is the volleyball equivalent of grace in the gospel. Unlike God’s grace-disbursement though, free-balls in an actual game are unintentional. A free-ball usually comes from an opponents error or desperate effort to keep the ball in play. Thus free-balls are very easy to receive, and give the receiving team latitude to do pretty much anything they want in the interest of putting the ball to the floor on their opponent’s side.
Rather than using rock-paper-scissors or a coin toss to determine who gets first serve in scrimmage, our Coach Carmen (who claimed her first, but long-overdue state title two months ago!) would simulate a free-ball with an underhand toss. To determine who gets that first free-ball, she’d simply ask “Who wants it?” Madness ensues, and the side that exhibits the most deliberate volume, enthusiasm, and movement gets the free-ball.
Now I played volleyball with lots of girls who love Jesus, but if you instead asked us “Who wants to be here when Jesus comes back?,” you would’ve gotten a considerably different reaction. To be fair, it would’ve caught us off-guard. But even if the setting were less out-of-place, you’d have probably got some looks of incredulity and maybe some nervous laughs out of us. We’ve been cultured to believe the prospect is just too distant to even pertain to us. It’s probably not a far cry from the kind of reaction you’d get posing the same question to the congregation in your average Sunday worship service though, right?
David Platt noted the distinction between calling and command. Our calling is how we carry out the command, and all who’ve received the gospel are commanded to make disciples of all nations. I don’t know how I’ve gotten away with such apathy about the urgency of this commission. We need to start living like Jesus is that coveted free-ball. It’s ambitious, but I want to be there the second time Jesus goes on the record saying, “It is finished” (without having to live to be as old as Abraham to do it). If there’s any effort worth dying for, it’s this task Jesus has left to us. And if it’s well with our souls, there’s no reason to hold out.
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Came upon this beaut of a reflection about a week ago when I was reaching over it for my NIV…and freaked out over my coffee’s curiously similar adoration for The Doors and The Beatles before proceeding to visually document it.
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So mega-praise right now because this is coming at y’all once again from the greatest state in the union. When I left the 406 in August, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of a November return trip, but as God has a benign tendency to do, He knit a pleasant little web of compounding factors to accommodate my heart’s desire. For me, the needlework just so happened to spell out Montana this time around. And after writing that, I realize a web’s probably the most fitting descriptor right now, because that metaphorically models God’s complexity—it’s something my mind’s been kicking around lately, and I know the imagery can’t even scratch the surface when we’re talking about a His infinity and sovereignty.
People who know me know I have an unhealthy fascination with how God can incite the very essence of two opposite extremes, while in fact being those very extremes, and seemingly everything in between. Over the summer, it was a matter of the contrast between excitement and sobriety before the Lord. Now, I’m really struck by the disparate qualities of humor and seriousness. And God seems to possess both in alarming abundance. I like to believe His brand of humor and sarcasm just goes way over my head 99.99% of the time (fun fact: that’s how close Swiss Miss packaged Hot Cocoa with mini marshmallows is to being caffeine free (Heathens!). Or so the box says…). As per His seriousness, this is where I think the web metaphor’s awfully on point. Killer Lewis reference time. This one’s from Miracles:
There is no question in Christianity of arbitrary interferences just scattered about. It relates not a series of disconnected raids on Nature but the various steps of a strategically coherent invasion—an invasion which intends complete conquest and ‘occupation.’
Boy, oh boy, if words like ‘conquest’ and ‘occupation’ don’t make you swallow you gullet, and tip you off that a serious matter’s afoot, then, well, I can tell you my rhetorical arsenal is devoid of any abler means to convince you thus (for that I congratulate you for having quite possibly the most insensitive conscience on planet Earth). So why all this talk of webs and complexity and no isolated incidents in our faith? I guess it just seems apropos with regard to how challenging I’ve oft found it to arrange all the relevant details of testimony in a coherent fashion in my own head, let alone for other people’s ears.
And of course, I only see such divine intervention through the lens of scripture, prayer, and experiences almost exclusively from my perspective. I can’t know what He’s stirring in the hearts of others in the meantime, or when He just decides to bypass the natural order of His world entirely when nobody’s watching (or even when they are, but are subsequently placed under orders to keep quiet about it. He’s sovereign; I wouldn’t put it past Him. I just don’t know!).
But with God’s brute seriousness and unfathomable complexity therein, I feel like I’m just beginning to appreciate something I’ve always been taught. Namely, that peace is preferable to understanding for us; and He offers that readily. I feel like C.S. Lewis’s fantasy guide in The Great Divorce says it best:
Do not fash yourself with such questions. Ye cannot fully understand the relations of choice and Time till you are beyond both.
And in embracing that peace, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we just mechanically take solace in ignorance. I’ve found it’s rather a matter of holding fast to another virtue of God’s seriousness. That is, He is dead serious about being faithful. And up until this little mid-November extended Sabbath of sorts, that wasn’t any simple matter for me.
Even as I sit here writing, I’m not entirely sure why I was called to come home (not that I’m complaining). And with reference to the quote above, I thought my compulsion to read The Great Divorce was out of place at the time. Before I even went through baggage claim, I told my friend, who’s read it herself, that I didn’t see myself reopening the book any time soon because it’s just so rich; like I feel like I can process no more than 7% of the implications at a time. As it turns out, I was copying down marked up sections from it promptly following my Jesus time the night after.
Not three weeks ago, I was first introduced to the concept of thick and thin thresholds between the rational world and spiritual realms. After reflecting upon The Great Divorce and the grey, limbo area that Lewis describes in there, I could finally apply words to what I’ve been feeling this past semester, and all along, it’s been a matter of thickness.
At first, I thought I was being a bit irrational, maybe even biased, immediately counting Montana as eternity’s next-door neighbor, and writing off Virginia as the insulated place. It didn’t make a heck of a lot of sense until I admitted that the perceived thin line between my home state and that, which is supernatural, has two distinct exits—and neither can go unaccounted for because the lesser of the two wouldn’t exist without the other.
The significance of the second exit didn’t sunset on me (because I’m tired of things “dawning on me”, as if I only have grave realizations when the sun rises, though I admit some wordplay would imply that when the Son rises, revelation follows, and that’s pretty neat…and biblical!) until I admitted that my maximum YOLO capacity at home is a two-way street. By that I mean God pushes my comfort zone in the interest of furthering His kingdom here. But that also opens up a lot of free will passages that probably wouldn’t be in my best interest to toy around with. And because I feel more at home, I’d more readily abuse that free will here. I don’t like that, but it’s reality.
Obviously, you can experience the Lord quite intimately in the unavoidable beauty and glory of Creation that you’re stuck with anywhere and anytime in this Big Sky State and Yellowstone National Park. The vast openness of it all really mimics the essence of “heaven’s gates swing wide.”
But on the flip side, especially as a Yellowstone gateway community, it’s not infrequent to be affronted by Nature’s savagery and occasional lack of propriety. For one, we live over top of a super volcano that has an estimated potential to shoot pyroclastic debris as far south as the Texas panhandle, and could theoretically erupt any day given the general unpredictability of volcanism. As for surface events, between bear maulings, bison gorings, hot spring scaldings, river drownings, mule tramplings, and abyss fallings, (and with the onset of winter, it’s only a matter of time before “hypothermia contractings” works its way onto that list) local news summaries that induce thoughts of “the Lord giveth and taketh away” are not necessarily few and far between where I come from.
And I would attest there’s even a marginal transcendence in what would be commonplace almost anywhere else. This is the first time I’ve really heeded attention to the eerie, soundless foreboding you can see and feel walking around my small town at night during the winter. It’s absolutely beautiful—subliminal even—yet there’s this abiding edge of treachery. Your senses automatically quicken as if an attack is imminent, a distant blood-curdling scream wouldn’t sound out of place, and this isn’t even close to a sketchy crime-ridden place. If you’ve experienced it yourself, you know what I’m talking about.
So it should seem unsurprising that this place was the site of a time of what felt like really close correspondence with the Eternal. A communion, that I daresay seemed to be terminated just in time for me to go back to school (creepily true. God distended that center stage time really down to the final hours before I left home around 4am). So it could have nothing to do with external settings like JMU or Virginia in general, and could just be entirely due to the change of season. I found Proverbs 10:5 strangely applicable to my own time of harvest:
He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son…
Whatever’s to blame and in whatever proportions, the tones of spiritual realms are definitely muted for me at school. But in spite of that, the perplexing seriousness of God’s faithfulness has rung with infallible truth. I have much less oversight for the relevance of the scripture He’s been dropping on me since September, and I don’t know what it all means for my continued partnership with the Gospel. I’m not sure why He’s chosen the past few weeks to show me the ways in which my heart is so sensationally calloused and obstinate.
However, I do know He hasn’t let up. He’s gone right to work with the sharp tools (usually His Word. I feel like my Bible’s turned on me in a painfully comical way) to remove what I imagine as layer upon layer of plaque-plastered doubts and misbeliefs and all the things barring my heart’s conformity with His. It’s on the not-so-fun side insofar as Lewis’ proposed idea of total conquest and occupation, but it’s a testament to His faithfulness, so my discomfort is really of negligible consequence.
If the architecture’s poor, the building has to come down before it can be replaced. To God’s credit, what He’s pulled off with a remarkably faulty structure at this point is praiseworthy in itself. A few ways to illustrate this feeling come to mind, and because explanation seems too ordered to be appropriate here, I’m just going to projectile type-vomit: South Carolina rep having to reclaim his legislative seat after the Civil War—joint session walk of shame. Tony the tiger walking in a maze of rocking chairs—I can empathize. There.
Because of His faithfulness, I think the last weeks of 2012 are going to be a practice in keeping up my end of the bargain when it comes to being faithful (though grace has cleared my name for when I inevitably come up short. Thanks, Jesus). I get this recurring mental image of a wicked smart beagle (like my future dog, Fala. Of course, pictures will follow that investment though I’ll warn you it’s going to be a while. Standby until then) looking with unwavering intent at its owner, waiting for an okay to go to town on a flank steak at its feet. Similarly, God’s been recycling Luke 12:37 with me since the last week of September:
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.
Assuming my own flank steak turns out to be social media-appropriate, it’ll probably get a shout-out on here, but praise His name regardless—as Paul did in Rome, let’s continue to proclaim it “boldly and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31).
Hey, remember that time when Jackie referenced Amos 6:12 and Hosea 13:6 in the same early summer blog post? If not, then that’s just a a little less embarrassing because—as God’s shown me recently—I was definitely speaking on something I had very little concept of myself. Before I use that scripture to introduce my newest pride-inflicted disease, I want to make something very clear: I’m feeble, incompetent, and uninteresting apart from the Christ-life in me. If anybody’s ever been convinced that I’m deserving of any kind of regard in my own right, I’m at fault for letting them go on believing that. Bottom line is I haven’t been pointing back to the Master like I should.
Amos 6:12 talks about the pride of Israel, which the Lord is said to abhor. The words I’m interested in here read: “But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness.” And this sounds faintly similar to an earlier call out to the Israelites in Hosea 13:6:
When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.
Yeah, so Israel and I: not so different. And the last time I referenced that Hosea verse in my blog, my exact commentary was, “Provision resulted in pride, and the Provider was forgotten altogether. Heartbreaking, right?” Much easier to say when that’s not a charge against myself, but that’s my current fault to a tee. I’ve turned the “fruit of righteousness” in my own life into an idol. I was blessed to have a time in my faith this summer of really awesome communion with God. He was as immediate and real to me as the deviantly protrusive fifth metatarsals on both my feet that shouldn’t be visible unless I’ve broken them (never broken a bone in my life, by the way. Probably should take more risks).
God was such an active, out-of-the-box being to me, but when my season expired and He was starting to withdraw from me, I tried to box Him right back up to keep Him from getting away. The corporate prayer box. The fasting box. The “write-about-God” box. The scripture box. The worship box. The fellowship box. You name it—I tried them all under the pretense that if I could just pinpoint where my efforts were subpar, I could pin Him down and stay in His good grace. And that’s pretentious for several reasons, chief among which is that our communion with God is supposed to be broken and imperfect. And this is how I knew I was real deep in this muck: I forgot about Jesus. If perfect communion with God was the default, we wouldn’t need an intercessor. And that idea of default settings got me thinking. I think this is really clever, so hear me out:
So, Buzz Lightyear. Factory setting: English-speaking (bless you if you already know where I’m going with this). And that language is justified by the persona. He’s a space ranger, so American or Russian or at least some other bigwig in space exploration would be only fitting. But we all know from the third installment in the Toy Story saga that our old friend, Buzz can be quite charming when he gets bumped into Spanish mode. His inhibitions relent, he becomes less dignified, and those rigid hips of his loosen up considerably.
As per God: He’s based creation and all His miracles and the functions of nature on this pattern of descent and reascent to His heavenly dominion unspeakably high above us. And like Buzz, God can be super invigorating when He humbles Himself. Speaking from experience, that was the case entirely.
God’s been talking back to me on all this through a few Psalms. Of course, it’s all stuff I would never doubt for a second if I were to read them at any other time, but present circumstances have given them particular relevance in where I’ve been a profuse blunderer. For example, Psalm 1:3 talks about yielding fruit “in season”—for all intents and purposes, a no-brainer. People experience and talk about different seasons in their faith all the time. But pride enabled me to think I was exempt from even a seasonal faith.
I thought I was above anything shy of “the harvest where favor and providence flow.” My thought process was something like, “Well, since I spend more time in prayer and the Word than all those people who complain about having long dry-spells in their faith…Well, I probably don’t have to experience that. Their lack of elation over God is self-inflicted.” Presumptuous and prideful are polite descriptions of that attitude. Regular engagement with the Lord is all well and good, but seasonality is a natural and biblical pattern. We’re filled to be emptied. As Psalm 1:3 also suggests, devotion to prayer and scripture merely keeps the leaves from withering.
I’ve also found Psalm 18 extremely humbling. Even David, a pretty elevated figure in Christian history, was acutely aware of his place in reference to the Most High. God is described as hearing David’s cry at His temple in verse 6, indicating that our cries travel a bit of a hierarchical distance to find God. The “voice of the Most high resounded” in verse 13 when The Lord spoke from heaven. And David says to the Lord in verse 35:
…You stoop down to make me great.
Thankfully, God’s handled my need for an attitude adjustment very mercifully, always calling me out with reminders of love. And the reality is that no matter how pleased I am with myself, the perpetual thread of Homer Simpson moments that is my life from God’s perspective just screams my need for Jesus. Matthew Thiessen had it right saying we’re “aptly damned to fail and fail again.” And our brother, Paul tells us why in Romans 11:32:
For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
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