Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's gonna be OK


So Abraham called that place "The Lord will Provide."
Gen. 22:14

There above it stood the Lord, and he said: "I am YHWH, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Issac...I am with you and will watch over you where ever you go...I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Gen. 28:13-15

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matt. 28:20

"There are two kinds of simplicity; simplicity on the first side of complexity, and simplicity on the far side of complexity. Simplicity on the first side of complexity is when a teenager says "God loves you, everything will be OK." Simplicity on the far side of complexity is when my 90 year old grandmother, who has lived through the Great Depression and has lost her husband, and illness and disease and danger says, "God loves you, everything is going to be OK."
Shane Hipps

"Simplicity comes after Complexity
Some idiot named "Joe."


So Abraham is ordered by YHWH to sacrifice his son to him. In this story found in Genesis, the word "Love" is used for the very first time; "Take your son, your only son...whom you love..." And God tells Abraham to kill him to show his faithfulness.

You can debate all you want the various odds & ends of this story. You may very well wish to have been able to call child protective services. I don't know. It is a strange story, to say the least.

I have two observations: #1. Apparently, this did not come as a shock to Abraham. Child sacrifice was hardly uncommon during this time. In fact, Abraham never asks how to do it. He seems to have understood the ritual. Perhaps because he had seen it performed.

But more importantly...#2. While on the way to do the deed, Isaac asks his Dad where the sacrificial offering was. (Apparently not realizing that HE was supposed to be IT.) Abraham replied that YHWH would supply the sacrifice. Say what you will about this story, it would appear to me that Abraham had learned something about his God, and had come to understand that this God would provide.

God loves you.
It's gonna be OK

____________________

I saw this video posted by Shane Hipps a while back. He has taken over the main preaching duties at Mars Hill in Michigan since Rob Bell left. Since Rob is a heretic, Shane must be one too. As such, I like Shane because he must be on to something. Anyway, pay attention to the main thrust of what he has to say...



God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.

____________________

Many months ago at my job, while I was in the midst of expressing my numerous existential doubts & frustrations about my existence, a friend of mine reacted with quite a bit of surprise. She told me that I always seem to be very confident & collected. (Then it was my turn to react with surprise.)

The fact of the matter is that I have very little confidence in myself. I do not just second guess myself, I quadruple guess. I don't trust myself very much. When I get a spiritual inclination, I quite often worry that it is simply a reaction to something I ate.

My friend's comment caught me off guard, but it did make me think. Aside from causing a bit of smoke to wisp from my ears as my brain processed, it made me realize something that I have come to understand and trust in for quite some time now. This understanding & trust that has developed is not on a cognitive level, no. It is more of a gut/soul understanding that has taken a long time to develop. I can also assure you that it is not of my own doing.

I have very little confidence in myself. I am a man...a very, very sinful, finite, flawed man. I have very little confidence in myself. And I rather hope it stays that way.

I do, however, have a greater & greater confidence in my God.

God loves me.
It's gonna be OK.

____________________


A friend of mine just came home from the hospital a couple of weeks ago. She had to have a couple of surgeries to remove a tumor from behind her eye. Her family was frightened. There was a great deal of prayer. My friend knew something about her God. The surgery was a success. She survived.

God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.


Many years ago, I attended Bethel College (Now Bethel University) and Bethel Theological Seminary. One of the "Greatest" men in our denomination at the time was Carl H. Lundquist. He had been the President of our institution for a long time, and has left a significant mark on both schools.

Dr. Lundquist died in 1991 after a long and painful battle with a vicious form of T-cell lymphoma. I saw him only once during this time while he was visiting the seminary. It did truly horrible things to his skin. Before he died he said something that I'm sure I will not repeat with complete accuracy, but was along the following lines; "I consider it such a blessing to suffer like this, because it gives me a taste of what my savior suffered on the cross." There was much prayer, but Dr. Lundquist did not survive. But he knew something about his God.


God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.

____________________

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I was handed another teaching job. I was not looking for one. In fact, I still feel that God may be calling me away from a career as a public school teacher. However, for now, this is where God wants me to be. To be honest, I really needed the money. This job came completely out of the blue. This God provides.

To be honest, I really didn't want this teaching job at first. Last year the Middle School students were almost the death of me. This school caters to a rather difficult clientele. As a courtesy to the Principle who I respect a great deal, I visited the school before I was going to tell him "No." When I entered the school, I did not hear the usual screaming & cursing. I was stunned! It turned out that the new C.E.O. of this organization backed up the Principle for some serious house-cleaning. My fears were laid to rest. This God provides. I took the job.

God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.

____________________

I was driving home from school today. My mind began to reflect on how faithful God has been to me. I am rarely faithful. I am a weasel more often than not. But God is faithful because he IS.

My life has been rather interesting...very complicated & complex. It certainly was not what I expected it to be. Frankly, I do not know what to expect next. But I have seen God be extremely faithful to me.

I live in the midst of confusion. My teaching license is up this June and I do not have the large sum of money needed to take take the classes to renew it. With or without this teaching job, I generally live pay check to pay check. Even so, God has provided every step of the way.

A large part of me would like to be a professional writer. I love writing. I don't really know if I am all that good at it, but I feel very much alive when I do so. Maybe God wants me to be a writer. I don't know. Maybe God wants me to be a teacher. I don't know. Maybe God wants me to work in a grocery store, or dig ditches, or do voice-overs for commercials & cartoons. I don't know. Maybe God wants my life to end tomorrow. I don't know.

God will provide for me, that I DO know.

It has taken me almost 40 years to be able to say that last phrase and actually mean it.

God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.

____________________

We try to cling to our certainties. We try to control as much of life as we can. We try to see into and plan for the future. We place our faith in politicians, our savings & I.R.A.s, our strength, our youth, our wisdom. We try to control...

We are not very good at it.


God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.

It is said that the kingdom is like a mustard seed. It is tiny, but when it creeps into the cracks of life it shatters walls built by man until it is so large that birds can nest in it's branches.

The king loves you.
It's gonna be OK.

____________________

I would still love to get married, have children, teach them to fish, retire with a good plan and live to a ripe old age. I still desire that. I do not believe that such a desire is wrong in any way.

I like to tell God all of my desires and to ask him to help me with them. I could commit the sin of presumption and write a letter to God telling him just how my life should be.

The kingdom is like a mustard seed. When it breaks in to this world, it is rarely what we expected or thought it should be. But it is beautiful when it does, even though it was not what we were expecting.

I would still love to get married, have children, teach them to fish, retire with a good plan and live to a ripe old age. I still desire that. I do not believe that such a desire is wrong in any way.

But at the same time; "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I also want that.

God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.

____________________


I live in the midst of confusion. I do not know what the future holds. I can answer a few questions, but most I cannot. I do not second guess myself, I quadruple guess. I struggle with doubt and faithlessness. More often than not, I am a weasel. I worry because I am good at it.

However, I can also turn around and see something. I can see that this God has protected me from myself and this world over and over and over. I can also see that this God has provided for me over and over and over. Has has been faithful even when I was not. He will be faithful even though I am not. He will be faithful because he IS.

I am certain that I will be a faithless, little weasel full of doubts tomorrow, and next week, and next month. I know I will! However...


"I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For I am YHWH, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do-not-fear."
Isa. 41:10-13



I will turn 48 next month. (That's a bit of a shock to me since I feel about 34, and have the maturity of a teenager riddled with angst.)

I will be 48 years old on this very day next month. (Ouch!) It has taken me that long to honestly say and mean from my heart...

God loves you.
It's gonna be OK.




Peace

Joe

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