Friday, August 31, 2007

Genesis of Grace

On a normal night I will lie down in bed and be asleep in less than 4 minutes. Recently, due to issues with my shoulder, which I dislocated a few years ago, I've not been able to fall asleep for about 2 - 3 hours. So, I've been staying up later and reading, while ironically nodding off mid-sentence. I decided I would re-read the second part of Genesis, beginning a little before Abraham comes on the scene.

Yesterday I finished Genesis and found myself captured once again to the Word of God and the themes throughout the stories. First off, as I was reading how Abraham told his wife, Sarah, to pretend to be his sister when they interacted with Abimilech and when his son, Isaac, did the same thing with his wife, I said out loud, "Man, it is very apparent that God uses broken, messed up people." I've had the assumption at times that if a person was a "hero of the Bible" then they had a clean record and was morally spic-and-span. That's why God used them--what a better way to show that 'being good' counts and will get you somewhere. And I would assume that if God used anybody today then that person had to be perfect. Further, if I wanted to be used by God then I had to earn it. If I was "human" for just one minute then God would turn away and leave me in the dust. Now, don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm not saying we should pursue holiness and discipline, which God does honor. What I am saying is that sometimes we emotionally disqualify ourselves, thinking God will not use us because we've messed up.

Then I read about the brothers, Jacob and Esau. Good grief. Sibling rivalry at its finest, or worst. Esau is born and Jacob comes right after him, grabbing Esau's foot as they are both delivered. And that's Jacob's character--the "tripper upper." He is sneaky, dishonest, and seeks ways to manipulate situations so that life turns out his way. He manipulated Esau and got the birthright, he manipulated the livestock so that he ended up lording over his brother-in-law, Laban, and he ended up having children who acted the same way. His conscience bothers him so much and he is terrified to meet his brother, Esau, because Esau is incensed about the birthright situation and said, "The next time I see you, Jacob, I'm going to get you for what you did to me." Jacob probably spends some time wondering if he will ever really amount to anything, if he will be great like his father Isaac or his grandfather, Abraham. And the promise comes that he will, but only after he wrestles with God and comes up limping.

After reading that I came to the conclusion that there are times in our life that God graces us with wounds, especially wounds to our pride and our self-reliance. God graces us with finiteness and with the ability to realize we cannot do it all ourselves, that it is wrong and unhealthy to manipulate others, life and God. We easily make messes of our life and then the web becomes so intricate that we end up endangering ourselves. We need supernatural intervention from outside. And that is why I am so thankful for the grace of God.

There's the story of Abraham and Isaac too, where Abraham is told to sacrifice his only son. Isaac was an answered prayer and God asked him to give up the answered prayer. God subsequently provided a sacrifice and the Scripture states that in that act, Abraham proved how much love it takes to be willing to sacrifice a son. Scripture says that God gave up his son, Jesus, on a hillside like Abraham did Isaac, and proved his love for us. How magnificent and wonderful, mysterious and powerful that is.

I guess that's the summary: we are broken, whether it is apparent to others or not, and yet God graciously comes to us to purify us and to subsequently use us in this world. God does not come to just purify us, to "save us" and take us to heaven one day. Nope. That's very important but that's not all of the story. God graces us in the here and now so that we can be a blessing (Genesis 12; Galatians 3:26-29) and that blessing extends to the ever after. Being graced is not the end; it's only the beginning. Isn't it nice to be welcomed to the genesis of grace?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Essence of Infant

Today is Violet's first sick day from "learning center" or "daycare," whichever, I don't really mind. I just sat in the rocking chair with her in my lap and rocked for about 30 minutes, neither one of us saying or mumbling anything--quite a rarity for both of us. We just watched the sunshine dot our arms as back and forth we went. There was a point of terror when I thought that one day my head could possibly look like hers--balding, peach fuzzy, and, God forbid, soft spots!

I like her sick stage right now--she's mellow and just wants to lounge around and hack, like she's someone who's been smoking for 8 decades or so. But the one thing I'm having to get used to is the constant spitting up. I think I agree with the great Southern Philosopher, Jeff Foxworthy, who put forth the theory that babies are actually nauseated by the smell of a clean shirt. Judging by the incessant knocking of our washer, I've got overwhelming empirical data.

Setting that aside for the moment, last night at church Robert lead us in considering Jesus' words that we must receive the kingdom of God like children. The point was made a subsequently agreed to that children have nothing to give except themselves and have to rely on someone else bigger than them to provide for them and to take care of them. How many times have you received from God only to feel the need to reciprocate? Yeah, me too. And that actually works against grace when I do that. What if I just simply received instead of trying to pay back? Now that's a point worth thinking about while doing the laundry.

Wishing you a fresh, spring freshness,


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tonight the doorbell rang

One week into year six of marriage and things are still rockin'! Though my wife isn't my most faithful reader, I must say that it's very cool to be married to someone like her. Last weekend we were able to spend our anniversary in a friend's cabin on the TN river. It was such a wonderful time. But I was a new kind of widower that has originated over the past several years due to mystical influences arising out of western Europe. That's right, I was a Harry Potter widower. Barb spent more time lamenting the possible fate Harry than Mattel has over the toy recall.

I just spent time with the Idiot. I mean, that book written by Dostoevsky. I've started that book twice and finally finished it 7 months and 701 pages later. I'm like that, once I start a book I must finish it. That's why I never get the Guinness Book of World Records or a set of Encyclopedias or Owner Manuals. It literally makes me nervous to have a book unfinished. Oh, by the way, The Idiot is not worth the effort. Just read a summary on Wikipedia.

The short of it: Violet is 4 months old and is laughing now. Our schedule is changing and we are getting the worm, as the adage goes. Barb is going back to work and my work load is full tilt. Life is good; the dog's asleep; this heat is ridiculous. Tonight the doorbell rang. I opened the door and it was the katydids; they were all asking to come in from the heat. Today I think I literally saw heat dripping from the trees.

Just wanted to let you know my keyboard works.

Hollar if ya have the chance.